Recover Deleted OneNote Files

How to Recover Deleted OneNote Files (3 Proven Solutions)

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Written by Michael Alimo Michael Alimo Contributing Writer • 9 articles Michael Alimo, formerly a contributing writer for Handy Recovery, specialized in data recovery and technology articles. Now focusing on his small business, his expertise spans from dealing with corrupted devices to file recovery. With over six years in technology content writing, Michael’s areas include AI, IoT, and Cybersecurity. LinkedIn Edited by Manuviraj Godara Manuviraj Godara Staff Writer • 65 articles Manuviraj Godara recently joined the staff writers team at Handy Recovery Advisor, having initially contributed as a writer in 2021. His primary expertise lies in resolving data issues on Windows machines, and he has recently begun to explore Apple-related topics. LinkedIn Approved by Andrey Vasilyev Andrey Vasilyev Editor Andrey Vasilyev is an Editorial Advisor for Handy Recovery. Andrey is a software engineer expert with extensive expertise in data recovery, computer forensics, and data litigation. Andrey brings over 12 years of experience in software development, database administration, and hardware repair to the team. LinkedIn
Quick summary

The solutions described in this article can be used to recover deleted OneNote files from within the OneNote app, directly from the drive on which they were stored, or from a local backup. All you need to do to get your OneNote files back is to follow our detailed step-by-step instructions.

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Here’s the good news: even if you intentionally deleted your OneNote files, they might not be gone forever. This article explores various methods to help you recover them. Follow our straightforward instructions, and you’ll increase your chances of getting your notes back, regardless of where they were stored.

How to Recover OneNote Files from Within the OneNote App

Often, the in-built backup and restore features in the OneNote app are enough to recover your OneNote files or pages.

Ensure you check OneDrive for your notes before moving forward.

On Windows, check the Recycle Bin if you manually deleted the note file through Windows Explorer. However, pages deleted via the OneNote app will be located in Documents > OneNote Notebooks > [Your Note] > OneNote_Recycle Bin.

On macOS, look for deleted notes in the Trash, before proceeding further.

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Note: OneNote stores trashed files for 60 days before permanently deleting them. The first two methods in this section won’t work if you’ve crossed the 60-day mark.

Here’s how to recover OneNote files using the OneNote app:

Using the OneNote for Windows 10 Version

If you’re using the OneNote for Windows 10 app, or the web version of OneNote, here’s how to recover deleted notes and pages:

  1. Launch the OneNote for Windows 10 app.
  2. Click on View > Deleted Notes.OneNote "View" tab.
  3. Right-click the note or page you wish to recover and choose Restore To.OneNote for Windows "Restore to".
  4. Choose where you wish to restore the note and click Restore.OneNote "Restore Section"

Using the Desktop Version of OneNote

If you’re using the full-fledged desktop versions of OneNote—OneNote 2013, 2016, and above—the recovery steps are slightly different. Here’s how:

  1. Open OneNote.
  2. Click on the History tab and choose Notebook Recycle Bin.OneNote 'History' tab
  3. Right-click the note you wish to recover and click Move or Copy….OneNote "Move or Copy..."
  4. Select the required location, and click Move, or Copy.OneNote "Move or Copy Pages"

Using OneNote Backups

The Windows desktop version of OneNote automatically creates limited automatic backups of your notes.

Here’s how to restore your notes using this feature:

  1. Open OneNote on your Windows PC.
  2. Click on File.OneNote "File" tab
  3. Click on Info and then click Open Backups.OneNote "Open Backup"
  4. Look for the required note, select it, and click Open.OneNote "Open Backup" dialog box

Using the OneNote for Mac

The steps to restore deleted OneNote files using the app’s macOS version are identical to its Windows counterpart. Here’s how:

  1. Open OneNote on your Mac.
  2. Click on View > Deleted notes.OneNote macOS 'View' tab
  3. Right-click the notebook, section, or page you wish to restore, and click Restore to.OneNote macOS 'Restore To...'
  4. Choose the recovery destination and click Restore. OneNote macOS "Choose a notebook to restore this section to..."

How to Recover Deleted Notes Using Data Recovery Software

If OneNote’s in-built restore features couldn’t recover your files, use a third-party data recovery program. It’s also your only option if the files weren’t saved on the cloud, i.e., OneDrive. When picking a data recovery program, ensure it’s easy-to-use, reliable, and recognizes OneNote files.

For this tutorial, we opted to use Disk Drill. The program’s ease-of-use, advanced data recovery algorithm, and proven track record make it an easy data recovery tool to recommend. It recognizes over 400 file formats. Additional features like S.M.A.R.T. Monitoring and Recovery Vault can help you predict, and prevent data loss.

Disk Drill is available for Windows, and Mac. The data recovery steps are identical for both platforms.

Here’s how to use Disk Drill to recover deleted OneNote files:

  1. Download Disk Drill and install it. We recommend you do this on an external storage drive to avoid overwriting any recoverable files on your internal storage drive.
  2. Open Disk Drill, select the drive that contained your deleted OneNote files, and click Search for lost data.Disk Drill "Search for lost data" button
  3. Click the Documents option to display only the recoverable documents. This makes it easier to locate the OneNote files. If you wish to see all recoverable file types, click on Review found items.Disk Drill 'Review found items' button
  4. Expand the Deleted or lost and Reconstructed sections.Data recovery sections in Disk Drill.
  5. OneNote stores backups at C:\Users\<Username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\OneNote\Backup. So expand the folder if you can locate it, and select the OneNote files. Click on Recover.Disk Drill "Recover" button
  6. Choose a recovery destination for your files and click Next. It’s best to copy the .one file to C:\Users\<Username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\OneNote\Backup.Disk Drill's button to "Choose destination".
  7. Disk Drill will recover the selected OneNote files.Disk Drill button to "Show recovered data in Explorer".
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Note: It’s quite difficult to recover deleted data from SSDs. This happens due to the TRIM feature, which periodically cleans up unused data blocks. TRIM improves the longevity and efficiency of your SSD, but negatively impacts data recovery chances. It’s best to have low expectations when scanning an SSD for deleted files.

How to Recover Deleted OneNote Files Using OS Backup Features

Both Windows, and macOS have in-built backup and restore features—File History, and Time Machine, respectively. If enabled, you can use these tools to successfully recover deleted OneNote files. However, there’s a prerequisite—the respective features should’ve been enabled before data loss occurred.

Here’s how to use Windows File History, and Mac Time Machine:

Windows File History

Windows File History is a useful method for recovering deleted notes. Originally introduced in Windows 8, File History works as a utility that automatically backs up all your files during specific and customizable intervals. Whether you’re attempting to restore a deleted word document or retrieving a missing excel file, Windows File History can be extremely useful.

You can create local notebooks that are saved to your hard drive, but only in the OneNote 2016 Windows desktop app, and not in OneNote for Windows 10 universal app. Therefore, keep in mind that File History isn’t suitable for recovering files from the built-in version of OneNote.

  1. Ensure the drive used to set up File History is connected to your PC.
  2. Type “file history” in Windows Search (Windows Key + S). Click on Restore your files with File History from the search results.
  3. Navigate to C:\Users\<username>\Documents\OneNote Notebookin the File History screen.
  4. Browse through the backups using the green navigation buttons towards the bottom.
  5. Select your OneNote file and click the green Restore button. Windows File History list of files

Mac Time Machine

The Time Machine feature in macOS keeps hourly backups for a day, daily backups for a month, and weekly backups for previous months. All this depends on the available disk space on the Time Machine drive.

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Note: OneNote doesn’t save any files locally on macOS. Instead, your notebooks are exclusively saved to OneDrive. However, cached versions of your notebooks may be available locally. These cached .one files can be recovered using Time Machine.

Here’s how to use Time Machine to recover your OneNote files:

  1. Connect the Time Machine drive to your Mac.
  2. Open Finder. Click on Go in the Finder menu bar at the top of the screen, select Go to Folder… from the drop-down menu, copy and paste ~/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.onenote.mac/Data/Library/Application Support/Microsoft User Data/OneNote/ in the dialog box and press Enter.macOS Finder window with the 'Go' menu open.
  3. Press Command + Space, type “time machine,” and click on Time Machine.
  4. Use the navigation buttons on the right side of the screen to scroll through available backups.
  5. Select the OneNote files you wish to recover and click Restore.Time Machine backup window open.

Conclusion

While losing an important file could instantly become a major setback, it shouldn’t exactly be so. The solutions discussed in the article have been tried and tested and will save you a good amount of time. Additionally, no prior knowledge is required as the methods described are easy to follow.

As a matter of precaution, always try to back up your files using the OneNote backup tool, or simply use a reputable third-party backup solution.

FAQ

You can retrieve deleted OneNote files by restoring them from a backup or using data recovery software.

Usually, deleted notes are stored temporarily for 60 days, until which they’re rendered unrecoverable. In that case, you should recover notes using data recovery software.

OneNote files are not automatically backed up by default unless you enable them. You can also use a cloud backup service like OneDrive.

About article
Contributing Writer Michael Alimo

This article was written by Michael Alimo, a Contributing Writer at Handy Recovery Advisor. It was recently updated by Manuviraj Godara. It was also verified for technical accuracy by Andrey Vasilyev, our editorial advisor.

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