App for Windows PC that offers notes that can be manually moved around
February 16, 2015 4:34 PM   Subscribe

There is an exercise recommended by some writers where you take a wall or a large board of some kind, and using different colored sticky notes, you put all kinds of completely random thoughts, images, and ideas for a story down, and then move them around until they form patterns you could work from. It's a nice, right-brained alternative to the outline, or even the mind-map.

I have nothing against those more left-brained options, but I think the visual element of this idea is very appealing. Yet I can't find an app that lets me make different colored notes, and drag them around manually. I don't want to try to invent this in InDesign myself. I'd like it to be at least vaguely secure, not designed for sharing. I do NOT want it to be all linear, like Evernote. I got nothin'. Help me, hive-mind?

I should also mention that I know Windows has a native "sticky notes" app, but that seems like it would clutter up my desktop. Ideal would be something web-based or downloadable that would provide me with a soothing, white background.
posted by Fenriss to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
OneNote does almost exactly this. Point, click and type. It's not quite full coloured backgrounds, but you can style and markup the text enough (including with highlight colours) sufficiently to distinguish, I suspect.
posted by bonaldi at 4:55 PM on February 16, 2015

I was going to suggest FreeMind, but you already mentioned mindmaps as left-brained.

Instead, I'll just mention that the built-in Stickies app in Windows uses a simple click on the icon to show/hide.
You can run it in the background, always ready to capture an inspiration - but you don't see any of your stickies until you click the icon. Click it, see all your stickies, add your new thought, then click the icon again, and they hide. Click to show, click to hide. No clutter. When you're in a good place to shuffle them around, you can focus on them alone.

Stickies happens to be built into Windows, and show/hide is nice, but if you were on OSX or Linux, I would have recommended using multiple virtual desktops, aka Workspaces. You can have just one monitor, but 4 'Desktops' - one full of today's clutter, another that's just for writing tools, one that's optimized for video conferences, etc. You just switch between them like flipping over to use the other side of a sheet of paper.
You could have one for working and one for thinking, one fir just sticky notes. Windows doesn't really have that yet, but there are a couple of third-party apps like Dexpot that can enable it. If you want to go that far.
posted by bartleby at 5:00 PM on February 16, 2015

Assuming you don't want your board to be your actual Windows desktop, I think Scapple does what you're looking for.
posted by gnomeloaf at 5:04 PM on February 16, 2015

For a slightly enhanced set of sticky-note features on Windows, you could try the Stickies PortableApp - stickies on a (USB) stick!
posted by bartleby at 5:06 PM on February 16, 2015

Stickies has a regular version too.

Just for the record, the Stickies that I'm referring to isn't the one built-in to Windows
posted by irisclara at 5:40 PM on February 16, 2015

See if Thoughtboxes will do the trick for you.
posted by Leontine at 5:44 PM on February 16, 2015

Post-Its has an app, actually (never used it myself)
posted by misterbrandt at 6:26 PM on February 16, 2015

This might not be exactly what you're looking for, but Trello might be useful. It has a "board" with "cards" on it that can be used for organising projects.
posted by LtRegBarclay at 5:34 AM on February 17, 2015

Seconding OneNote. Each "page" of OneNote is an infinite canvas, and boxes of type or pictures or arrows can be arbitrarily arranged on the page. There are color styling options. Here's a screenshot. The highlighted box that says "Drag these around" shows the border of the container that each element lives inside. These boxes can be dragged and resized according to your preference, and highlight/background color can be applied.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 9:00 AM on February 17, 2015

OneNote is one of the unsung gems in MS Office. It's really good for what you are looking for.
posted by bonehead at 9:16 AM on February 17, 2015

Yep, OneNote it is! I've poked around all of the suggested applications, and the one that's been most recommended is the one I'm going with. Thank you to everyone who offered ideas. MeFites are the best!
posted by Fenriss at 1:49 PM on February 18, 2015

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