I was recently introduced to OneNote, a Microsoft software program designed to assist with note taking. My first thought was, "Why do I need this? Isn't that exactly what Microsoft Word is for?" Well, over the past few weeks I have come to realize just how wrong I was. Microsoft Word is designed to help users create documents, and has a few features that also make note taking easier. OneNote, on the other hand, gives users a blank slate for taking notes any way they like, and I mean ANY WAY! It is the ultimate note taking tool!

When it comes to effectively taking notes, OneNote leaves Word in the dust.  Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft Word is an excellent program and is very useful for specific tasks, but note taking isn’t one of them.  OneNote allows users to take notes the way that works best for them.  Its versatility across devices is unmatched.  It allows users to design the layout of the notes and decide how much detail to include.  OneNote makes it easier to find and review specific notes, or even share notes with others.  Finally, OneNote can work with tons of other programs to improve ease of use and add functionality. 

However, before you can use the innovative features of Microsoft OneNote 2013, you must install it on your Mac or PC.  In this blog entry, I will walk you through the installation process for your computer, step-by-step.

Installing OneNote 2013

Before you go through the installation process for OneNote 2013, make sure you don’t already have it.  All of the following Office software packages come with OneNote:

  • Office Home & Student 2013
  • Office Home & Business 2013
  • Office Professional 2013
  • Office 365 University
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium
  • Office 365 Midsize Business

If you are still unsure as to whether or not you have Microsoft OneNote, follow these steps:

Click on the “Start” menu.


Click, or hover over, “All Programs” until a list of your programs and program folders show up. 


Scroll down the list and look for a folder called “Microsoft Office 2013,” as shown below. 


If you do not have this folder, you do not have Microsoft OneNote 2013 on your computer.  If you do have this folder, click on it to view the programs it contains.  You should see a list like the one shown here: 


If you do not see OneNote 2013 in the list, then you don’t have it on your computer, but you can use the instructions within this blog to install it.

Below is a complete list of instructions for installing Microsoft OneNote 2013 on both PCs and Mac computers. It is important to note that you must have a Microsoft account in order to use OneNote 2013.

PC Users:

For the purposes of this blog, I used Windows 7 Professional, and all screenshots reflect what should be seen using that operating system. You can continue working on your computer while OneNote 2013 is being downloaded and installed, but it may cause the process to take longer.

The first step to installing OneNote 2013 on your PC is to go to the download page: http://www.onenote.com/download


Click the "Free Download" button. A bar that looks like the image below, should appear at the bottom of your browser window. Click "Run" to begin downloading.


A small window should appear with the Office logo and the download progress. It will look like this:


Depending on your internet connection you may be presented with the following message:


If so, just be patient and wait for it to finish. If you don't think you should have gotten this message, you may want to check your internet connection.

When OneNote 2013 is finished downloading a new window should appear.


Now a Sign in page should appear.


If you have not yet created a Microsoft account, click "Sign up now," and follow the on screen instructions. If you have already created your Microsoft account, as I had, enter the account information and click "Sign in."

Once you click the "Sign in" button another window, like the one below, will appear.


You can look over the agreement if you want by clicking on "View Agreement," but in order to use OneNote 2013, you have to click "Accept."

If you have used OneNote 2013 prior to this, another message will appear telling you how many Notebooks you have and ask if you wish to open them. It should look like this:


If you have not used OneNote 2013 before, then the program will open. You should now be looking at a screen like the one below.


You are now ready to start using OneNote 2013!

For ease of access I recommend creating a shortcut on your desktop. To do this, click on the Start menu. Then go into "All Programs."


Scroll down your list of programs until you see a folder labeled "Microsoft Office 2013." Click on the folder, find OneNote 2013, and right click on it.


Hover your cursor over "Send to" until a list of options appears off to the right, as shown below. Click on "Desktop (create shortcut)."


Now you should have a OneNote icon (shown below) on your desktop to quickly open the program.


Mac Users:

In order to install OneNote 2013 locally on a Mac computer, you must be running at least OS X 10.9 (Mavericks). The upgrade to OS X Mavericks is free, but, as with any major change in software, it is highly recommended that you backup your computer before installing it.

If you are already running an appropriate Operating System, then go to this webpage:



From here click the blue button that reads “View in the App Store.”  Depending on your computer and the strength of your internet connection, you may see the following message:

loading download itunes page

This message should disappear momentarily and be replaced by the App Store window shown here:

OneNote in itunes

Click on the “Free” button.  The button should change to a bright green color and read “Install App.”  Wait while the application installs.  Once it is finished installing, the button should revert back to its original gray color and read “Installed.”  At this point, OneNote 2013 should be in your Applications folder.  Go into the folder and look for this icon:

Click on the icon and open OneNote 2013.  The first time you open the application you will be presented with this window:


If you already have a Microsoft account, click the “Sign In” button and enter you information.  If you do not have a Microsoft account, click the “Create an Account” button.  The following form should appear for you to complete.

Once you have finished filling out the form (and looked at the Microsoft Services Agreement and privacy and cookies statement) click the “Create account” button.  You will be asked if you wish to help Microsoft improve OneNote by sending the company usage information.  Select your preference and click “Start Using OneNote.”    

help improve

You will also be redirected to a series of Microsoft OneNote Welcome pages that explain some of the program’s features.  Click the “Get started >” button on the last of these pages.

Finally, you will be able to begin using OneNote 2013 as shown here:

Now that you have Microsoft OneNote 2013 installed on your computer, try it out and see what you can do with it.  It is very user-friendly and has some instructions for its basic elements.  If you have trouble, don’t worry, I will walk you through using the program in detail, in future blog entries.  Be sure to stay tuned for my next blog entry:  “Microsoft OneNote 2013:  Any Device, Anytime, Anywhere!”

Happy Note Taking!

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