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Microsoft starts testing new OneNote design overhaul

Microsoft has started testing its new OneNote design refresh. The software maker first teased the visual update last year, revealing that it will unify its OneNote and OneNote for Windows 10 apps into a single OneNote app. Beta testers can now get access to some of the new OneNote design changes as part of the traditional desktop version of OneNote.

The design changes allow OneNote to slot in more seamlessly with the rest of the Windows 11 aesthetic. The navigation panes and full-screen mode are being updated, and the page list, section tabs, and notebook dropdown all look different, too. Microsoft is using its Mica effect, which is used in the Windows 11 theme and desktop wallpaper, for the general app window of OneNote.

OneNote fits in with the Windows 11 design.
Image: Microsoft

All of the changes create a more modern look for OneNote, with rounded corners and updated animations. There’s also a new unread indicator that matches the rest of Office and makes it easier to see pages with unread changes. OneNote will also get an optional simplified ribbon, which is something in between hiding the ribbon and using the full-height version.

If you’re a fan of using OneNote to take digital ink notes, the latest version includes an updated draw tab with tools that are similar to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Features like Ink to shape, Ruler, and Ink to text are all present in this updated tab. OneNote also includes support for the Surface Slim Pen 2 and its tactile signals that mimic the feel of pen on paper. Microsoft is also planning to add ink replay and a new pen focus view that transforms OneNote into a “pen-first experience.”

Inking is being improved in OneNote.
Image: Microsoft

Page sorting is also coming to OneNote, allowing users to sort pages by date created, date modified, or alphabetically. A new sharing experience and insert picture feature from the Windows camera app are available for testers right now, and the rest of the new changes are coming soon.

Microsoft is now focused on updating the main OneNote desktop app, with plans to bring the key features from the touch-friendly OneNote for Windows 10 over to the main unified app. There is no exact timeline for when this work will be complete, so expect the OneNote for Windows 10 app to exist for some time yet.



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