Microsoft Journal – A Versatile Notetaking Application with Handwriting Recognition, Markup Tools, and PDF Integration

Microsoft Journal – What Is It?

Microsoft Journal, previously Windows Journal Note Writer, is a notes and markup application primarily designed for stylus use. It has some extras that separate it from other notes apps, like erasing text by scribbling through it or making a phrase into a header by underlining it.

Unlike OneNote, which relies quite a bit on typed text, Journal can convert handwriting into text.

Handwriting recognition

Journal recognizes handwriting and converts it behind the scenes into text that can be copied directly to another program. That sets it apart from OneNote, which relies heavily on typed text and supplements it with inked notes and drawings.

You can select text by tapping on the selection tool that looks like a lasso. Then you can tap the Actions menu and convert the selected handwriting into text. The resulting text may not be perfect, but it’s certainly usable.

The app also offers templates for different types of note pages, including graph paper, Sudokuish paper, and musical staff paper. You can also create your own templates with a few clicks.

The developers weren’t sure what forms of interaction users would prefer to use to switch between drawing and selecting content, but they found that tapping, the lasso tool, and the barrel button on a pen were most popular. The app also lets you mark up PDF documents, and over half of the pages that people create in Journal they import from PDFs.

Import text

The program lets you import text and documents from a variety of sources. You can also use the program to mark up PDFs and images. The application has powerful search capabilities, so you can find your notes quickly.

If you have a lot of handwritten notes, it’s easy to lose track of where they are. The Windows Journal program allows you to organize your notes by underlining headings and creating lists. It can even recognize some of your gestures, such as circling or lassoing text.

The software is free and available for download from the Microsoft website. It is scanned for viruses and stored on security-enhanced servers. However, it’s important to note that the Windows Journal program does not support all languages. If your system’s display language does not match the Windows Journal program’s installation language, certain UI elements may appear in a fallback language. You can change the default installation language by using the control panel or a third-party utility.


Using the “Load background” entry in the Journal menu, you can load a bitmap image as the background of a journal page. The bitmap can be in any format supported by the gdk-pixbuf library. It can be used in either continuous mode (the default) or one-page mode.

You can set a flag with a color to mark important information. You can also erase mistakes by scribbling over them, similar to the erasing options in Microsoft Office.

You can delete the change journal at any time, but this may interfere with backup processes. If the change journal is deleted, any applications that use it will not be able to see changes made since its last creation. A well-programmed application should detect this and revert to an alternative method of tracking file changes. The config file can be modified to include a host name, the opacity level of highlighter strokes (0 through 1; 0 is completely transparent), the color of fonts for text items and drawings/diagrams, the default directory for opening and saving files, and many other settings.


Microsoft has released a new version of its Journal app. This version has graduated from the Microsoft Garage project and is now an officially supported app. It has a new look that matches the Windows 11 style. It also provides a more freeform notetaking experience. It uses AI to quickly recognize editing and semantic gestures.

The search box includes an autocomplete feature for journal names. It is recommended to use full journal name (or abbreviation) for a comprehensive search. The results by year timeline shows a count of all publication dates, including print and electronic dates. Use the search builder to add a date field (formatted as yyyy/mm/dd) to a query to search for a date range.

You can save up to 500 items from one or more searches. Saved items are available in the Clipboard for a maximum of 8 hours. You can also select and send to Collections. This will create a new collection that will be saved to your computer for future reference.

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