As a freelance writer, I need a way to create, organize, and keep notes, sources, and even snippets of text or dialog, as well as article ideas. Around my home office, I have literally a hundred or more notebooks jammed with scribbles, ideas, magazine clippings, and newspaper articles. While opening up one of those notebooks and thumbing through it provides a treasure trove of writing ideas and materials, finding something specific inside of one of those notebooks isn’t as pretty. My new netbook computer for writing was one way to try and manage some of that. Unfortunately, having a hundred text files, spreadsheets, and Word Documents scattered all over my hard drive isn’t much better.
Microsoft OneNote is a powerful note taking and organization utility. Although it was originally included in Office 2003, most people never really noticed it as it was both an optional install, and only available on certain editions of Microsoft Office Suite. In Office 2007, OneNote 2007 was released and, for this writer at least, a brilliant organizational tool and way to save website clips, news articles, and other information finally proved robust enough to actually get used. In addition, Microsoft One Note 2007 was a great way to jot down your own ideas and then actually be able to find them again later.
Microsoft has released Office 2010 Beta, and OneNote 2010 has been updated accordingly. Most of the new features aren’t flashy, but OneNote does get the upgraded Ribbon interface which was desperately needed to avoid an OneNote screen crammed with program icons and toolbars. Now OneNote 2010 has the same type of interface that users saw in Word 2007 and in Word 2010 beta.
Professional freelance writers, students, and researchers of all types will find plenty to love in Microsoft OneNote, starting with its ability to accept a Paste copied from virtually any program without mangling the information or requiring the author to make a difficult choice between clean and precise formatting and keeping all of the information and data intact. Never again will a webpage screenshot saved for months be opened in MS Word only to find that the all important variable has been lost off the edge of the right margin, never to be seen again.
Delete Section Group in OneNote 2010 and OneNote 2007
Microsoft apparently went out of its way to make OneNote idiot-proof. One can almost smell the effort to compete with whatever the Mac equivalent is, because some things about OneNote are very un-PC like. In one way, this is a good thing. A better easier to use application is always welcome. In another way, it can be very annoying for long-time computer users and those with a high-level of technical expertise who want to make their computers do what they want them to do, not have their hand held while they use a glorified typewriter.
Since the key concept of OneNote is to duplicate and replace the functionality of notebooks, it is no surprise that the main form of organization within OneNote 2010 and OneNote 2007 comes from creating and opening notebooks. Notebooks can be customized with colors, fonts, and more.
Of course, just having one big notebook isn’t always the best solution for many situations. Therefore, OneNote notebooks can have sections created within them. The hierarchy of OneNote notebook organization goes like this:
Notebook -> Section Group -> Section -> Page
Creating new notebooks, or creating new notebook section groups, creating new sections, and creating new pages in OneNote is all handled the same way. Users can use the well-known New icons or menu options, or they can right click in certain areas, depending upon what they want to create a new one of, and then choose New -> Section (or page, or group, or whatever).
When it comes to deleting section groups in OneNote, however, things get confusing.
While OneNote Pages are deleted by right-clicking and choosing delete, or even just by hitting the Delete Key in some cases, and OneNote Sections can be deleted in the same way, OneNote section groups cannot be deleted like this. In fact, in a very frustrating design choice, the right click context menu that pops up when a user right-clicks on a Section Group tantalizingly displays a Delete menu option, but it is grayed out and cannot be selected.
As it turns out, Section Groups in OneNote are really nothing more that folders, or directories, in which smaller OneNote elements such as Sections and Pages are stored in. While there is no reason that a Section Group folder could not be deleted from within the OneNote application, Microsoft developers decided not to include that mechanism. The most likely reason is that as an actual File Folder containing OneNote page files, section groups could not be deleted unless the folder (section group) was empty of all elements first. This is not uncommon and is easily coded with a dialog box that informs the user that deleting the section group will also delete all notes and sections within it.
Microsoft apparently reasoned that users would eventually have so many nested notebooks and pages that they might not really know where they all were and would accidentally delete something important. So, while the application has been idiot proofed from accidental deletions occurring in this manner, there is an annoying functionality gap for users who are accustomed to being the master of their computer instead of being protected by it.
Fortunately, once you understand how OneNote notebooks are saved and how section groups are saved within them, deleting a section group in OneNote is actually pretty easy. Just open your My Documents folder, or Documents folder, depending upon whether using Windows XP or Windows 7. Inside that folder will be a OneNote Notebooks folder. (If you changed the default location in Office setup, you will obviously need to go to the folder you specified.)
Open the OneNote Notebooks folder. Inside, each One Note note book has its own directory. Inside each notebook folder are folders for the section groups in that notebook. To delete a section group, just delete the folder. And, yes, you are deleting everything inside of the folder, and no, it won’t be restorable from a backup because the backup was in that folder too!
Voila! Now you can clean up those section groups that are cluttering up your note books that you no longer need or have decided to organize in a different manner.
Delete NoteBook In OneNote
Incidentally, the same procedure can be used to delete unneeded NoteBooks. Using the same logic above, Microsoft provides no method to delete Microsoft OneNote notebooks from inside of OneNote 2007 or OneNote 2010. Again, deleting the file folder will delete the notebook.
This design choice is slightly less annoying, because when you Close a note book, it disappears from your screen until you open it again. The files are all still there, but at least it isn’t cluttering up your screen. However, if you need the disk space, or if you just want to be able to control your own computer, just use your favorite file manager, or My Computer, to go to the Documents folder and delete everything you don’t need anymore.