Microsoft OneNote has undergone a number of iterations. However, users often complain of losing notebooks, sections, and individual notes. Several users report that they lost notes or entire notebooks which went missing on Windows computer. We’ll show you what to do when OneNote notebooks disappear from your Windows PC.
It could be a simple sync error or it could be that the laptop in question is closed and no longer available. Part of the problem is that Microsoft has multiple versions of OneNote, which makes it difficult to keep track of things or even fix issues like these.
1. Open the closed notepad
You can close a notebook in OneNote to declutter the interface. Closed notebooks disappear from view, not from existence, and that may be why you cannot view them.
Step 1: Click the down arrow in the left pane of the window to display a list of currently open notebooks.
2nd step: Click on More Notebooks to find the closed ones.
Step 3: Select the notebook you want to open, then click the Open button at the bottom.
It may take a few moments to download and sync data, but you won’t lose any data if you can view Notepad. This is for the OneNote for Windows version, but the user interface is slightly different for OneNote (formerly OneNote 2016).
2. Synchronization error
Microsoft relies on OneDrive to save and sync OneNote notebooks, sections, and notes across all devices. Close the app and reopen it. OneNote starts syncing every time you open the app.
You can sync manually by clicking on the cloud icon. The check mark indicates that the synchronization is complete.
For OneNote (2016), click the sync icon built into the Notepad button to display a pop-up window. You have more control here and can sync individual notebooks. You can also find it under File> Synchronization Status.
3. OneNote Backup on the computer
There is no way to store notes locally in OneNote for Windows at this time. It uses OneDrive to store notes. However, OneNote still lets you store notes both locally and in the cloud, and when you delete them, there’s a way to get them back.
Step 1: Open File> Info and click Open Backups. This will open a local folder on your computer where you will notice a separate folder for each notebook you have created.
2nd step: Select a notebook and click Open or you can explore further to find sections inside a notebook.
4. Check the recycle bin for deleted notes
Any note you delete is moved to OneNote Recycle, where it will remain for 60 days. Post this, the app will delete it completely. The steps are a bit different for the two versions of OneNote.
For OneNote for Windows
You can find the deleted notes under the View tab by clicking the Deleted Notes button.
Under the History tab, you will notice the Notepad Trash button.
All deleted pages and notes will appear there. OneNote will store them for 60 days.
5. Check OneDrive
Open the OneDrive home page and in the Documents or Notebooks folder you’ll find OneNote notebooks, sections, and notes. Deleted notes and notebooks may still be in the Trash folder. Check there too. Right click on Notepad to restore deleted items.
6. Check the OneNote website
Open the OneNote web app home page and see if you can locate the missing notebook or notes there. The web app works like the OneNote for Windows app, but all of the notes and notebooks you created in OneNote should be here.
7. Open via OneDrive
Sometimes, due to sync errors, you’ll notice that the notes are visible in OneDrive on the web but not in the OneNote app on your Windows computer. In this case, open the OneDrive account in your preferred browser, find the missing OneNote notebook, right-click on it, and select Open in OneNote to open it in the OneNote desktop app on your computer.
There is another option called Open in OneNote Online which will open the OneNote app in a new tab on the web. Once the notebook / note opens in the installed app, it syncs up and you can then open it later directly from there.
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Often times, accidental deletion or sync error is the problem, but there may be other issues. You should also try to search for it to check if by mistake you or someone else with access to your computer moved the note to another location. The odds are low, but worth it.
OneNote isn’t the only note-taking app on the market. Applications like Notion are a game-changer with modular productivity where users have many more formats and flexibility.
Thinking of exploring Notion? We’ve compiled a list of some cool and productive templates that will get you up and running in no time. Click on the link below to find out more.
Last updated Feb 22, 2021
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