When it comes to keeping your life organised on your Windows computer, the two words that come to mind are “Evernote” and “OneNote.” Those two apps are great – they’re slick, highly customisable and cross-platform. But what if all you need is to quickly scribble down some info without having to do any clicking or deciding which “Notebook” to use?
That’s where Sticky Notes comes in. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it can be right there on your desktop. Here are five tips for Windows’ built-in note-taking app.
Sticky Notes comes pre-installed from Windows 7 onwards and can easily be accessed by clicking Start and typing “sticky notes.” Once it’s open, there are a few basic things you should know about straight away:
- Create separate notes by clicking the small ‘+’ symbol at the top left of the Sticky Note window.
- Change the color of a note by right-clicking it and selecting another color.
- Resize a note by left-click-dragging any of its edges.
Make Sticky Notes Start Up with Windows
Having Sticky Notes right there on your desktop when you start up Windows can revolutionize your organisational life. To do this:
- In File Explorer type
%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startupin the address bar and hit Enter.
- In the folder showing all the programs that open automatically when Windows boots up, right-click an empty space and select “New -> Shortcut.”
- In the “Create Shortcut” box type in the location of the Sticky Notes app, which is
%windir%\system32\StikyNot.exe,and hit Enter.
Sticky Notes will now open automatically each time you start Windows (until you delete the shortcut).
Keyboard Shortcuts for Sticky Notes
By default, text in Sticky Notes appears in a simple, scrawly font, and it doesn’t look like there are any options to format it. But if you’re familiar with your MS Word formatting shortcuts, then you can also apply them here. The most important ones are as follows:
- Ctrl + B – Bold text
- Ctrl + I – Italic text
- Ctrl + T – Strikethrough
- Ctrl + U – Underlined text
- Ctrl + Shift + L – Press once for bullet-points, 2x for a numbered list, 3x for Small Alpha list, and so on through a whole number of list formats
- Ctrl + Shift + > – Increase text size
- Ctrl + Shift + < – Decrease text size
- Ctrl + A – Select all
- Ctrl + Shift + A – Toggle caps
- Ctrl + L – Align text left
- Ctrl + R – Align text right
- Ctrl + E – Align text center
- Ctrl + 1 – Single-spaces lines
- Ctrl + 2 – Double-spaces lines
- Ctrl + 5 – Set 1.5-spaced lines
Retrieve Notes You Previously Deleted
Sticky Notes are almost as disposable as actual Post-Its stuck to the frame of your monitor. They’re easy to delete and don’t offer an option of ‘Saving’ them locally or in the cloud. If you do accidentally delete a Sticky Note, you can recover it as follows:
- Go to File Explorer, and in the address bar type
- Open the .snt file using Notepad, and you’ll see text from your deleted notes.
- It may look a bit confusing if you used a lot of those fancy formatting shortcuts I talked about earlier, so go to “Format -> Word Wrap” to make it more legible, and press “Ctrl + F” to look for specific text that you deleted.
Alternatively, if you regularly make restore points on your PC, you can head to the Sticky Notes directory (
%AppData%\Microsoft\Sticky Notes), right-click the .snt file, select “Restore previous versions -> Previous Versions” then select a version of Sticky Notes from before you deleted the notes.
Make Backups of Your Notes
To not worry so much about deleting your precious notes, you can easily back up all your notes by going to the Sticky Notes directory (
%AppData%\Microsoft\Sticky Notes), right-clicking the .snt file, and copy-pasting it to a location of your choice.
I recommend creating a folder called “Backups”‘ right there in the Sticky Notes folder and keeping all your backups in there so you always know where to find them.
Sticky Notes will never be as elaborate as a full-on organiser like OneNote, but it offers the kind of instant one-click access that no other app can compete with. It’s simple, it’s rough, and truly lives up to its name by offering a digital equivalent of a post-it. With these tips you’re well-equipped to make the most of this understated little Windows tool.