Save time with desktop shortcuts in OneNote

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Ashwini Purohit is a Program Manager on the OneNote team.

Whether you use OneNote to coordinate your busy family, organize college life, plan your wedding, or give presentations, desktop shortcuts can make it even more helpful and easy to use. I became an avid OneNote user when I joined the OneNote team, and along the way I’ve picked up a bunch of shortcuts and tips for OneNote on the desktop. Here are some of my favorites–bookmark this page as a handy reference for starting your own list of go-to shortcuts.

Screen capture

Shortcut: Windows + S (Windows + Shift + S in Windows 8.1)


Make sure OneNote is already open, then navigate to any content (e.g., webpage, OneNote, Word). Press Windows + S on your keyboard. (Go ahead, try it now!) The screen will appear grey. Now select whatever region of the screen you want to capture. You have the option to send this selection to a page, or copy it to your clipboard. This is my all-time favorite shortcut–I can’t count how many times in a day I use this.

Note: In Windows 8.1, the shortcut key is Windows + Shift + S. If you’ve installed the 8.1 preview, be sure to check out the workaround for what to do.

Create a bulleted list

Shortcut: Ctrl + . (period)

Use this shortcut to create a bullet point. Or, if you already have an unbulleted list, highlight the entire list and use this shortcut to bullet all of the items at the same time.

Add a new row anywhere in a table

Shortcut: Ctrl + Enter

Click anywhere in your table, and then use this shortcut. A new empty row will be created directly under the row your cursor was in.

Create a table with tab

Shortcut: Tab


Type any text. Press the Tab key. The new text will now be a cell in a newly-created table.

Add common tags

Shortcut: Ctrl + 1 makes a to-do list. Ctrl + 2 stars an item.

Use these handy tags to mark up your notes! 

Move around a line of text

Shortcut: Alt + Shift + Up/Down arrow


This one is really cool. Try it out for yourself and see how easy it is to move around a line of text!

Insert space

Insert space isn’t exactly a shortcut key, but I use it all the time. Sometimes after writing my notes, I realize I want to add more content at the top. I go to Insert > Insert Space, and drag down to where I want to add blank space. All of my existing content shifts down, leaving me with plenty of blank space to add more to my notes.

Open another OneNote window

Shortcut: Ctrl + M

For those times you want to have two notes open at once, press Ctrl + M open two OneNote windows.

Create headings

Shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + 1 (or 2 or 3)

I always use headings to organize my content. These are some quick shortcuts to toggle between the different headings.

These timesavers have become part of my everyday use of OneNote. Give them a try and be sure to check out the complete list of desktop shortcuts.

Do you have any other favorite shortcuts? Share them in the comments below!

–Ashwini Purohit


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  1. DarrellCWebster

    Thank you Ashwini. I have been using OneNote on Windows 8.1 Preview and I implemented the workaround for the screenshot, assigning Windows key + A.
    But I wont need it for much longer as Windows 8.1 will released in just over a day (NZDT)

  2. Really useful shortcuts. I’ve started very recently using OneNote and I enjoy it more and more each day I learn new tips. Thanks!

  3. I practically live in OneNote. So many things you can do with it. And the abundance of keyboard shortcuts makes it a charm to work with. You just tipped the iceberg: think of outlining (who needs workflowy), hyperlinking, etc., etc.
    Unfortunately, since OneNote 1013 the Send to OneNote web clipping is a bit of a pain, otherwise it would beat Evernote in every aspect (exception: OneNote screen clipping works very nice indeed). But I have high hopes that making good looking clips will improve in the near future. I dare say that the success of OneNote depends on that.

    There is one shortcut I really miss. You already mentioned Ctrl+M to open a page in another Window, but it would make sense to open it as a side node. I do have a work around for that, but that involves more than one stroke.

  4. 3steveco33

    Interesting and informative. Thank You.

  5. enroletto

    Useful post!
    As a econ. student I use a lot Onenote as note-taking, bu not Always, because sometimes (like in microeconomics) professors are to quick and I have to write quickly a lot of formulas and draw a lot of graphs (I’m thinking to get a surface pro with the pen to overcome this problem). On the other hand I find very useful to insert formula when I summarize the lectures at home, one of my favorite shorcut is "alt++".
    I would like to know other useful shorcut to be more quicker working with formula.

  6. These desktop shortcuts are really handy as they do save a lot of time. But to use these desktops, you have to know them first. So it is helpful to become aware of these. It also takes some practice before you start using them efficiently. It is a good idea to have a list of these in the beginning and refer to it whenever you need to use one.


  7. Probably not the right place to post this, but since the post time on the Sept announcement of the new update for the iPad app has closed…. I can not get the iPad app for OneNote to sync to my Skydrive. I have tried your workaround- resetting the OneNote by deleting the log in credentials, but that doesn’t work either. After I do that, the log in process for Skydrive starts, but the notebooks on my Skydrive account still do not sync with iPad OneNote.

    Don’t know if it is related, but in the OneNote Settings on the iPad, when I reset and choose to delete all the notebooks, nothing gets deleted. They are still there when I restart.


    • OneNote Team User">

      Sorry to hear you are having this problem. We recommend trying to completely uninstall and reinstall the app. To reinstall the app in the cleanest state, follow these steps:

      1. Kill OneNote via the app switcher
      2. Delete login credentials and notebook cache from Settings
      3. Re-launch OneNote and wait to see the start screen
      4. Delete the app
      5. Reinstall

      Hope this helps!

      • Thanks for the suggestion. I tried that but without success. I am still not syncing with my Skydrive OneNote notebooks. I am wodering if the program is getting completely deleted, since the notebooks I created in OneNote – iPad seem to survive this procedure.

        • Avneesh Kohli

          Hi there, Avneesh from the OneNote team here.

          Sorry to hear this is still causing you problems.

          1. Kill OneNote
          2. Delete login creds and the notebooks cache from Settings
          3. Delete the app immediately (don’t launch it)
          4. Reinstall

          Try those steps and see if they solve your issue. We can take it from there.


  8. Like MTS I’m posting this here because the Sept ipad announcement doesn’t allow posting anymore…

    1. Where can I get support for OneNote for ipad?
    2. Is there a help function or documentation for OneNote for ipad? Where?

    3. How do I move objects in OneNote ipad? I can add notes and stuff in new containers but I can’t move any containers around – I can’t even select them.
    4. Is there a way to collapse and expand like in desktop how we can double-click and sub-items will be hidden?

    Thank you!

    • Avneesh Kohli

      Hi there, this is Avneesh from the OneNote team.

      You can get support for OneNote for iPad by visiting the Microsoft Answers site ( You can find answers to questions other OneNote users have posted, or write one yourself.

      Help documentation is also available within OneNote for iPad. If you tap on the file menu (the page with the sync icon at the top left in editing view), you’ll find the "Help" button. This will bring up help topics for a number of frequently asked questions.

      At this time, we don’t support moving around object containers, nor do we support collapsable sub-items in the page list. The best way to access these features is to use either the desktop client or the web app. That said, we really appreciate you giving us feedback on this. We always want to learn more about the kinds of features our customers want. I’ll be sure to bring this up with the team.

      Hope this helps!

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