How can we improve OneNote for Windows?

Enable background sync for OneNote on Windows Phone

You could tie it to being on wi-fi like image upload but I would *love* to always have up to date notes on my phone

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    Mary BranscombeMary Branscombe shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Completed  ·  Omeed ChandraOmeed Chandra responded  · 

    Thanks for submitting this feedback! We actually introduced background sync over Wi-Fi for OneNote in Windows Phone 8, so all Windows Phones released in the last year and a half should support this feature.

    If you’re already using Windows Phone 8 or 8.1 and our existing background sync functionality doesn’t meet your needs, please let us know what you would like to see improved about it.

    13 comments

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      • Manfred LinnertManfred Linnert commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        this idea from mary is far from "completed". i use windows 10 mobile on a 950xl. recently i ran into sync issues that were almost impossible to resolve. on my pc i witnessed that the onenote-version shipped with windows 10 needs about half an hour to sync one pretty large file i use. this sync even takes that long if i just change one character of the huge note. obviously no good delta is made before sync, instead it seems to again and again sync the complete dataset. at the same time my phone failed miserably to sync that same file, because the app never stays active for long enough, each sync is aborted once the lockscreen triggers. it retries only when i open that note again, but aborts without success once i leave onenote or activate lockscreen. i only managed to make it sync with success by tickling its screen for 1 hour and 50 minutes so it could finalize without beeing interrupted. this mechanism only works for tiny notes that can be transmitted within seconds. for everything else it simply doesnt work. sync would need to run overnight or during backup, no matter if the app is open or lockscreen is active.please improve on that

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I am having trouble with syncing automatically too. This is the main reason I am thinking of using OneNote instead of Evernote, but now that OneNote does the same thing, I'm not sure.

        I have my phone set to update via wifi (no data plan).

        For example, when I come home, my phone automatically uploads any screenshots/pictures to Dropbox, that I took while I was away.

        Neither Evernote nor OneNote have done this, so far. Both need to be manually synced.

        It is so annoying to realize that I made changes while away from wifi, start to make changes/additions at home with wifi, only to find that I am working with an old version of my notes, i.e. I forgot to go to my phone, and sync all.

        Please make changes to this! I can see that OneNote may be superior to Evernote.

      • Mary BranscombeMary Branscombe commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        this is still not keeping my notebooks up to date in the background on WP 8.1; I have to open the ON app for syncing to happen. Please re open this request

      • Alejandro RobledoAlejandro Robledo commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I agree with everybody when they say that onenote on widnows phone is not really running in the backgroud.
        I would expect to have my sections and pages with the latest version at all times, not only when I enter a specific page, this is not true background sync.
        Another characteristic I think background app should have is the ability to turn on/off background execution trough the battery saver server settings, but when I search for onenote app in this list, it doesn't have the switch option.
        I would also like to have this feature correctly implemented.

      • nathanb131nathanb131 commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I don't understand why this is still tagged as 'completed' after we've given clear examples of how it is not solved. OneNote on Windows Phone is obviously a 'sync-on-demand' not 'background sync'.

        Here are some actual background sync examples for Windows Phone:

        -photo uploads to OneDrive happens automatically when on wifi (configurable)
        -app updates with automatic checking (configurable)
        -email downloads automatically at certain intervals (configurable)
        -calendar updates (configurable)
        -even phone updates download automatically in the background

        None of these examples require us to open the app in order for it to sync. If I get on an airplane and take my phone offline, I can be certain that any email that was sent within the last hour or so will be available to me to read without it having to check the server upon opening. However, even if it has been several days since I edited a OneNote page (regardless of wifi availability) it will not be the updated version when I first open it.

        Furthermore, if it DID sync in the background, it'd most certainly need to be user-configurable. Just like all the other TRUE background sync examples I named. Last thing you'd want as automatic is 'sync-all-notebooks-check-every-minute' to drain the battery and have massive notebooks fill up the storage.

        I'd love to be proven wrong on this. If this issue really is 'complete' then this test would work: Send yourself an email and add something to a OneNote list from office online. Let your Windows Phone be connected to wifi for an hour (or 20 hours, doesn't matter). Go into airplane mode. Check email, it's there. Check that OneNote list you updated. It won't be. Because one of these things syncs in the background and one doesn't.

      • Mark CMark C commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Agree with Nathan's comments below - is the feature supposed to be true background sync (I hope so!) and Omeed, please comment on when this feature will exist in

        To expoud on Nathan's comment: the use case is The Document I've Worked on Most Recently is Likely The One I Will Need On Mobile Next Even (and Especially!) If I Don't Have a Signal. AUTOMATIC and BACKGROUND syncing ensures the note I just changed ont he desktop or tablet will be READY FOR ME on other devices EVEN IF I DON'T HAVE A SIGNAL.

        Love your product. Please let us know!

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Omeed, can you respond to the comments below? I assume there is a reason you folks don't implement like this. I'm sure we'd all love to know as it sure would be handy on a program that's designed specifically to take "quick" notes. Thanks in advance.

      • nathanb131nathanb131 commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I've been using WP 8 (now on 8.1) for almost 2 years and use OneNote daily. Apparently what you call background syncing is different than what users think it is. Background syncing to me means that when you open the note, the newest version shows instantly. This is never the case.

        Most common example: I make an edit to our shopping list or my wife makes a change on her windows phone. I wait the appropriate time for that change to sync 'up' to OneDrive. If I then open that note in my windows phone it ALWAYS pauses while it apparently checks the server for changes before showing me the changes. Now this isn't a big complaint since this updating process usually only takes 5-10 seconds which I find completely satisfactory. But it is definitely not 'syncing' down to my phone in the background so that the latest version IS the one on my phone.

        Another example is that if I know I'm going to not have data (like on an airplane) then I better open any notebooks and force a sync while still online. If it REALLY synced completely in the background then I wouldn't keep experiencing the 'sync-only-when-I-open' thing. That would be the exception rather than the rule.

        Again, I don't have a major issue with how sync works because my notebooks are huge and my phone memory is small so syncing only commonly used notebooks and only syncing changes to them upon opening is a good compromise. But it's definitely not 'syncing in the background' as you claim. At least not completely like the desktop version does.

        If I'm missing some checkbox in the settings that would REALLY enable a full background sync on wifi then please correct me!

      • Mary BranscombeMary Branscombe commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        the Windows desktop background sync has spoiled me; I know mobile apps have to respect battery (so Wi-Fi only is fine) but really need this

      • MatthewMatthew commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        This is something needed everywhere. It always feels like you have to wait for things to sync rather than being able to just get on the application (Windows, Windows Phone) and having your notes already there.

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