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Sticky Notes for Mac: Freeware & Shareware

Updated on January 14, 2015

Mac Stickies are My Favorite Free Desktop Tool

Mac Sticky Notes are one of the most useful free widgets on the Mac dashboard. They let you jot down notes and keep useful bits of information at your fingertips at all times.

Macs have had Stickies going back to the 90s. Even the original Mac OS back in 1984 had the Notepad "Desk Accessory", which was replaced by Stickies.

Read on for a few tips on how to use and enhance Mac Stickies, plus find out about my favorite bit of Mac shareware for when you need to jot down and sort more info than fits on Sticky Notes.

How I Use Stickies

• jot down ideas/keywords for future projects

• note confirmation numbers / order #s / reservation #s

• reminders to myself

• store HTML codes I use a lot

• emergency phone #s

• list of five goals

• hints to jog my memory about passwords (NOT the passwords)

How to Use Mac Stickies

It's Easy -- But There's So Much Stuff on Macs You Could Miss Them

Mac Stickies were introduced with the Dashboard in OSX.4. In X.4, show/hide the Dashboard with the F12 key. In X.5+, show/hide the Dashboard with the F4 key. You may also click the Dashboard in the Dock or set up a "hot corner" for it in System Preferences with Exposé.

On the Dashboard, click the plus sign at the bottom left and scroll until you see "Stickies". Click it to get a fresh Sticky Note. (I'll show you a quicker way to get Stickies in a moment.)

So here's a Mac Sticky Note. Edit, copy and paste text as usual.

If you hover your cursor over a Sticky, the little i button shows up in the lower right-hand corner. Click it to flip the Sticky over and change its font, color, or font size. Leave Size on Auto, and it'll scale the text larger or smaller so it fits on the Sticky.

If you hold down the OPTION key while hovering over a Sticky (or any other widget), you get the circled X in the upper left-hand corner. Click the X to make the Sticky shrink and vanish.

"Sticky Spawn" Freeware Widget

This Makes Stickies Much Easier to Use

Take a close look at my Dashboard:

Download Sticky Spawn

Low down on the left-hand side is a small yellow square. This is a third party widget, Sticky Spawn from 1upcomics. Click it, and a new Sticky Note appears on the dashboard, ready to fill in.

Apple should've included a widget like this with Mac Stickies. It makes it much quicker to use them!

PadsX Great Mac Shareware
PadsX Great Mac Shareware

Beyond Mac Stickies: Download Pads X

My Favorite Mac Shareware

Before the Dashboard, even before Mac OSX, there was a lovely bit of Shareware called Pads. It came in when the old Mac Notepad disappeared, and it's still a fabulously useful little app.

You can only have so many Stickies, and there's not much room on each one. PadsX takes up the slack. Features include:

  • Tear-Off Sticky Notes

  • Copy/Save/Paste Images

  • Set any Sticky color or font

  • Scrolling notes can be any length

  • Categories work like Web 2.0 tags: file notes under multiple Categories

  • Search Notes for text

  • "Mark" notes for quick recall; you call tell it to Mark notes with specific text

  • Sort by date or category

  • Open/Save multiple Notepads

  • Optional password protection lets you save more sensitive information.
Screenshot of PadsX:

Download PadsX

I believe all features are available with the free version of Pads. It's one of the few shareware apps I've ever registered -- for $15 -- but I don't recall it nagging me before I registered it.

Link at left is to the PadsX website, which has lots of support.

Yet Another Mac Stickies Freeware App

Mac SketchBox Free Stickies

Another great third party application is Sketchbox. it's a little newer than PadsX.

While Pads is really a descendant of the old Notepad, and is presented as a booklet of mini text documents, Sketchbox is basically Mac Stickies Deluxe: a bunch of Sticky Notes on a pane which you can sort and organize.

Screenshot of SketchBox for Mac:

Sketchbox enhances basic Stickies in several ways. The two most important ways are:

  • It lets you DRAW on Stickies! So...doodle time.
  • It lets you set an ALARM on a Sticky, so it doubles as a reminder.

Download SketchBox

I haven't used Sketchbox myself, as PadsX and built-in Dashboard Stickies are all I need. But this Mac app has good user reviews, and it's free!

Mac Users - Do You Use Stickies? - And If So, Which?

Which kind of Sticky Notes do you use?

See results

© 2011 Ellen Brundige

Guestbook - Leave a (non sticky) Note!

Submit a Comment

  • mythphile profile image

    Ellen Brundige 3 years ago from California

    @shekharsc: Really sorry, I'm not quite sure how you'd use Time Machine to do that! I hope you found a solution. :(

  • profile image

    shekharsc 3 years ago

    Hi, I use the Sticky app, but the other day I partially deleted a very important number in one of them. Do you know if they get saved? If I have a time machine of a couple of months earlier, how can I find them?


  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    I've tried a lot of different versions of sticky notes and finally would up using Sidenote. I love it because it's always right there, but out of sight until I need it. Never found any sticky notes app to compare with it.

  • mythphile profile image

    Ellen Brundige 5 years ago from California

    @anonymous: Drat, sorry. I've updated the link to another archive that seems to have it, sorry about that!

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    Very frustrating...I attempted to download Sticky Spawn and got a page not found error.

  • profile image

    petekruze 5 years ago

    Cool, thanks for the info I learnt quite a bit

  • TopToysForKids profile image

    TopToysForKids 6 years ago

    Great lens! I love the sticky notes! :)

  • profile image

    TravelingRae 6 years ago

    I don't know why I make myself text files instead of using stickies! Great lens. Blessed on 8/15/11

  • profile image

    anonymous 6 years ago

    Awesome lens! Think I'll try SketchBox. Blessed by a Squidoo angel on 6/18/2011.Have a great day!

  • LabKittyDesign profile image

    LabKittyDesign 7 years ago

    LabKitty recommends: k-notes. Resizable and spawn scroll bars (rather than filling up like the standard stickies widget) if you type mucho text.

  • Mickie Gee profile image

    Mickie Goad 7 years ago

    Thanks for the information to all us Mac users. I am going to play around with the stickies and the apps for sure!

  • TapIn2U profile image

    TapIn2U 7 years ago

    I'm a mac user and would definitely need this! Thanks. Sundae ;-)