How to use Microsoft OneNote to track tasks

I use Microsoft OneNote to manage my professional career. It has everything from general notes, meeting notes, research notes, reference materials, and my to-do list of tasks.

To track tasks I use the “tag” feature of OneNote. There are many built-in tag names but I also customize the list with my own names. The tag becomes a task category that I can group with (i.e. Priority 1, Priority 2, Personnel, etc.)

Note: The current version of OneNote that I use is from Office 2010.

Customize the tag list

1. From the home tab select the down/end arrow on the Tags list.

One Note Tags 1


2. At the bottom of the tag list select “Customize Tags”

3. Define a new tag or modify an existing one. If I am defining the type of task that will be tracked, then I used a Symbol that contains room for a checkbox.

OneNote Tags 2


OneNote Tags 3



Add tags to task titles

1. Within any note, type a task name and then select the tag name for the tags list. This will apply the tag symbol in front of your task name on the note.

OneNote Task Titles

2. Use the space below the task name to keep up with the details of the task. I often precede the detail with the date name.

3. I don’t always keep all tasks in one notebook section. Tasks can be defined anywhere within the notebook, sections, or notes.

Track tasks

1. To view the centralized list of all tasks select the “Find Tags” button in the navigation bar. Then look at the tags in the right-side navigation. You can filter the tasks in different ways.

OneNote Task List2. From the right-side navigation if you select an individual task/tag it will navigate you to the specific location of the task where you can add supporting details.


3. I use the checkbox to indicate that the task is completed.

8 Replies to “How to use Microsoft OneNote to track tasks”

  1. I have a question for you. Is there a way for the to-do list to auto-update such that completed items are removed from the list automatically? Or do I just have to manually delete each task that has been completed?

  2. At the top of the Tag Summary is a checkbox labeled “show only unchecked items”. The at the bottom of the Tag Summary pane is a button labeled “refresh results”. After you have checked off some items you can refresh the results and they will disappear from the Tag Summary Pane.

  3. Hi Bob,
    I track weekly project progress by making a copy of last week’s notes as a new TAB for this week. I continue editing the text as the meeting progresses and using Ctrl+1 I effectively set a tick box for each new to-do action. Problem is: If this “ToDo” is not done within the week, and the next week Tab is a copy of this week, then when collecting the tasks in a “find tags” the tasks are duplicated week after week as individual tasks with the same text. Do you have a suggestion how to manage this and keep the task only once until it is done?

  4. If I check off a task in the Summary Page, is there a way to have it auto-update on the page where the original checkbox is located?

    Also, when I create a Summary Page, it duplicates all of the checkboxes when I search for tags. So do I have to delete the Summary Page each time to work around this?

  5. Hi Tiffany – I don’t use the summary page feature. I manage the tasks from the “Tags Summary” pane. The summary page option is a way to aggregate tasks from different internal pages into a single page for review. There are some options for the summary page in the upper left corner of the page that is created.

  6. Hi Neil – I just saw your question. I guess better late than never. You can keep “ToDos” on the original notes tab by date using the tags. When you create notes for a different day just use the Tag Summary pane. It will collect and show all open tasks across multiple pages. That’s really the value of the system. You can have ToDos all over the notebook and then get a summary view of them in one place.

Comments are closed.