The surprising utility of Apple’s free Stickies app

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Do you really need another program in your Mac or iPad dock? You do if your Stickies are absent. Erik Eckel explains.

Image: Adobe Stock

You’ve probably seen the Apple Stickies app’s icon—a little yellow note pad with scribbling—on your iPad or Mac. But if you’re like most Mac and iPad users I know, you don’t regularly use Stickies. Just as with Notes and Reminders, Stickies is actually, it turns out, a capable time-saving program that deserves your attention.

At first glance, Stickies provides digital onscreen representations of the 3M company’s famous adhesive Post-it notes. Surprisingly useful–the real-life paper versions are sold in dozens of countries and colors—the movable paper pages were an accidental discovery that caught on as recipients received the curious notes and began purchasing pads of their own, not realizing they needed Post-its until they actually used them.

SEE: Apple Silicon M1 Mac buying guide: 2021 iMac vs. 2020 MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac mini (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

 

The digital counterpart is strikingly similar. Stickies doesn’t seem like an app you need until you use it. Placing the app’s icon in the Dock is the first step. The second is remembering to use it.

With Stickies easy to reach, you can quickly open the app and create a new note—the Command+N keyboard shortcut is incredibly handy, not just for creating new files, folders, documents or browser windows but new notes, too. With a new note created, you can paste clipboard information you wish to save or need to reference later. You can collect URLs, you can make notes while talking on the phone or attending a video conference, you can even record the correct spelling of terms or names you’ll be using preparing a document, presentation or report. And, unlike text files or documents, you won’t be slowed each time specifying a location where the file should be saved and a filename to use.

Image: Erik Eckel

Stickies are quickly accessible and speedily created. The key is to remember the app is there. Opening Stickies and accessing a note is quicker even than opening Notes and creating a new Note within an appropriate directory or folder. This is Stickies’ claim-to-fame and raison d’être: The app excels at quickly creating, referencing and deleting temporarily needed information.

Stickies can help, too, when preparing complex passwords and cutting-and-pasting them into applications. Passwords are frequently recorded as a string of asterisks. Stickies helps confirm you’ve spelled the password as you actually intended and that you haven’t accidentally just entered a password that happened to be accidentally forgotten extraneous text previously copied to the clipboard.

SEE: M1 MacBook Pro vs M1 iPad Pro: Which is quickest in the real world? (free PDF)  (TechRepublic)

The program may surprise you, too, with some of its features. You can create notes in six different colors. The program enables using different fonts, as well as bold, underline and italics. Stickies supports superscript and subscript, too. With additional features—including printing notes, embedding diagrams, charts and images, importing and exporting text, spell-checking and even dictation support—the program offers a surprising range of features.

The app’s real strength, though, is that capacity to quickly create and access snippets of information as you need them. Then, when you’re done with a note’s information, you can toss it with a simple click when its no longer needed, just like the real thing.



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