I’ve been using Microsoft OneNote to help support my grocery shopping trips for a locked in relative. This notetaking app is part of Windows 10, available on the web, iOS, Android (free for smaller devices) & Mac. I already do my own shopping list on OneNote and over time had built up a comprehensive range of items. The list is not store specific (unlike many shopping apps) and item checkboxes act as a checklist to fill out before you go.
With the COVID-19 lockdown I’m shopping for someone else who is not able to do their own. Having a shared list on OneNote gives a common platform for me to get it without contact and know it is up to date. I also use it, with Windows Quick Assist, to review remotely if the other person is not confident with IT.
Windows 10 has Start > OneNote installed by default. For other platforms look for OneNote in the respective App Store. It requires a (free) Microsoft Account but Windows 10 users will likely already have one (the identity they sign into Windows with) and other platforms will prompt its creation on first use of the app. You will need to know the other persons associated email to set up sharing. You can also log into OneNote.com to edit your OneNotes on any device.
Creating a Shared Notebook
On your device Open OneNote & (below the default Notebook) click + Add Notebook to create a new one.
Name the Notebook (something better than ‘New Notebook’!)
By default a New Section 1 and Untitled Page will be created for you to use.
The page name reflects the Title of the page. Click in the blank area above the date/time to name the page.
Click anywhere on the page to add items by typing. OneNote has a very flexible layout so the text panel you just created can be resized or moved anywhere. I find it good to have two shorter lists, side by side, as saves scrolling when viewing on my phone in store.
Create the check boxes with the To Do button on the toolbar. Once added clicking a To Do box (on page or toolbar button) ticks it, click again to clear it.
You can use the Heading Styles to format section headings. Just click anywhere in the line and choose Heading 1, 2, 3… from the dropdown menu.
The result is an itemised list you can check off weekly as you need items, leaving them clear if you don’t. After a while it will reflect your regular shop and need hardly any editing, beyond ticking boxes.
I organise the list roughly to match the typical store layout of the supermarket I visit most often, but most have a similar product grouping.
Sharing the list
Once created you can share the OneNote with the other person. Click on Share, Enter their email address (their Microsoft Account email), check ’Can edit’ is selected and click Share.
They will get an email inviting them to the OneNote and be able to edit it as well. Changes are synchronised between the two editors almost instantly.
Using the list
Let them fill it in: If the other person is confident with devices they can fill in the list, add any items and all it takes is a quick call or text to confirm it is ready before you go shopping.
Help them fill it in: If not confident with IT, and they have Windows 10, I use Windows Quick Assist (see this blog post for details) to drive their OneNote from my location. You see, and can control, their PC filling out the OneNote together, talking on the phone/skype, and use the list to prompt if unticked items are needed/not, adding any missing ones.
Once that is done I can go shopping confident the list on my phone is accurate. I check off the items in store to make sure I don’t miss anything, avoiding repeat visits.
Although our stores are orderly, COVID-19 grocery shopping is one thing you really do want to minimise.