OneNote for Surface Pro 3 Users

OneNote for Surface Pro 3 Users

What you need to know about OneNote for Surface Pro 3:

I think the Surface Pro 3 is an excellent tablet/laptop. I believe that there was a batch of bad hardware on the first release because I had continual problems, but since I’ve sent it in for replacement my new one has been awesome.

I’ve even set up a home office with dual monitors using my SP3 as a desktop replacement, see my post My New Surface Pro 3 Home Office for pictures.

One of the things that I think is really cool about the Surface Pro 3 is the integration with OneNote. It allows you to easily take notes, make drawings, and even markup documents with ease.

In this post, I’ll cover what you need to know to get started with OneNote for Surface Pro 3, including:

  • How it works
  • How it’s different from Desktop version
  • How to see your Notebooks
  • Change quick notes location
  • Delete quick notes
  • Delete entire Notebook
  • Take a screen shot
  • How to install OneNote (desktop) on other devices

OneNote for Surface Pro 3 Users: How it works

On your Surface Pro 3, OneNote syncs and saves everything to your OneDrive automatically by default. This way you can write and organize your notes without worrying about them getting lost. To start OneNote you simply click the top button of your Surface Pen, see Surface Pro 3 vs. Surface Pro 2 pen, or tap the OneNote tile. The Surface Pen will open OneNote even if your screen is locked.

OneNote for Surface Pro 3 Users: How it’s different from Desktop version

The Surface Pro 3 includes the modern touch interface version of OneNote, which is found in Windows 8.1 Store. It is already pre-installed and you do not have to download it. However, you do have an option to install the OneNote 2013 desktop application, if you prefer it. The feature set on the two applications varies slightly. For this post, I will cover the features of the included version of OneNote.

OneNote for Surface Pro 3Suffice it to say that the pre-installed version on Surface Pro 3 was designed with touch in mind. And so, it provides better touch experience on a tablet. It works well using your finger or the Surface Pen and has a radial button to quickly select features, such as copy/paste, tables, drawing, tagging, and the camera – camera is exclusive to this version of OneNote and not available on the desktop version. It lets you take pictures with your device’s camera and add them to your notes. What’s even better is that by using the optical character recognition built into the app, you can search for any text in the images.

In the Surface Pro 3’s OneNote, you can also find your notes quickly and easily as they appear at the top. If you use multiple Notebooks, you can find all your recent notes and the recent previews without having to open the individual pages. This is a very nice time-saving feature.

This version also integrates with the Windows 8.1 Share Charm, so for example you can share something from Bing Travel or your favorite Bing recipe right to your OneNote.

You will not be able to cut and paste in the traditional way, by right-clicking, with the touch version. To do so, you will need to either use the radial button or use your keyboard shortcuts (CLTR+C / CLTR+V). The good news is that most of the keyboard shortcuts still work.

OneNote for Surface Pro 3 Users: See your Notebooks

To see the list of your Notebooks in OneNote, do the following:

  • Open OneNote
  • Tap on Recent Notes in the top left corner – a list of your Notebooks will appear on the far left, see picture below.

OneNote for Surface Pro 3

OneNote for Surface Pro 3 Users: Change quick notes location

  • Open OneNote
  • Slide from right to open Charms Menu
  • Tap Settings
  • Select Options
  • At the bottom of the list will see “Chose a notebook for quick notes


  • Click to see where your quick notes are being saved, you may change the location from here with the pull down menu.

OneNote for Surface Pro 3 Users: Delete quick notes

To delete a quick note do the following:

  • Open OneNote on your Surface Pro 3
  • Tap and hold the note you want to delete
  • Tap Delete Page at the bottom of the screen


OneNote for Surface Pro 3 - delete notes

OneNote for Surface Pro 3 Users: Delete entire Notebook

You cannot delete an entire Notebook from within the OneNote app. To do this, you must go to where your Notebooks are saved. By default on Surface Pro 3, that’s in your OneDirve under Documents\OneNote Notebooks.

Simply select and delete the Notebook you no longer want.

OneNote for Surface Pro 3 Users: Take a screenshot

Double-click the Surface Pen top button twice. You will see the screen dim for a second while the screenshot is being taken. Then OneNote will open automatically.

Press down Clip All button (shows at the top right) to paste your picture into a new note.

Note: if double-clicking the top button on Surface Pen does not take the screenshot, you may need to re-pair it, see my post on Surface Pen troubleshooting.

OneNote for Surface Pro 3 Users: Install OneNote 2013 on other devices

OneNote (desktop) application is free to install on any device. You can set it up to read the same Notebooks as your Surface Pro 3, so you will be able to view everything on multiple devices.  To download the desktop application go here:

OneNote for Surface Pro 3 Users: Surface Pro/Pro 2 Users

If you’re one of the folks (like Tim) who decided to not upgrade to a SP3 this information could still be useful to you. With the exception of the stuff about the pen starting OneNote, most of the rest of this article applies to OneNote on your Surface too.

So, that’s the basics on OneNote for Surface Pro 3 users. What cool things are you planning on using OneNote for? Please share with us.



  1. Awesome post! Thank you. Now I’m wondering how to make the pre-installed version of OneNote my default. I was prompted to make the desktop version the default when I opened it. How do I change the default? BTW, I love using OneNote for my work in grad school.

    • Hi Jason,
      Glad you liked your the post. So, you have both versions of OneNote installed on your Surface? And when he tap the OneNote tile, it opens a desktop version?
      Do they both show up in your list of apps?


  2. The reply above did not work for me. But, I was able to make my Surface Pen open OneNote when I click the top button (not OneNote Desktop). I had to open OneNote desktop and under >Options>Advanced, I had to check the box titled “Make OneNote 2013 (Desktop) the default application for…” (even though I DIDN’T want this to be the case). Once I checked this box it gave me the option to keep using OneNote or to use OneNote 2013 (Desktop). When I selected OneNote, it seems to have made it work. Now I get the touch friendly version of OneNote when I click the little purple button. (I’m not sure if it made a difference or not, but I also unchecked the box “start Send to OneNote upon login”)

  3. Hi Jason,
    Thanks for sharing this. That’s interesting. So, changing the default program for the OneNote files didn’t work? I will have to play around with that to see if I can duplicate what you experienced. If I can, I’ll write it up as a post.

    Thanks again.

  4. Love my Surface Pro3 – but how do I email a One Note page or image? Can I save it as a jpeg? I can’t find an export feature. Anyone know how?

    • Hi Linda, you can take a screenshot by pressing and holding both the Windows button and the volume down button simultaneously. I believe the default storage location would be My Documents>Pictures>Screenshots. The drawback here is that your picture will only contain what you have showing on the screen at that instant.

      You can also print the page you ant to export to Adobe PDF, I’m not sure if the free version of the software allows this or not but there are other .pdf handlers available that will probably offer the “print to .pdf” option for free. You could also right-click or long-press on the page title and “Copy link to page,” which will provide a link to the online OneNote version and you can use the share feature from there. Both of these features work by using right-click or long-press in both the Metro and desktop versions of OneNote.

      Alternatively, you could use the share charm to email an exact replica of your page to any email address, share to Evernote, social networking apps, etc.

      Hope this helps,

      • Forgive my missing “w” in the second paragraph. I should mention that if you use the share charm to email you will need to have the Metro Mail app set up or have somehow changed the default mail handler to Outlook. Outlook is my default mail handler but I’ve never had any desktop apps show up on when I use the Share charm.

        • Thanks, Dave for the tip.I played around with the snipping tool and that does the job to select the image I want, then paste it to a word doc, then export as PDF.

    • Hi Linda,
      Dave has great suggestions. If you’re using the preinstalled OneNote with your Surface Pro 3, your options are to Share it via email (Share in an option in Charms menu) or Print it as XPS document (or PDF if you have Acrobat installed).
      If you have the desktop version of OneNote, then you can save as PDF. OneNote does not have the ability to save as .jpg though.
      In my opinion, Share is the easiest option for email.

  5. I used the share menu to send emails from pre-installed OneNote on Surface Pro 3. The emails were sent but no files attached. I tried some files with a small image and they went through. Please help me on this issue as we should be able to send emails with lots of images and text. Thank you.

  6. Hey – great posts! I just purchased a SP3 and I’m trying to figure out some things with OneNote. Is there a way to show the ribbon vs using the circular menu bar? How do you send a note to someone via email? I’m getting frustrated to not find all of the functions in a traditional windows ribbon. Can you help??

    • Hi John,
      Thanks for commenting. There are two versions of OneNote (one for Desktop and one Metro). The one that is pre-installed on your new SP3 is the Metro, and it comes with the circular menu, if you want to ribbon, you’d have to download and switch to the desktop version, see our post for more info.
      To send a note to someone via email, you can do the same thing I wrote up in this post, simply share it.
      Good luck and feel free to search through our posts, we have lots of tips and tricks 🙂

  7. hi, is it possible to freeze pen when in one note – I keep clicking top of pen in meetings (out of habit) and I end up with various one notes that I then need to collate. Also when I rotate the screen my handwriting doesn’t rotate?

    • Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for reading. To my knowledge, there is no way to turn the pen on/off quickly. It does not have a on/off button and I’ve not seen anything in settings that allows you to turn off the top button.
      When you say your handwriting doesn’t rotate, do you mean you are handwriting in landscape while your screen is positioned in portrait?


      • You can simply remove the button cells that power the top button. You have two sets of batteries in that pen. Then stylus and side buttons will operate independently.

        • Just noticed another way to disable the button without removing batteries, or unsparing(some people have reported that the pen works better with Bluetooth paired). Download the surface hub, then change the button to open the desktop version of one note.. all that does really is open the OneNote tool in the tray. Then, in desktop OneNote options, under display category, disable the desktop tool tray option (first checkbox). Now the button does nothing, but is still paired and has batteries.

  8. I’m trying learn the desktop version of onenote on SP3. I want to write with the pen and convert to text, which appears to be easy enough. The conversion is okay but I want to correct the errors. I select the text and try to place the cursor in it but simply cannot find a way to do this. Can anyone enlighten me?

  9. Hey Tim, I just purchased an SP3 and I absolutely love the OneNote integration =D. I’ve been trying to import my lecture powerpoint slides to OneNote but so far isn’t having any luck, can you help me with this?

    • Alexander,

      Sorry for the delay. We were on vacation without internet.

      Anyway, look for the “Send to Onenote” app in your Office shortcut folder. You can use that to export your pptx files into Onenote.

      Hope this helps,

  10. Is it possible to move the location of a note in the OneNote app? I prefer the app version to Notes2013 but for some reason it will not let me move quick note pages to new notebooks or sections currently although I’m certain I did it before but maybe I was in the full 2013 version…

    • Yes but, you’ll need to move it to another notebook. Basically, Tap on the icon in the upper left (the 3 horizontal lines) and you should get to where you can amange your notebooks.

      Once there you can create new notebooks and then you can drag notes between notebooks and individual sections in the notebook.

      Hope this helps,

  11. Should I turn off my pen for one note somehow when not in use? I am not sure how to do this and don’t want to run my batteries down ….thanks

  12. Hi,

    I’m just trying to find out how to use OneNote on my new Surface.
    The videos show all the exciting things I can do without actually telling me how to do them! How do I create a new notebook?


    • Just Touch the “three horizonal lines” icon next to Recent Notes in the upper left of the OneNote screen. At the bottom of the black bar is “+Notebook”, Hit that and you should have the option of making a new notebook.

      Hope this helps,

  13. Hi

    There is some good information on here but one thing I am struggling with is annotations to my screenshots. I will add notes and highlights to a screenshot but when I email via share or copy into Outlook, it only ever takes the original screenshot not the added notes etc.

    How can I take exactly what is on the screen and which is saved as a note into email seems such a simple request I must be missing somehthing?



      • Thanks a lot Tim.
        I couldnt do anything with the Onenotes which was installed with Surface Pro 3, so I uninstalled it. Now I use the Onenotes in Ms Office 2013 and It is quite similar to a Ms Word :). Easier now.
        Tks for your time and kindness, Tim

  14. Great page, and I, too, love my SP3, which is now my main laptop with the docking station and a large screen and keyboard in the office One question on Onenote: is there any way to hide the recent notes preview on the left? This would increase the size of my notepad, but also hides my previous notes in preview from someone I don’t want to them to see.

  15. Sorry…but the Surface Pro 3 has LOTS of problems with the OneNote app that comes with the Surface (not the office 2013 version, the OneNote app)

    I have continuously gone to MS support with this problem: restarting the surface, resetting to factory settings, uninstalling and installing it again, getting a new pen, getting a new surface within warranty. It’s not a problem only experienced by me however, but for other users. All of a sudden, they claim that this was a problem with my account, which we subsequently created a new one, made that administrator, and then give back administrative privileges to me, additionally creating a new notebook (while unfortunately losing some of my notes that I REALLY needed to study for my finals at college (GO UW!))

    Anyways, I’ve given up on asking MS about how to solve the problem…they even tell me they’ve never heard of this problem before (which is obviously a lie).

    Sigh…i wish i had waited till the 4. I recommend to anyone who wants a tablet to wait because OneNote crashes and is frankly a piece of crap for me DURING lecture and DURING practice problems.

    Very disappointed with the product. I mainly use it for studying…and it doesn’t serve its function in doing so. Everything else seems okay though if no one cares about the OneNote problem.

    Can’t believe I wasted 2 months on the issue. Now I refuse to use OneNote lol.

  16. How do I sync the notes in the Metro/app version to the desktop version (i have both on my SP3)…only the desktop version on SP3 will sync with my desktop at work or at home (both have desktop versions of onenote).??? I like the write features using pen of the Metro/App version, but need it to share

  17. I have a question. I like oneNote a lot and would love to use it often. How do I change the path to my computer? I don’t wish to save everything to one drive I want it saved on my surface so I can take notes and read them while I travel. The desktop version does it very easily though I was hoping the default version that comes with my SP3 will have some easy way of doing it that I missed.

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