One of the staples of any office job is the traditional yellow sticky note, too often used to stick passwords next to the monitor. Being a geek, I figured I would use a digital solution instead… there are a lot of alternatives, but Windows Vista has one built right in.

If you want a more feature rich application, you should check out previously mentioned Evernote, a complete note-taking solution. For today, we just want something simple and easy to use, so we’ll take a look at two solutions for sticky notes.

Using Vista Sticky Notes

The sticky notes application in Windows Vista is actually implemented as a gadget for the Windows Sidebar, so to add it you’ll want to right-click anywhere on the sidebar or on the tray icon and choose “Add Gadgets”, then select the Notes icon on the menu, and drag it over to the sidebar.

Notes will sit in the Sidebar or you can drag them to the desktop where they will be larger and easier to read and edit if needed.

vista notes on desktop

By going into Settings you can make a couple of changes which include the note color and type of font.

If you right-click on the title area of the note, you can also access the Opacity menu, where you can make the sticky notes transparent until you move your mouse over them.

Notice how this note is partially transparent…

Until you move your mouse over it:

This can be very useful for keeping a sticky note on your desktop without being too noticeable until you mouse over it, or if you use the Always on Top option you can keep it in front of all the applications but still be able to see through to whatever is behind it.

Using Stickies for Windows XP

If the built-in Vista sticky notes don’t float your boat or you are still using XP, there’s an easy to use open-source application called Stickies for Windows which works in both Vista as well as XP, and unlike the Vista version has a tray icon that you can use.

To change the color or transparency for a note, you can right-click and choose Note Settings or use the Ctrl+P shortcut (for keyboard ninjas)


You can also change Preferences for all notes in the main application settings.

Update: This site looks to have died.

Download Stickie Notes For Windows XP (Windows Vista users can just use the built-in one)