Use OneNote to organise your family history for free

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Date: May 15, 2014
Publisher: Athena Information Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 866 words

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What you need: XP, Vista, 7 or 8; iOS or Android Time required: 30 minutes

Have you ever worked on a big research project, like your family tree, and wished there was a way to group your notes, scans, photos and ideas into one location so you could order all your random thoughts and access them from your PC, smartphone or tablet at any time? Microsoft OneNote provides a way to do precisely that. It's a note-taking application that lets you gather, organise, synchronise, search and share different types of information, such as lists, maps, images, audio recordings and more.

STEP 1: OneNote comes with Microsoft Office, but you don't have to pay for Office in order to use it. We're going to demonstrate how to use OneNote for free, via a free SkyDrive web tool and free apps for iPhone (, iPad (www. and Android ( There's also a free OneNote app for Windows 8 ( Download the mobile apps relevant to your devices, then go to on your PC and sign in using your Microsoft account (or sign up for an account if you don't already have one). We recommend using Internet Explorer as your browser, because it fully supports copying and pasting.

STEP 2: Click Create, select 'OneNote notebook', then type a name and click Create. Type a title, press Enter and start typing the note. OneNote pages are similar to Word documents in that you can add links or paste images into the page. Let's say you're planning a fact finding trip to see a distant relative who has sent you a link to where he lives in Google Maps. Open the map, then press the Windows key, type snipping and press Enter to open the Windows Snipping Tool. Click New 1 , drag a box around the area of the map you need, then return to OneNote, right-click in an empty space and select Paste 2 .

STEP 3: Click the bar at the top of an image and drag to move it, or right-click and select Grow or Shrink to re-size it. Alternatively, click the picture, then Format in the toolbar, type a percentage in the Scale box, then press Enter. Click Home 1 to bring up a set of text tools, including fonts, formatting, styles and a spell-checker. You can add tags to individual elements in your note. Click the map, for example, then click Tag 2 and select a relevant keyword. In our case, that might be Address 3 . You'll see a small house icon appear by the image. Type a description here, if necessary.

STEP 4: There's no need to click a 'save' button, as all your changes are saved online as you make them, and your notes will be instantly available on all your other devices. Open the OneNote app on your tablet or phone. Tap through the initial tutorial screens and sign in using the same SkyDrive credentials you used in Step 1. You should be offered the option of opening the notebook you created in Step 2. If not, tap the back arrow button (top left) until you see 'Open notebook' (Android) or Notebooks (iOS) 1 , then tap this and tap the name of the notebook you're working on.

STEP 5: The phone and tablet apps work in a similar way to the SkyDrive web app, but they have some useful additional features. Let's say, for example, you arrive at your relative's house and discover parking restrictions that you want to remember for your next visit. If you're using OneNote on an iPad, tap a blank space on the page, then tap the Insert tab 1 . Tap the camera button 2 and take a shot of the parking notice, then tap Use Photo to include the photo in your note. If you have an Android device, tap in your note, then tap the camera icon on the top toolbar.

STEP 6: The Android version even lets you add audio recordings to your notes directly from your device's microphone. Perhaps you want to make a quick voice note to remind yourself of something later or record an interview with your relative for your family history project. If so, tap in your note, then tap the microphone icon 1 in the top toolbar. When the recording is finished, tap Stop and type a name for the recording. Be aware that OneNote limits you to three minutes of recording time.

STEP 7: As you build your project you'll find it easier to organise your ideas by splitting your notes into sections. To add further sections, click the plus (+) sign on the top toolbar. You can also share OneNote documents with other people, so they can view or add notes of their own. In the SkyDrive version, for example, click File, Share, then 'Share with People'. Type the email address of the person you want to share the note with in the To box 1 . Type a message and, if you want others to be able to add their own notes, tick the 'Recipients can edit' box 2 and click Share 3 .

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A369529144