Create notes fast on iPhone with the new OneNote widget

Microsoft OneNote has features you may not have discovered, like the great OneNote widget for iPhones that enables you to see recent notes and create new text, image and audio notes faster.

Although the Apple Notes app is bundled with the iPhone and comes pre-installed, and to be honest, it is pretty good, there are some very good reasons for using an alternative notes app like Microsoft OneNote on your mobile.

A common situation for example, is that you might have an iPhone in your pocket, but use a Windows PC for work. How do you get them to work together? OneNote notes can appear as sticky notes on the Windows desktop, which is a brilliant feature.

You can also see the history of a note and restore previous versions. You can create hyperlinks from one note to another. You may be a Microsoft Office user, if not at home, then for work and want your iPhone to work with it.

There is more, but suffice it to say that OneNote has its fans on iOS and for good reasons.

If your iPhone is set to automatically download and install app updates, which is a common configuration, it is easy to miss new features that appear in apps. An app might update overnight and you don’t notice the next day.

One feature that you may have missed in a recent update is a new OneNote widget for iOS devices. Actually, there are several widgets to choose from, but the biggest and best one is the last in the collection.

Add it to the iPhone’s home screen and you can see recent notes and create new notes, notes with lists, add photos to notes and create audio notes, all with a single tap on the screen. Let’s take a look.

1 Make the icons wiggle

Add widgets to the home screen on an iPhone
Long press until icons wiggle

Press and hold on an empty part of the screen on the iPhone (or iPad) and after a second or so, the icons begin to wiggle. Don’t press any of the minus buttons because they remove apps. Press the plus button in the top left corner of the screen. That is used to add home screen widgets.

2 Browse all widgets on the iPhone

Browse iPhone widgets and select one
Swipe up to see all the widgets

A panel appears from the bottom of the screen and it shows a small number of large featured widgets first. Swipe up the panel until you come to an alphabetical list of apps. Find the OneNote entry and press it to open the OneNote widget collection.

3 Browse OneNote widgets

Preview OneNote home screen widgets on the iPhone
Preview OneNote widgets

There are currently three OneNote widgets to choose from, although this can easily change with future updates, so if you are reading this in six month’s time, there may be more. This is the smallest and simplest widget and it only shows a brief snippet of the most recent note.

Swipe left over the widget to go to the next one and repeat this to get to the last widget.

4 Add the OneNote widget

Preview and select OneNote widgets on the iPhone
Add the OneNote widget

This widget is the biggest and the best. I wish it was a bit more compact and had less white space at the bottom, but it is worth having because it makes OneNote so much easier and faster to use. Press the Ad Widget button.

5 Position the widget

Position the OneNote widget on the iPhone screen
Drag the widget into position

The widget appears on the screen. Press and drag it into position. The other icons scoot around to make space for it, even moving onto following screens if necessary. When you are happy with it, press the Done button in the top right corner of the screen.

6 Use the OneNote widget

Recording an audio note in OneNote on the iPhone
Tap the OneNote widget and speak notes

The widget enables you to get to OneNote features much faster than if you have to start the app, press buttons and access menus to do something. One press on a widget button is all you need. For example, tap the Audio button in the widget and you are straight into recording an audio note. It starts almost instantly and you can simply speak or record audio around you. Tap Stop Recording and it is saved to a note.

Syncing is automatic, so the audio recording is available on other devices, like your PC or Mac, seconds later. The iPhone has a Voice Memos app of course, but OneNote voice notes are cross-platform and can be accessed anywhere and on anything.

Also see Access hidden menus in apps on Android phone and iPhone. Long pressing app icons on phones enables you to access shortcuts to app features, including OneNote.

OneNote apps are available for the Apple Mac and Windows PC. You can also access OneNote notes at the Microsoft Office website in a browser.

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