How to fix common OneNote sync issues on Windows 10

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Former Managing Editor
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OneNote sync issues

Microsoft OneNote is a great app for taking notes, compiling data and organizing information. The best part is, it syncs with the cloud, meaning you can access your notes everywhere. It is multi-platform, meaning it is available on Android, iOS, macOS, and the Web, besides being available on Windows 10 devices. But this cross-platform design comes with a problem.

Desktop users may frequently face problems when trying to sync data to and from the cloud. This is quite a common problem with the desktop version of OneNote on Windows 10. In this guide, we look into some of the most common sync-errors (notebook/particular section won’t sync, sync conflicts arise, storage issues show up etc.) and how they can be resolved.

Before moving on to more particular solutions, we’ll look into a couple of potentially obvious ones.

OneNote won’t sync [FIX]

Install the latest updates

Firstly, it is worth noting that whatever problem you may be facing could be a result of an issue with the OneNote application itself. This is why you need make sure that you have the latest updates installed. Updates will often contain fixes for bugs that may be causing your problems.To check for updates:

  1. Go to File > Account > Office Options,
  2. Click on Update Now.

Check your Internet connection

Also, a no-brainer, make sure you are actually connected to the Internet before you attempt to troubleshoot OneNote. More often than not, sync issues are a result of bad Internet connections.

We will now be diving into the more particular solutions to sync issues on OneNote:


Troubleshoot OneNote sync issues

Often when trying to share your notebooks with other people, you may end up with one particular section not syncing. If this happens, there are two ways you can resolve it. One is to manually try and sync the particular section, the other, copying the pages to a new section and deleting the old one.

Manually try and sync the particular section

OneNote comes with an in-built solution to the problem of a particular section not syncing. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to File > Info,
  2. Select View Sync Status/alternatively right-click on the Notebook you want to sync, and click on Notebook Sync Status,
  3. Under Shared Notebook Synchronization, you will find the Sync now button; click on it.

Copy the pages to a new section

Another easy solution to the problem in hand can be copying the pages into a new section and deleting the old section that is refusing to sync. Follow these steps:

  1. On the navigation bar, select the Create a New Section button,
  2. Name the new section,
  3. Go to section with the sync problem; right-click on each of its pages and click on Move or Copy,
  4. Select the new section as the destination, and click Copy.

Once you’ve followed through these steps, you can now use the manual sync method described above to sync the new section. Once you’ve synced the section, right-click on the old section and select Delete.

Empty the OneNote Recycle Bin

Sometimes, when you remove a particular section that isn’t working or that you don’t need anymore, it may end up causing sync problems. For this reason, you need to remove them from the OneNote Recycle Bin. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the History tab,
  2. Select the Notebook Recycle Bin button,
  3. Right-click on the old section and click on Delete.

The section you’re about the delete may contain important pages. Make sure you copy them (by following the instructions from Number 2) before you permanently remove the section from the recycle bin.

Fix misplaced sections on OneNote

A section of your notebook could get misplaced when you’re trying to share it with other users. This happens when OneNote tries to sync the changes made to the section but cannot  find the section file. When this happens the notebook gets marked with an icon in the Notebooks list.

There are two solutions to this problem. You could either try and move the misplaced section to another notebook, or you could delete that section.

Move the misplaced section

OneNote lets you manually resolve the problem of a misplaced section by letting you move the particular section. Follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the tab for the misplaced section,
  2. Select Move or Copy,
  3. Select target notebook as the destination,
  4. Click on Move or Copy depending on what you would like to do.

Delete the misplaced section

If you’re sure that you do not need the section that has been misplaced, you could simply delete it to resolve the issue. Follow these steps:

  1. Under the Notebooks list, select Misplaced Sections,
  2. Right-click on the misplaced section you would like to remove, and click on Delete.

Notebook won’t sync on OneNote

If you’re having a problem syncing a particular notebook on OneNote, one of the following solutions could help you:

Check if the notebook is accessible on the web

You can confirm if there is in fact a service problem by trying to access the notebook via a web browser. Try the following steps:

  1. Go to File > Info,
  2. You should find the link to the notebook on the right side; copy it/alternatively right-click on the Notebook you want to sync, and click on Copy Link to Notebook,
  3. On the web browser of your choice, enter the link you just copied and hit enter to open the notebook.

If your notebook is accessible via the web browser, than this confirms that there is a problem with the desktop app. If not, it could be a service error.

Open your notebook again

Once you’ve confirmed that the problem with your desktop app, one of the simplest solution to get your OneNote notebook to start syncing again is to close and reopen it. Here are the steps:

  1. Go to File > Info,
  2. Go to Settings, and select Close/alternatively right-click on the Notebook you want to sync, and click on Close This Notebook,
  3. Go to File > Open,
  4. Select the notebook you want to open.

This should reset the connection, and get your notebook to start syncing again.

Check the sync status

If you were able to access the notebook online, but the changes you recently made weren’t added to it, you should check the sync status of the notebook to confirm whether or not it was synced. Here are the steps:

  1. Go to File > Info,
  2. Select View Sync Status/alternatively right-click on the Notebook you want to sync, and click on Notebook Sync Status,

If possible, click on the Get Help button in order to access more troubleshooting steps. If that’s not available,  note the error message and do a quick online research.

Check the service status

If you were not able to access the notebook online via a web browser, there could be a problem with the OneDrive service itself. To confirm this, follow these steps:

  1. Open a web browser of your choice,
  2. Enter this link to check if the services are up and running :

If the services are up and running, you should see a green screen with a tick mark, and a message “We’re all good! Everything is up and running.” In case there is nothing wrong with the services, you should contact Microsoft for further assistance on your issue.

Make sure that you keep OneNote open and signed-in during the troubleshooting process. You could potentially lose your data otherwise.

Fix content sync conflict on OneNote

When two or more people try and edit the same piece of text simultaneously, this will result in synchronization conflicts. These conflicts are automatically detected by OneNote which then proceeds on to creating multiple copies of the same page. This will be indicated via a yellow message that appears on the top of the page.

To prevent this issue from showing up in the future, make sure only one user is editing a page at a time. Or you could co-ordinate who edits which section.

To resolve this issue, you will need to copy the edited content to the main page, and then proceed on to delete the other page. Follow these steps:

  1. On the top of the page, click on the yellow message,
  2. Copy the content from the temporary page, and paste it on to the primary page,
  3. Right-click on the page causing the error, and click on Delete.

Fix storage sync conflicts on OneNote

You may occasionally run across error code 0xE00015E0. What this means is, either your file is too big to sycn, or that your local device is low on space. Now, of course the cause of this problem could in fact be that you have a ton of different things stored in your notebook. But, usually it’s because OneNote has a lot of backups stored.

Here’s how you can resolve these issues.

Remove unnecessary backups

One quick way to get OneNote syncing again is to remove all the existing backup files to create free space. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialogue,
  2. Paste the following and hit enter : %localappdata%MicrosoftOneNote,
  3. Double click on the folder with a name corresponding to the version of your application (16.0 for OneNote 2016, for instance),
  4. Open the Backup folder,
  5. Delete all the backup files that you no longer need.

Optimize files

You could also prevent storage sync conflict by optimizing the space used by your notebooks. Here are the steps:

  1. Go to File > Options,
  2. Select Save & Backup,
  3. Under Optimizing files, select Optimize All Files Now.

Reduce automatic backups

In addition to optimization of files, you should consider reducing the number of backup files that OneNote keeps for each file. Try the following steps:

  1. Go to File > Options,
  2. Select Save & Backup,
  3. Under Backup, reduce the number for the Number of backup copies to keep.

Once you are through these steps, OneNote should start syncing again.