4 Windows Sticky Notes Tips For Better Productivity

When it comes to keeping your life organised on your Windows computer, the two words that come to mind are Evernote and OneNote. Sticky Notes, however, is much more immediate, letting you take notes right there on your desktop. While it used to be pretty basic, the Sticky Notes app has come a long way since then, and now lets you sync your notes up to the cloud, among other things.

Here are our top tips to make the most of Windows’ in-built note-scribbling app.

Sticky Notes comes pre-installed from Windows 7 onwards and can easily be accessed by clicking Start and typing “sticky notes.” When you first open it, from Sticky Notes 3.0 onwards you’ll have a main app listing all your notes, with a Search bar at the top that lets you quickly find specific things within them. If you find this list gets in the way, you can close it, and just use the individual Sticky Notes windows instead.

Here are the basics of how to use Sticky Notes:

  • Create separate notes by clicking the small ‘+’ symbol that appears when you hover the mouse at the top left of corner the Sticky Note window.

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  • Change the color of a note by clicking the three-dotted icon that appears when you hover over the top right corner of a note.

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  • Resize a note by left-click-dragging any of its edges.

One of the newest and best features of Sticky Notes is the ability to sync your notes up to the cloud. You’ll need a Microsoft account for this, as well as Microsoft’s excellent note-taking app OneNote, which you can get for all major PC and mobile platforms.

Assuming these things are in order, you can sync your sticky notes across devices. Open Sticky Notes, and go to the main window listing all your notes (if it’s closed, open it by clicking the three-dotted icon at the top right corner of any of your notes then click ‘Notes list’).

Click the cog icon at the top right of the Notes List, then click “Sign In” and enter your Microsoft account details to sign in.

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That’s it! Your Sticky Notes will now appear in the OneNote app on your different devices, and you’ll be able to edit them from any of these devices.

Having Sticky Notes right there on your desktop when you start up Windows can revolutionize your organisational life. There are a couple of ways to do this:

  • Just leave Sticky Notes open whenever you use it, and it’ll remain there next time you boot your PC
  • Or you can find the Sticky Notes app in the Start menu, drag it to the desktop to create a shortcut, then drag that shortcut to the Windows Startup folder (C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp).

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Sticky Notes will now open automatically each time you start Windows.

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 + 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

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Sticky Notes are almost as disposable as actual Post-Its stuck to the frame of your monitor. The option to sync your notes to the cloud has for the most part replaced the rudimentary options to back them up and retrieve them locally.

But if you used Sticky Notes before its big 3.0 update last year, there’s still a slim chance you can retrieve notes in the ‘snt’ file left over from the old version of Sticky Notes.

  • In File Explorer, navigate to “C:\Users\Rob\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Sticky Notes”
  • 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 right-click the .snt file, select “Restore previous versions -> Previous Versions” then select a version of Sticky Notes from before you deleted the notes.

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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.

This article was first published in Sept 2016 and was updated in January 2019.

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