Stick: add “Screen Tabs” to your desktop

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Stick is a free program that introduces tabs attached to the sides of your screen (called “Screen Tabs”) that can display notes, folder contents, web pages, RSS feeds, as well as mini apps such as a calendar or calculator.

If you have folders that you always work with, or a web page that you like to always be easily accessible, notes that you frequently refer to or, say, an RSS feed that you like to check frequently you might want to give this program a try.

“Stick” enables you to use “Screen tabs” attached to any of the four sides of your screen that you can easily expand and retract, and that can display the following: rich text notes, RSS feeds, folders, web pages, a (non-interactive) calendar, and a calculator app.

What I like about this program:

  • It can look elegant: meaning that (a) you can use this to good effect in your quest to reduce clutter on your desktop, and that (b) of the handful of “skins” available is possible to use a configuration that looks good and adds to the desktop experience. (Conversely, you can end up with some pretty ugly tabs on your desktop, but you can only blame yourself if that happens).
  • Favorite folders as Screen Tabs: having a handful of your favorite or frequently used folders easily accessible through retractable tabs on the side of the screen is a very good idea; esp as these support drag and drop, context menu commands, different views, and navigating the directory structure. There’s even a little arrow button that opens the actual folder for you in explorer.
  • Web pages as Screen Tabs: I didn’t think much of this at first, until I thought to put my main Gmail account in one of the tabs, which was certainly an interesting setuip.
  • Customizable tab behavior: you can control the color, skin, transparency level, the speed by which the tab opens, always on top, whether it opens by hover or click, and whether it closes by hover away or click.
  • RSS feeds as Screen Tabs: for those must-view RSS feeds that you want to be able to access quickly and easily – e.g. Freewaregenius 😉 – the RSS Screen Tab will be very handy. The RSS function has some quirks (e.g. newer items are shown on bottom, no Atom support) but is overall a good option if you want RSS on your desktop.
  • Keyboard shorcuts: for each tab you create you can define keyboard shortcuts that make it visible.
  • You can make your own plugin: provided you can code in C. If interested make sure to install the “sample plugin with source code” when you first run the installer.

What I’m neutral about (i.e. neither like no’r necessarily dislike):

  • Notes as Screen Tabs: I know this sounds like a great idea, and for some it might be just perfect, but to be honest if you need notes on your desktop go for one of the more mature sticky-notes type programs such as Stickies or Shock Sticker. (Otherwise, use a ’proper’ notes app such as TeeDBNotes Free Edition , SEO Notes, or Tobu). Worth mentioning is that (a) notes will actually correspond to a text file somewhere in the file system, and (b) they allow for rich text editing, which the program must be storing separately from the text file itself.
  • Calendar: didn’t care much for this, however it can be useful which is why I am listing it under “neutral”. My take on it is that if you must have a calendar go for something more sophisticated where you can input and display data.
  • Caclulator: again this can be quite useful, and seems like a nice little app, but not for me.

What I don’t like as much:

  • Memory use: is rather high. Depending on the tabs you’ve got going on, can vary from 12 megs (which is acceptable if not great) up to 45 megs in memory (which is too much, in my opinion).
  • Performance: the animation of the tabs unfolding/retracting can be slow and sluggish at times. I noticed, however, that this (a) this can be fixed on reboot, and (b) it does not seem to happen when using the normal windows visual style (i.e. the blue XP skin).
  • “Find application” function: this is an indexing “search box” style launcher similar to my favorite “Launchy” that can be accessed by hotkey or through the system tray icon. And while it works fairly well, it is not the main reason for installing this software and would more appropriately be installed separately (an option to exclude it from installing in the first place would be great). I would prefer if it wasn’t part of the program, consuming resources.

The verdict: this program is somewhat reminiscent of the previously reviewed SideSlide and is overall a very interesting program. The reason I am posting this program on Freewaregenius is that insofar as it has the potential to help reduce desktop clutter it can be extremely valuable; however this also depends on how the program is used, as it can easily fall into the trap of adding visual clutter to the desktop as well.

I would not recommend this program as a desktop notes program (see above) but would very much recommend it if you have a handful of folders you work with or an RSS feed or two that you would like to have easily and quickly accessible on your desktop (and, of course, if your computer can afford the resources).

Version Tested: 2.6.22

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 5.41 megs).