How to Use Sticky Notes for Mac

How to access sticky notes on a Mac

What to Know

  • To access Stickies: Open Finder and click Applications > Stickies.
  • To create a new note: Select File > New Note or type Command+N.
  • To change note settings: Click existing note or create a new one and select Font or Color from the Menu bar.

This article will show you how to use sticky notes for Mac, as well as tips on how to optimize and organize them.

How Do I Use Stickies on My Mac?

Desktop sticky notes have been part of macOS for a long time but it’s easy to get them confused with the Notes app. Sticky notes are created by the Stickies app, not the Notes app. Sticky notes allow you to jot down notes but unlike Notes, Stickies stay on your desktop (the Finder app) as visual reminders. There is a setting to have the sticky notes float over all other windows and apps if you wish.

Stickies is a built-in macOS application so it should already be installed on your Mac. Here's where to find the Stickies app in the Finder:

  1. Open Finder by clicking the icon in your dock and select File > New Finder Window in the Menu bar.

    File menu highlighted when opening a new Finder window on a Mac.

    You can also open a new Finder tab while the desktop is selected by using the keyboard shortcut Command+N.

  2. Click Applications in the left-hand side menu. Scroll down and click Stickies.

    The Stickies application highlighted in the Application folder on macOS.
  3. If you haven’t previously opened Stickies, you should see two sticky notes explaining how the app functions.

    Viewing tutorial sticky notes in Mac Stickies app.
  4. Start editing these stickies with your own notes or close them and create new ones by selecting File > New Note (typing Command+N on your keyboard also works). 

    Creating a new note in Mac Stickies.
  5. Your note will automatically save and stay on your desktop until you close the Stickies app. If you don’t see your notes, make sure Stickies is open first. 

    Saving a new note in Mac Stickies.

How Do I Edit Stickies?

When you create a new sticky note, it will default to a yellow background with black text. However, Stickies has a number of format options to help you differentiate your notes.

Change a Note’s Color and Font

  1. Launch Stickies. Click on an existing note or create a new one.

  2. Select Color from the Menu bar at the top of your screen.

    Selecting note color in Mac Stickies.
  3. Click the color you’d like to use. Your note should automatically switch colors. 

    Changing note color to green in Mac Stickies.
  4. Click Font > Show Fonts in the Menu bar.

    Selecting Show Fonts in Mac Stickies.
  5. Choose a font type. You can also adjust font style, size, and other options from the Font menu.

    Changing font in Mac Stickies.

    To format specific note text, simply highlight it and right-click. This will display a pop-up menu allowing you to adjust font type, weight, color, and more.

How Do I Arrange My Stickies?

Like physical stickies, your virtual notes can easily get cluttered if you use them a lot. Fortunately, there are ways to manage this so you can reduce screen clutter and keep better track of your important notes.

Arrange Stickies in a Specific Order

If you’d like to keep your notes grouped together under different categories, Stickies lets you set specific arrangement orders to help keep things organized.

  1. Launch Stickies, select a note, and click Window > Arrange By in the Menu bar.

    Selecting note arrangement options in Mac Stickies.
  2. Choose from one of the following arrangement options:

    • Color: Arrange notes by color in reverse order of how they appear under the Color menu.
    • Content: Arrange notes alphabetically (determined by the first letter that appears in the note).
    • Date: Arrange notes by the date they were created. The most recent notes will appear at the bottom.
    • Location on Screen: Arrange notes based on their screen location from left to right. Under this arrangement, the leftmost stickies will go at the top.
    Choosing a note arrangement type in Mac Stickies.

Arrange Stickies in Stacks

Location on Screen in particular is a great way to arrange your notes since it stacks them neatly in the top left of your desktop. However, it also folds them into small bars that will cut off long sections of text. You can type Command+Z on your keyboard to undo this arrangement but it will only work if this is the last action you performed.

To expand sticky notes without using Command+Z, follow these steps:

  1. Launch Stickies and click on a collapsed note.

    Clicking a collapsed note in Mac Stickies.
  2. Select Window > Expand. Alternatively, you can press Command+M on your keyboard.

    Expanding a collapsed note in Mac Stickies.
  3. Repeat Step 2 for each note you’d like to expand.

How Do I Make Stickies Easier to Find?

Since sticky notes only appear on your desktop by default, they can quickly become buried if you have a lot of other apps and windows open. However, you can make your notes float on top of any window you have open so you’ll always see them.

  1. Launch Stickies and click on an existing note or create a new one.

  2. Click Window > Float on Top in the Menu bar. You should now see your note displayed on your screen no matter which app you’re using.

    Setting note to float on top in Mac Stickies.
  3. To make your note less obtrusive, select Window > Translucent. This will make your note transparent. 

    Making a note translucent in Mac Stickies.
  4. Select Window > Collapse to collapse your note into a small rectangular bar. To expand it, click the small box in the top right of the note or press Command+M.

    Collapsing a note in Mac Stickies.

How Do I Save or Delete Stickies?

Your notes will save automatically in the Stickies app but if you’d like to access them elsewhere, you can export the text as a Plain Text (.txt) file. 

  1. Click on an existing note and select File > Export Text... from the Menu bar.

    Exporting a note in Mac Stickies.
  2. Type a name for your note, select where you’d like to save it, and click Save.

    Saving an exported note in Mac Stickies.

    You can export all of your sticky notes to the Notes app by selecting File > Export All to Notes. Open the Notes app and you should see your sticky notes under a new folder called Imported Notes.

  3. To delete a note, click the small square in the top-left of the note and select Delete Note in the pop-up window.

    Deleting a note in Mac Stickies.
  • How do I add bullet points to stickies?

    To add bullet points manually, use the keyboard command option + 8. To start a new bulleted list, press option + Tab. From here, pressing Return will add another point on a new line, and pressing Tab will increase the indent.

  • How do I strikethrough in Mac stickies?

    You can cross items off of your list in Stickies by adjusting the font style. Select the text to strike through, and then press Command + T or select Show Fonts under the Font menu. At the top of the window, select the menu that looks like a capital T with a line through it. From there, you can choose a single or double strikethrough and select a color.

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