Fix ‘OneNote Needs a Password to Sync this Notebook’ Error

The ‘Onenote needs a password to sync this notebook‘ error appears when the user opens the OneNote application. Whenever this is occurring, synchronization is effectively stopped and any changes made on notes aren’t reflected on other devices.

Onenote needs a password to sync this notebook

What’s causing the ‘Onenote needs a password to sync this notebook’ error?

  • OneNote account glitch – As it turns out, there is one generic glitch that will cause this behavior. Is typically appears if the user tries to open the OneNote app after a major update without restarting the machine. In this case, you can resolve the issue easily by re-signing with OneNote account from within the app.
  • Windows Credentials stores corrupted data – It’s also possible that the issue is beyond OneNote and it’s actually caused by a wider system file corruption issue caused by corrupted data stored inside the Windows Credential Manager utility. In this case, you can fix the issue by using the Control Panel to open Credential Manager and removing any Office-related credentials.
  • SharePoint URL is not added to the list of Trusted Sites – If you’re encountering this issue with OneNote notebooks hosted on a SharePoint site, it’s very likely the issue occurs because the application is forced to query for the SharePoint login every time the user launches the app. If this scenario is applicable, you can fix the issue by adding a Sharepoint URL to the list of trusted Sites from Internet Options.
  • VPN or Proxy interference –  As it’s been confirmed by dozens of affected users, this problem might occur in situations where the user is using a proxy server or a private internet connection. This creates issues with a lot of Office applications including OneNote since Windows the authentication client might not allow the process to complete. In this case, you can fix the issue by disabling or uninstalling the proxy server while OneNote is opened.
  • Corrupted Office installation – In rare circumstances, this problem might also occur due to some type of file corruption located inside your Office installation folder. This problem can be resolved by using the self-repair function via Programs and Features.

Method 1: Re-Sign with your OneNote account

As it turns out, in most cases, the ‘Onenote needs a password to sync this notebook’ will occur due to a generic glitch that can be easily resolved by logging out and back into the OneNote application. In most cases, this issue has started occurring after a major Windows 10 update was installed.

But keep in mind that this method should be regarded as as a workaround rather than a proper fix since it doesn’t fix the underlying problem that created the error message in the first place. Furthermore, some users have reported that the issue returned a couple of days after the fix was originally applied.

Here’s a quick guide on re-signing with your OneNote account in order to fix the ‘Onenote needs a password to sync this notebook’ error:

  1. Open the OneNote application directly (don’t open a locally stored note file).
  2. Once the application is fully opened and loaded, click on your name in the top-right corner, then choose Sign Out.
    Signing out of OneNote
  3. At the Remove Account prompt, click on Yes to remove your account and sign out of this Office application.
    Removing OneNote account
  4. Once the process is complete, return to the top-right corner of the OneNote window and click on Sign In. Then, from the newly appeared window, add your Microsoft email, phone number or Skype, then add the password to sign back into the OneNote application.
    Sign in with your OneNote application
  5. Once the process is complete, see if you’re still encountering the ‘Onenote needs a password to sync this notebook’ error.

In case this hasn’t resolved anything and the syncing feature still doesn’t work, move down to the next potential fix below.

Method 2: Removing account via Credential Manager

Another situation in which this problem will persist even after you try to sign out conventionally is a scenario in which Windows Credentials holds corrupted data that is causing issues with your Microsoft account. In this case, chances are you will experience similar issues with other Office apps other than OneNote.

If this scenario is applicable, you can fix this problem by using the classic Control Panel interface to access the Credentials Manager and remove any Generic Credentials belonging to your Microsoft Account.

Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialogue box. Once you’re inside the run window, type ‘control.exe9’ inside the text box and press Enter to open up the classic Control Panel interface.
    Running the Control Panel
  2. Once you’re inside the classic Control Panel interface, use the search function in the top-right corner to search for ‘User Accounts‘. Then, from the list of results, click on User accounts (left-hand section).
    Accessing the User Accounts menu
  3. Once you’re inside the User Accounts menu, look on the left-hand section and click on Manage your credentials from the list of vertical options.
    Manage your stored Windows credentials
  4. Once you’re inside Credential Manager, select Windows Credentials from the menu on the right. Then, look down below and click on the entry that starts with MicrosoftAccount. Next, from the expanded drop-down menu, click on Remove and then confirm to globally remove the Microsoft account credential integration.
    Removing the Microsoft Account integration

    Note: Keep in mind that once you do this, every application that was using this generic credential will need to be signed in again.

  5. Once you do this, restart your computer. At the next startup, open OneNote once again and click on the Sign-in button (top-right corner). After you do this, sign in with your account once again and see if the issue is resolved.
    Sign in with your OneNote application

    If you’re still encountering the ‘Onenote needs a password to sync this notebook’ error even after performing the steps above, move down to the next potential fix.

Method 3: Adding a Sharepoint URL to Trusted Sites (if applicable)

If you are encountering the ‘Onenote needs a password to sync this notebook’ error with notebooks hosted on an on-premise SharePoint site, it’s possible like that besides this issue, you will still be queried to complete the Sharepoint login every time you try to open OneNote.

In this case, the only viable fix is to open the Internet Options window and add the Sharepoint URL to the list of Trusted Sites. This operation will allow the machine to pass right through, eliminating the repeating password query and the ‘Onenote needs a password to sync this notebook‘ error.

Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

Note: The operation will work on every recent Windows version (Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10).

  1. Open a Run dialogue box by pressing Windows key + R. Next, type ‘ iexplore’ inside the text box and press Enter to open up Internet Explorer. If you are prompted by the UAC (User Account Control), click Yes to grant administrative privileges.
  2. Once you’re inside Internet Explorer (IE), make your way to the top right-hand and click on the gear icon to access the Settings menu.
  3. From the newly appeared context menu, click on Internet Options.
  4. After you manage to get inside the Internet Options menu, select the Security tab. From there, click on Trusted sites and then click on Sites to open up the list of trusted websites that are allowed to pass through Internet Explorer.
  5. Once you get here, use the box under ‘Add this website to the zone’ to add the SharePoint URL that you’re using. For example, https://companyname.sharepoint.com. Click on Add to add the Sharepoint URL to the list of trusted sites.
    Note: Keep in mind that in this case, *https://companyname.sharepoint.com* is simply a placeholder. Replace it with your own SharePoint server.
  6. Close the Trusted Sites window, then hit Apply to save the modifications.
  7. Repeat the action that was previously causing the problem and see if the issue is still occurring.
Adding SharePoint URL to the list of trusted sites

If the same ‘Onenote needs a password to sync this notebook’ error is still occurring when you launch OneNote, move down to the next method below.

Method 4: Disabling VPN / Proxy Server (if applicable)

As it’s been already confirmed by several affected users, Windows doesn’t like authentication over a private internet connection. This is a wider issue that will affect every Office application (not just OneNote).

If you’re using a VPN or proxy solution, chances are it conflicts with the Windows authentication client, which forces the app to throw the ‘Onenote needs a password to sync this notebook’ error. In case this scenario is applicable to your current situation, you will not be able to resolve the issue unless you disable, change or uninstall the VPN client or Proxy server that you’re using.

This doesn’t mean that you need to get rid of it completely, but you need to at least utilize alternatives. Several affected users have confirmed that they managed to fix the issue after disabling their Proxy or VPN client and restarting their computer. As soon as they did this, the ‘Onenote needs a password to sync this notebook’ error stopped occurring.

To help you with this, we’ve created two separate guides – One for uninstalling a VPN client and one for disabling a Proxy server. Feel free to follow the one applicable to your current situation.

Uninstalling a VPN Client

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘appwiz.cpl’ and press Enter to open up the Programs and Feature window. If you’re prompted by the UAC (User Account Control) prompt, click Yes to grant administrative privileges.
    Type appwiz.cpl and Press Enter to Open Installed Programs List
  2. Once you’re inside the Programs and Features screen, scroll down through the list of installed applications and locate the 3rd party VPN client solution that you’re currently using. Once you manage to locate it, right-click on it and choose Uninstall from the newly appeared context menu.
    Uninstalling a VPN tool
    Uninstalling a VPN tool
  3. When you get to the uninstallation screen, follow the on-screen instructions to complete the uninstallation. Once the procedure is complete, restart your computer and see if the issue is resolved at the next startup sequence.

If this method wasn’t applicable or it didn’t allow to fix the problem, start with the next guide below.

Method 5: Repairing the Office Installation

If none of the methods above has allowed you to resolve the issue, chances are you’re actually dealing with some kind of corruption problem that originates from your Office installation.

In case this scenario is applicable, you can most likely resolve the issue by following a series of instructions that will repair your Office installation and fix the ‘Onenote needs a password to sync this notebook’ error. Several affected users have confirmed that the issue was resolved after they did this.

Here’s what you need to do to repair your Office installation:

  1. Open up a Run dialogue box by pressing Windows key + R. Inside the newly opened Run window, type ‘appwiz.cpl’ and press Enter to open up the Programs and Features window.
    Type appwiz.cpl and Press Enter to Open Installed Programs List
  2. Once you’re inside the Programs and Features window, scroll down through the list of installed applications and find your Office installation. Once you manage to locate it, right-click on it and choose Change from the newly appeared context menu.
    Select Microsoft Office (Or Outlook) and Select Change To Repair
  3. Wait until the initial investigation is complete, then select Quick Repair from the list of available options. Then, confirm and start the process by clicking on Repair.
    Repairing the Office installation
  4. Wait patiently until the process is finished. Once it is, restart your computer and wait for the next startup to complete to see if the issue is now resolved.

Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

Expert Tip

Fix ‘OneNote Needs a Password to Sync this Notebook’ Error

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