OneNote Class Notebook Tools for Desktop

Notebook Tools
One of the recent additions to OneNote is a specific set of tools to help manage your Class Notebooks. Without these tools the only way to manage a Class Notebook required opening a browser and navigating to the OneNote Portal. It was also difficult to “mark” student work, distribute pages and sections and share content between Notebooks. These tools roll up lots of those abilities into a new tab in the OneNote desktop app.

Class Notebooks Tools is available in version 15.23 of OneNote for Mac and via an Add-in on the Class Notebook portal page. On macOS you will only see the tools once you choose a Class Notebook.

So let’s go through each of the tools and explain what is possible –

Distribute Page

This will allow you to distribute a page from the Class Notebook into every students section of the Class Notebook. You will need to choose the section that the page will copy to. On macOS this is currently the only way that you can use the “Review Student Work” feature i.e. “Mark” student work on bulk. (More on this further down). On interesting point here is that the page you want to copy must already exists in the current Notebook. I guess you will just have the page in the Content Library and then distribute from there. In the past I just get the students to copy the page themselves – I actually think of it as a way of seeing if the student can follow my instructions.

distribute page

Distribute New Section

Distribute a new Section into every students section of the Class Notebook. You will need to name the new Section. This is similar to distributing a page, so you will need to do this for “Review Student Work” if there is not already a Section with the same name in each of the student sections. If you added a “Homework” or “Handouts” etc section during the creation of your Class Notebook, you do not need to do this for the “Review Student Work” tool to work.

name new section

Copy to Content Library

Choose a Section and copy it (including all pages) into one or more Class Notebooks. This is great for quickly copying content into other Class Notebooks, so to share to other classes or even across years.

content sharing

Review Student Work

This is probably the most exciting tool for teachers. As mentioned, on macOS you will need to first Distribute a Page or maybe a Section for this to work. On Windows you can choose any page from a student section and if it exists in other students section you will also be able to jump straight to it. It’s very frustrating that Microsoft has decided for the two platforms to behave differently and really the Windows version works very well. The way it has been implemented on macOS requires the teacher to be more in control of what is happening.

When selecting this tool you will need to choose the Section the Page is located, then choose the Page you would like to review.

review distributed page

By selecting each student name OneNote will switch to the same Page in each of the student sections. As you can probably see, this is fantastic!

View Student Notebooks

One of the most requested feature from the staff at my school is to have a vertical list of students to browse Student Notebooks. The “tab” section method can be a real “drag” – literally ;)

vertical student list

Manage Notebooks

This is basically a list of quick links to Create and Manage Class Notebooks. Selecting these will open your web browser and navigate to the OneNote Class Creator Portal. It certainly makes life easier.

manage notebooks


These tools are an awesome addition to OneNote and shows that Microsoft is working hard on Class Notebooks. I hope Microsoft realises the benefits of this app in education and how it differentiates them from other education apps out there.

These tools are not yet available to iOS and Android, but hopefully they will come in future updates, especially a way to Review Student Work seeing as those devices have access to drawing tools.