In this article I will do a short review of Gem for OneNote 2016, a toolkit that supercharges your Microsoft OneNote 2016, 2013 or 2010.
In addition I will share why I’ve switched back to OneNote 2016 after using OneNote for Windows 10 (UWP) for quite some time.
Gem for OneNote 2016
“Gem is a toolkit ( add-in ) combining 500+ features in 6 tabs for Windows Office OneNote 2016, 2013, 2010.”
This quote from the OneNoteGem website already tells the story of this productivity toolkit, with more than 500 features. So it will not be possible to discuss each and every feature, but I will provide the overview and zoom in on the features that matter most to me.
Gem for OneNote 2016 is installed through an .exe installer file, comparable with the pptPlex plugin for Microsoft PowerPoint. Other Microsoft Office plugins like Power BI publisher or Transform data by example are installed directly from the Office Store. Installation is super-easy anyway and let’s go through the Gem structure by going through the tabs in the Office ribbon.
The Gem for OneNote 2016 registration and application settings can also be found through the Gem Fix Tools found in your Windows 10 start menu.
Tabs Gem for OneNote 2016
“Gem Tab include OneNote File, Notebook and Section features.”
It is the first Gem for OneNote 2016 tab in your Office ribbon, directly after the last default tab Help. The Gem tab has the following groups:
For the the folders option in the new group is helpful, because you can quickly switch folders and edit for example the backup folder location. But you also need this ribbon-option when you start playing around with templates.
The save as option gives you the functionality to save a page as Word document, PDF-file or even convert it to a PowerPoint-file. You also trigger the backup option in the save as menu option.
The numbering-group gives you the opportunity to automatically number sections and pages and the same is applicable for the sort-group. Personally I date stamp all notes and captures, so sorting is particularly helpful.
In the last Gem-group you can set the language and register the toolkit.
“Edit tab include features to find, replace, select, insert, remove, sort, copy in current page.”
The Edit tab is the second Gem for OneNote 2016 tab in the Office ribbon. It consists of 5 groups mainly with Microsoft Word-like features.
- Find and Replace
The Find and replace group is pretty self explanatory.
The insert group has a couple of interesting features. You can insert monthly calendars and horizontal lines (that could be used as breaks). In addition there is an option syntax highlight (source code) Within the change-group you can change styles, select templates and change various other items like font height, font style, undo checkboxes or tags.
Within the sort-group you can simply sort, paragraphs, sections and pages. In the last group other you can select the proofing language and do slightly more special copy paste actions and verify a page for errors.
“Object tab operated the Page Object, like Outline, Printout, Table, Hyperlink, Attach file.”
The Object Tab is the third tab of Gem for OneNote.
The most value in the Object Tab is the advanced work you can do with images and drawings. You can select images, crop them like you are used to in Microsoft Word or Paint.Net and you can even take a picture from your camera (webcam) or screen display. You can also directly insert and image-table to a page or simply show all OCR texts, rotate and crop all printouts.
Converting a table to text and text to a table can be performed from the table-group in the Office Ribbon. The box-group allows you to simply insert text-boxes, while in the drawings group you can add shapes. You can also ink a drawing or delete it from there …
The last group in the Object Tab is called Gantt. You can add a simple Gantt chart table from this option. It is a very very basic and simple Gantt chart, like some would also do in Microsoft Excel. Use Microsoft Project if you would like to create a decent and more feature rich Gantt chart.
“This tab include Table of Contents, Comment, EndNote, Hyperlink, File Link.”
The Link Tab is the 4th tab of Gem for OneNote, that has some pretty powerful features of linking files, notes and pages.
- Table of Contents
Adding an automatic table of contents, just like you do in Microsoft Word can be done from here. Personally I create such a table of contents in each section, so it perfectly gives me an overview of the breakdown of pages (sorted by date stamp). Unfortunately there is no refresh option like in Microsoft Word to update the page numbers. Here you simply need to delete the section table of contents and create a new one.
With the Caption group you can add figure caption, a table caption and an equation caption. You can also build your own captions for different other entity-types. Comments and references are added through the Comment and Endnote groups of this Gem for OneNote tab in the Office Ribbon.
The interesting and innovative items to link can be found in Hyperlink group. You can link a QR code, insert a top of the page link, link to a parent page or insert a folder tree with links.
From the file group you can add files to note-details. For example adding audio-files or PDF-files to a specific item in your notes page. You can also add a table with a list of files that are added to the page with notes.
“Cooperation tab include internet, intranet, live sky-drive, share, cooperation with teammate features, integrate with other application.”
The 5th Tab of Gem for OneNote is called Cooperation
- Distribute Notes
In the share-group you can change the OneDrive account for the OneNote notebook and alter the notification settings for example. You can also select a specific author or clean authors of the various notes. The window group in the Cooperation Tab is about docking the OneNote screen in Windows 10 and showing two pages horizontal or vertical side by side.
Through the view-group you can hide date and time stamps, insert pages frames and select the appropriate edit mode. I haven’t use these features that much. However please visit the Gem for OneNote page with more information on the individual features, that are structured in a FAQ style.
In the controls-group you can add controls to your notes. Think of a combo-box, date picker of number selector. This can be helpful in collaboration scenarios. The Outlook-group allows you to mail or reply to note pages that you’ve “sent to OneNote” from you Outlook client or even create new items directly from OneNote to be saved or sent through Microsoft Outlook. So basically these are the actions from OneNote that land into Outlook.
You can add icons or a Microsoft Visio Brainstorming sheet from the command in this group. Highly interesting, however performance wise it can be easier to have a Visio file open and drop it into the note page (or add it through the add file option in the Gem for OneNote link tab). The distribution group allows you to distribute note pages and sections.
The play-group in the Office ribbon gives you the options capture files from a scanner, integrate with Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Table Tools Tab and Contextual Gem Tab
“Table Tools – Gem Tab is a hidden tab include in Table Tools hidden set. It will appear when choose a table.”
These two Gem for OneNote tabs provide you with table editing options from Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.
Playing around with tables in Microsoft OneNote is labor intensive work. Having Gem for OneNote with the table tools at hand you will get a more Microsoft Excel like work-process. So for me this is way and way more efficient to work with tables in Microsoft OneNote. I won’t go into the details of the Table Tools an Gem Tab because we all know these commands from Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.
Back to OneNote 2016 after using OneNote for Windows 10 (UWP)
Microsoft announced back in April 2020 that mainstream support for Microsoft OneNote 2016 would be continued beyond October 2020.
“New support dates for OneNote 2016 now align with Office 2019 (October 10, 2023 for mainstream support and October 14, 2025 for extended support.”
So that is good news for the more advanced- / professional- / power-users of OneNote 2016, which is way more feature rich that the OneNote for Windows 10 app. This Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app is excellent and solid for simple notetaking. However for the OneNote power users the OneNote for Windows 10 app simply lacks functionality.
With the introduction of the dark mode support OneNote 2016 perfectly integrates in look, feel and use with the Office suite delivered through my Microsoft 365 subscription. So after using both OneNote versions side by side I’ve made the switch back to OneNote 2016 for simple productivity reasons.
“During the Microsoft Ignite it was announced that OneNote (the desktop version previously called OneNote 2016) is back in active development. Microsoft iscurrently deploying OneNote by default with Office 365.”
You can also read in the article “Table Topic: Which version of OneNote is right for my organization?” that OneNote is aimed at enterprise environments. You can also download OneNote directly from the OneNote download-page.
Concluding thoughts and wrap-up
Gem for OneNote is just one of the many add-ins for Microsoft OneNote that James Linton and the OneNoteGem team have build for OneNote 2016, 2013, 2010, OneNote for Windows 10 (UWP), OneNote for Mac. Some of the OneNote add-ins are cross-platform available.
The price point of Gem for OneNote 2016 is $ 33,00 which for me is a reasonable price that I’m willing to pay for a productivity toolkit like this. Given the extended support of OneNote 2016 until October 2023 in mainstream support this is solid multi-year investment. 😉 There are also add-in bundles available at the purchase page of OneNoteGem.com
With Gem for OneNote 2016 the suite of Microsoft Office products becomes even better integrated. Instead of simply dropping information into OneNote you can also sent information to the other Microsoft applications like Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Visio. So if you are a OneNote power-user, than Gem for OneNote is a no-brain-purchase.
Please also check out the Onetastic for Microsoft OneNote review, that adds macro’s to your OneNote 2016 desktop client. And I’m curious is you use any add-ins for Microsoft OneNote ?
Other software reviews can be found over here.