Microsoft OneNote is a popular program for taking and sharing notes. One challenge with OneNote though is moving or migrating notebooks. This challenge has become amplified because Microsoft has changed the options available for moving notebooks through the various flavors and versions of OneNote over the years. There is also confusing documentation on how to move notebooks. Hopefully this blog will provide some clarity.
A quick lesson on OneNote files: A given notebook is a collection of files that are stored in a common folder that contains all files for a specific notebook where the folder name matches the notebook name. Subfolders are created for section groups where the names of the section group and folders also match. The primary file has a .one extension. There is a .one file for each section in a notebook that contains all pages within the section and the data on the pages. Another file type is the table of contents file, which has a .onetoc extension. This file exists for each notebook and each subsection in a notebook and launches the notebook. The last significant file is onepkg. This file is created when exporting a OneNote notebook and is useful for moving notebooks. The file structure is apparent when stored locally. When stored in the cloud the files can be difficult to locate as typically only the table of contents file is displayed.
Be aware that Microsoft does not support moving notebooks by directly copying the file / folder structure. Though it is possible to move notebooks this way, it can be problematic. Most notably, links within a notebook that point to other locations (such as pages or paragraphs) may not work after the move. Also, for cloud stored notebooks, it can be difficult to find the .one files since Microsoft only seems to want us to see only the primary file that opens the notebook.
This article presents two common scenarios for moving notebooks:
In the first scenario, a notebook created in OneNote for Windows 10 will be moved to OneDrive Professional. In this scenario. the notebook will likely have been placed in the user’s Personal OneDrive account (https://onedrive.microsoft.com) since this is often the default location.
OneNote for Windows 10 does not provide an option to export or move the Notebook. Therefore, the OneNote desktop app that is frequently bundled with the Office 365 Enterprise apps will need to be used. This edition is more feature rich than the ones included with recent versions of Windows.
The easiest way to open the notebook in OneNote is to access the notebook first via OneNote browser edition. To do that:
- Navigate to https://OneDrive.live.com and login.
- Click on My Files
- Look for a folder called \OneNote Notebooks or \Notebooks. This may be at the root of the OneDrive account or under the \Documents folder. In the folder will be OneNote shortcuts to all notebooks. Click on the notebook you want to open. If you don’t see it, try searching for the notebook name.
- Click on the ellipsis (3 dots) in the column to the right of the file name to open a menu and select Open in OneNote
- From the OneNote app the notebook can be exported to a OneNote package file. Click File > Export
- On the Export page click Notebook and under Select Format, click OneNote Package (*.onepkg) and then click the Export
- Save the file.
- The next step is to unpack the package file and save it to the OneDrive Professional account. To do this, make sure the machine you are going to unpack the file from is logged into the OneDrive account in the tenant you want to move / copy the notebook to.
- From Windows Explorer, navigate to where the file is saved to and double-click on it. This will open the OneNote Unpack window.
- The path will likely default to the OneDrive Professional account. Click Create.
This should unpack the OneNote files and copy them to the OneDrive Professional account. If OneNote does not open the newly moved / copied notebook you should see the OneNote shortcut file in OneDrive. Click on it to open the notebook.
In the second scenario the intent is to move a OneNote notebook from a OneDrive professional account to a Team or SharePoint site.
To do this perform the following steps:
- Open the OneDrive Professional account in a browser
- Click on the ellipsis and Move to (Alternatively, you can also use Copy to)
- Select the Team / Channel / SharePoint site to move the notebook to. The window that is presented will show recent locations you have navigated to. There is also a link at the bottom called More places…, which will show shared libraries and Teams that you have access to.
The notebook will be moved or copied. Once completed, the notebook should be displayed in the SharePoint site or the Team by navigating to Files for the Team. For SharePoint sites the Notebook shortcut file is typically placed in the Site Contents > Site Assets folder.
The methods provided for moving / copying notebooks are not exclusive to the scenarios mentioned. I used these merely as examples. Also, when using the OneNote Unpack routine, it is possible to define SharePoint sites or Teams for the path. I have managed to move notebooks in that manner. It can be tricky though to find the correct URL for the location you want to place the notebook in - particularly if you are trying to target a Teams channel. This may result in the notebook not being displayed in the SharePoint site or Team. When this happens, searching for the notebook by name should result in a hit. Once found, the notebook can be opened.
If these methods prove difficult to perform, another option is to create a new notebook in the location where you want it. Open both the target and source notebooks in OneNote. Then select the page or section you want to copy, right-click and select Move or copy… then navigate to the notebook where you want to move / copy the data to. It is not possible to multi-select pages or sections, which means this process can be manually intensive for large notebooks.
One last piece of advice: finding the location of notebooks can sometimes be tricky. One good place to start is from the OneNote app. Simply click on File and this will display all open notebooks with the location where they are stored. The location will be defined as a local drive, network drive, or the URL of the OneDrive personal location (something like https://onedrive.live.com... ), a OneDrive professional account (https://<tenant name>-my.shapreoint.com) or SharePoint / Teams site (https://<tenant name>.sharepoint.com.
Finally, I recommend that you move Notebooks as opposed to copying them. If you copy a notebook that leaves the original notebook in-place. That leads to multiple notebooks with the same name. With that, it can create confusion and lead to information being placed into the wrong notebook.