If you use the Outlook website for your email, there is a great feature that enables you to create notes from emails. They are stored in OneNote and are linked back to the original email.
Outlook mail is one of the most popular email services and it can be used with an Office 365 subscription or it can be used for free. All the features here can be used with a free Microsoft account on a Windows PC or Apple Mac and there is no need for a paid account.
Quite often you receive an email that requires some action or it contains information that you want to save for later. An email inbox is not the best place to store important emails like this and whether it is a work or personal message, creating a note is a great way to make sure it does not become lost among the thousands of emails in your account.
A note can be created from an email in Outlook that is stored in OneNote. It is synced everywhere you have OneNote, such as any computer or a phone, and also Windows Sticky Notes on the desktop. What’s more, the note is linked to the original email so that you can click it and read the full message. That is very useful and I have not tried another notes app that does this.
Select text in an email
Go to the outlook.com website in a web browser and select an email in the inbox that you want to create a note for. I get lots of emails about products and services and often make a note to go and check them out.
Select some text in the message and a small toolbar with several icons appears above the selection. Move the mouse over them to see a short description. Click the Add note icon.
Notes in the OneNote feed
A OneNote feed panel appears at the right side of the Outlook mail and it contains a note made from the text that was selected. This is an editable note and you can click before, after or in the text and write whatever you want. For example, you might want to write why you created a note and at the top, I added (“Check this out. It may be useful.”
The usual keyboard shortcuts can be used, like Ctrl+C, X and V for copy, cut and paste. Text can be selected and pressing Ctrl+B or I makes it bold or underline.
Note formatting functions
At the bottom of the notes panel is a formatting toolbar and the buttons can be used to create bold, italic, underlined and strike-through text. There is also a list button for numbered or bulleted lists and you can also add images to the note.
Use the note menu
Click the three dots in the top right corner of the note to show a menu. It allows a color to be selected for the note. It does not color the whole note, just the top bar.
There is also an Open message menu item and this is probably the best feature of the note. I have lost track of the number of times I created a note from an email and then days or weeks later, had trouble finding the original email. Here you can simply click Open message. It is a brilliant idea.
The title of this notes panel in Outlook web mail is OneNote feed because it is a feed of notes from OneNote. Click the grid of dots in the top left corner of the Outlook web mail page in your browser and select OneNote on the Office 365 menu. A free Microsoft account includes OneNote notebooks – this is all without paying anything.
View email notes in OneNote
Here I am using Microsoft OneNote in a web browser (Mac or PC, it makes no difference). I just trimmed the browser window off the screenshot. However, the same feature is in the free OneNote apps for Windows 10 and Apple Mac. Click the feed button in the toolbar to open the Feed panel on the right side of the window.
All your notes are here. Notes can be long and can contain text and images, so you might only see the first few lines. Click a note to open it fully in the panel.
Windows 10 users can see their email notes on the desktop if they open the Sticky Notes app. Your notes are everywhere! Android phone users can also see your Outlook mail notes in the OneNote app. It should also sync to iPhones too, but wasn’t when I tried it – a bug that may be fixed?
Notes are linked to emails
This is all in a web browser, but it works in the OneNote apps too. Click a note to open it and then click the three dots in the top right corner to show the menu. Here you can select the note color and the whole note is colored, unlike in Outlook mail.
Most important is the Open message menu option. Click it and Outlook web mail opens in the default browser and shows the original email that the note was created from. This is so useful and I don’t know of any other notes apps that do this.
If you have not yet discovered notes in Outlook web mail, you should try this feature, it is excellent.