How to Float Notes Over Application Windows in macOS

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In the Notes app in macOS, it's possible to float individual notes over other windows so that they stay visible regardless of which application is active.

float notes macos
This makes for a convenient way to reference an existing note while writing an essay or report, for example. It also comes in useful if you want to take notes when researching something online. Keep reading to learn how it's done.

How to Float a Note in macOS

  1. Launch the Notes app, located in your Mac's Applications folder.

  2. Click the Create a Note button, or click an existing note in the list on the left-hand panel.

  3. In the Notes menu bar, select Window -> Float Selected Note.

float a note macos notes
The note will be automatically given its own window, which will remain above other open application windows. To turn off the floating behavior but retain the note's separate window, simply click inside the note's window and again select Window -> Float Selected Note to untick the option in the menu bar.

You can have as many note windows open as you want – just double-click each note in your Notes list and they'll pop up separately on the screen. If you've selected several in the list by holding down the Command key, simply double-click one to open them all at once. You can then position them on the screen and control which ones float using the same menu bar option outlined above.

If you close Apple Notes, the number and position of your open note windows will be remembered the next time you launch the app, as well as which ones you've opted to float on top of other open windows. Just remember that your floating notes can't share the same screen as another app that's in fullscreen mode.

Tag: Notes

Top Rated Comments

penguintheft Avatar
34 months ago
This article is missing a step. After selecting "Float Selected Note," the note will not automatically stay on top of all other active windows, unless you click on "Window" again, and then select "Float on Top."
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
plexdk Avatar
34 months ago

Floating notes was a feature available even in Windows 98!

Hehe yeah, and Stickies (floating notes) was part of Classic macOS, back in the mid 90s :p actually I didn’t know we have the feature in Notes..
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tch999 Avatar
34 months ago
A double click on the note in the menu also makes it pop out of the main window.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
timmyh Avatar
34 months ago
I used to use a fantastic little app called Afloat for system-wide floating windows, but it stopped working around the time of El Capitan.



For anyone with the patience, I found this neat guide to getting Afloat working again in macOS (although I can't vouch for it): http://www.perfectlyrandom.org/2016/10/23/always-on-top-in-macos-sierra/

Attachment Image
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Osamede Avatar
34 months ago
Very useful tip in this article - thanks!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ignatius345 Avatar
34 months ago
Honestly, the HUD function of Dashboard is really perfect for little stuff like this -- provided you uncheck that "Dashboard as Space" nonsense so dashboard just flashes up on top of whatever you were doing and disappears just as easily. Basically zero disruption to your workflow, perfect for something you just need to refer to or check on really quickly and don't want eating up space on your screen at all times. You do need to reclaim the F4 button from Launchpad though, unless you have an older Mac keyboard with the Dashboard icon on it (FunctionFlip works for this). Sadly Dashboard is on life support these days and every widget is super dated, but most of them still work and you can still make web clippings in Safari which is a great way to snag part of a web page for a piece of information.

All that said, floating notes is a great little feature -- I rely on Notes more and more these days and find it a very worthy replacement for Evernote (for my purposes anyway).
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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