Using OneNote during a conference

Updated: November 2022.

It all started out with a tweet by Simon Bisson:


I really liked that idea, but I could not very well imagine how it worked exactly. And as this is another way I can make work easier for my colleagues, who generally do not have the time or the interest to find out these things, I decided to try it and write it all down. The Office 365 and SharePoint Connect conference in Haarlem was a good moment to test it all, using a tablet, but it works the same on a PC.

Any time before the conference (it can be NOW)

Practice with capturing and inserting an image in OneNote from your smartphone. It takes a few steps, and the more familiar you are with the process, the faster you will be at the time of the conference.

I could not find any recent instructions, so I created them myself (iPhone only)

  • Go to iPhone Settings > OneNote > allow camera and microphone (mobile data optional, depending on your experiences with conference wifi). You can also do this when you are in OneNote, you will be prompted.
  • Open OneNote on a practice page
  • Tap on the place on the page where you want to insert the image
  • Click on the camera icon and select “Take Picture”
  • Select the “Document” option and direct your phone’s camera to the screen you want to capture. You will see a white line appear around the edges.
  • Press the picture button and you will see what you have captured within the lines. You can adjust the capture by dragging the lines with your fingers.
  • Click “Confirm” (bottom right) when you are happy with the capture.
  • You will now see the capture itself and some more editing options. Click “Done” (bottom right) when you want to add the capture to the page
  • You will go to the practice page and see that the capture has been inserted.

I have made a (silent and vertical) video of consecutive screenshots 😁

(The day) Before the conference

  • Make sure you have the OneNote app installed on your tablet/PC and smartphone, and that you are logged in on both devices with the same account.
  • Practice again by capturing your PC screen
  • Create a notebook for all conferences
  • Create a section for the next conference. From there you can create a page for each session.
I have created a Section for the Connect conference, and have one page per session.
  • Charge your devices and a power bank if you have one. It may be my iPad but it devoured battery. A charger may be useful as well, to use during breaks.
  • Clean the camera lens on your phone

Before each session

  • Make sure your devices are connected to the conference wifi
  • Create a page for the next session
  • Open tablet/PC and phone on the session’s page

During the session

  • Make notes on your tablet/PC
  • Whenever you want to capture a slide, take a picture with your phone while both phone and tablet/PC are on the session page with the cursor below the current notes. Take the picture when border is shown around the slide. The “Document” picture option appears to give the best results.
  • The picture captured in the lines will be added to the page at the place where your cursor is, on both devices.
I took the picture, focusing on the slide, and this was added to the page. See below for the original photo.

After the conference

  • Process your notes like you are used to.
  • Remove the original pictures from your phone’s photo gallery to free up space. Your slide pictures will still stay in OneNote.
OneNote-original image
This is the original picture which stays on your phone and takes up space.


I really like this option. I love the fact that the cropped image automagically appears in your notes 😊. I also like the fact that you have the slides immediately; of course, you can also wait until the organization makes the decks available, but by that time I generally no longer have the time and patience to cut and paste all this.

7 thoughts on “Using OneNote during a conference

  1. Kurt Kragh Sørensen February 5, 2019 / 11:01 pm

    I use OneNote om my iPad as the combination with phone for photos and notes on pc requires good wi-fi and that is not always the case apart from IntraTeam Event 🙂

    You also have to be sure that your phone and pc connects to the same server. I had my challenges with personal and business account and OneNote for Windows and OneNote 2016. Very confusing. I still prefer EverNote to OneNote as it is a lot less complicated.

    But thank you for the post. Always a pleasure. Sorry you’re not coming to our conference this year.

    Hope to see you in Stockholm on Nov. 12-14 or in Copenhagen next year March 2-4

    This post will probably be in #IntraTeamNews this coming weekend.

  2. Kurt Kragh Sørensen February 5, 2019 / 11:05 pm

    And another thing is that my MS Probook does not have power for a whole conference which also goes for my iPhone so unless I have power or extra battery you are lost by the end of the conference. My iPad holds power the whole day 🙂

    So the new dimensions on Maslow pyramid are important: Power and wi-fi.

    • Ellen van Aken February 8, 2019 / 4:29 pm

      Thanks for your feedback, Kurt! Until now I have had good experiences with conference wifi, but my recent experience is limited to UK and Netherlands. And apparently we all have a different “weakest link” with regards to battery 🙂
      Best regards,

  3. Tracey Smith March 4, 2019 / 7:18 am

    Absolutely love this idea! I do something similar with my campus and district professional development (I’m a teacher) as I have a yearly PD notebook, but I’d never thought of having my phone app already in the same notebook to quickly slip in any pics…what a brilliant idea!

    • Ellen van Aken March 4, 2019 / 11:14 am

      Thanks, Tracey, glad to see you like this. Have you tried it yet?

      • Tracey Smith April 26, 2019 / 5:30 am

        I finally had the opportunity to try it today at a professional development session I was attending (I’m a teacher) and it worked beautifully. Definitely my new “go to” method of notetaking.

      • Ellen van Aken April 26, 2019 / 8:11 am

        Yay! Thanks for letting me know!

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