Setting OneNote 2013 (desktop) as your Default Version in Windows 10

If you are a serious OneNote user you need to be using the desktop version (either 2013 or 2016). For now, this is still the best version of OneNote to use to create your notebooks and organize them with the full set of features and plug-ins / add-ons like Onetastic!

One thing many users find when they first fire up OneNote is that they are in the Mobile version which doesn’t have as many features. It’s a great app to use as a companion to OneNote on the desktop, but Windows 10 doesn’t make it easy to find. So here is a quick guide to setting your OneNote 2013 Desktop version as your default in Windows 10!

After installing OneNote 2013 via Office 365 or you might see a dialogue box asking which version you want to make your default.

Clicking on the make this version default might lead you to a warning message that says go to Settings, System Settings and Default Apps… but how do you do that?

First go to settings, and you can do this in a couple of ways…

  1. Type the word “Settings” into the Cortana search button on the taskbar in Windows 10. Then select the Settings app as shown top.
  2. You can click on the Windows Start Menu on the bottom left of the taskbar and then select “Settings” as shown above.


A third option is to swipe in from the right (going right to left) to bring up the Windows 10 Action Center. Then select “All Settings” as shown above.

Great now we have the Settings menu, now what? No matter which method you chose above you will now be at the settings menu. Follow the guides below.

From the Settings window select the System icon shown above.

When you have the System window open you have a list down the left hand side, find “Default apps” and select it. The Default apps menu items will appear, scroll down until the end of the list to find “Set Defaults by app” and click!

This is your last step. Scroll down in the menu on the left until you see “OneNote (desktop)” and click to select it. Next, click the large “Set this program as default” button and then click “Ok” and you are done.

If you’ve followed these steps the next time you start OneNote it might ask you one more time to set as default, but just clicking the option to make the desktop version default should work from here on out.

Let me know if this worked for you, and if you have any other quick set up questions!

Enjoy OneNote desktop’s power user controls for the most comprehensive organization and note taking tool in the Microsoft Office arsenal!


2 thoughts on “Setting OneNote 2013 (desktop) as your Default Version in Windows 10

  1. I would agree that ON 2013 or 2016 are the better versions. One disadvantage of using them on a Surface Pro 4 (maybe earlier models) is that the Surface Pen top button “click” doesn’t bring up 2013/16 but only the Store app version. I’ve seen on YOU Tube how to use Event Ghost to be able to re-program the pen to start up any app (inc 2013/16), but it’s too daunting for me to try.

    An app to do the change simply would be brilliant! Alternatively, is there a way to save a note in the ON Store app, which can be synced with ON 2013/16 via OneDrive?

    Finally, there are differences between 2013 and 2016, is there a comparison chart anywhere?



    1. Hi Keith,
      I agree the now defunct Surface Hub app in Windows 8.1 was very convenient. I suspect MSFT will release a similar app for Windows 10, we will have to wait.
      As to your second question, the ON Universal app will sync with any notebooks you’ve opened up in both, the problem is the app uses a different sync cache file than the desktop version and I’ve heard stories of sync errors occurring. Because of that I recommend you use them separately, or just pick one version and stick with it (which is what I do!)


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