The Many Faces of Clipping Web Pages to OneNote

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I wrote a few days back about clipping to OneNote in the modern version of Internet Explorer 11. As I’ve discovered, there are quite a few ways to clip to OneNote in general, all of which produce very different results. In this post, I’ll cover a few of these options and point out the one that seems to offer the best results for anyone who needs to use their clippings for research and analysis.

I use three browsers, specifically Chrome, desktop IE 11, and modern IE 11. Each of them have their own methods for clipping, and produce very different results. In all cases, kicking off the clipping process sends the results to my default OneNote folder, which is the Quick Notes folder in my “Personal (Web)” OneNote file (which is synced to all of my devices).

In Chrome, your options seem limited to using the OneNote extension. Go to a Web page, click the OneNote Clipper button, and the page is sent as an image (with underlying searchable text, as with all OneNote images) to your default folder. The result is attractive, but as an image is limited in terms of copying text–something I do often when quoting articles in my own posts.

Chrome OneNote Extension

A Web paged clipped to OneNote via the Chrome extension.

In desktop IE 11, you have two options. You can simply click the Send to OneNote button on the toolbar, which is automatically added when you install OneNote 2013, or you can select the content that you want to clip, right-click, and then select Send to OneNote. In both cases, your results depend greatly on how a Web page is formatted. In many cases, as in a few of my examples here, the HTML is fairly butchered and you’re left with a mess of links and other detritus that you need to manually clean up.

As you can see here, simply clipping the entire page from desktop IE 11 includes all of the HTML content compared to selecting specific content:

A Web page clipped to OneNote via the desktop IE 11 Send to OneNote plugin.

A Web page clipped to OneNote via the desktop IE 11 Send to OneNote plugin.

On this page, at least, the text formatting achieved when selecting content and using the desktop IE 11 plugin is only a bit cleaner than the clipping the entire page, and is roughly equal to using the standard Share function in modern IE 11 (below):

Selected content clipped to OneNote using the desktop IE 11 Send to OneNote plugin.

Selected content clipped to OneNote using the desktop IE 11 Send to OneNote plugin.

Note below how the paragraph formatting is close to the original when clipping from desktop IE 11:

Notice the paragraph formatting on this section of the page clipped via desktop IE 11.

Notice the paragraph formatting on this section of the page clipped via desktop IE 11.

There are essentially three ways to clip to OneNote using modern IE 11. The first, simply selecting Share and then OneNote via the Charms menu, results in a summarized view that’s not terribly helpful for research purposes:

A Web page clipped to OneNote via the standard modern IE 11 Share function.

A Web page clipped to OneNote via the standard modern IE 11 Share function.

The second method, selecting the content you want to clip in modern IE 11, right-clicking, and then selecting Share and then OneNote, provides a result that’s only marginally cleaner than using desktop IE 11:

Selected content clipped to OneNote via the modern IE 11 Share function.

Selected content clipped to OneNote via the modern IE 11 Share function.

The third method, and the one that I think produces the cleanest and most usable content, is to switch to Read mode in modern IE 11 before selecting the relevant content, right-clicking, and selecting Share and OneNote. As you can see, there’s no extraneous content and the resulting is clean text that requires no cleanup. Note that in all of the modern IE 11 results, the text formatting doesn’t match that of the Web page, in particular paragraph spacing, but it’s perfectly usable:

Selected content in modern IE 11 Read mode clipped to OneNote using the Share function.

Selected content in modern IE 11 Read mode clipped to OneNote using the Share function.

Simply selecting Share while in modern IE 11’s Read mode results in the same summarized results as sharing from the standard view:

A Web page clipped to OneNote via IE 11's standard Share function in Read mode.

A Web page clipped to OneNote via IE 11’s standard Share function in Read mode.

There you have it, a number of ways to clip Web page content to OneNote via Chrome and both flavors of IE 11. Firefox and Opera likely have their own methods (or not), but I don’t use those browsers (nor do the bulk of the Web browsing universe) and so haven’t had any occasion to test them out.

To summarize, how you clip content to OneNote greatly impacts the quality of the results. As I mentioned in my other post, Evernote’s Chrome extension still provides the best overall Web clipping results and flexibility, but clipping selected content from modern IE 11’s Read mode to OneNote is a completely viable option.

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  1. […] For a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the advent of the smartphone and tablet (iOS, webOS, and Android, in my case) where OneNote clients weren’t available, I switched to Evernote and generated thousands of notes there as well. Evernote is a fine service, with solid clients across pretty much every platform, and it served me well. I even spent a few years as a Premium customer, paying $50 or so a year to enable offline notes and greater bandwidth, and it still has the best Web clipping features. […]

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