Windows Notepad

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Windows Notepad
Windows Notepad.png
New Notepad on Windows 10
Original author(s)Richard Brodie
Initial release1983; 38 years ago (1983)
(as Multi-Tool Notepad)
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
PlatformIA-32, x86-64, and ARM (historically Itanium, DEC Alpha, MIPS, and PowerPC)
PredecessorMS-DOS Editor
TypeText editor

Windows Notepad is a simple text editor for Microsoft Windows that enables computer users to create plain text documents. It was first released as a mouse-based MS-DOS program in 1983, and has been included in all versions of Microsoft Windows since Windows 1.0 in 1985.


Microsoft introduced Multi-Tool Notepad, a mouse-based text editor written by Richard Brodie, with the $195 Microsoft Mouse in May 1983 at the Spring COMDEX computer expo in Atlanta. Also introduced at that COMDEX was Multi-Tool Word, designed by Charles Simonyi to work with the mouse.[1][2][3] Most watching Simonyi's demonstration had never heard of a mouse.[4] Microsoft released the Microsoft Mouse in June 1983, and the boxed mouse and Multi-Tool Notepad began shipping in July.[5] Initial sales were modest, as there was little one could do with it except run the three demonstration programs included in the box (a tutorial, practice application and Notepad) or program interfaces to it.[6] The Multi-Tool product line began with expert systems for the Multiplan spreadsheet.[7][8] On the suggestion of Rowland Hanson, who also convinced Bill Gates to change the name "Interface Manager" to "Windows" before the release of Windows 1.0, the Multi-Tool name was killed by the time Word shipped in November 1983. Hanson's rationale was that "the brand is the hero". People didn't associate the stand-alone name Multi-Tool with Microsoft, and Hanson wanted to make Microsoft the hero, so the Microsoft name replaced "Multi-Tool".[4][6]

Notepad has appeared on Microsoft Store twice. The first time was in August 2019; it vanished shortly thereafter.[9] This version would run on the preview versions of Windows 10, build number 18963 or later.[10] During this short-lived presence on the Store, technology news blogs speculated that even though Notepad will still be included in Windows out of the box, as of Windows 10 version 20H1, Notepad will no longer be a component of the operating system and updated through the bi-yearly Windows 10 version updates. The speculators believed that it will instead be a separate application receiving updates through the Microsoft Store. This will allow updates to the app to be delivered more frequently.[10][11] This did not happen in version 20H1 or its next version, 20H2. Notepad appeared on Microsoft Store for a second time in April 2020, this time, sporting a new logo. It runs on the preview versions of Windows 10, build number 19541 or later.[9][12]


Notepad is a text editor, i.e., an app specialized in editing plain text. It can edit text files (bearing .txt filename extension) and compatible formats, such as batch files, INI files, and log files. Notepad can read and write plain texts encoded in ASCII, UTF-8, and UTF-16 (both little-endian and big-endian). As such, it supports both left-to-right and right-to-left based languages.

Notepad offers only the most basic text manipulation functions, such as finding and replacing text. Until Windows Me, there were almost no keyboard shortcuts and no line-counting feature. Starting with Windows 2000, shortcuts for common tasks like new, open and save were added, as well as a status bar with a line counter (available only when word-wrap is disabled). Before Windows 10 version 1809, Notepad could not properly interpret Unix-style or Mac-style newline characters.[13] Windows 10 version 1809 also introduces the Ctrl+← Backspace keyboard shortcut for the previous word, zoom functionality, the ability to zoom in and out, and the "Search with Bing" function.[14][15]

Improving performance has been the main focus of Notepad's development. As part of this effort, Notepad is capable of reading text files even when other apps have acquired a range-based lock on the file.[16]

Up to Windows 95, Notepad render text files in the Fixedsys font. Starting with Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 98, Notepad allowed the user to customize the font. Notepad's default font changed to Lucida Console on Windows 2000, and Consolas on Windows 8.

Notepad also has a simple built-in logging function. Each time a file that starts with .LOG is opened, the program inserts a text timestamp on the last line of the file.[17][18]

Notepad accepts text from the Windows clipboard, but only in the CF_TEXT format.[19] In other words, Notepad strips the pasted text of its embedded font and style codes markups. Formatted text can be temporarily pasted into Notepad, and then immediately copied again in stripped format to paste into the other program.

Notepad can print files. Headers, footers, and margins can be set and adjusted when preparing to print a file under Page Setup. The date, file name, and other information can be placed in the headers and footers with various codes consisting of an ampersand ('&') followed by a letter.


In all versions of Windows, Notepad uses a built-in window class named EDIT. The maximum file size that Notepad can open is dependent on operating system limitations on the size of the EDIT window class, with the limit being different for each version of Windows. Due to the operating system limit of the EDIT window class, the Notepad version shipped with Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1, and Windows 3.11 could not open files larger than 54 KB (kilobytes) and Microsoft recommended not to open files larger than 45 KB, with the official workaround advice provided by Microsoft being "Use another text editor",[20] but this limit was extended to 64 KB in Windows 95, with users now directed to WordPad to open larger files. On the Notepad version shipped with Windows XP the limit was 32 MB (megabytes) with the application displaying the message "The file is too large for Notepad. Use another editor to edit the file" if the user attempted to open a file larger than 32 MB.[21] Newer versions of Notepad can open files at least up to 58 MB (megabytes) in size,[22] and on Windows 8.1, Notepad can open files at least as large as 512 MB (megabytes) but refuses to open 1 GB (gigabyte) files.[23]

Unicode detection[edit]

The Windows NT version of Notepad, installed by default on Windows 2000 and Windows XP, can detect Unicode files even when they lack a byte order mark. To do this, it calls the IsTextUnicode() function of the Windows API.[24] This function was imperfect, incorrectly identifying some all-lowercase ASCII text as UTF-16. As a result, Notepad interpreted a file containing a phrase like "aaaa aaa aaa aaaaa" ("4-3-3-5") as a two-byte-encoded Unicode text file and attempts. If a font with support for Chinese was installed, nine Chinese characters (桴獩愠灰挠湡戠敲歡) would display. Otherwise, it would display square substitute characters instead of Chinese characters.[25] This issue was resolved in Windows Vista and newer versions of Notepad.

Competing software[edit]

Notepad does not require a lock on the file it opens, so it can open files that other processes have already opened. In contrast, WordPad cannot. Notepad lacks many basic features available in other text editors, such as block selection and MDI. Its minimalistic user interface, however, is faster and easier to use for basic text operations.

There are many third-party replacements for Notepad with additional functionality, such as AkelPad, Metapad, Notepad++, and TED Notepad, These editors come with more advanced features, such as syntax coloring, code folding, regular expressions, macros, per-document code page selection, themes, sorting, case changes, file-change detection, matching braces, visible line-endings, visible line-wrap indication.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "COMDEX: Micros in American mainstream". InfoWorld. IDG. May 23, 1983. p. 1. ISSN 0199-6649.
  2. ^ "Mouse and new WP program join Microsoft product lineup". InfoWorld. IDG. May 30, 1983. p. 10. ISSN 0199-6649.
  3. ^ "Microsoft ad". InfoWorld. IDG. May 23, 1983. p. 85. ISSN 0199-6649.
  4. ^ a b Wallace, James; Erickson, Jim (1992). Hard Drive. Wiley. pp. 238–244. ISBN 0-471-56886-4. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  5. ^ "In Focus". InfoWorld. IDG. August 29, 1983. p. 31. ISSN 0199-6649.
  6. ^ a b Manes, Stephen; et al. (Paul Andrews) (1993). Gates. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-42075-7. Archived from the original on 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  7. ^ "Microsoft ad". InfoWorld. IDG. April 25, 1983. p. 40. ISSN 0199-6649.
  8. ^ "In designers' scenario, software undergoes behavior modification". InfoWorld. IDG. August 29, 1983. p. 34. ISSN 0199-6649.
  9. ^ a b Wyciślik-Wilson, Sofia (2020-04-19). "Windows Notepad returns to the Microsoft Store with new features". BetaNews. Retrieved 2021-02-09. This is not the first time the app has appeared in the Microsoft Store. Originally announced in August last year, Notepad appeared for a while before vanishing.
  10. ^ a b Mary Jo Foley (August 17, 2019). "Microsoft makes Notepad a separate Store app starting with new Windows 10 20H1 test build". ZDNet. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  11. ^ Mayank Parmar (August 19, 2019). "Windows 10 Notepad Added to Microsoft Store, Only for Insiders". Bleeping Computer. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  12. ^ Popa, Bogdan. "This Is the New Notepad Icon for Windows 10". softpedia. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  13. ^ "Introducing extended line endings support in Notepad". Windows Command Line Blog. Microsoft. May 8, 2018. Archived from the original on 2018-05-09. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  14. ^ Huculak, Mauro (5 October 2018). "Check out all the changes in Notepad in the October 2018 Update". Windows Central.
  15. ^ "New features in Notepad in Windows 10". The Windows Club. 9 October 2018.
  16. ^ Chen, Raymond (21 May 2018). "Maintaining Notepad is not a full-time job, but it's not an empty job either". The Old New Thing. Microsoft. Retrieved 21 June 2021. To load a file, Notepad maps a view of the file as a memory-mapped file and uses that as the source. The code figures out the encoding, performs a code page conversion to UTF-16LE if necessary, puts the result in a memory block, and then uses the EM_SETHANDLE message to hand that entire block to the edit control.
  17. ^ "Features of LOG and Time/Date Command in Notepad". Support. Microsoft. July 19, 2005. Archived from the original on June 28, 2007.
  18. ^ "How to Use Notepad to Create a Log File". Support. Microsoft. December 20, 2004. Archived from the original on April 6, 2005.
  19. ^ ""The Clipboard". Archived from the original on 2009-02-26. Retrieved September 29, 2009.
  20. ^ "Maximum File Size Limits for Notepad". Support. Microsoft. September 24, 2011. Archived from the original on 2015-03-17. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  21. ^ "What is file size limit for Notepad in Windows XP". Bytes. October 24, 2007. Archived from the original on 2016-10-29. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  22. ^ "Maximum size for notepad file". Code Project. August 4, 2012. Archived from the original on 2016-10-29. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  23. ^ Petri, Daniel (October 23, 2015). "Tip for Opening Large Text Files in Windows". Self-published. Archived from the original on 2016-10-29. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  24. ^ "IsTextUnicode()". MSDN. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2016-09-10. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  25. ^ Chen, Raymond (April 17, 2007). "The Notepad file encoding problem, redux". MSDN. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2011-09-03. Retrieved 2019-03-20.

External links[edit]