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Planning to do a lot of audio recording in OneNote? It's worth it to invest in a decent external microphone. This is the one I have.

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Now You're Cooking with OneNote

Folks are often asking me what my favorite use of OneNote is.  Well, I use it in a LOT of different ways, for both work and home.  Here's one of my favorite HOME uses of it:

I do most of the cooking and shopping in our household.  When I'm at the grocery store I can't always remember what I was supposed to get so I need to make lists, like many folks do, of what I need.

Hold that thought, I'll be right back to it...

One of the things I use OneNote for, like many of you do, is to hold my recipes for things I cook and to collect new recipes from friends, websites, wherever.  I enter them in OneNote and I share that notebook with my wife, in case she wants to add recipes or use one.  I have the notebook on my desktop in my office, but I also have it open on my netbook which tends to live on the kitchen counter.

Well, when I've decided I want to make a particular recipe that night or in the coming days one of the things I'll do, like most of you, is take a quick inventory of the pantry and kitchen and make sure I have all of the ingredients.  I'll pull up the recipe in OneNote (see below) and start checking the pantry and fridge.

When I find an ingredient I don't have I select it and press CTRL+SHIFT+5.  That flags the ingredient as an Outlook task with no due date.  That's where some of the list magic happens...in the background that task gets synced to Outlook.  And that gets synced to my Exchange server...and that gets synced to my Android phone as a task.

Voila, I've now got a portable list of ingredients that I need to buy.  Using an Outlook task with no due date does two things for me:

1. Keeps these items from cluttering up my regular tasks, all of which DO have due dates.

2. Makes it easy to filter just the shopping list.  I tell Outlook or my Android phone to only show me tasks with no due date.  Those are my shopping items.

For other things, like milk and such that might not be in a recipe, I just keep a page called "Shopping List".

When I get the item at the store I mark it complete on my phone, which marks it complete in my Exchange server, which is reflected in Outlook and then syncs to OneNote.  Done.

BONUS: If my wife checks the OneNote she gets an almost immediate update of what I've bought.

It also functions as a primitive inventory in itself - if I need to know if I have green olives I can look at the list and see that I bought some, and the last modified date tells me the date and time that I marked it complete so I have some idea of how long ago I bought them.  That doesn't guarantee we still have them, of course, but at least I have a clue that we did as of that date.

The other nice thing it is that it's all reusable.  When I need to buy more of an ingredient I just change the mark from the check mark back to an Outlook task.

Q: Does this work without Exchange?  Yes, though not quite as well.  You may still be able to sync the tasks to a phone if you have a phone that will sync Outlook tasks.  At worst you can print out your shopping list and just carry that with you and that doesn't even require Outlook.

Best way to do that is to go to the Home tab in OneNote 2010, click Find Tags to create a tags summary.  Check the box that says "Show only unchecked items" and then click the "Create Summary Page" at the bottom.  Now you have a page you can print easily that aggregates all of your unchecked items (ingredients you need) from across all of your pages. (including recipes and your shopping page)