Notepad Tips and Tricks

A day does not go by that I do not use Notepad. As a heavy Notepad user, here’s some quick Notepad tips and suggestions.

Note taking – We are now in the digital age. When talking on the phone, if someone says “Got a pen?”. I say “Yes”, and I open Notepad. One problem that I have is that I don’t save all my notes. Then when Windows reboots without asking, I lose my notes. Wouldn’t it be cool if Notepad had an autosave feature like Word?

Writing for a web site – I prefer to write my PC Pitstop articles in Notepad because Word puts a lot of formatting junk that makes a mess of the HTML. So normally, I write the article in Notepad, then place the tags on the article and then paste it onto the web site. Wouldn’t it be cool if Notepad had a spell checker?

Writing code – I have been doing my personal web site in PHP, and I usually use Notepad. But man, Notepad is really lacking for coding purposes. My wish list is long but the key features would be a more robust undo function, and also color coding PHP code.

Here’s some big news. There are ton of alternatives for Notepad. I am currently writing this blog using Notepad2. Just type “notepad alternative” into your favorite search engine and there are hundreds of great and free replacements for Notepad.

And that’s the point behind this article. Notepad was introduced close to 20 years ago in Windows 3.0. One would think that in 20 years, a company as rich, powerful and innovative as Microsoft would figure out how to put a spell checker into Notepad. Microsoft should be committed to continually improving their products, and not just settling for good enough.

Enough railing. Here’s another Notepad tip. Have you ever tried to move information between a web page and Excel? It can be maddening. All these artifacts show up in Excel and it’s hard to get rid of them. Or worse yet, the information may show up in one big humongous cell. Sometimes there is an hour glass for up to 5 minutes when trying to paste into Excel. What’s the solution? Notepad. Highlight the information on the web page. And then paste the information into Notepad. Highlight and copy the information from Notepad. Then Paste Special into Excel choosing Unicode. Try it sometime. It’s a great way to make a cool chart from data on a web page.

But now I’m back to railing again. I think that there are a lot of people that want to move data from web pages into Excel. After all of this time, shouldn’t there be an easier way?

HEY MICROSOFT. This is not rocket science. We put a man on the moon in less than 20 years. Is it so much to ask to put a few basic features into your products? I am not angry nor am I being facetious. This is serious. It is happening all around us. People are moving to alternative operating systems every day. The issues in front of you guys are not insurmountable, but you guys need to WAKE UP!

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49 thoughts on “Notepad Tips and Tricks”

  1. I use notepad all the time, every day and have 12 open notepads as we speak. I don’t need any of the features listed above except one. Autosave. I lose TONS of notepads all the time that were unsaved when the pc shut itself down. If it recovered them just like word or excel does, it would save me quite often. I haven’t liked any of the alternatives because I can’t have a bunch of them open at once like I can w/ notepad, or they have too many features that get in my way vs. simple notepad.

    1. WD Interactive

      Hi. I have a solution to your issue pal! theres a new app called WD Officepad that does Autosave plus a whole new and rich set of features youll love. Ill be rolling it out very soon.

  2. An item ago, someone said they used Notepad to be able to return to a website. I have the following idea that I have it and use it all the time…
    to come back to a webpage after putting your computer to sleep or even totally off.
    1) Highlight the url address in the address bar and copy(or cut-both work) the url address
    2) on your desktop right-click and click on New and go to Shortcut
    3) Where it asks you for the url address then do ctrl-v(universal paste) or right-click and go to paste(whichever suits you).
    4) when it is time to name the shortcut then name the shortcut “LEFT OFF” enter(or finish the shortcut creation) then voila-when you log back in and get your desktop showing just click on “LEFT OFF” and voila your webpage will reappear.
    this shortcut can be changed (for example you later want to store a webpage to return to it later) just go to the shortcut on the desktop and right-click it go to properties and on the very first page there is a box that says url and permits you to highlight the entire url which you would do then press ctrl-v to paste the new url address as shown above and then press enter-you now have on your “left off” shortcut a way to return to a webpage.

  3. I think the point of notepad is that it is such a small program (no lag, opens instantly) and doesn’t clutter your space with annoying colours and unwanted fancy notifications.

    I use notepad BECAUSE it keeps the text exactly as I type it and BECAUSE it doesn’t have spell-check or colour-coded foolishness. I’m sure Microsoft has other programs that do these things anyway.

    For simple or advanced HTML and CSS, notepad is perfect. For complicated Javascript or other languages, a more advanced program with colour-coded and built-in functions would be awesome.

  4. Amazingly, autosave is still not built into Windows in Windows 7. Since I like Wordpad, I implemented autosave in Notepad/Wordpad by using a scripting language. Autoit in my case. AutoIt automates Windows tasks.

    This simple script works to automatically save all Notepad files:

    Local $var = WinList()
    ; proceed through all windows…
    For $i = 1 To $var[0][0]
    If $var[$i][0] “” Then
    ; if ” – Notepad” in window title…
    If StringInStr($var[$i][0],” – Notepad”) Then
    If (StringCompare ( $var[$i][0],”Untitled – Notepad”) 0) Then ; optional
    ; send CTRL-s to Edit control in window.
    ControlSend($var[$i][0], “”, “[CLASS:Edit;INSTANCE:1]”, “^s”)
    EndIf ; optional

    Delete the lines saying “optional” if you want it to save even untitled windows. If it tries to save an untitled window, you’ll be prompted to give the window a name, and the script will stop until you do so.

    You also need to create a task in the Task Scheduler to run this script. I set the task to run only when I’m logged on, because I won’t be editing when I’m logged off. You can set it to run however often you want. For the action performed, use the location of the AutoIt3.exe or AutoIt3_x64.exe program. For me it’s “C:Program Files (x86)AutoIt3AutoIt3_x64.exe” (quotes included), because I’m on Windows 7 which is 64 bit. AutoIt3.exe is for non 64-bit versions of windows.

    The parameter for the task is the script location, eg., “C:scriptsscriptname.au3”.

    My script to autosave Wordpad is more kludgy at this point, but it seems to work.

    Local $mClassID = “[CLASS:RICHEDIT50W;INSTANCE:”
    Local $var = WinList()
    For $i = 1 To $var[0][0]
    If $var[$i][0] “” Then
    If StringInStr($var[$i][0],” – Wordpad”) Then
    if (ControlSend($var[$i][0], “”, $mClassID & “3]”, “^s”) = 0) Then
    If (ControlSend($var[$i][0], “”, $mClassID & “2]”, “^s”) = 0) Then
    ControlSend($var[$i][0], “”, $mClassID & “1]”, “^s”)

    I’d explain this script but this note is already too long.

    1. Looks like the HTML removed some of the text. I’ll try with code formatting…

      Local $var = WinList()
      ; proceed through all windows…
      For $i = 1 To $var[0][0]
      If $var[$i][0] "" Then
      ; if " – Notepad" in window title…
      If StringInStr($var[$i][0]," - Notepad") 0 Then
      If (StringCompare ( $var[$i][0],"Untitled – Notepad") 0) Then
      ; send CTRL-s to Edit control in window.
      ControlSend($var[$i][0], "", "[CLASS:Edit;INSTANCE:1]", "^s")

      1. One more try. 🙁 All three If/Then statements are missing a not-equals sign, which *may* appear here if I use HTML escape characters: &lt&gt. So the If/Thens should read, in order:
        If … &lt&gt “”
        If … &lt&gt 0
        If … &lt&gt 0

        Delete the MsgBox line.

  5. As many astute readers have pointed out, Notepad should /never/ become what wordpad is, what word is, what notepad++ is. If you complain about notepad lacking features, then you are using the wrong tool for the job. Notepad is exactly what it needs to be, and nothing more. Both iTunes and Adobe Reader are excellent examples of what can happen to simple, efficient programs when they have been over-developed, and over-innovated.

    I applaud MS for not fattening up Notepad, but it isn’t just a wise choice, it’s the choice any mature developer would make for this application. It has nothing to do with a lack of innovation.

    As for what I use for a more beefy text editor, it’s Notepad++. Npp is the best free text editor out there IMO. It only bests UltraEdit because it is complete free. PSPad is also a great tool, but it is lacking in performance and some nifty features (column editing, text macro library, and text shifting).

  6. Thank You microsoft for not fixing something that isnt broken.
    Thank you for not turning notepad into bloatware.
    Thank you I can open todays notepad document on yesterdays computer and yesteryears pre-PC documents on todays wizbang computer. (Which now takes 40 seconds to boot instead of yeseryears 4 seconds and 40 seconds to shutdown compared to yesteryears 10milliseconds)

  7. Turn notepad into a journal logger.

    – Open Notepad
    – type “.LOG” (without the quotes and on the
    very first line of the file)
    – Save the document (maybe as MyJournal.txt)

    now, every time you open that text file, the date and time are automatically entered and you can start typing your journal entry.

    I use this trick to keep track of when I work on a large number of projects. I have to report my work time for Federal reporting purposes and the Time Reporting software they make us use here stinks.

    I also use this as a telephone message logger. When the phone rings, I open up MyPhoneLog.txt and make notes during the conversation. Then save it.

    Tyr it out!

  8. Hey Guys and Gals this is America, The Home of the FREE Lightn up on the spelling and enjoy the little freedom we
    have left while you can. When N. Korea NUKES US we’re go under Marshal Law. If you don’t know what that is you better look it up instead of wasting all your time on all
    thi camel dung. Smile bigbellybob

  9. I have been using RogSoft Notepad+ for the past 5 years or so. It’s a very small application but performs extremely well for any text based file. The best part of it is it’s FREEEEE!!!! Give it a try – is the home page for this product. Oh and by the way, if I’ve mis-spelled or used improper grammar – GET OVER IT!

  10. 1 use notepad2 that’s what it is called. are there others named that same name? there are directions on the developers site to replace windows notepad with notepad2

    and i am typing in all lowercase because i like ee cummings

    people who complain about spelling on a blog either are perfect typists or don’t have enough to do. lighten up, laugh a bit, your ulcers will thank you.

  11. One alternative (without spellchecking) is:
    -open microsoft WORDPAD
    -put a few textletters there
    -highlight the text
    -drag the highlighted text to the desktop
    -close wordpad (you do not have to save)
    -change the name of the icon, if you wish
    -this is a good working pad, like-“do you have a pen…”

    -never needs saving (leaves itself as is

  12. For all my text editing, programming code, data manipulations, etc. I have been using
    Boxer Software’s Text Editor since 1992. It is WONDERFUL. Boxer upgrades it regularly but I have not, as yet, tried their HTML editor, but will soon.

    I deal in massive amounts of data and their macros are superb (with keystroke recording).

    It will bankrupt you at %59.99 and their upgrades usually run around $10.

    Try it, you’ll like it.

    John Hathorn
    President of Applied Meteorology, Inc.

  13. You may be wasting your time on your recommendation of copy/paste data from a webpage to Notepad and then into an Excel worksheet.

    Just copy the URL on the webpage with the data, open a new workbook, click on Data, then Import External Data, then New Web query. Paste the URL into address bar, click OK, and when the web page comes up, select the tables or tables to pull the data directly, click Import, and the data will download into the worksheet.

  14. Spanky Spangler

    Right click the desktop,
    create a new text document,
    Open it and write “this app can break” (Without quotes),
    Close it and save.
    Open it again.
    It fails!
    This does not happen with any other text editors!!!!
    Sort it out MS!

  15. If you are looking for a really good notepad replacement and aren’t afraid to learn some shortcut keys, then try VIM. It was originally used on *nix based systems, but they made a windows port that isn’t too shabby. I will warn however it uses some very non-microsoft key conventions (like moving the cursor with the ‘h’ ‘j’ ‘k’ ‘l’ keys.) So if you are willing to learn a little, then this editor is a great choice for fast editing of most code.(Even does the fancy colorcode for easier editing.)

  16. Gee IF it was easy , we would have all kinds of time our our hands!!HAHHA but I agree that with so many programs it gets confusing the older we get. Gee, some pepole still refuse to get a computer orhave one but the still don’t know how to use it with all the confussion?? I don’t have Excel and my boss sends me things in the program, I get frustrated not know which program to retrive it in ?? But LIVE GOES ON!! WORK until you figure it out or else??

  17. I also use Outlook’s “Notes” facility. They look like sticky notes but actually they are like a Tardis as hundreds of words can be pasted in to a single note. They add the date and you don’t need to save them as they autosave when the notes is closed. The user can search them as well which is quite handy.

  18. Eldad Kuperman

    Notepad exists since Windows 3.0 but Edit.exe exists since early DOS years and still available on Vista!
    Simply enter “Edit” in Start->Run editbox and enjoy 🙂

  19. Most Notepad replacements are big and unnecessarily bloated for most text jobs. At 90 KB, metapad is my notepad-replacer of choice.

  20. Note to W Junger
    I deliberately used “speling” For a larff! 🙂 I should have used a colon after day not a comma; as I was introducing a list. My usual problem is very looongg sentences, using commas, to make my statements easier to read; MS Word does not suggest fewer commas, as, I suppose, but don’t know -well not for sure- that technically one can do so; that is use lots of commas! You’re right about the “its” I am always doing it. Just to see what MS Word would do to what I had written I copied and pasted my post above and run the spell check (but altered “writing” to “Writing” it accepted the text except for “speling”. I also have StyleWriter and decided to check the post with that software – it did not regard the “for a change” as being redundant. And it’s not, as the meaning is: that MS software tends to be bloated and anything but simple (well you know what I mean!). I also ran this message through StyleWriter, part from objecting to the sentence above with 45 words it didn’t find anything else wrong (except for wanting “plug-in”) with it. (whereas I would have thought it should have objected to “part” which should be “apart”)

  21. Anytime I want to copy just the text from a web site with no formating, pix and advertisements, I copy and paste into NoteTab Light. I’ve been using it for some years now and it has never let me down. Plus it’s search and replace tool works quite fast.

    – Brian

  22. Why screw with a program that is perfect for what it was designed for? I look at notepad as the gui version of the dos edit program. It wasn’t a feature packed editor either but was good enough to create and edit batch files. Much better than the old line editor, remember that one?

  23. “Bob Wildman Says:

    Note to W Junger — WOW! Another “speling” nitpicker just like me — and Geoff’s “awe inspiring” should be hyphenated, since “awe” is the object of the participle.”

    Mrs. Hutchison would be so proud of you guys. Most of us can’t even define ‘participle’ anymore, let alone save one from dangling…

    I vote for Notepad++ as well. It’s simple when you need simple and fully featured when you need that. A great little proggy.

  24. Note to W Junger — WOW! Another “speling” nitpicker just like me — and Geoff’s “awe inspiring” should be hyphenated, since “awe” is the object of the participle.

  25. I switched from Notepad to Metapad several years ago. It works much like notepad, but has a quick exit feature (escape key)which prompts for a save before exiting. It also supports a transparency mode, allowing you to make notes about material on another screen without constantly alt/tabbing…you can see both documents at the same time without changing windows display settings.

  26. Note to Geoff: what you’re using isn’t enough to correct your poor writing skills! “Speling” instead of “spelling,” “its” should be “it’s” and that period after “day” should be a comma. Sometimes one is better off to use a full-featured word processor, but – unfortunately – even a grammar checker wouldn’t have caught the redundant “for a change” after the “for once” in your last sentence.

  27. I also use Notepad extensively and have recently begun using Notepad++ to do quick updates to HTML pages when I don’t want to bother with a full WYSIWYG editor or don’t have access to one. Also, Notepad++ will run from a USB drive!! When editing HTML (or other code types) it color codes the various elements and indents. So cool! I’ve never seen a FREE program as useful as this one.

  28. Thanks for the tip for alternatives to Notepad – I’ll check them out. But, it’s nice to have something simple like Notepad from MS – I use it every day and enjoy it for its very simplicity.

  29. Hi chengrob
    I’m using Notepad++ and have a plugin installed that checks speling. Its an awe inspiring piece of software and its free. Like you I use my Notepad variant every day. writing web page content, blog entries and email messages then just pasting them into the application. Maybe for once MS has just decided to keep things simple for a change with Notepad

  30. Which of several programs all called Notepad2do you use?
    None of us want to install a baddy called Notepad2.

  31. Microsoft reminds me of the big 3 automakers back in the early 90’s. Mr Gates & co are just now realizing that if they don’t innovate, update and improve their products they will be left in the dust. Look at the rise in popularity of Linux based systems. And don’t even talk to me about Vista! Microsoft’s Edsel! All I ask for is something simple to use, STABLE, and doesn’t take a terabyte of storage.

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