Microsoft

Take advantage of Sticky Notes in Windows 7

While the Sticky Notes applet may not be the most exciting feature in Windows 7, there are situations where this little applet can come in handy.

While the Sticky Notes applet may not be the most exciting feature in Microsoft Windows 7, there are actually a number of situations where this little applet can come in handy. And, believe it or not, there's a lot more to Sticky Notes than meets the eye.

I must admit that when I first looked at the Sticky Notes applet in Windows 7, I really wasn't that impressed and promptly forgot about it. However, I recently reached for a real sticky note and discovered that somebody had absconded with the last pad of 3M Post-it Notes from my desk drawer. With no other option, I clicked the Start button, typed sticky in the Start Search box, and launched the Sticky Notes applet.

Ever since that day, I have been using the Sticky Notes applet here and there, discovering its features and its shortcomings, and of course learning about workarounds. In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to take advantage of the Sticky Notes applet in Windows 7.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

The basics

Using Sticky Notes is pretty easy. Once you launch the applet as I explained above, a blank Sticky Note will appear on the desktop. You can drag the note anywhere on the desktop that you want. You can then just start typing your note. As you type (Figure A), the note will automatically increase in length up to a certain point and then a scroll bar will appear. However, you can resize the note anyway you wish.

Figure A

As you type, the note will increase in length.

You can change a note's color by right-clicking inside a note and selecting one of the available color choices. To create a new note, just click the "+ button" in the upper left corner of an existing note or press [Ctrl]+[N]. To delete a note, just click the "x button" in the upper right corner or press [Ctrl]+[D].

When you launch Sticky Notes, you'll see that it has a button on the Taskbar. As such, you can easily minimize all notes on the desktop by clicking that button. Likewise you can restore them by clicking that button.

When you create a note, the Sticky Notes applet automatically saves the note. This means that you can close the Sticky Notes applet without fear of losing your notes. Just right-click on the button and select the Close Window command, as shown in Figure B. When you re-launch the applet, all your notes reappear.

Figure B

You can right-click on the button to close the Sticky Notes applet without fear of losing your notes.

Changing font workaround

If you are like me, one of the first things you'll want to change is the default font. While Segoe Print is amusing at first, since it resembles perfect handwriting, it gets old quickly. Unfortunately, there isn't a standard way to change the font. However, because Sticky Notes is font aware, you can change the font by copying and pasting text in the font that you want to use from another word processing applet.

For example, as you can see in Figure C, I pasted text in Cambria and Arial into a note. The nice thing is that once you paste in a new font, that font will become the default font for that particular note and you can continue typing in that font.

Figure C

Using the workaround, you can change the font.

However, any new note that you create will default to the Segoe Print font. While using the copy-and-paste method of changing the font isn't the most convenient, it is an easy enough workaround, especially if you just copy and paste one word from a previous note.

Formatting text

The font shortcoming aside, there are lots of ways that you can format text in a note. You just select the text you want to format and use the keystroke combinations listed in Table A.

Table A

Format Keystroke Combination
Bold Ctrl+B
Italic Ctrl+I
Strikethrough Ctrl+T
Underline Ctrl+U
Increase Font Size Ctrl+Shift+>
Decrease Font Size Ctrl+Shift+<
Align Text Left Ctrl+L
Align Text Right Ctrl+R
Center Ctrl+E
Bulleted/Numbered Lists Ctrl+Shift+L

Reviving the Delete Note confirmation

When you delete a note, you'll see the confirmation dialog box shown in Figure D. Chances are good that after a few times, you'll want to select the Don't Display This Message Again check box. However, you really shouldn't because when you delete a note, it's really gone. In other words, it is not sent to the Recycle Bin. Without this confirmation, it is really easy to accidentally delete a note you meant to keep.

Figure D

When you delete a note, you'll be prompted to confirm the operation.

If you do select the Don't Display This Message Again check box and then later want the confirmation back, you can revive it with a simple registry edit. To launch the Registry Editor, click the Start button, type Regedit in the Start Search box, and press [Enter]. When the UAC dialog box appears, respond appropriately. When the Registry Editor appears, navigate to the following folder:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Applets\StickyNotes

Then, double-click the PROMPT_ON_DELETE value and set the Value Data to 1, as shown in Figure E, and click OK. To complete the operation, close the Registry Editor.

Figure E

You can revive the confirmation prompt with a simple registry edit.

Make a backup

If you want to individually back up the Sticky Notes data file or just make sure that it is included in your regular backup routine, you'll need to know that the file is named StickyNotes.snt. You'll find this file in the folder

C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Sticky Notes

Create a query to search notes

When you have a lot of notes in the Sticky Notes applet, they can overlap each other. This makes finding a particular note a bit difficult. Fortunately you can create a special query that will scan through the Windows Search Index and find all your notes and display them in a neatly organized Search Results window. To do so, you'll create a shortcut that uses the search-ms protocol.

Right-click on the desktop and select New | Shortcut. When you see the Create Shortcut window, type the following command into the text box:

search-ms:displayname=Search%20Results%20in%20Sticky%20Notes%20(Windows%20Sticky%20Notes)&crumb=&crumb=location:C%3A%5CUsers%5CUSER%20NAME%5CSearches%5CSticky%20Notes%20(Windows%20Sticky%20Notes).searchconnector-ms

Of course, it is easier to simply copy the above command and paste it into Notepad. You can then replace USER%20NAME with your account name. For example, Greg%20Shultz.

When you look at this command, it looks like a mess, but you just need to understand that the %## codes are special codes for standard characters. For instance, %20 = space, %3A = :, and %5C = \

You can now click Next, name your shortcut, and click Finish. When you run the shortcut, you'll see an Internet Explorer security warning and can just click Allow. You'll then see a Search Results window like the one shown in Figure F.

Figure F

Your note will appear in a Search Results window.

What's your take?

Have you used Windows 7's Sticky Notes applet? Will the techniques discussed in this blog encourage you to use it? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

Stay on top of the latest Microsoft Windows tips and tricks with TechRepublic's Windows Desktop newsletter, delivered every Monday and Thursday. Automatically sign up today!

About

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.

60 comments
pitneyitfc
pitneyitfc

i always used sticky notes and most times i have lots on my screen all bunched together and find it hard to find the one i'm after, before i could click the start button on windows 7 and were it lets you write somethink i used to think of a note and start to write the first part of it and it use to find it and send me straight to it.. but its not letting me do this now, has anyone eles had this before? any idea how i can get it working again?

kochba2314
kochba2314

I use them to take notes during meetings and then paste them into our company system where I have to track info on my account. I used this shortcut to put my notes in a list view to see the created date since I had not been putting dates on my notes. This tip was a great help to me!

venkat1926
venkat1926

I would like to know a few example how people use sticky notes

bethjanick
bethjanick

Hi All, I'm a user of windows 7. The problem is I couldn't find sticky note app in my system. Can anyone please help me to find it? where is it actually installed in windows 7. I am thinking to download any app for my laptop who work as sticky note. Is it OK if I download it from any third party website? Please helps me to solve this prob. Thanks Beth

R Woell
R Woell

If you could drag that sticky note to a document, then it would be useful! Sort of like legal documents where they put the pointer notes to tell you of the 20 places to sign or initial. As I was quitting for the day, I wanted to put a sticky note on the Excel document I was working on to remind me of a macro modification to try out the next morning. Yes, I could have left it on the desktop, but that isn't where I wanted it.

Hobococo
Hobococo

Well I tried for an hour but search query doesn't work for me. I can make it get to the search window by browsing in the short cut window to searches\sticky Notes but am unable to add the query. Would be nice if the command had been written without the code to make it a little easier to read for the rest of us but even spending the time re-writing it, I still can't add the query to the search. [i]search-ms:displayname=Search Results in Sticky Notes (Windows Sticky Notes)&crumb=&crumb=location:C:\Users\USER NAME\Searches\Sticky Notes (Windows Sticky Notes).searchconnector-ms[/i} But it was still worth reading this thread for I have now installed Zhorn Software's Sticky Notes ...... but still don't know how to do a search query shortcut in that one either. Btw, "Quicknote" is totally different but a great little program for keeping notes also.

barryand
barryand

Did u know that after DELETING a note, it STILL REMAINS in the .snt database (just like index.dat)? Boy, the cops are gonna love this one. I first came across this here: http://www.sevenforums.com/software/598-sticky-notes-color.html#post4926 and proved it for myself by opening the .snt file with a hex editor. The only way out of this is to add the .snt file to the list of files to be periodically removed by a cleanup program. Database located at C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Sticky Notes\StickyNotes.snt Typical of MS to deliberately leave forensic clues like this.

arnold.davis
arnold.davis

I get a "can't open displayname" error when I paste Greg's command into the create shortcut box. I am working with 2 displays. Could that be the problem?

Se7enSoft
Se7enSoft

I've found Sticky Notes to be a great little utility app but, I also think it's a bit lacking in a few areas. Therefore, I've created a small companion program that sorta' gives Sticky Notes the features it's missing - removing the taskbar button, preventing Peek and Flip3D from hiding notes, etc.. You can check it out at: http://se7en-soft.com/products/notemagic

Solutionmaker1
Solutionmaker1

I found sticky notes a very handy gadget. (well done)

psoft
psoft

How would it be convenient if sticky note comes with office instant messenger ? Live2support Inc which is a leading live chat software provider launched sticky notes software which is integrated with instant messenger and to-do list

skpandey27
skpandey27

A good source of info, i will use it now....

brewster
brewster

IMHO, Cardfile was a far better Windows based app for this sort of note taking then Sticky Notes ever will be. I rather would have it back then have Sticky Notes.

TeeKay
TeeKay

To which version of Windows 7 does this pertain? I'm using Home Premium and can't find anyything to do with Sticky Notes. Terence Kierans Cyberspace Virtual Services www.virtualservices.com.au

sohanw
sohanw

I had been using sticky notes. Found them quite useful. But Gregs note is excellent and timely. Congratulations. I have read and found that he had indicated many interesting explorations. will try them. Thanks Greg and TechRepublic

jnemeth
jnemeth

Much better then the sidebar version.

Rob C
Rob C

If I try it, and then give up on it, will the ghost of it (the application, or the Taskbar thingy, or ??) haunt me forever ?

StefanHeffley
StefanHeffley

I found the search feature helpful. I have used the sticky note feature to jot down notes that I may have to act on as well as those that are important to accomplish.

ronald.cox
ronald.cox

It has a more finished look than Wordpad or Notepad, but it's clearly less finished. With its mental connection to PostIt notepads I'd expect to be able to attach it temporarily to other documents, but apparently this isn't one of its features. What need is it intended to fill?

paul.froehle
paul.froehle

There are hundreds of free sticky note programs out there. They all change fonts, have pop up scheduling, even allow emailling to others. I tried the one in vista. It wouldn't even allow typing, only voice or drawing with your mouse. Windows is way behind in this application.

Jaqui
Jaqui

I wore that to out on GNU/Linux 11 years ago, got bored with it and stopped even installing it.

yawafrifa2000
yawafrifa2000

So how does this Sticky Notes replace real sticky notes?

PeterM42
PeterM42

Sounds like it has way to go before it really becomes useful. Workarounds should not be necessary and what is the point if you cannot put a sticky note into a Word, Excel or other document?

RB1955
RB1955

I had a version of this nice app when i was running XP. It's intuitive, simple, and generally useful... but that depends on your situational usage/s.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Sometimes I finish working on a user's computer when the user isn't around. Sticky Notes (and Outlook Notes or Notepad before them, or OneNote if you have Office 2007) are good way to leave the user a message they can't miss. Leaving a message with this tool is also a good way to introduce it to the user, especially those who've re-shingled their monitor with Post-Its (tm).

JimboNobody
JimboNobody

Was like this on steroids. Unfortunately, don't think it's been available since Win3

Tink!
Tink!

I use the Notes Gadget in Vista. Simply because it's an easy way to put a note that is right there when you view the desktop. It really doesn't do much more than that however. A long time ago (Windows 98) I used to use a third-party Sticky Note software. For me, it worked a lot better since I was the computer most hours of the day and my desk was always covered by papers in which real sticky notes would get lost. I liked that software because you could have Notes pop-up to the front with alarms and reminders.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I have never been a big sticky note person, but I know some people who live their lives by them. Are you one of those people? Have you used Windows 7's Sticky Notes applet? Will the techniques discussed in this blog encourage you to use it?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I suspect MS dropped it because of the address book capabilities in e-mail clients.

gordon
gordon

My answer to Rob C is that I have failed after many wasted hours trying to get rid of it. A new note pops up to hide my calendar and weather applets and I have to close it every time. I hate Sticky Notes! See it on someone else's computer and make sure you like it before you try it on your own one.

Tink!
Tink!

I use the one in the Vista Gadget bar and it only allows typing!

fvazquez
fvazquez

I don't see much of relevance....

rwpank
rwpank

Missed that one, where and how does one install this? Thanks Ron

neOhJoe
neOhJoe

It is now called Info Select. The latest safe version is Info Select 2007 version 9.00.42 It is still sold by the same company, Micro Logic, Corp. http://www.miclog.com/is/2007/features/index.shtml I just went there and found out that there is also a new BETA version 10 available, which I didn't know about. I will wait until it is out of beta though. I've been using since 2004, went to the subscription version 2 years later. I have not found anything that works as well as this.

NexS
NexS

I can't handle too much clutter (it torments me to no end), so my desk is relatively clean. I am one of those people who couldn't live without PostIt's, so couple that with my clutter-issues and PostIt notes are very visible on my desk. In contrast, having them on a computer Desktop, hidden behind all my active applications doesn't quite do the job, I'm afraid.

genie86333
genie86333

I just got a new Windows 7 computer a few weeks ago & love this application. Until now, I've only used it for temporarily storing info like phone #s when I didn't have a pen handy, because it's not clear that it saves the info once you close it, but now I'll use it even more now that I know that! Thanks for the tips!

jred
jred

I usually just use notepad. If I decide later it's worth keeping, it's easy enough to save & file. Virtual stickies always end up like RL stickies, I find them a month later & wonder what RG12634 was for, and hope it's not important.

bruce
bruce

I've been using AT Notes (free) for the past five or six years. Sticky Notes in Win 7 seems to do the same things. So, anyone using XP who needs an app similar to Sticky Notes can download a copy of AT Notes from the internet. (http://atnotes.free.fr/download.html

Astabi
Astabi

Thanks for the good article, I didn't realize Windows 7 came with this applet.

Jtempys
Jtempys

Have you looked for an .ini or someother settings file, and try to change the font permanently there?

imsoscareed
imsoscareed

This is the best story you could come up with?

Sheri68
Sheri68

I love this feature in Windows 7 and have been using it from the get go. It cuts down on my paper notes and allows my to remember what otherwise I wouldn't. although this is kinda old this article had some nice tips that I didn't know about.

flores.cm
flores.cm

.....and could not think of why I would use this app vs what I currently do by using my Outlook Calendar. I write reminders in there with alarms that pop up on my screen when needed.

balayage
balayage

Great article, especially the shortcut, that opens up the use of small Windows utility. Sure, it could have more power, but then you would need to learn all the ins and outs. Simple but powerful, just what a utility should be. The addition of the search shortcut makes this so much more useful.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It's part of the Office 2007 and 2010 Pro versions. I believe it's also available as a stand-alone app; at least, the 2003 version of the application was at one point. It's especially potent with tablets, since it includes handwriting recognition.

Orodreth
Orodreth

I use Sticky Notes to hold temporary information like information entered when joining a website, or for holding clipboard content from many different screens. The major problem with Windows 7's Sticky Notes is you can't keep them. You can hide them by clicking the icon on the taskbar but you can't keep the note beyond the desktop. You'll have to move the Sticky Note information to the intended application to retain it.

Rndmacts
Rndmacts

When was the last time you visited, the program has not been available since 2005.

angela_marie1964
angela_marie1964

Outlook is great for those who use it, but for someone that rarely uses Outlook for more that an email ap, well Sticky Notes is really great. I use Sticky Notes for logging a running grocery list. For writing down a phone number that I don't have time to put in my cell phone until later. I use sticky notes daily and don't know what I would do without it. I really appreciate the Search info and the shortcut keys. Thanks.

ChristinaSeay
ChristinaSeay

In Windows 7 there is a screen clipping tool that lets you click and drag to capture an area of the screen. Then you can send that screen shot to an email or save it. It's the SnipIt tool. From an IT standpoint... I love the Problem Steps Recorder in Windows 7. I can use it for minor how-to's and it builds the email for me complete with basic instructions and screen shots. From the other side, if a user has an error and uses it, it will send the same to me, but will also include the actual error dialog text in the email as well. Very handy tools in Windows 7.

rwpank
rwpank

I think it's only available on the Enterprise version. I found the install file, but cannot seem to access it in Programs or Office. May look at a reinstall of Office Pro.

tracy.walters
tracy.walters

...it can take a screen clipping of any size portion of any screen on your computer. Helps me when I am trying to communicate to users about configuration or 'how-to' questions. It's worth the price of admission by itself, at least to me.

Orodreth
Orodreth

Interesting. Saves all open notes? I'll try it next time I use the sticky. Thanks

Willy MacWindows
Willy MacWindows

...on the Sticky App in the taskbar you can select "Close Window" and it will close the app and retain the note.

jim2350
jim2350

ATnotes is no longer supported by the author but it is still available. The program is available at the website http://atnotes.free.fr. The download link (v 9.5) still works. From the website: ATnotes is still discontinued by Thomas, I have no news of him. We all would love to see ATnotes released as open source and being actively developped. [sic] Despite this, the website continues to receive 1000+ visitors a day and I (the webmaster) still get new translations by great ATnotes supporters.

ChristinaSeay
ChristinaSeay

I used to use Sticky Notes for grocery lists, but then I got a Droid Incredible and I put the Cozi application on it and use it for family calender events and grocery lists. I like it because I always have my phone with me and it's easy to add something quickly while I'm standing in the kitchen and notice something I need to add. Plus, it allows all your family members to sync a grocery account... so whether me or my fiancee ends up at the store, we both have an up-to-date list with us. I do love sticky notes for quick ease to jot down numbers, notes, etc... things that are important to me for a current project or conversation on the phone... but not something I want saved permanently in the clutter of files on my computer.

Editor's Picks