I'm starting to use OneNote (2007) more. One thing I'd like to do is take notes on papers I have read. That is, I attach, say, a PDF file, and then type in some notes about it. Sometimes I do other stuff like copy some key text or figures from the paper, so OneNote is great for this because all that plus my own notes plus the file itself can all be in one place.

However, the OneNote search doesn't seem to be able to search within said PDF files. Windows search finds things, but just in the OneNote cache, not the actual Onenote .one files. (Presumably that will only work for recently accessed stuff, and in any case doesn't take me to my actual notes.)

Is there a way to do what I want? If not, does anyone have a suggestion (or link) as to how to best use OneNote to store (and later search for!) this kind of content and notes?

2 Answers 2


This is only a partial answer, but it turns out that if I insert a file as a printout, then I can search the contents. It's a little more cumbersome than I would like, but it's the next best thing to someone telling me how to get OneNote or Windows to index within attachments.

Basically I just drag and drop the file of interest into a note, and then choose the "insert file as printout" option:

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OneNote prints out a searchable image of the file contents into the note page, and drops the file in as an attachment, and puts a link to where the file came from. So, good enough for my purposes...

  • I'll unaccept this and accept a different answer if it's closer to what I'm really after...
    – jtolle
    Jul 12, 2013 at 16:12

1) You can send any highlighted portion of any web page to OneNote by right clicking on the highlighted material and selecting Send to OneNote. On my computer with only 1 gig memory, it takes the dialog box 5 to 10 seconds to appear. But from that dialog box, you can select exactly where in your notebooks you want the highlighted material to go. (Note: Sometimes the Send dialog box will hide behind other open windows.)

2)You can also take a screen clipping of any portion of any web page. First, have the portion of the page you want to clip centered in the window. Then, from the Insert tab, select Screen Clipping. OneNote will hide while you do the clipping. Screen clippings of text are searchable in OneNote.

3)You can also take screen clippings of portions of a page in pdf docs or any other webpage that won't allow you to highlight the material.

4) You can send an entire pdf document to a OneNote page. With the pdf window open, select the browser tools icon or menu and select "Print." From your Print dialog box, select "Send (or print) to OneNote." Presently, the Send Dialog Box will appear giving you the choice of where in your notebooks you want the pdf doc to go.

4-A) I have never read this next trick anywhere. But when a pdf document (or any other screen capture) is printed to a OneNote page, it is an image. OneNote can search the text of the image but you can't edit or perform copy and paste. So do this. First, create a subpage to the page where you printed the pdf doc and title it Cribs and Notes from (Title of the pdf). Next, right click on the portion of the pdf doc that you want to edit (or crib) and select --- Copy Text from this Page of the Printout, or --- Copy Text from all Pages of this Printout. Now, return to your subpage and paste what you selected. The pasted version of the pdf will be ordinary text and editable.

4-B) Important setting. The default printout feature in OneNote does not insert the entire document as a single page. Go to File - Options - Advanced and down near the bottom of the page, uncheck --- Insert Long Printouts on Multiple Pages

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