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Steam’s new Notes app might change how I play PC games

Per-game notes can make it easier to stay focused on the objective(s)

The fishing game Dredge, shown running on Windows PC, with Steam’s new Notes app running as an overlay on the window. The note contains some to-dos for the author to complete. Image: Black Salt Games/Team17 via Polygon
Cameron Faulkner (he/him) is Polygon’s commerce editor. He began writing about tech and gaming in 2013, and migrated from The Verge in 2023.

Most Steam app updates aren’t all that interesting, but Valve’s new beta for the Steam client on PC added a feature that I can’t stop swooning over. It’s a new Notes app, a simple rich text editor to jot down some notes.

But it’s a little more than just that. It’s an overlay that can hover on your in-game window (with adjustable opacity), so your to-do list is always within view, if you want. It can store new notes on a per-game basis, and better yet, those notes are synced across PCs that you’re logged into, even when you’re in offline mode.

To turn it on, simultaneously press the Shift and Tab keys while in-game, then find it along the new taskbar along the bottom of the interface that pops up. Then, press the thumbtack icon in the top right of the Notes app to pin it at a desired position on your screen.

The video game Elden Ring is shown. A character is in a dimly-lit cave, but the focus of the image is on Steam’s new Notes app, which lets the user write to-do items and have it laid over the game window.
Valve’s example for how notes can be used in Elden Ring is about as cheeky as you’d expect.
Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco Entertainment via Valve

Paper and pen may still win out for you, especially for games where you need to draw solutions to puzzles. But this is just what I need for most of the games that I play. It’ll be great for when I need to remember the safe code that was written in blood on the wall in The Last of Us Part 1 on PC. Or to remind me how many items I need to upgrade a tier in a skill tree, so I don’t have to flip through a game’s user interface for the hundredth time. Now, there’s an easy place to keep it all in view for later.

It could really come in handy in games that have day-night cycles, like Stardew Valley, or the more recently released Dredge, where some quests are only achievable during certain times of the day. I really don’t think I could play another Persona game without this notes feature to let me remind myself which relationship or activities I need to prioritize.

The new Steam update lets you pin even more stuff to your game window, including game guides written up by Steam users, the Discussions forum for each game, or a full web browser so you can watch videos while you play. If you want to enroll in the Steam beta, there are some instructions on how to do so here.

The next level of puzzles.

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