Windows Notepad Replacement

This is part of a new category here on this site dedicated to Cool Software. Some of them are installable desktop tools, some are web applications, and some are services. These are tools I use myself day to day, many of them are free.

These tools are the result of many hours of careful search, stumbling around, word of mouth and dumb luck. I thought it might be a good idea to share these tools as this will almost certainly help you.

First up are a couple of free text editors.

One of the problems I regularly see is when people use the built in Notepad editor in Windows – it doesn’t work the way you would expect it to. Crazy I know, but Notepad will embed hidden characters and sometimes apply some strange formatting and justification if you’re not careful. I see this happening when comments are left on my blog posts, and also on forum posts.

I know what’s going on because I’ve done this myself and learned the hard way.

This is what happens. You decide to leave a comment or a forum post, write a few sentences or a couple of paragraphs and the phone goes, or someone comes to the door or whatever – you get distracted.

Thirty minutes later, you go back to your writing, gather your thoughts and finish what you were doing. You press the submit button, and you find you’ve been timed out or you’ve lost your network connection, and you get an error message.

You press the back button, but it’s no good, you’ve lost everything you’ve typed in.

Aaagghhh!

Now you’ve learned a valuable lesson, and you decide that from now on you’ll type it all locally into a text editor and save it regularly instead of typing it into an online form. When you’ve finished and it all looks good, you copy and paste it into the text box on the blog or forum. It’s a good habit to have.

The problem is, if you’ve used Windows Notepad, it will sometimes format the text for you, inserting line breaks at the end of each line. It looks okay, but when you copy and paste it into the web form, all the formatting breaks.

So that’s one good reason not to use Windows Notepad, and here’s another – it’s just not very good. Here are two MUCH better ones.

Notepad 2

This first Notepad replacement is ideal for carrying around with you on a USB stick as it doesn’t require installation, doesn’t create any registry entries, and all you need do is double click the executable. (Why oh why – sorry – did Microsoft ever introduce the registry? It’s caused us all no ends of problems with having to re-install applications every time we move PCs or have to re-install Windows. In the good old days, all you had to do was copy the files back to the PC and run them. It was easy. I’m always delighted when I find an app that doesn’t require installation.)

You can get Notepad 2 from here:-

http://www.flos-freeware.ch/notepad2.html

Notepad++

This is a little more feature rich than Notepad2, and adds a menu item to the Windows shell, so when you right click on a text file or HTML or whatever, one of the options you see is “Open in Notepad++” – VERY useful.

You can see the full feature set and download it from here:-

http://notepad-plus.sourceforge.net/uk/site.htm

Enjoy.

-Frank Haywood

Update: Tom Brownsword left a comment saying that there’s a portable version of NotePad++ that you can use on a USB stick, along with a load of other apps on the same site that will all fit on a 512MB USB stick.  Cool!


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8 Comments

  1. Eruwan Gerry says:

    Hi Frank,
    Thanks for the great tip! :)

  2. Frank,

    What a great idea! There are all kinds of great products out there that beat the “usual suspects” hands-down (as those of us who purchased your “Perfect Ebook” product know!).

    Notepad++ is great. I especially like the ability to have more than one document open at a time. This is really great when re-writing PLR because you can keep the original open in one pane and write your revisions in another. Saves a LOT of time.

    You can also get a version of Notepad++ that doesn’t require installation (see http://portableapps.com/apps/development/notepadpp_portable. That site actually has TONS of apps you can put on a thumb drive and take take with you. Just make sure that you always use the latest version of the software.

    Best regards,
    Tom

    • Frank Haywood says:

      @Tom Brownsword:

      Tom! What a find! Thank you very much for sharing that, I can barely believe they have pretty much all my favourite apps there, OpenOffice, FireFox and so on. And while Thunderbird isn’t my email client of choice, the fact that I can get a portable version of it makes me want to put up with it’s little quirks.

      That will make trips to the library so much easier.

      Okay I now need a bigger thumb drive maybe… ;)

      Correction. Oh no I don’t. It seems the PortableApps Suite largest version is for 512MB+ drives. Wow.

      Cheers,

      Frank

  3. Interesting, I’ve never really had problems with special characters or line breaks in Notepad. It’s supposed to be a straight-up raw text editor. In Wordpad, that’s a different story, but Notepad has always been good to me. Having said that, I have also used Notepad++ and it is definitely an improvement. Thanks for the suggestions, I’ll check out Notepad 2 as well. -Mike

    • Frank Haywood says:

      @Des Moines movers:

      Yeah, I know what you mean. Most times I’ve found it behaves itself, but then for some reason it decides to throw a wobbly. Probably something I’ve done, but then I don’t have that problem with other apps, so I’m not so sure.

      -Frank

  4. Vincent says:

    Hey Frank,
    Another very good replacement I have used for years is Winpad32
    http://www.gena01.com/

    It even supports saving the file as Dos/Win Mac and Unix

    • Frank Haywood says:

      @Vincent:

      Grabbed that one too, thank you.

      I have to admit I’ve been using a very old version (2000) of a commercial program called TextPad until recently – I didn’t like the newer versions and I felt it was perfect as it was in 2000. But as I’ve been using NotePad++ more and more, I’ve been finding that’s been my text editor of choice.

      To have Tom tell me there’s a portable version of it, is a definite “Woohoo!” in my books. ;)

      -Frank

  5. Jan says:

    Hi Frank!

    More useful stuff and proprams we can download.

    Great!

    I don’t know if you’re aware of this site where you can get many FULL PROGRAMS without paying a penny?

    Just go to

    http://for-free-on-internet.com

    Cheers,

    Jan

    http://www.ChristmasGifts-2009.co.uk

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