I won’t mince words: the Notes widget in iOS 14 sucks. But you’re not stuck with it if you want sticky notes on your home screen.
While I generally enjoy iOS 14’s updated widgets, Notes implementation was poorly thought out. I was hoping for a big sticky note on my home screen, but instead it’s just a two-by-two widget that takes up four icon spaces. There are larger ones available, but they are for directories only, which is useless to me. I want to see my shopping list, and all my other to-do lists, fill one widget.
That’s where third-party widgets come into play. There are dozens of note-taking apps in the App Store, but many haven’t yet been updated with support for the new iOS 14 home screen widgets. The ones below are, and one of them might just be the Notes alternative you’ve been waiting for . While they won’t replace Notes as a generic note-taking app, these widgets will do when you need quick reminders at a glance.
Before I go any further, I’m going to assume that you already know how to add a widget to your iPhone’s home screen, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to the Notes widget here, which you’ve probably already tried. If not, check out our full guides on how to add widgets to your home screen or the Today view.
App 1: Sticky Notes Widget +
Sticky Notes Widget +, from Vulcan Labs Company Limited, is a minimal yet highly customizable note taking app that also offers a widget. When you first open it, you’ll see paid options for weekly, monthly, or annual plans. Those include unlimited notes, different themes and sizes, no ads and more. If you’re inclined to go big, you can subscribe, but the free version is good enough for simple sticky notes, so close that window to get started.
To start, tap the plus sign (+) to add a new note in the app. You can also create a new note by adding its widget first, but it makes more sense for this guide to do it in the app first. After creating a new note, you can choose yellow, blue, green, or pink for the note background color. You can then use various formatting tools from the toolbar, including bold, italics, text color, heading styles, and lists, to type your note.
You can take additional notes, but the last sticky note you created will appear in your widget unless you change it manually.
Jump on your home screen to add the widget and you’ll see three options: small (2 by 2), medium (2 by 4) and large (4 by 4). Once the widget is on your home screen, you can tap the note to be forwarded to the Sticky Notes Widget + app and make any changes. If you want to change the note that appears in the widget, long press the widget, tap the “Edit widget” quick action and choose another note.
Depending on the widget size you choose, you can see all or a fair portion of it. When it cuts off, you can tap it to jump into the app to read the rest. Due to the way widgets work in iOS 14, you cannot interact with them other than tap them, so you cannot scroll directly through a list in the widget.
App 2: Sticky Notes Widget
Another sticky note widget that is better than the Notes widget is Sticky Notes Widget (it’s not related to the previous app), from developer Nam Le. After opening the app, you have the option to subscribe to the premium version, which omits ads and allows you to add more widgets, but if you’re happy with a single widget, you can continue without paying.
To create a note, tap “Add note” at the top and choose the size you want for your widget. It is important to choose the right size (small, medium and large), otherwise you will have to make another widget for a different size if you are not satisfied with it. Once the widget is added, tap it to go to the editor.
In the editor, you can type your note and change the font and font style, text size, alignment, and background and text color. You can also turn the note into a useful checklist with the button right above the keyboard. When you are done, click on “Save” and go to your home screen.
You have several widgets in the widget gallery to choose from, but only one is the right option. Depending on the size you have chosen in the app, only that widget will be displayed with the color and text you have chosen, below the Collection 1 option. So add that one. Tapping your note in the widget on your home screen will redirect you to the app where you can work with the note.
If you decide to purchase the premium version, you can take up to 15 notes to add as widgets. If not, you can delete and create the notes one by one as needed. Tap your note in the widget
App 3: Post it
Yes, 3M is making an app version of its famous Sticky Notes. So if you are used to using Post-it brand sticky notes in real life, you will feel right at home in the digital version. Unlike all the other apps on this list, Post-it is completely free – no subscriptions are required to unlock features.
We showed the Post-it Notes app in detail last year, but that was before it supported iOS 14’s new widgets system. Still, everything in that post here applies when it comes to taking sticky notes. What sets it apart from the other apps, other than being 100% free, is that they are all handwritten notes. So if you want print style text this is not for you. However, it has its own handwritten font style using the keyboard, and you can use your finger to take notes yourself.
There are 15 colors to choose from for the background, and you can even make one of the default color from the settings menu in the app. And on the main screen in the app, you can create groups of stickies or solo stickies in any board you create.
But that’s not all that makes it different. You can also use your iPhone’s camera to take photos of paper Post-it notes you already have. And the resulting notes will look just like the paper version. For easier searching later, you can enable “Handwriting Recognition” to have your paper notes transcribed in the system. The transcripts will appear below the note when you view it in the app, and you can edit it as it may not be able to read your handwriting.
When you’re going to add a widget to your home screen, there are medium and large sizes to show all your favorite notes, but if you only want to see one, there are small and large versions to choose from. The whole note should appear, as everything should be inside the edges of the note anyway. Tapping the note in the widget will take you to that note in the app to view or edit it, just like in the other apps.
To edit the note, long press the widget, tap “Edit widget”, then tap the name of the current note and select a new one. Only favorite notes are shown here, so make sure to give them a ‘heart’ first in the Post-it notes app.
App 4: Sticky Widgets – Sticky Notes
Next up is Sticky Widgets – Sticky Notes, from developer Skyrocket Apps Limited, which is similar to the other apps on this list, except you can change the background of your Sticky Note to whatever you want. In previous versions, you could use it without paying in a limited capacity. Now, despite being free to install, you have to subscribe to a weekly, monthly, or lifetime plan to save any notes.
After opening the app, you’ll see an active widget called ‘Start Anywhere’, as well as several pre-made widgets that you can choose from and customize. To start over, tap the current “Start Anywhere” note to edit it, or tap the plus (+) icon to start one without any text previews.
On the customization page, you can create a note, checklist, or photo-only widget. Since this is a tutorial on sticky notes, we’ll stick to the first two options. Below the preview you can write your note, which seems to have no limit, although it will be truncated on the widget if it is too long.
If you keep scrolling through the editor, you have options to change the font and text color, and you can even choose a background photo from Camera, Photos, or the app’s own library. When you’re done, tap “Set up widget” and then tap “OK” in the popup that appears.
In the widget gallery on your home screen you will find three different sizes for each type of widget: note, checklist or photo. Depending on what you created, go to that option and choose small, medium or large, and add it to your home screen.
Like the other widgets on this list, you can tap on them to be forwarded to the app and edit the note. If you want a different sticky note, you can edit the note you currently have or create a new one.
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