I'm moving from OneNote 2010 to Office 365 and OneNote 2016.

Some of my older notebooks are in OneNote's 2007 format, and are read-only, as shown in OneNote 2016's Window title:

[Screenshot: OneNote 2016's Window title shows Read-Only-Compatibility Mode'[1]

I know that I need to convert them to the newer format, and I'm doing that by

  • Right-clicking on the Notebook title and selecting Properties....
  • In the "Notebook Properties" dialog, selecting "Convert to 2010" (in OneNote 2010) or "Convert to 2010-2016" (in OneNote 2016)

This appears to convert correctly, but at the end, every time, I get:

Failed to convert
The notebook conversion was incomplete.
OneNote cannot open the required file because another program is currently using it.

Screenshot: Failed to Convert

(I am able to update the format of any OneNote 2007 Notebooks that are local to my machine.)

Things I've tried:

  • Doing the conversion in OneNote 2010
  • Doing the conversion in OneNote 2016
  • Closing the Notebook on all but one version of Outlook on one machine
  • Googling for the error message above
  • Using OneNote's Moving the folder to a different location (it's accessed via a Samba server at the moment) - I tried moving it to a Windows drive, and it wouldn't sync all the pages in the new location
    • It turned out that I had just moved it to a different Samba server
  • Edited to add: Also tried deleting my Onenote cache and re-downloading - that didn't work either: "C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\OneNote\14.0\OneNoteOfflineCache.onecache"
  • Edited to add: Also tried harder to persuade OneNote that NoteBooks were not open elsewhere:
    • Closing all Notebooks in OneNote 2016
    • Renaming registry keys that showed the list of 'open notebooks' from earlier OneNote version: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\12.0\OneNote\OpenNotebooks
    • And then converting to newer format - I still got the same error message

The only thing I can think of is that because I've viewed these notebooks in old machines, that no longer exist, OneNote thinks I might still need to sync those old copies, and so it's not allowing the conversion.

Is there anything else that I can try?

1 Answer 1


I've found a workaround - create a new Notebook, and copy each section in the old Notebook to this new one.

Beware that a huge downside of it is that it breaks internal links between Onenote pages, so you might want to hold off for a while, and see if anyone posts a better answer!

  • For each of your OneNote Notebooks that are in 2007 format:
    • Close the Notebook in all but one of your Onenote installations - keep it open in a OneNote 2016
    • In OneNote 2016, create a new, empty Notebook, with a similar name as the old
    • As an optimisation, move that new Notebook to the top of your notebook list
    • For each section in your old Notebook (which will be read-only):
      • Right-click on it, and select "Move or Copy..."
      • Select your new folder as the destination - you will only be able to Copy, and not Move
    • When you've finished copying all sections:
      • Close the old Notebook
      • Go to its folder on disk, and compress or delete the folder, so there's no chance you use it by mistance in future.

It's rather tedious, but at least it allows me to edit my older Notebooks!

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