black tablet computer behind books

Using OneNote as an Offline Reader

One of the things I use OneNote most frequently for is to gather articles for reading and reference.  Reading content on the web has been tackled by apps like Pocket and Instapaper, but I wanted to the ability to keep everything in one place integrated with my other notes. Most applications don’t allow this dual-functionality. However my primary note taking tool does, and here’s how I put it to use.

Web Clipping is Key

For this solution to work, you’ll need the OneNote Web Clipper. Once it’s installed in your browser (this is for desktop…on mobile the steps are different) you can then log into your OneNote instance and enable the extension. From here it’s a simple enough matter to start capturing web content into OneNote.

Go Browsing

When you find a web article you want to keep and read offline, click on the Web Clipper and select the Article option from the choices. You could use the full page, bookmark, or region options, but only the Article option captures the text in an easier to read format.  You then designate in what notebook and which section you want to save the article and click on Clip.

One of the features I frequently take advantage of is the option to add notes when capturing rather than having to wait until after you capture the content. At the top of the web clipper you can enter text that is saved when you save the article.  It’s a great way to annotate your information especially when you’re capturing multiple articles in a row.

Another of my favorite features is highlighting when clipping.  In the Web Clipper after selecting the Article option, go to the top of the clipper and click on the highlighter icon.  You can now highlight text in the clipped article before it is saved and the highlighting will be passed along when the article is saved.  I use this frequently because it gives me a chance to identify why I saved an article as well as key points of interest.

This isn’t a perfect tool by any stretch.  Some pages are a struggle for the clipper to simplify, even to the degree there are certain pages it won’t even touch with the Article option. If you’re able to find a page to save (normally text articles work best) you can then use all the features of OneNote to extend your experience: creating hyperlinks, highlighting, searching, comments, handwritten notes, etc.

Is this better than other apps?

There are definitely nice features in the dedicated apps, but if you’re looking to cut down the number of apps you’re using and keep your content centrally accessible, I’d recommend looking into the OneNote Web Clipper as an excellent way to streamline your platform.