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Although hordes of computer users curse Microsoft's Bill Gates for his near-monopoly on computer operating systems, their occasional bugs and high software prices, many will love him for this "killer application." It makes working on a PC more intuitively user friendly, combining the speed of a word processor with the logic of a paper notebook made with separators and tabs along the top.
Even in the computer age, it isn't easy to keep track of information you generate, receive and share. Notes scattered across e-mail, notebooks and sticky notes can be easily misplaced or misinterpreted, and retyping notes from paper sources is time-consuming.
But with OneNote, you can electronically take, organize and use notes on a laptop or desktop computer or Tablet PC using a single place to collect and customize information. Integrating the freedom and flexibility of paper, it captures textual, visual and audio data in many ways and organizes it according to your needs.
Users can efficiently organize and access the right information quickly to prepare presentations, organize for important meetings or study for tests. They can even protect sections for your eyes only using password protection and encryption.
Installed as an addon to your Microsoft Office program, fastloading OneNotesupplies one place to manage all of your notes, whether they are typed, handwritten, recorded as an audio or video file, captured from a Web page or stored in picture form as document, diagrams and other images. Data are saved automatically every 30 seconds.
As when writing in a paper notebook, you can click anywhere on the page and start typing notes. Important phrases or subjects can be highlighted using bold fonts, underlining or bullets to precede them. Spelling errors are corrected in a flash. You can also give related notes the same format and focus on the information you are taking down rather than how to arrange it.
In a second, you can copy, paste, drag and drop text and graphics from almost any source of data, whether they are slides from a Microsoft PowerPoint program, photos from Web sites or rows and columns from Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.
If you have a computer microphone, it can easily be used to record and synchronize audio notes that supplement text and graphics. A dictionary, thesaurus and Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia are integrated into the program to provide background information immediately.
Even if you lack a scanner, you can produce handwritten notes or draw diagrams with your mouse, a stylus (on a Tablet PC) or using an inexpensive pen-input device attached to your computer. You can even search for specific words or phrases within handwritten notes and convert your handwritten notes to print fonts.
The development was not instantaneous: Chris Pratley, one of the program's designers, set up a Web site and blog to field comments on an online beta version of OneNote; this input is very evident in the final product.
Teachers or university lecturers, for example, can set up different pages for each of their pupils and students or combine lecture notes with graphics, while employers can produce integrated data on each of their employees or contractors.
The main drawback is that the current edition was issued alone in 2003; the upgraded 2007 edition will be released early next year as an integral part of the next edition of Office. If you don't want to buy a new edition of Office, you will be able to purchase One Note separately, but unfortunately, no discounts are offered for upgrades. Thus it may be worth your while to wait rather than purchase the 2003 version.