Sometimes, I Feel That at OneNote Someone Banned Shortcuts…

I’m doing a (small) rant today: I’m missing my shortcuts in OneNote!

Recently I forced myself to migrate to OneNote, the official “new flavor” app, which will replace OneNote 2016. “OneNote 2016” does not get much (if any) of the new features, while leading development focuses on the “newly official,” just OneNote.

It’s all goodness. It’s a healthy way to retire old codebase, and replace it with a new one. But there’s something which makes me furious each time when I open the new OneNote.

The Shortcuts

Yes, I’m missing these little, useful bastards. OneNote 2016 has a bunch of shortcuts, I knew a lot of them, which saved me time when writing, sorting out, moving stuff around, etc.

In the beginning, right after the switch, my most significant pain was the Paste menu. When you paste in OneNote 2016, you had this excellent menu, which allowed you immediately to decide what type of “Paste” command you need: with the original formatting, to (try to) match destination formatting, or plain, text-only paste. It has shortcuts: You do Ctrl+V, then immediately “T,” and there you go: “Paste as plain text.” Pretty much like in Word.

The new OneNote does not have this ability. Hell, for a long time, it did not have even the Paste menu. You had to right-click (or long-tap sick), then choose the “Paste” menu (with your mouse or tap), then chose the paste method. Since I do a lot of cross-pages copy-paste, this was making me nuts and preventing me from using the new OneNote.

After submitting feedback (actually, voting for an already submitted feedback), Microsoft finally decided to improve the menu. First, they added an option to your settings, so you could choose how to paste (I immediately switched to “Text only”), then they added the menu. Adding such an option is like 80% of the work, but still far from complete!

The problem? You’re missing shortcuts. Typically, my style of work does not involve mouse at all: I switch across applications with Alt+Tab, then chose the copy/paste region, then turn back, then do the paste. Today, I have to reach out physically for the mouse to select what kind of pasting I want. Sick and annoying.

We need these damn “Paste” shortcuts on the little menu, which the legacy OneNote already has.

Now the second: OneNote’s team general approach to keyboard shortcuts. There’s no such approach. Not at all. Yes, there are some shortcuts there. But the older OneNote had a much better method and much more useful shortcuts in general!

As a technical person (but in a management role for more than a decade), I enjoy shortcuts. I’m used to them, since the times I started Visual Studio 4.0! There’s no “writing code” developer (nowadays there’re a lot of “point-and-click mouse developers), who can go without shortcuts. Visual Studio Code team proves this big-time: Code has tons of shortcuts, so many that you can discover almost every day a new, fantastic way to shortcut your mundane mouse work.

I wish OneNote for Windows 10 (that’s how they call the modern app, the legacy one is “OneNote for Windows,” or “OneNote 2016”) get together with the Code team and figure out a way to make OneNote as customizable with shortcuts, as Code it. Hell, I’d go a step further and dream that OneNote gets the flexible Options JSON configuration, which would allow anyone to go deep in reconfiguring OneNote. Not just shortcuts. Everything! But I guess this is too much to ask? Who knows, it might make OneNote usable for more people, which might not be the goal, after all :).

I’m full of conspiracy theories these days :). Here’s a nice one:
Maybe Microsoft wants to push us all to the Web versions of the O365 apps. Perhaps a bright SVP is looking at the desktop apps and deciding, “it’s time to migrate everyone to Office Online; this way, we will secure more revenue for Microsoft.” Which might not be wrong in the SVP’s head, since they will get their bonus anyway. But it’ll be bad for the users. Long-term bad. Which usually means it’ll be bad for Microsoft, too.

In any case, I’m glad to see OneNote developing in the right direction. I can’t imagine what’d be my productivity, if it was not for this tool, with O365 combination. Microsoft ecosystem is vast; the apps’ versions for iOS and Android are excellent.

It’s a pure pleasure to use it across all platforms, just these damn shortcuts, which so much interfere with my flow!

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