OneNote is the go-to note-taking app for Windows users. With new updates, it's now feature-rich and has an improved interface. However, it's not error-free. Frequently, you may see improper syncing in the app, files not opening at all, or files being opened as read-only.
You may be seeing read-only status due to restricted file permissions, but the problem may also lie with your system. Here are nine fixes you can implement if you are experiencing this issue for the first time.
1. Disable Read-Only in the NoteBook Properties
OneNote notebooks are usually editable by default. However, these files are often stored as read-only files, preventing them from being edited.
To make sure read-only status isn't causing the issue, go to the location where the OneNote notebook is stored. It is usually the OneDrive folder on your computer unless you've changed the default location.
Right-click on the notebook and go to its Properties. Navigate to the General tab and uncheck the Read-only box in the Attributes section. If this box is already unchecked, then it's not the properties settings causing the issues; there is something else that needs to be investigated.
2. Request the Sender to Share an Editable Link
Likely, the sender hasn't shared the editable link with you if you are having issues with only one notebook. You can ask the sender to reshare the editable link with you to rule out this issue.
To know how to share a document with an editable link, follow these steps:
- Open the notebook you wish to share.
- Navigate to the File menu and select Share in the left sidebar.
- Navigate to Get a Sharing Link now.
- Click on the Create an Edit link.
If the link was only viewable previously, accessing a document with an editable link might solve the problem. If it does not, follow the rest of the fixes.
3. Check Your OneNote Subscription
If you use a Microsoft 365 subscription, ensure that it hasn't expired. If you do not renew the subscription after it expires, you'll start seeing restrictions. Accessing documents in read-only mode is one of them.
You can refer to this Microsoft document for more information about what will happen after your Microsoft 365 business subscription ends.
You won't have to worry about this step if you opt for the Microsoft OneNote free app and properly sync your data. Don't bother with this fix if it doesn't apply to you.
4. Don’t Use Same OneNote Account at Multiple Places Simultaneously
Furthermore, using OneNote in multiple places at the same time poses a host of issues. For instance, if you shift from the OneNote web to the OneNote app while keeping the page open, OneNote may show the read-only view of that page.
In addition, it may interfere with the app's syncing. To avoid facing such issues, always use OneNote in a single place and properly close it while shifting to another.
5. Repair and Update OneNote
The problem may persist even after applying the above fixes. In this case, updating and repairing OneNote may help. To update OneNote, click on your icon right next to your logged-in email in OneNote and tap on Office user info.
Go to the Product Information settings on the right-sidebar and tap on Update Options to open the drop-down menu of Office Updates. Click on Update Now, and your OneNote will be instantly updated.
If updating OneNote doesn't resolve the issue, you can also try repairing the program. To do so, go to the Windows settings app and head over to the Apps section. Then, navigate to the Apps and Features on the left sidebar and type OneNote into the search box. Tap on Advanced options and scroll down to Repair at the bottom of the page.
6. Clear OneNote's Cache
OneNote stores information in its cache to streamline processing. There are rare instances when not clearing cache from your system over time can cause file readability issues. When this happens, you may not be able to open a file, or you can't edit it.
To clear the OneNote cache, go to the OneNote cache folder on your system. Unless you've modified OneNote's install path, it'll be located at Users > [your username] > App Data > Local > Microsoft > OneNote.
To check the modified cache file location, go to the File menu in OneNote and head over to Options, located at the bottom left. Navigate to Save and Backup and copy the full path to the Cache file location.
Paste the path in File Explorer, and you will see a folder named 16.0 (or something else, depending on the version of OneNote you are using). Delete all data from the Cache folder.
7. Change Your User Account
App updates and repairs resolve your app's processing issues, but the problem may also be related to your OneNote account. If you are unsure, try opening the same notebook with a different account. If it works ideally, then change your user account.
8. Clear OneDrive's Storage Space
For OneNote power users, 5GB of storage is insufficient to handle the amount of work they do. Ensure the OneDrive account where your OneNote data is stored has enough space to handle new data.
With a full OneDrive storage space, OneNote may experience the same strange issues you see on your phone with low storage space. If you want more out of OneDrive, purchase a premium subscription.
9. Update or Downgrade Windows
If your Windows is outdated, you can update it to see if that fixes the problem. Likewise, you can revert to a previous version if the issues started after an update.
You can update Windows by going to the Windows settings and selecting Update and Security on the left sidebar. Click on Check for Updates, and Windows will update your OS.
On the other hand, you can roll back the update, but you should only do this if you're confident it won't affect your computer's performance. Furthermore, using an outdated version compromises your security, so be aware of the risks.
Open OneNote and Get Back to Work
If OneNote is keeping you from editing your files, it can be down to one of many different causes. Hopefully, by now, you've discovered one that works for you.
Did you know there are ways to speed up your OneNote? You can disable graphics acceleration, reduce background activity, and avoid embedding large files to help OneNote keep up with the pace.