When I sat down to write this article, I was determined to come up with a way to scan to OneNote for Mac in some sort of automated fashion. Whether with the ScanSnap or with some other scanner, I figured there must be a way to do it.
I wish I could say I was successful, but I have to admit (hopefully temporary!) defeat. You can definitely scan your documents and save them to OneNote, but I haven’t been able to figure out a way to do it automatically.
This article will show you the options we do have, and I’ll update in the future when new capabilities are added to OneNote.
Why You Can’t Scan To OneNote For Mac Doesn’t (Yet?)
There are a few reasons why scanning to OneNote on the Mac doesn’t work:
1. There is no Send To OneNote Printer Driver
On Windows, as outlined in my How To Use The Fujitsu ScanSnap With Microsoft OneNote post, there is a printer driver that lets you save things to OneNote. This is the easiest way to scan to OneNote if you have a scanner (like the ScanSnap) that does not support TWAIN.
This doesn’t exist on the Mac.
2. There is no Scanned Image button
If you do have a TWAIN compatible scanner, the Windows version of OneNote has a Scanned Image button under the Insert menu. This lets you import from your scanner directly to OneNote.
This doesn’t exist on Mac, but there is an open feature request to add it. Vote if you’re interested.
3. Microsoft OneNote.app Doesn’t Accept PDFs
Many if not most Mac apps let you pass in files by dragging them onto the Dock icon or by specifying them in, for example, ScanSnap Manager on the Application tab.
Evernote handles this very well.
When you try to set Microsoft OneNote.app as a destination on the ScanSnap’s Application tab, you get The document xxxx.pdf could not be opened. OneNote cannot open files in the “Portable Document Format (PDF)” format.
So much for that idea.
4. OneNote Doesn’t Support AppleScript
Since all of the above had failed, I thought for sure I’d be able to create something like the Evernote Import Folder I made using AppleScript and OS X’s Folder Actions.
That way, you could scan to a folder and then the PDF would be automatically imported to OneNote.
Unfortunately, OneNote doesn’t support AppleScript. At all. There is an open feature request for this too, so I recommend you vote it up.
That’s a long list of things that don’t work. Hopefully the OneNote folks will hear our pleas and fix at least one of them so we have something to work with.
So we know there isn’t an automated way to scan to OneNote. What can we do?
Scan To A Folder And Then Attach Or Printout
The only solution I can think of is to scan to a folder first. Once you have your file(s) scanned to a folder, you have two ways of importing the PDFs that you can find under the Insert menu:
- PDF Printout: This will attach the PDF to the note but will also convert the pages to individual PNG images and display them inline in the note.
- File Attachment: This will attach the PDF to the note as a PDF icon. You’ll have to open it up to see it.
Here are what the two options look like:
To save time, you can drag PDFs from the Finder into a OneNote note.
If you drag in more than one at a time it will save them as File Attachments. If you only drag one in, it will ask you how you want to import it:
This is what we have to work with at the time of writing. If you have another trick for scanning to OneNote on the Mac, please leave a comment and let us know.
Sadly four years later, the same workflow problems exist. I’ve tried both the Automator and Dropbox approaches and some IFTTT applets and the best I can produce is a OneNote page with a link to the document rather than the document. I think I’m stuck with Brooks’ approach of adding the files manually to a note. I’m not thrilled about it but it’s not a lot more work than fixing titles of scanned items in Evernote and tagging them. It just spreads the workflow into Finder to drag the files onto a new OneNote page. Still sad there isn’t a way to automate into OneNote directly.