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Microsoft brings parity to OneNote web, desktop apps

OneNote web app users will be able to set a view-only mode, copy and paste objects without changing their format, and perform other functions found in the desktop version.

Over the next few weeks, Microsoft plans to introduce OneNote web app features that bring parity with the more advanced desktop version of the digital notebook.

The improvements will be beneficial to OneNote users who want to access the web app remotely from a PC, tablet, smartphone or any device that doesn't have the app installed. Microsoft did not specify which new web app features are available now and which will roll out over the next few weeks.

Equalizing the One Note web app with the two desktop versions is "so users can confidently get their jobs done on whatever platform they prefer," wrote Chetna Das, program manager at Microsoft, in a blog post.

OneNote is one of the most popular apps in Microsoft 365, according to Gartner. Nearly every company with a Microsoft 365 license has employees taking notes on the digital notebook.

"OneNote was once a trailblazer, operating as both a content type and a content manager," Gartner analyst Larry Cannell said. Now, "Gartner primarily classifies it as a personal note manager, a competitor to Evernote."

With the upcoming features, people using the web app will have the ability to resize embedded videos, zoom in and out of documents, and copy and paste tables and lists without losing their original format. They will also be able to write a note using a stylus as soon as it touches the canvas of a touch-enabled device.

Like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, the OneNote web app will allow people to toggle between editing mode and viewing mode on documents. The mode switcher helps prevent accidental changes to content, Das said. It also lets document viewers know if they have editing privileges.

A view of the OneNote desktop app
Microsoft will bring feature parity to the OneNote web and desktop apps over the coming weeks.

Microsoft will provide better integration between the OneNote web app and Teams, making sharing and viewing links to notes and notebooks possible while chatting inside the collaboration app.

Microsoft introduced the web version of OneNote in 2014, more than 10 years after launching the original desktop version.

Microsoft plans to consolidate its disparate OneNote apps. The company said it will start inviting customers to download the unified app later this year and advised its customers to move to it by 2025 when OneNote for Windows 10 will reach end-of-support like the operating system.

"It's positive to see Microsoft investing in consolidating the different OneNote experiences and continuing to invest in its capabilities," said Angela Ashenden, an analyst at CCS Insight. The change could help OneNote boost its laggard status among personal productivity tools.

Maxim Tamarov is a news writer covering mobile and end-user computing. He previously wrote for The Daily News in Jacksonville, N.C., and the Sun Transcript in Winthrop, Mass. He can be found on Twitter at @MaximTamarov.

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