Clear the clutter with Microsoft’s Sticky Notes

Clear the clutter with Microsoft’s Sticky Notes

NOTE: This article was originally posted Jan 7, 2019 and updated Sept 27, 2020

Oh, Sticky Notes, how you tidied up my messy desk. I have a habit of collecting random bits of paper scribbled with ideas, customer info, to-dos and websites I want to investigate. Invariably I forget them in my pocket and into the laundry they go, or they become coffee stained, tossed  because they didn’t make sense, you get the idea. I used Microsoft’s Sticky Notes in fits and starts previously, mostly due to its lack of cross platform access.  It didn’t work on my Android phone or the tablet, which meant it was of minimal value.

Sticky Notes for Android & Mac

When Microsoft updated their Launcher for Android Jan 2019, that changed. Now, you can have Sticky Notes on your laptop and still have all your notes on your phone or tablet. Ditto for iPhones, with Microsoft’s inclusion of Sticky Notes with OneNote.  If you are using Android, you need to download the Microsoft Launcher. It will change how your icons look and behave, so take that into consideration before installing it. As of Sept 2020, it’s still in Beta form, but I’ve had no issues with it in a year and a half.  Once installed, log into your Microsoft account (you’ll need your password), and you’ll be ready to go.

If you’re using an iPhone, you’ll need to install the OneNote app from the store. I use OneNote  as well, so if you like to stay organised in your research, this is a good pairing. You can check out the Apple app store here.

Screen capture of Microsoft's Sticky Notes app

My sticky Notes

Sticky Notes works the same as a little pad of paper notes without the mess.  Tap the little plus sign to begin a new note, pick a colour and start typing. Duplicated a note? Hover your mouse over the note and tap the garbage pail.

Screen capture of Sticky Notes colour picking

Picking a colour is easy. So is deleting a note.

Turning on List View to do away with screen clutter

You can leave the notes free standing on the desktop, but after 4 or 5 notes, the clutter will drive you bonkers.  Instead, turn on List View so you have a sleek list you can move about the desktop. List doesn’t appear by default; you have to turn it on by right clicking the notes icon (in the start menu or if you have it pinned to your taskbar) and tap Notes List.

View of Sticky Notes options to choose a list view

Click once on the second item – NOTES LIST – to change Sticky Notes to show in a list

If you have an Android device, swipe to the Launcher window, tap Glance and scroll through all the notes. On an iPhone, install OneNote and access Sticky Notes from there, once you sign into your Microsoft account.

You can add/delete notes and edit existing ones from your phone knowing synchronization is nearly instantaneous. You can have all your fiddly notes, neatly typed out, as soon as you close the sticky.

You can even insert pictures or take a photo with your camera and insert it into a Sticky Note. I use this feature to create reminders of potential articles to research. I’ll do a screen capture or insert a photo I took, make a short note about it and save it. It’ll pop up on my Laptop, tablet and phone. No matter where I am, I can scroll through ideas and update them as I think of new material to add.

Screen capture of a sticky note with a photo embedded

It’s easy to insert a photo

Benefits of Sticky Notes voice recording

If you’re like me, all thumbs when typing on a smart phone, use the microphone icon on Sticky Notes and let the voice recognition do the job.  Voice recognition is surprisingly accurate, even if there is background noise, like a tv or radio.  One major oversight is the lack of voice recognition integration on laptops.  Nothing I tried could get Cortana to recognise Sticky Notes, which is a shame.

To record, open a new note and tap the microphone. Once finished, the note will save itself. You can format it later if you wish.

Screen capture from android phone showing record option for Sticky Notes

Tap the Microphone and record your note

Pros and Cons of Sticky Notes:

  • web and email address act as links
  • one tap to dial a phone number on your smart phone from a Sticky.
  • colour coded
  • synchronize with Android phone and now iPhones
  • voice recognition
  • date stamped
  • portability
  • fully editable on iPhones, Android and Win 10 laptop
  • voice recognition doesn’t work with laptop
  • not enough formatting options
  • could use more colours, especially bolder ones
  • can’t delete a note from Android  this has been corrected.

Sticky Notes is a free app in the Microsoft Store. There are a number of Sticky apps listed so look for the Microsoft one if you want full integration with your phone.  Once installed on your desktop, go to the Google Play store, download the Launcher and set it as your phone’s default. I’m running a pretty low end phone Android phone and haven’t experienced any issues with the MS Launcher. It works seamlessly with Android, even with a barebones phone.

It is even easier on an iPhone. Just download OneNote and get started. No need to worry about changes to your icons and screen.

Great little app and a mini powerhouse for organising thoughts on the fly.


Sticky Notes in the Microsoft app store