Handling OneNote conflicts

When you use OneNote across devices, synchronization happens automatically. In some cases, there are conflicting changes which OneNote cannot handle. In this case, it shows a conflict warning. Learn how to resolve these conflicts. (Reading time 4 minutes)


How does OneNote work?

You create a notebook and store it on OneDrive. Now you can access it from PC, Mac, Android, iOS, Windows Phone and edit the content. It even allows you to edit the same page simultaneously from multiple devices. If you work in a team, you can share the notebook with the team.

In short – the same page content is editable from multiple places (and multiple people).

All these changes are automatically synchronized. In some cases, while you are editing, you may not have internet connection. But you don’t have to worry. Synchronization will happen automatically whenever you get connected and OneNote is opened.

Problems can occur

In some cases, the changes made are conflicting with each other. In this case, OneNote cannot perform automatic Sync. It needs to escalate the problem to you so that you can take the right decision. That is when it shows you an error – Sync Issues.

When you open the notebook on PC, you will see a yellow warning message :


What are page versions? OneNote stores copies of the same page after every edit. That way you can view the past versions and see how the content changed over time. These are usually used for auditing purpose.

In this case, it stores the conflicts as a page version. You can see that as a sub-page in gray color.


Conflicts are shown in RED highlight.


Right click on the page to view next conflict items.


What action should you take

Go to this conflict page. Clear instructions are given there.


Conflicting changes are shown highlighted in red.

Look at the original page – go to the same location there and check if you need to copy the conflicting content to the original page.

A good way to do that is to create a New Window in OneNote (CTRL M or View – New Window). In one window open the conflicting page, in another window open the Main page and arrange the windows side-by-side for easy comparison. (Windows key – Right arrow for one window, Windows key – Left arrow for the other OneNote window)

Copy them to original page as required and delete the conflict page. That’s all.

Can this be avoided

Conflicts occur when some editing happens exactly at the same spot while multiple people are editing or you are editing on two different devices. It need not happen at exactly the same time.

Predicting where conflicts will happen is difficult. Which means we cannot really take some specific action to reduce conflicts. Conflicts occur because multiple device – multiple person editing happens. And it is a good facility to have. The way to eliminate conflicts is not to type at the same place across people or devices – but that is not practically possible.

The solution? Just do not bother. Work naturally. If there are conflicts (which are quite rare, considering the complexity of synchronization), OneNote will point them out to you. Take relevant action and forget about it.


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