Software

How to get the most out of Windows 10's Sticky Notes app with a Task View desktop

By combining Windows 10's Task View and the improved Sticky Notes feature, you can have convenient, well-organized access to your notes.

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Image: iStockphoto.com/LadyWriter55

Windows 10's Task View virtual desktop feature allows you to spread out all the applications you're using for your various projects among multiple desktops. For example, on each desktop you could have the applications and documents pertaining to a particular task. When you need to jump from one task to another, you just switch desktops. Then, when you're ready to go back to your previous task, you can switch back to that desktop, and everything you were working with is right there on the screen waiting for you—no minimizing and maximizing windows to get back to work. And each desktop has its own Taskbar that displays only those applications that are on that desktop. It's an efficient system, and it allows you to be more organized.

Sticky Notes, one of the Windows Store Apps that comes pre-installed in Windows 10, allows you to mimic the little Post-it notes we all stick around the edges of our monitors to remind us of various things. I've used the various versions of Sticky Notes since Windows Vista and while I found them useful, I always bumped into various little issues that discouraged me from using them to their full potential. For example, if I minimized Sticky Notes and then forgot to restore, I'd miss out on any reminders, which of course defeated the purpose.

However, since I have been using Windows 10, I've discovered that the Task View virtual desktop feature allows me to keep my notes handy but out of the way of my regular work. More specifically, I do my main work on desktops 1 and 2 and keep all my notes open on desktop 3 or 4. Along with the feature improvements made to Sticky Notes in Windows 10, I'm now really taking full advantage of all that this app has to offer.

As such, I thought that I would share this information with TechRepublic readers by way of an article. Let's take a look.

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Creating a Sticky Notes desktop

To begin, you'll want to create a new desktop on which you'll post your sticky notes. To create a new desktop, click the Task View button on the Taskbar. When you see the Task View display, click the New Desktop button. You'll then see a thumbnail preview of the new desktop, alongside the current desktop. You can now switch to the new desktop by clicking its thumbnail. Figure A illustrates these steps.

Figure A

Figure A
Accessing Task View and creating new desktops in Windows 10 is easy.

You can also quickly switch desktops without going into the Task View pane by using the Windows key shortcuts. For example, press [Windows] + Ctrl + Right Arrow to move forward through your desktops and [Windows] + Ctrl + Left Arrow to move backward through your desktops.

Launching Sticky Notes

Once on the new desktop you can launch Sticky Notes by clicking the Start button and typing Sticky. When Sticky Notes appears in the Results pane, just click it.

At this point, you'll see a blank sticky note appear on the desktop. Depending on what version of Windows 10 you have (Anniversary Update or Creators Update), you may also see the Enable Insights prompt, as shown in Figure B. If you do, click the Enable Insights button. The Insights feature essentially turns certain types of content you enter in your notes into links that Cortana and Bing can use to provide you with access to corresponding information on the internet or on your computer.

Figure B

FigureB
If prompted to do so, you'll want to enable the Insights feature.

Using Sticky Notes

Once you have a note on the desktop, as shown in Figure C, working with it is easy. To create a new note, click the plus (+) button. To delete the current note, click the trash can button.

Figure C

FigureC
Working with Sticky Notes is easy.

To change the color of a note, click the menu button (... ) and select one of the color buttons, as shown in Figure D. The colors of the notes are independent of one another, meaning that you can have multiple notes of different colors. When you click the plus (+) button to create a new note, the new note will automatically inherit the color of the parent note, but you can change its color any time you want.

Figure D

Figure D
You can change the color of any note.

Notes work just like any other windows and can be moved or resized as normal. Just click and drag a note's title bar to move it or click and drag a corner of the note to resize it. When you click the plus (+) button to create a new note, the new note will automatically inherit the size of the parent note, but you can change its size whenever you want.

Of course, you can cut, copy, paste, undo, and select text in your note as you would in any other text application, such as Notepad.

Windows 7's version of Sticky Notes had more text formatting options than you'll find in Windows 10's version, but if you really want to do word processing, you'll use something other than Sticky Notes anyway. So while you can't change the font or font size in Sticky Notes, you can apply bold, italics, and underline using the standard keystroke combinations: [Ctrl]+B, [Ctrl]+I, [Ctrl]+U. You'll also find that [Ctrl]+T does strikethrough. Just so you know, the default font in Sticky Notes is 10-point Segoe UI.

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Using Insights

As I mentioned earlier, the Insights feature essentially makes certain types of content you enter in your notes into links that Bing and Cortana use to provide you with access to corresponding information on the internet or on your computer. In most cases, the Insights feature is enabled by default. However, you might see a prompt like the one shown earlier in Figure B. You can check and manually enable the Insights feature by clicking the menu icon in a note and then clicking the settings icon at the bottom left corner of the note. Ensure that the Enable Insights switch is set to On.

Once the Insights feature is enabled, you'll notice that specific words automatically become links to various local apps or to internet sites. For instance, Web site addresses become live links to the internet through Microsoft Edge. Street addresses become live links to Bing Maps. If you type a time or date, they become links to the Reminder feature in Cortana. Phone numbers become links to Skype or any soft phone application you have installed. Email addresses become links to create a new message in your default email app. Figure E shows these Insights.

Figure E

Figure E
The Insights feature turns certain types of content you enter in your notes into links.

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What's your take?

Have you used Sticky Notes in Windows 10? Will the separate desktop for Sticky Notes technique encourage you to start using Sticky Notes? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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