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How to add text labels to the desktop on macOS

macOS has virtual desktops and they’re an excellent multi-tasking feature. Multiple desktops, or virtual desktops, on macOS basically give you different work spaces. You can move open apps to a particular work space and manage your tasks more easily since they won’t be mixed or cluttered with other, unrelated apps. One major shortcoming that desktops have, despite being around for years, is that you cannot name them. A simple alternative to this is to add text labels to the desktop.

A label makes it easy to tell, at a glance, what you’re using a desktop for i.e., whether you have editing tasks open on it, or a researching task. As for adding the label, there’s no built-in tool for the job but, you can use the stock Stickies app. It’s an excellent alternative.

Text labels for desktops

Open the Stickies app. It’s a stock app so it should be there regardless of which version of macOS you’re running.

A sticky note can be freely resized, the font can be any color, and any size, and you have a few select colors to pick from when it comes to the color of the sticky note itself. To change the font, go to the Font item on the menu bar. To change the color of a sticky note, go to the Colour item on the menu bar.

Enter whatever it is you want the note/label to say. Resize it so that it isn’t unnecessarily big. Move it to a corner where you know it won’t interfere with your workflow. Once that’s done, go to the Window item on the menu bar and select the ‘Float on top’ option. This will pin the sticky note to the top of the desktop.

Make sure you don’t make the note window too large. If you want, you can also make it translucent by selecting the option under the Window item on the menu bar.

The sticky note won’t be readable from Mission Control since the desktop preview is much too small but you can get around this by using different colors for the various desktops you’ve added. The color will help you visually identify a desktop and the label will confirm you’ve switched to the right one.

macOS users have long been searching for a way to name desktops. Apple hasn’t added the feature and there are no third-party apps that can reliably add it. It’s a shortcoming you normally wouldn’t expect on an Apple OS but it’s there and it’s been there for years.

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