How to Apply Password Protection to OneNote Sections in Windows

Khamosh Pathak

It depends on your usage and just how involved you are in the Windows ecosystem, but for power users, OneNote is a really powerful tool. If you’re like me and you mainly write in plain text and don’t need all the organization features, you might be set with Evernote.

But hey, OneNote is free and you can use all those GBs of free OneDrive cloud storage to store your notes. If you’re using the desktop version OneNote (not the Modern Windows app version that comes installed in Windows 10), you should know of one big pro feature. OneNote’s ability to password-protect individual sections.


Of course, this is really helpful for keeping private things, well, private. But OneNote also offers keyboard shortcuts and other settings that help you quickly lock the already password protected content. This is something you can’t do with Evernote. Well, at least not with the free plan (and only on mobile devices).

Let’s see take a look at how the feature works.

How to Password Protect OneNote Sections

OneNote’s hierarchical structure goes like this. Instead of notebooks and notes, you have Sections. Each section has pages. You can add as many pages as you like.

OneNote lets you password protect individual sections separately. Unfortunately, there’s no way to password-protect the entire app. You’ll have to log out of the app for that.

Step 1: To password-protect a section, select it and then click the Review button. Then select Password.

password protect OneNote

Step 2: You’ll now see a section on the side.

onenote new password

Step 3: Because the section doesn’t yet have a password, click the Set Password button.

password onenote 3

Step 4: A little pop-up will ask you to type in the password.

Step 5: Even after you’ve done that, you’ll see that the section is currently accessible.

Step 6: Click the Lock All button or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+L.

Now you can go to another section and do the same process. To make things interesting, you can give different passwords to different sections.

Related: Check out the two powerful integrations for OneNote.

How to Unlock Protected OneNote Sections

The next time you try switching to a protected section, you’ll be greeted with the following screen.

onenote password protected section

Just click anywhere or press the Enter key and you’ll be asked to type in the password.

onenote password 2

Again, to lock all the sections, use the keyboard shortcut.

How to Remove Password Protection

The process is pretty similar. Click the Review button and select Password. Then, from the sidebar, select Remove Password.

onenote remove password 2

Type in the section’s current password to confirm and you’re done.

Important Password Settings

There are a couple password settings you should know about. Click the File menu, select Options, and go to Advanced. Here, you’ll find a Passwords section.

onenote password settings

The first option will let you select the inactivity time after which OneNote lock down all sections. The default is 10 minutes, but you can make it 1 minute or 1 day.

You can also lock down the note as soon as you move on from it.

Speaking of passwords: Check out our Ultimate Guide to Password Management.

How Do You Use OneNote?

Share your OneNote tips and tricks with us in the comments below. Or join us in our forums for a more detailed discussion on OneNote or password protection in general.

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