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Convert OneNote to Markdown or Org-Mode

606 words; 4 minute(s)

Table of Contents

If you're looking to convert your OneNote content to another format, such as Markdown or Org-Mode, you're in luck. I use a solution that doesn't require other programs, such as Evernote or Notion. Personally, I used this solution on a managed corporate laptop that doesn't allow installation of other programs like these.

This solution uses OneNote and Pandoc on Windows 10.

Export OneNote Content to Word

To start, export any pages or tabs from OneNote to the Word format (.docx):

  1. Open OneNote desktop.
  2. Select File and then Export.
  3. Select the scope of content to export, such as Tab or Page.
  4. Name and save the file in an easy to remember location. I recommend your Downloads or Desktop folder.

See below for a visual walkthrough of the export process.

OneNote
Notebook

OneNote Section Export
Options

Exported Word
Document

Download Pandoc

Start by downloading Pandoc from their GitHub releases page. I cannot install .msi files on my corporate laptop, so I downloaded the pandoc-3.1.12.3-windows-x86_64.zip file, which contains a simple .exe file that you do not need to install - you will simply run it from the command line below.

Once downloaded, unzip the archive and move the pandoc.exe file to the same folder where your Word documents were saved above. If you prefer, you can move this file to an easier location, such as C:\Users\youruser\Downloads.

Convert Word to Markdown

In this example, I will be converting the Word documents to Markdown, but Pandoc supports a ton of different formats for conversion. Choose the format you prefer and then modify the following commands as needed.

To perform the conversion, open the Command Prompt. If you can't find it, open the start menu and search for it.

Within the command prompt, navigate to the directory where you stored the pandoc.exe file and the Word documents.

cd "C:\Users\yourusername\Downloads"

You can verify that you're in the correct directory with the dir command.

dir

Once you have verified that you have the command prompt open in the correct directory with the pandoc.exe and the Word documents, you can run the following loop to convert all Word documents to Markdown.

for %f in (*.docx) do (pandoc.exe --extract-media=. --wrap=preserve "%f" -o "%f.md")

This loop will perform the following actions:

  1. Find all documents matching the pattern *.docx, which means all Word documents ending with that file extension.
  2. Iterate through all files found in step 1.
  3. For each file, perform the pandoc command.
  4. Within the pandoc command, --extract-media saves all media found in the files to the current folder, with pandoc automatically creating a media subfolder to hold all images.
  5. Within the pandoc command, --wrap=preserve will attempt to prseerve the wrapping from the source document.
  6. Within the pandoc command, the final step is to specify the output path with -o. This option adds the .md file extension to recognize the output files as Markdown files.

Pandoc
Conversion

If you want to export to another format, simply specify the -f=/--from= and -t=/--to= options.

For example, you can convert the Word document to org-mode. You can also convert to one format and subsequently convert to other formats as needed.

pandoc.exe -f docx -t org file.docx