Conferences and OneNote – updated

In-person conferences are back! And while we all managed to attend a lot of conferences online with very few issues, it is great to be able to meet face-to-face again, get swag and rejoice or complain about the catering! 😁

A few months before the pandemic I wrote a post about using OneNote to capture screenshots of presentations. When you do not want to wait until the slides become officially available, you can quickly grab screens and add them to your notes, provided you have two devices.
You can also use this at online meetings of course – just take a picture from your computer screen.

I have updated the post, as the way to take photos with OneNote has changed somewhat. You will see the button with link below, as the “reblogging” that I did the other day (for the new Microsoft365 Homepage) does not provide a good user experience. 😒

Additionally, I am adding an excerpt that you can use during the conference. You can download it as a PDF (and print and fold it), or use the image op top of this post.

As always, feel free to share with your colleagues. I will appreciate if you mention me when sharing it on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Enjoy many in-person conferences!

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.