Writing Yourself a Note on Your Pocket PC

The Pocket PC Notes application seems like a very simple program, but you may be a little surprised to find out just how much it can really do. In addition to being a quick way to jot down a thought, this program offers some really cool options like voice notes and an electronic drawing pad where you can literally draw a picture right on your screen.

Choosing your note options

You can just begin using the Notes program, but why not start with a little detour to see whether some of the available options are better suited for your needs? Open the Notes program by clicking the Start button and choosing Notes from the Start menu. When you see the list of existing notes (or a blank list if you haven't used Notes before), choose Tools --> Options to display the Notes Options. Then follow along through the following four sections to see what these options do and which settings will work best for you.

Selecting your entry mode

The first optional setting is the Default mode setting. You can choose to start new notes in Writing mode or Typing mode. As you can easily guess, these modes refer to using handwriting or the on-screen keyboard to enter text into your notes.

Choosing a default input mode for notes may seem odd when you can easily select your input method using the SIP (Secondary Input Panel) selector in the lower-right corner of your screen. In reality, though, this Notes option is pretty cool because it enables you to select a different input mode for notes than the one you typically use in other types of applications.

You could, for example, choose Writing as your Notes default, and leave the on-screen keyboard selected for all other input. When you want to write out a quick note, you don't have to remember to first switch the input method (or worry about losing your train of thought when you have to first attend to such details).

Using the Writing mode in Notes is not quite the same thing as using the Transcriber. When you use the Transcriber, your notes are automatically converted into text a short time after you finish writing. When you use the Notes Writing mode, you need to select Tools --> Recognize to convert your handwriting into text.

Picking a template

You'll probably be pleasantly surprised by the next optional setting — the Default template option. You may not even realize that the Notes application uses templates.

In addition to the Blank Note template, you can choose from meeting notes, memos, phone memos, and to-do templates. Each template is set up specifically to make taking certain types of notes easier, so choosing the correct template can help you produce better notes with less work. Indeed, choosing the right template can save you a lot of trouble by making certain that you don't forget to write down an important piece of information — such as the phone number so that you can return a call.

In addition to adding fields for important information you won't want to forget, the templates also use quite large text in the field names so that you can more easily see where and what you need to enter.

After you select a default template, any new notes you create use that template until you choose a different template option. Remember to use the Tools --> Options command to select a different template when you want to create a different type of note.

Deciding where to save it

When you close a note that you've created, your Pocket PC saves the note into the storage memory area. If you have a storage card installed in your Pocket PC, you can use the Save To option to choose to save the note on the memory card rather than in the main storage memory.

The Save To setting won't have any effect if you don't have a storage card inserted into your Pocket PC. If you choose the storage card option rather than main memory and then swap out your storage memory card for a different type of device that fits into the expansion slot, any new notes you create are stored in main memory. If you reinsert the storage card, it's used again to store new notes, but existing notes in main memory won't automatically be moved.

Programming the Record button

Your Pocket PC has a button that you can press to begin recording a voice note. Use the Record button action setting to choose what you want to happen when you press the button.

This option controls whether your Pocket PC automatically opens the Notes application when you press the Record button. Either way, your Pocket PC records your voice note, but because other applications may not know how to deal with the voice note, keeping the default action set to Switch to Notes is usually best.

Starting a new note

After you know what the Notes application can do and have selected the settings you prefer, you can begin using the program with a new note. If you haven't started the Notes program yet, click the Start button and choose Notes from the Start menu.

If you've used Notes to create other notes, you see a list of the existing notes. Tap one of them to open it so that you can read it, edit it, or simply add more to it. To begin a new note, click New.

What you do next depends on the input method you selected. In most cases, using handwriting is probably the easiest, but you have to decide what works best for you.

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