OneNote Notebooks – Advanced Permissions with the management link

Do you want to be able to manage and change the permissions of a OneNote Notebook? Have you ever wanted to share a specific section of a notebook, but not the whole notebook? With an anonymous guest link? Do you need to remove a student from a OneNote Class Notebook or create private sections that only teachers can see? Or a section for students group, privately working together. This post is for you. I dug a little deeper on a tip I received last year and found some exciting possibilities using a OneNote notebook stored in Office 365.

The OneNote Class Notebook Creator app allows us to create classroom virtual learning environments in a few easy steps. The app is improving with regular updates, based on excellent feedback and requests from educators all over the world. One place to give your feedback and share with others is the forum at onenote.uservoice.com. By sharing your ideas and feature requests here, others can vote on an idea and the OneNote development team can evaluate and prioritise the request accordingly. The ability to add additional teachers to a class notebook was submitted through this forum and became a reality, with support from other avenues too.

Before the Notebook Creator app was updated to add teachers, we had to use a work around. In a previous post, I stepped through how to add more teachers by changing a URL to view the notebook. The URL made it possible for us to see the files and folders inside a notebook, and manage the permissions on sections and section groups of the notebook.
I’m going to refer to the URL as the notebook management link.

After thinking on it some more, it became clearer that the work around made other things possible. Not just for OneNote Class Notebooks, but all OneNote notebooks saved to Office 365.

  • Sometimes, you only want to share a section in a notebook, either within your organisation or school and requiring a log in, or publicly and allowing guest contributions.
  • Sometimes, you want to sync a notebook with your team, but also provide areas where only a few people can edit.
  • Or perhaps you want to create areas for the notebook, shared privately with only a few people.
  • In a OneNote Class Notebook scenario, it’s even possible to share a specific student’s area of a class notebook with their parents and another teacher. The question “have you done your homework?” could already be answered simply by visiting their child’s notebook from a web browser and checking it.
  • Remove a student completely from a OneNote Class Notebook. This isn’t currently possible with the Class Notebook Creator app, but I’m sure it will be in the future.

I’m excited about the possibilities and will be walking us through each one of them.

For now, let’s step through the initial setup of the OneNote Notebook management link.

Setup

This is the most difficult part of the instructions in this post. But once it is done, you can use the notebook management link again and again. We are going to create the management link and add it to the quick launch menu in a Team Site. But we also need to ensure that the link is only available for a secure group of people. We will repurpose the Site Owners group to give them access to the management link. But you can just as easily use another group such as “Teachers”.

Instructions for OneNote notebooks in a Team Site in SharePoint Online / Office 365

 Instructions for OneNote notebooks in OneDrive for Business

Create the OneNote notebook management link

    1. From your site, open the Settings menu (gear icon) in the upper-right, then click Site Contents.
    2. Open the document library and folder where your OneNote notebook is located.
      If you are using the OneNote Class Notebook Creator:

      1. The library will be named EduOneNoteAppDocuments library
      2. The folder will be named after the teacher who created the notebook. e.g. Katie.Jordan@contoso.edu_Courses folder.
      3. OneNote-AdvPermMgmt-01
    3. Copy the whole URL from the address bar of your browser.OneNote-AdvPermMgmt-02
    4. Paste the URL into a new OneNote Quick note so you can change it.
      1. To create a new quick note, click the Send to OneNote icon on your task bar and choose New Quick Note.OneNote-AdvPermMgmt-03
    5. Find the words &FolderCTID and delete everything from there till the end of the URL. See the highlighted portion below.
    6. At the end of your adjusted link, add a / and the name of your notebook. In the example below, my notebook is named Y10-Science. I added /Y10-Science to the end of the link.OneNote-AdvPermMgmt-04
    7. Copy all of the adjusted link into the address bar where your class site is displayed and launch the link. The page will refresh and you should see a view of the notebook with folders and OneNote files, representing the section groups and sections in your notebook.
      Let’s call this view, the folder view of the notebook.OneNote-AdvPermMgmt-06

Add the management link to the Quick Launch menu

In this step, we make the OneNote notebook management link easily accessible and secure, so it is visible to only a select group of people.

  1. From your site, open the Settings menu (gear icon) in the upper-right, then click Site Settings.
  2. In the Look and Feel section of the settings, open Navigation.
  3. Scroll down the Navigation page to the Structural Navigation: Editing and Sorting section.
    We will create a link on the Quick Launch menu, also known as the Current Navigation. You can create this link anywhere on the menu. For a class site using the OneNote Class Notebook Creator app, I suggest creating the link as a sub-item of the Class Notebooks heading, to keep notebook related links together.
  4. Select Class Notebooks and choose Add Link… OneNote-AdvPermMgmt-07
  5. Enter a Title. A suggested title could be NotebookName Mgmt. e.g. Y10-Science Mgmt. (Mgmt is an abbreviation for management.)
  6. In the URL field, paste the adjusted link which opens the folder view of the notebook.
  7. In the Audience field, click the Browse directory button.
    OneNote-AdvPermMgmt-08
  8. In the Find dropdown box, select SharePoint Groups.
  9. In the search box, enter the name of your Site Owners group for your site.
    Remember: The group you select should have Site Owner permissions over your class site, so that only Site Owners can access the notebook management link.
    Select the Site Owners group from the search results, click Add -> and OK.OneNote-AdvPermMgmt-09
  10. Click OK to save the new navigation link.
    The Navigation Settings page will be displayed.
  11. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click OK, to save your changes to the quick launch menu.
    OneNote-AdvPermMgmt-10

Next Steps

In the coming blog posts in this series, we’ll look at the different sharing scenarios for OneNote Notebooks, made possible by this management link.
Stay tuned, follow, subscribe, to learn from this series.

  • Steven Collier

    Very nice post Darrell ! Do these notebooks with internal permissions have any extra limitations ? Do they still work in all the clients e.g. mobile etc ?

    • http://webster.net.nz/ Darrell Webster

      Thank you Steven. Much like notebooks created with the OneNote Class Notebook Creator, an individual will be able to connect to the notebook and only see the content they have permission to see. Class Notebooks can be connected to any device that runs a form of OneNote: iPads, iPhones, ‘Droids and Win Phones. As long as the person has an Office 365 or Microsoft Account, with permission to access the notebook in SharePoint Online, they are set.
      I’m still exploring more use cases and trying to find limitations. I’ll continue to blog about my findings.

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  • Ian Moran

    Great post. The only thing I’d caution against is that using a Sharepoint Audience to control visibility of the link does not prevent a more intrepid user from getting there. Audiences don’t implement security in SharePoint

    • http://webster.net.nz/ Darrell Webster

      Thank you Ian. You’re right. Audience only controls visibility and not security. But the permissions created by the OneNote Management link hold true inside the notebook. If an intrepid user makes their way into the notebook using this SharePoint view of the files and folders, the SharePoint permissions assigned to them apply. For example, in a OneNote Class Notebook, students are assigned the View permission for the Content Library. They can view and copy content. In the SharePoint view of the notebook, students will be able to view the section
      files but not edit or delete them. Additionally, any attempt to Share a file will send a Sharing Request to the Site Owner.

      My goal for using Audience control is so the OneNote management link is visible and conveniently
      accessible to teachers, but invisible to students.

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  • Thinus Marloth

    Thanks for the post! Any idea if this can somehow be done with on-premises installations as well?

    • Thinus Marloth

      Got it…just append the variable “Rootfolder” path onto the document library “AllItems.aspx” URL e.g. https://sharepoint.local/it/SharedDocuments/Forms/AllItems.aspx?RootFolder=/it/SharedDocuments/test

      • Potolozi

        Not sure if even that is necessary. Why not open the Notebook in Explorer in SharePoint, which shows the files (sections) and folders (section groups) and then set the permissions?

        • http://webster.net.nz/ Darrell Webster

          Correct. Not as necessary for on-prem deployments of SharePoint with OneNote notebooks. This tip is more useful for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business (Online).

        • Thinus Marloth

          Just did some testing. Looks like one can’t set permissions on those files in Explorer. Probably has to do with it being a webdav connection and windows not able to pull the user info from SharePoint, even if everything is on AD.

          What is interesting is that once you are syncing the library with OneDrive for Business it does not default to open it as you mentioned anymore, maybe if you map it as a webdav drive. See the pics for before and after.

  • jpfitzsi

    Thank you for this video! Do you know how to remove a co-owner from a staff notebook?

  • Chris Thomas

    Hi Darrell. I’d love to do this, but am stuck at step 1 – you say ‘From your Site’ and talk about a settings area – do you have your notebooks in a site, or is this somewhere else that I don’t have permissions to visit? Could you point me to a tutorial on this?

    • http://webster.net.nz/ Darrell Webster

      Hi Chris. Yes, my notebook is in a SharePoint Team Site. But I have set up the same in OneDrive for Business (which is essentially a Team Site for an individual.)
      My method won’t work within OneDrive (Consumer).

      • Chris Thomas

        I’ve got OneDrive for Education, which I think is the same – I’ve created a Classroom OneNote. When I create a Team Site on Office 365 and click on Notebooks ( to try and add my Classroom OneDrive to it), it takes me back to the OneNote 365. I’m usually good at using new applications, and am really frustrated that my lack of understanding is preventing me from doing all the cool stuff you show here and elsewhere 🙁