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New Draw tab and ink tools in OneNote on Windows

Feature deep dive
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Hi Office Insiders! My name is Monika Dragulski and I’m a Product Manager for the Office Natural User Interface team. I’m excited to share the massive improvements we’ve made to the inking experience and Draw tab in OneNote on Windows.   

New ink tools and Draw tab

We’ve added many new features and updated existing tools to make your inking and Draw tab experience more robust and customizable. With this recent refresh, you can expect higher-precision, lower-latency inking. We’ve rewritten the ink stack from the ground up, resulting in an 85% improvement of ink latency. Now your ink will render instantly when drawn with your Surface pen, and look just as good as traditional ink on paper. 

We’ve also refreshed the Draw tab in OneNote with more color and size options for your drawing tools, as well as better organization of the tools for easier access. Plus, we’ve aligned your favorite drawing features to Word, PowerPoint and Excel. No matter which Office app you use, you can expect these tools to look and behave the same.   

How it works  

If you are running Beta Channel builds, you should be able to see these new features reflected automatically in OneNote. 

Improved inking features

Tactile Signals

Digital inking in OneNote not only looks better, it also feels more natural with new support for tactile signals. When inking with your Surface Slim Pen 2 on a Surface Laptop Studio or Surface Pro 8, you will feel small vibrations that mimic the feel of pen on paper. 

Note: Both the tactile signals and lower latency are also now available on OneNote for the web while inking with your Surface Slim pen 2 on compatible devices!

Ink Cursors  

Ink confidently with ink cursors! Now you can preview both the color and thickness of the tool you’ve selected as part of your cursor. This lets you know how your ink or eraser will appear on the canvas and reminds you of what tool you have selected. No more accidental marks.   

Ink Selection Improvements  

One of the magic elements of digital ink is that you can move and change it once it’s been drawn. We’ve listened to customer feedback and improved this experience for touch by increasing the hit target on your selected ink. Now, you can drag your ink with your finger from anywhere within the selected target, not just the center icon.   

Draw tab refresh 

New draw tab

The new pens and highlighters in OneNote align with the inking tools in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Now once you select your pen you can change the color from that pen’s dropdown menu.

Updated Pen dropdown menuThickness  

The thickness of your ink can be changed right from the dropdown menu of the pen you select, with 5 different thickness options.   

Recent Colors  

The Recent Colors menu makes it easy to access custom colors you’ve recently used within the Pen Menu dropdown, letting you define your own inking pallet for that pen in addition to the 16 default pen colors. 

 Effect Pens  

Add some sparkle to your notes with Effect Pens that come in options like Galaxy, Rainbow and Lava.   

More Colors 

Add more personalization to your inking tools with the infinite color options you can explore by selecting More Colors.  

Highlighter tool 

All the improvements we’ve made to the Pen tool also apply to the Highlighter tool. Select from 5 different thicknesses and 16 different default colors.  

Add Pen 

Easily add more tools to your toolbar as needed using the Add Pen button. You can add up to 15 pens of any type. 


This popular tool is now available in OneNote on Windows! Draw perfect lines at any angle by clicking on the Ruler button. 

Ruler tool

Format Background   

Give structure to your blank canvas with Format Background. Now instead of having to switch to the View tab to access this feature, you can select it within the Draw tab. With Format Background you can add ruled lines or grid lines to your page to help guide your ink, or change the color of your page.  

New Format Background Menu


We’ve consolidated the shapes experience in OneNote into a convenient dropdown menu, keeping all the shapes capabilities you know and love. Just click the Shapes button to dropdown a gallery of all the ink shapes you can create.   

New Shapes dropdown menu

Undo / Redo 

You can undo or redo any action right from the Draw tab. You no longer have to type Ctrl+Z on your keyboard or click back to the Home tab on the ribbon.   

Math Assistant  

Math Assistant is here! This popular feature is now available in OneNote on Windows. OneNote can understand your handwritten equations and guide you through step-by-step solutions. You can work with real or complex numbers, and teachers can turn it off for their students while doing assignments in the Class Notebook. 

Math Assistant feature now in OneNote for handwritten equations 

But wait… there’s more!   

All of this is just our initial set of improvements to the ink and natural input space. Over the next few months, you’ll see further updates to both OneNote on Windows and the web. These will include improvements to ink quality as well as more features, including pencil, ink replay and a new pen focus view. Just by undocking your pen, you’ll be able to transition into a pen-first experience, making it easier to focus on your writing and annotations.  We’re also planning more features specifically for Math Assistant, such as Immersive Reader, Practice Quiz, and Graphing, which will be available in the upcoming months!

Known Issues 

  • With this update, Pen as Pointer is no longer in the Draw tab, but we plan to bring this back to OneNote on Windows in the future. 


These new features are available to Beta Channel users running Version 2209 (Build 15427.20000) or later. Note that this feature is not available on OneNote for Windows 10.

Don’t have it yet? It’s probably us, not you. 

Features are released over some time to ensure things are working smoothly. We highlight features that you may not have because they’re slowly releasing to larger numbers of Insiders. Sometimes we remove elements to further improve them based on your feedback. Though this is rare, we also reserve the option to pull a feature entirely out of the product, even if you, as an Insider, have had the opportunity to try it.  


We want to hear from you! Please click Help > Feedback to submit your thoughts about this feature. 

Learn what other information you should include in your feedback to ensure it’s actionable and reaches the right people. We’re excited to hear from you!