Microsoft OneNote iPhone Syncing Issues (Updated)

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Update: I had two very large sections with hundreds of image-heavy notes. I moved those to separate notebooks, and my iPhone completed syncing. Now, changes on the iPhone are reflected almost immediately on other clients, and vice versa. So, my suggestion for anyone having issues syncing an iPhone is to move any indordinately large sections to standalone notebooks and then open and sync those separately.

If you’re having issues syncing your OneNote notebooks on an iPhone, you’re not alone. I have a fairly significant notebook, around 1.8GB, that I’ve been having a terrible time syncing on my iPhone 6.

I haven’t found any particular reason for the difficulties. I’d say it was just a matter of time, but it’s been about a week now and the notebook hasn’t completely synced. I know that an update was released in the last few months that enables background syncing (http://www.imore.com/microsoft-onenote-iphone-and-ipad-will-finally-sync-background),  but nevertheless it seems to take an inordinate amount of time.

I’ve been working on speeding up the process by accessing each section and section group, one-by-one, until it fully syncs, and then moving on to the others. I’ve mostly completed the process, and each section does indeed sync. And so it might just be a matter of patience. Then again, right towards the end (about 1.6Gb of the total 1.8GB), I’ve been receiving some sync errors that are a little disconcerting.

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The worst aspect is that until the entire notebook is synced, new notes created on the iPhone won’t upload. That makes using the iPhone to create new notes more than a little problematic. Oddly enough, syncing the same notebook to the iPad Air 2 works fine–perhaps the 2GB of RAM on the iPad makes a difference.

I’m going to keep researching this issue and reach out to Microsoft for an answer. In the meantime, if you have a large notebook and find that it’s not completely syncing on an iPhone, just keep hitting Sync Now (located in the Share dialog) and keep your fingers crossed.

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Comments

  1. Juan Enrique Rodriguez Diaz says:

    I have the same issue, and yes, it is still having troubles. Onenote for iPhone is not working properly on my iPhone. First, the notebooks doesnt sync and im sure that the problem is not the user and password.

    • Lujosalgo says:

      After so many issues i decided to quit onenote and switched to evernote. It was a pain to manually transcribe all notes but worth it as I never have issues with evernote. Onenote for Mac, worked great but the issue was always with iOS. I tried Msft support community but no real help there other than the suggestion to turn off sync of attachments which did not help

  2. My Apple ipad is also encountering the same problem as you mentioned.

    It used to be syncing perfectly in the past unit recently the problem occurred.

    • Mark Coppock says:

      My most recent issue with the iOS OneNote app is that it’s consistently crashing, on both my iPhone and iPad. So, I’ve uninstalled it and am trying to get someone at Microsoft to acknowledge the issue.

  3. Carl Cimino says:

    I have been successfully using OneNote on the computers (locally and in the cloud including shared folders). We are moving to utilize smart phone apps on our phones. Works fine on everyones’ phone but the IPhones. It will allow you to accept an invitation to share and does the initial update, however after that it will not sync and freezes the touch screen keyboard when you try to edit. Any idea how to resolve this issue? Is microsoft working on an apple app update for onenote resolve these issues. Is this an issue with IPad’s as well?
    Help! This is the first time I’ve had to listen to the other phone users talk about “the defective fruit with the piece missing.” ISad

    • Mark Coppock says:

      That’s not precisely the issue I’ve experienced, at least the part about the keyboard freezing. For me, the only way around the issue is to keep opening the app following each crash, accessing each section until it’s synced, and repeating until eventually the entire notebook syncs. Once that point is past, eventually the app becomes stable. At least, that’s my experience.

  4. Hey Mark, awesome post. It’s frustrating that this is still an issue. I’m a dental student running ALL my classes’ ppts through OneNote, so I’m up to 2.72 GB for the semester which won’t end for another month. I’ve always split up my notebooks by semester and am hoping the app can handle it. I may have to move some classes into their own notebooks though. How big of a notebook have you found is ‘manageable’ for the OneNote app to sync correctly? You mentioned you’ve moved some bigger sections to new notebooks.
    Do you know how the app syncing prioritizes itself? Does it sync the oldest sections/notes first?
    Have you noticed internet speed to affect syncing ability or speed?
    I’m on an iPhone 6S with 128 GB of storage so I thought I’d be safe as far as phone processing speed and storage space goes, but no, syncing problems persist…

    • Mark Coppock says:

      I haven’t found any resolution to this issue, and so I’ve just been very careful not to be in a situation where I need to resync all of my notebooks. Like I’ve mentioned, once the initial sync finishes, then things are stable. But getting to that point can be a real bear. Persistence is really all that works in the end.

      • Thorsten Felies says:

        Mark,

        See my response. I’m not sure if it will solve your problem. I’ve been trying to figure this out all day, then it finally clicked.

        • Mark Coppock says:

          Unfortunately, this isn’t related to my issue, but thanks for reporting in. I deleted the old iPad-specific version prior to installing the new universal iPad app. And, this issue also exists on my iPhone, which of course is only running the app that’s turned into the universal app that’s now the iPad version as well.

  5. Thorsten Felies says:

    I had the same issue. I had OneNote on my iPad and it worked fine. I downloaded an update and could not figure out why it wouldn’t sync with my Mac. It showed that I didn’t have any notebooks, when in fact I had several. Then I discovered that the download created a new app on my iPad, and my old version still existed. When I opened the old version, everything was there. But it informed me that this was the old version and that I needed to delete it. So I deleted the old version from my iPad, opened the new updated version that I just downloaded, and it worked like it’s supposed to. I’m not sure why the update wouldn’t of overwritten the old copy on my iPad.

  6. I still cannot get my notebooks sync’d on my new iPhone 6S, although they still sync fine across my PC and my old iPhone 5. Any ideas what I can do? It’s very frustrating.

  7. Sherri Rodriguez says:

    We are having the same issue with iPhone 6s. It syncs fine when connected to WiFi, but not at all if WiFi is off. Still searching for a solution.

  8. jwsandker says:

    Same problem with my new Lumia 950 with windows 10!
    Onenote is not usable when having more then simple very short tiny notes. An amateurish tool.

  9. Desi B. says:

    I have been using One Note on my Ipad for the past 2 years. I work in the legal field and our notebooks sometimes grow to be extremely large files as we carry all of the discovery and evidentiary information in the notebooks about 2 months ago, the notebook stop sync and just has a constant wheel turning in the status bar, I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled OneNote and have been trying for over 2 weeks to get it to fully sync. I’ve emailed the developer at Microsoft for assistance but have been unsuccessful at getting a response. If anyone know how to resolve this problem please help as I have trials coming up and use the OneNote as part of my presentation of evidence and now it looks like I am going to be scrambling to find another way to present my case!!!!!

    • Mark Coppock says:

      Unfortunately, I’ve found syncing very large OneNote folders on any platform other than Windows to be a dubious proposition. I did manage to get all of mine to sync eventually after going through each folder one-by-one and letting it sync. That meant that I literally clicked on each folder, waited for it to populate with its notes, and then moved on to the next. Eventually, all of the folders synced and the notebooks continued to sync from then on out. I did have to be careful to keep them synced and not let too much time pass between syncing.

      That said, I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a different suggestion. Since this is such a vital and time-sensitive use-case with trial coming up, I suggest that you get a Windows 10 tablet/hybrid to replace your iPad. One option would be Microsoft’s Surface 3 (not the Surface Pro 4)–it’s closer to the size of the iPad with a 10.1″ screen, it would provide plenty of performance for OneNote, and as I mentioned earlier, syncing OneNote in the full Windows version of OnoNote (OneNote 2016, not the Windows 10 version) is rock-solid and reliable. You can get the 128GB version of the Surface 3 at the Microsoft Store right now for $499. There are also LTE versions if you need cellular data.

      It’s a bit of an investment, but if 100% syncing reliability is important to you (along with some nicer features in OneNote 2016), then this would give you the best possible solution.

  10. The last update of OneNote for IOS broke it. I had no problems before that update and have not ipdated or added any notes. Today, after the last update, OneNote opens, shows my notebooks, and crashes. Double-click on Home shows it in the background. Click on it, it comes up then the startup logo comes up and it crashes to the background again. How was this tested? Certainly the test plan needs to be reviewed. Can we expect an update soon or should we only use OneNote on the Windows platform?

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