Tutorial Thursday

Sticky notes are one of those things that many of us have grown accustomed to placing all over our physical workspace, and our children. They serve as a great way to remember important things, but eventually you have so many of them that it becomes difficult to find what you’re looking for. That pretty much defeats their purpose, doesn’t it?

That’s why we hunted down two different free Windows apps that not only let you create sticky notes, but they also let you customize their appearance. By using different colors for different types of notes you’ll be able to find the things you’re looking for much faster, plus both of the applications let you set reminders/alarms for notes. After all, most of the things you probably write down on a note are important dates to remember, right? That way you can have the note appear when you need it instead of always cluttering up your workspace.

Alright, here are the two fabulous apps that will initiate the de-cluttering of your physical world!

–Hott Notes (Homepage)–

Hott Notes is one of the best looking note taking applications that I have come across. The thing that really stood out to me was its incredible interface, and the fact that there’s a portable version available means you can take your notes wherever you go.

Once you have it running the first thing you’ll probably want to do is create a new note. This can be done in one of several ways. The default keyword shortcut is the Windows Key+N, or you can use the System Tray icon to do it. Double-clicking on the System Tray icon will create a blank sticky note on your desktop, or you can right-click on it and go to the New menu. There you’ll see the three different types of notes you can create: note, checklist note, and scribble note.

The “note” option is your typical note, while the other two are somewhat special. A “checklist note” is something you would use for a list of things you want to check off, and the “scribble note” lets you draw freehand (great for Tablet PC’s). Here’s what the first two look like when they’re placed on your desktop:

hott notes desktop.png

Don’t they look nice? This is one of the few sticky note applications that I’ve seen which includes a built-in task manager format, which is really handy for the to-do lists. It does, of course, have some other features that I haven’t touched on yet:

  • Set an Alarm – You can attach an alarm to any note, and when the time/date you specify comes around it can either have it bring the note to the front of the screen, or have it play a sound. Unfortunately there’s no “reoccurrence” option.
  • Waste Basket – If you accidentally delete an important note that you needed there’s no need to panic. Hott Notes will place any notes that you crumple up (a.k.a. delete) into the waste basket in case you ever need to retrieve them.
  • Note Desktop – The Note Desktop is assigned the Windows Key+S shortcut by default, and whenever it is pressed all of your notes will be brought to the front of the screen. Plus it will gray out the background so that it’s easier to focus on the dozens of notes you have floating around. ;)
  • Adjustable Appearance – Each note can have it’s own set of colors applied, and the nice thing is that you can actually create your own gradients by specifying a starting and ending color. That’s what I did in the screenshot above for the silver note… it starts with the silver color at the top and gradually fades to white.

And last but not lest, the Notebook. This is a central location where you can manage all of your notes, including the ones you’ve sent to the trash. Here’s what it looks like:

hott notes manage.png

Overall Hott Notes is a nearly unbeatable application if you’re looking for a way to throw sticky notes all over your desktop, but we’ve got another application that might just tickle your fancy a little more…

–Stickies (Homepage)–

If you think Hott Notes has a little too much pizzaz then the more simplistic (in terms of appearance) Stickies application might be more of your taste. Once you get the app setup you can press the Windows Key+S to create a new note, or just double-click on the System Tray icon. You’ll instantly be able to start typing on your note, and formatting options can be applied by right-clicking:

stickies desktop.png

The arrow in the upper-left corner is a quick shortcut to force the note to stay on top of all the other windows. This is quite handy when you’re trying to grab information from a note while using another application.

Just like Hott Notes this also has a central interface for managing all of your open notes, except this isn’t quite as spiffy. I know that some of you will probably prefer this app simply because there is a minimal amount of eye candy. It does, however, have searching capabilities to efficiently sift through the dozens of notes you’ll have created in no time at all.

stickies manage.png

The best feature it has may very well be it’s ability to make a note go to “sleep.” When you use this option the note will hide itself for a specified period of time, and you can set it up to reoccur at a variety of different intervals. For example, let’s say you pay your phone bill on the 15th of every month. You can create a note reminding you to pay the bill, and have it sleep until the 15th of each month. Then when the 15th rolls around the note will show up, and it can optionally play a sound to notify you. Cool, huh?

If you have multiple computers you would like to share sticky notes between then you may find the sharing options to be convenient. You can send sticky notes from one computer to another through direct networking, or via email.

If you decide that you want to use Stickies, but want a little more eye candy you should checkout the 70+ skins that they have available. Personally I really like the default skin that it comes with, but there are a few others that look rather slick.


So there you have it! Those are two amazing ways for a Windows user to create and mange sticky notes on their computer, and since they are free you really don’t have much to lose. Just imagine all of the things you’ll never forget now. ;)