OneNote 2010: How To Password Protect and Encrypt Notebooks

Whether you use Microsoft OneNote 2010 for Home, School or Work, a groovy feature you need to be aware of is its ability to secure your data by encrypting sections of your notebook using a password. Here’s how it works.

Whether you use Microsoft OneNote 2010 for Home, School or Work, a groovy feature you need to be aware of is its ability to secure your data by encrypting sections of your notebook using a password. Enabling the feature is super simple and takes only a few seconds once you know where to look. Here’s how it works.

Here’s how you enable passwords and encrypt your notebook sections.

Start by opening OneNote and Right Click on a section you want to encrypt / password protect.


From the right click Context Menu, Click Password Protect This Section.

The Password settings will appear on the right side of the Notebook. Click Set Password.


Enter a strong, case sensitive password and Click OK.

Note: If you lose this password, your data will not be recoverable.


Depending on the age of your Notebook and backup settings, you may be prompted to Delete or Keep unencrypted backups. My recommendation is to either EFS encrypt the backup folder or go ahead and delete the existing backups.


Once the password is set, the encrypted Notebook Section will display the password settings on the right.


Click the X in the top right to remove the Password Protection section and use the notebook as normal.

By default, protected sections will lock and require the password after you have not been working in them for 10 minutes. You can also lock all sections by using the shortcut key Ctrl+Alt+L.


Before you start password protecting all of your OneNote Notebooks, here’s a few things to consider first:

  1. Password-protected sections are not included in searches unless you first unlock the section using the password you configured.
  2. Password-protected sections are not accessible on the OneNote iPad or iPhone app. Because the data is encrypted, there is no way to sync this data down to your mobile devices (yet).
  3. Password-protected sections cannot be accessed by others during live sharing sessions even if you unlock it. If this is a deal breaker, just remove the password before the sharing session.
  4. Passwords are case-sensitive and unrecoverable if you forget them.




  1. Could really use the password-protection on the iOS apps. This would turn OneNote into a very viable journaling platform!

    • Alex  

      As of today (Jun 2015) it seems to work, with OneNote 2013 and latest on iOS. Not sure when they started supporting it.

  2. Jo Anne Conner  

    I have a bit more basic question…can an entire shared OneNote file be password protected? We are looking for a personnel information solution.

  3. I agree. Being able to lock an entire notebook would be a great feature. I’m surprised they haven’t implemented it yet. I wonder if Evernote has this ability or not?

  4. Gordy  

    I ran into an issue with putting a PW on a section. I put a PW on a section on “laptop 1”. Later, on “laptop 2” I decided to remove the PW and rename the section. When I went to sync with my iPhone I got an error message and I could still see the old PW section on the iPhone as well as the renamed section.

    On Skydrive, I still see the old PW protected section but I can’t access it or delete. I also see the renamed section on the skydrive and I can access it.

    How do I delete the old PW protected section on skydrive and my iPhone. I’ve updated both laptops numerous times and neither one show the old PW protected section but if I make updates to other sections on either laptop it does sync correctly.

  5. salla  

    Terribly named article, makes you think there’s actually a way to password protect a whole notebook.

  6. Kenneth Jones  

    I agree, the title of this article needs to be changed. I came here looking for a way to password protect my notebook, not do every single section separately.

  7. Jitender  

    Do we have the option of ”read only” same like excel in One Note? I would like to share my One Note but at the same time I do not want any other person to edit the content. It should be visible but not editable.

    Please help me with this. Thanks a lot.

    • orionsune  

      Hey Jitender, I’ve done this using NTFS file permissions. This should work if you are using a network or cloud drive to share the notebooks. I edited the permissions of the notebook file giving myself full access while granting my teammates read-only. We had a problem with new team members accidentally deleting whole sections.

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