OneNote is often described as a digital binder system. I often say that I used to describe OneNote not as a place to create, but a place to store and organize what you create in other places. There are so many creation tools in OneNote that I can no longer say that, but that doesn’t change the fact that OneNote still does an awesome job at storing and organizing (and sharing) content. There are two tabs for inserting content of a document, spreadsheet or presentation onto a page in OneNote. You can simply add a link to the File, like you could in a Word document, but what sets OneNote apart is the ability to insert printouts of those files onto the page, or to actually embed those files on a page in OneNote. There are now three different ways to add files to a OneNote notebook, and we will look at the first two on Day 105 of 365 Ideas for Microsoft 365.
Taking a look at the first few icons under the Insert tab, notice that there are icons for both “File” and “Printout”. Click on either and you will see the same, familiar, Windows Explorer window open up for you to choose the file you want to add. The difference is in what they add to your page in OneNote.
Actually, once you choose a file using the Insert File method, you are confronted with a choice, to confirm which method you want to use. You actually have three options. Saving the best for last, we will skip option one for now.
Insert File as an Attachment
The second option, Insert an attachment, is the simplest. Along the way, you get this further message, which s really more or less an advertisement for option number 1, since upload and insert link actually embeds the file on the page.
This second option used to be the only thing that Insert File used to do. It is just a link to a file with the name of the file. This would be using OneNote simply as an organizational tool. Sure, you already have files stored in folders with, hopefully, some meaningful method of organization, but this allows you to put easy access to a file within the context of other related materials and notes. This has recently been upgraded from a generic icon, in this case a generic icon of a PowerPoint file, to a thumbnail image of the particular PowerPoint that still links to that file. Click on the icon and the PowerPoint opens, in PowerPoint.
Insert File as a PDF printout
The third option is to actually add a PDF printout of the file, in addition to a clickable icon to open and edit the file. If that’s what you actually want to do, you can save a couple clicks and just click on Insert Printout, because that’s exactly what that option does. This actually adds three things. There is a live link to open the original file. In this case, it will open in PowerPoint where you can make edits, or launch it as a presentation. There is also a link to open it as a PDF to view in a browser, or whatever program your device opens PDFs in. And then there is the entire file printed out on your OneNote page. If it is a 60 page Word document or a PowerPoint with 43 slides, your OneNote page is about to get really long.
I zoomed way out to grab this screenshot, and this PowerPoint only has 4 slides.
In either of those cases you probably really want one of the other two options. My new favorite is option one, which I’ll cover in the next post.
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