It’s easy to scatter thoughts and ideas about the place – a scrap of paper here, an obscurely named text file there. Before you know it, your computer and desk are littered with disjointed ramblings, leaving you wondering how you can pull it all together into the gem of an idea you had before.
Microsoft OneNote – a relatively recent addition to the Office family – is its answer to the question of where you keep everything you jot down. And the good news is that – from the 2013 version – the app is now free (with some limitations) for PCs.
Creating notes is mercifully simple, as is organising them into notebooks and sections. Type anywhere within a canvas to enter text, attach images, create lists and more. Everything you create is a container, and you can drag and drop these around the screen until they’re laid out as you wish.
You can also organise your notes using tags – over 20 styles are provided, and it means you can quickly and easily filter data. And unlike rival note-taking tool Evernote, OneNote lets you freely set up notebooks for collaboration purposes.
The free version of OneNote is cloud-based, which means you’ll need to sign into (or set up) your Microsoft account to use it. Once done, however, all notes are stored online, and synced automatically to your other devices. You’ll find mobile apps available for iPhone, iPad and Android as well as a more limited Mac build.
OneNote is one of those programs you need to train yourself to use – but once you start getting to grips with it, you’ll never rely on a post-it note or random text file again. There are some annoying niggles with the free version - you can't insert files, spreadsheets or audio and video recordings, despite the options appearing on the Insert tab - but on the whole this is as fully functional as you could hope it to be.
Note the Windows installer is a stub for the 32-bit version (64-bit users should click here), and will download the latest version of the software during installation.