Insert a file in OneNote

Inserted files provide easy reference to information from documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and other sources. Instead of duplicating such information in multiple places, you can bring everything you need directly into OneNote — either as linked cloud files, as independent file attachments, or as virtual printouts whose pages you can view and annotate for more context and meaning.

Upload to OneDrive and insert a link

Selecting this option uploads a copy of one or more selected files to your OneDrive account (the same account on which you store your current OneNote notebook). A link to each file is then inserted on the current page in your notebook. Using this option can help to reduce the size of your notebooks by keeping the source files on OneDrive, and you can easily invite other people to view and contribute to those files.

  1. Place the cursor anywhere on the current page, and then click Insert > File.

  2. In the dialog box that appears, locate and select the file you want to insert, and then click Open.

  3. In the dialog box that appears, click Upload to OneDrive and insert link.

Tip: Linking to cloud files is a great way to avoid duplication of content, reduce notebook file size, and easily collaborate with others in the same place. However, if you must frequently use OneNote offline (for example, when you are without Internet access during travel), this option may limit your ability to maintain access to all of your information during such times.

For each uploaded file, OneNote inserts a clickable link that points back to the source file on OneDrive. If the inserted file is associated with a Microsoft Office app (such as a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet, or a PowerPoint presentation), OneNote will display a live preview of the file contents on your page. This lets you view and browse through the file contents quickly and easily, without having to open the file in the associated app.

Insert as attachment

Selecting this option inserts a copy of one or more source files as separate attachments in OneNote. Once inserted, attached files have no link to their source files, so any changes you make to them in OneNote will exist only there. This option is a good choice for collecting static “snapshots” of information from multiple sources (for example, while doing research for a project) or to keep information available in OneNote even when you're working offline.

  1. Select Insert > File.

  2. In the dialog box that appears, locate and select the file you want to insert, and then click Open.

  3. In the dialog box that appears, click Insert as attachment.

  4. In the box that appears, select the file and select Open.

    If the PDF is large, it may take a moment for it to be embedded in your notes.

Note: An attachment is an unlinked copy of the original source file. Any changes you make to the source file or to the copied attachment won't be applied to the other.

For each attached file, OneNote inserts a file icon in your notes. Double-clicking the icon opens its contents for editing in the associated app (for example, Microsoft Word when opening a Word document).

Insert as printout

Selecting this option inserts the contents of a file as a virtual “printout” by importing the contents of the file as a series of images (one image per “page”). Once placed in your notes, each printout image can be selected, resized, moved, and annotated, but they can't be edited like normal text. This option is a good choice when you want to import information whose formatting should be preserved (for example, complicated tables and charts, large diagrams, or richly formatted lists).

  1. Select Insert > File.

  2. In the dialog box that appears, locate and select the file you want to insert, and then click Open.

  3. In the dialog box that appears, click Insert as printout.

    If the source file is large, it may take a moment for the printout images to appear in your notes.

When the printout images have been placed in your notes, click any image to resize it, move it elsewhere on the page, or right-click the image to cut, copy, paste, save, or delete it.

You can also annotate any printout image by typing or handwriting text over it. To do this, right-click the image you want to annotate, click the Set Picture as Background button, and then type or write over the image.

Tip: If you want to be able to edit the text in a printout image, you may be able to copy the text and then paste it elsewhere in your notes for editing. For more information, see Copy text from pictures in OneNote.

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