When preparing to publish this article, it came as no surprise to me that Notepad, long a feature in Microsoft Windows, was not listed as a blog Category. After all, it’s like writing an article about the carpets in the back seat of your car… who cares, right? They are there, you try to clean them off when the kids track snow and dirt onto them, but they are not a feature that most car owners care about. Likewise, Notepad in Microsoft Windows is not a feature that anyone has ever based the decision to use Windows on.
This is what Windows Notepad has looked like in Windows for… well, as long as I can remember. I am not saying that it has never changed, but I look at it in Windows 10, and I see the exact same program I saw when I was using Windows 2000. It was probably about the same in Windows 95. Sure, we can change the font (for the entire file, not per word or per line or even per paragraph). We could enable Word Wrap… or not. But who cares? Notepad was never meant to be a word processor. For those Windows users who did not have Microsoft Office Word, there has always been the full-service, if somewhat lesser, Wordpad that has been included as a free word processor in Windows for generations.
I seldom use Notepad in Windows for anything special. It is just too limited. That is not necessarily a bad thing. I have heard many colleagues say that Microsoft should acquire Notepad++ (which has always been freeware) and include it in Windows. I completely disagree. While I love Notepad++, it is far more complex than our beloved Notepad, and would probably intimidate someone who just wanted to use it as a scrap sheet of paper… or to write quick text files… or for whatever other reason people might use Notepad (I use it to strip fanciness and links out of text that I copied from somewhere else). Would NPP do all of that? Sure… but there are too many other things in there that some might say is too complicated (read: intimidating) for their needs. I mean, compared to the bare-bones menu up above (File-Edit-Format-View-Help), and then look at the menu in NPP.
Yeah, it is much busier than most people need. Don’t get me wrong, it has a lot more functionality that is great for all sorts of things… but to just modify a text file? Maybe it’s a bit of overkill.
Imagine my surprise when recently I opened Notepad in Windows 11 and saw a gear in the top-right corner of the window. It was more of an afterthought… but hey, the Format and Help options were gone from the top menu, so they I figured they just put the options from there to within the gear. I clicked on it…
“Select which app theme to display (Light / Dark / Use System Setting)” Oh really? I clicked on the Dark theme, and this is the result:
A dark theme in Notepad. How great is that? Don’t get me wrong, I am still going to have Notepad++ installed on my PC, but for when I just need quick things done, this is a great and simple alternative.