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Windows Notepad has been around for a long time. The simple text editor has been part of every single Windows version A Quick Look at the History of Windows in Visual Form A Quick Look at the History of Windows in Visual Form Read More since 1.0.

However, just because it’s in its fourth decade doesn’t mean it’s the best text editor. In fact, in its 30+ years of life, you can almost count the number of new features on one hand.

Many apps have now surpassed it in ease-of-use and quality of features. But what are those apps? What do they do well? And when should you use them? Here’s where Notepad falls short, plus six leading alternatives.

Where Notepad Falls Short

I don’t want to criticize Notepad too heavily. It has a negligible draw on your system’s resources, it opens almost instantly, and it’s still the best way for making quick notes Too Lazy to Take Notes? Try These Faster Notetaking Tips Instead Too Lazy to Take Notes? Try These Faster Notetaking Tips Instead There are several shortcuts you can take to capture everything from lectures to meeting minutes to to-do lists. Let's explore some of those shortcuts today with these tips for faster note-taking. Read More while you’re on a phone call or chatting with a colleague.

Nonetheless, when viewed alongside some of its modern competitors, you’ll quickly find some glaring weaknesses.

For example, it can’t handle newlines in Unix- or classic Mac OS-style text files, it lacks advanced formatting features, it doesn’t support multiple document interface (MDI), you can’t block-select, and there are no syntax coloring, code folding, or macros… The list goes on.

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Some third-party alternatives remedy these omissions and introduce several additional features.

1. Notepad++

TL;DR: Best all-round alternative text editor.

The best known and most widely-used alternative is Notepad++. It was originally designed for coding and development, but it’s features have since made it popular among people who just want a more powerful text editor.

Out of the box, you’ll find several additions that instantly set it apart from the Microsoft product. There are line numbers, a more robust search tool, support for tabs, syntax highlighting, macro recording, and zoom.

notepad++

Notepad++ really starts to shine when you delve into the plugins. You will find a spell checker, an FTP client, a script executor, hex editors, and more.

To use the plugins, either use Plugin Manager (which ships with the main app) or download your preferred plugin and install it manually. Navigate to the plugins subfolder of your Notepad++ installation, then put the DLL in plugins, the configuration file in plugin\config, documentation in plugin\doc.

DownloadNotepad++

2. Syncplify.me Notepad!

TL;DR: Download Syncplify.me Notepad! for a word processing-esque experience.

Syncplify.me Notepad! is more geared towards people who want to use their text editor to write rather than to code and program.

When you open the program for the first time, you’ll instantly feel at home when you see the familiar Microsoft Office ribbon across the top of the screen. Start using the app, and the similarities with Word continue: it supports drag-and-drop editing, you can customize print jobs with margins, indentations, headers, footers, and your find-and-replace history is saved for later use.

Syntax highlighting for 35 programming languages is included, but you won’t find code folding, auto-complete, macro recording, or session support.

DownloadSyncplify.me Notepad!

3. QOwnNotes

TL;DR: Anyone who uses Notepad to stay organized should switch to QOwnNotes.

Despite the growth of specialist to-do apps Evernote vs. OneNote: Which Note-Taking App Is Right for You? Evernote vs. OneNote: Which Note-Taking App Is Right for You? Evernote and OneNote are amazing note-taking apps. It's hard to pick between the two. We compared everything from interface to note organization to help you choose. What works best for you? Read More like Evernote, OneNote, and the recently-released Microsoft To-Do Microsoft To-Do vs. Wunderlist: Everything You Need to Know Microsoft To-Do vs. Wunderlist: Everything You Need to Know Microsoft To-Do will replace Wunderlist in the coming months. Learn about To-Do's best features, what's still missing, and how you can migrate from Wunderlist to To-Do. Read More , some people still use Notepad for making lists and staying organized 7 Google Keep Features for Perfect Lists 7 Google Keep Features for Perfect Lists Google Keep has a few features that make it perfect for list keeping. Not only can you create a checklist and sync the app across platforms, Google Keep also offers location-based reminders and more. Read More . Unfortunately, it’s not up to the task, especially if you want to do more than make a simple list of groceries.

However, if you like the simplicity of Notepad compared to OneNote, you should give QOwnNotes a try.

qownnotes

You can organize all your notes and lists into projects and sub-folders (accessible in the right-hand panel), and the app supports rich text notes, images, hyperlinks, and tables. The presence of folders, sub-folders, and hyperlinks means you can make your own wiki.

It also includes a built-in calculator and an “Import from Evernote” tool. Oh, and did I mention the app can even sync via Calendar Plus using AES-256 encryption?

DownloadQOwnNotes

4. PSPad

TL;DR: The best alternative for coders and programmers.

PSPad has been a favorite among coders and professionals for many years. It was first released in 2001.

Its myriad features are development orientated. There’s MDI, syntax highlighting, a HEX editor, an HTML code checker, a code explorer, a macro recorder, an external compiler, an FTP client, and even templates for HTML, PHP, Pascal, JScript, VBScript, MySQL and more.

pspad

Like Notepad++, there’s a thriving community who have built a variety of plugins for increased functionality. Some of the best are the JavaScript packer, the SQL code reformatting script, and the text-to-table adaptor.

It does have some useful features for casual users, including a spell check and search-and-replace, but you should use something else if you’re not planning to spend a lot of time coding.

PSPad is semi-portable 100 Portable Apps for Your USB Stick for Windows and macOS 100 Portable Apps for Your USB Stick for Windows and macOS Portable apps let you take your favorite software anywhere via a flash drive or cloud storage. Here are 100 of them to cover your every need, from games to image editors. Read More : you can download a ZIP folder that can be unpacked into any directory. There’s also an installer, but it’s ad-supported — make sure you don’t install any unnecessary software.

DownloadPSPad

5. EditPad Lite

TL;DR: The purest Notepad replacement.

If you’re looking for a replacement for Notepad but don’t want an app with hundreds of extra bells and whistles, EditPad Lite is your best option.

Some features separate it from the Microsoft app, but they’re minor enhancements rather than complete overhauls.

For example, EditPad offers a tabbed interface so you can work on several files at the same time and there is unlimited undo/redo (rather than the one step provided by Notepad). You’ll also find a more robust search-and-replace tool, and the app automatically backs up your work to prevent data loss.

editpad

Perhaps most interestingly, you can configure the app per file type. When you’re coding, you can turn off word wrapping, when you’re writing a personal memo you can turn off line numbering and turn on proportional fonts.

DownloadEditPad Lite

6. GetDiz

TL;DR: If you’re an ASCII artist who wants a fun and quirky twist, download GetDiz.

GetDiz isn’t for serious coders or people who need to operate in 50 different programming languages. It’s primarily for people who want to make art 5 Free Apps to Turn Photos Into Art on Android, iOS, or Web 5 Free Apps to Turn Photos Into Art on Android, iOS, or Web Turn your selfies into art with these free creative tools and join the new filter craze that is now taking over the internet. Read More with ASCII characters. Sure, it’s a niche group, but it’s also a fun group.

What makes it so good for artists? Well, it can read and create NFO and DIZ files, as well as ASCII art, then save the output as a GIF file. The only drawback is the app will create the GIF using what’s visible on the screen rather than the full window.

getdiz

Other benefits include automatic window resizing to fit the text width of files, built-in URL support, and custom word highlighting.

DownloadGetDiz

Which Is Your Favorite Notepad Alternative?

The very notion of a “best” alternative is subjective: the right app is the one that works for you. You should spend time testing a few different ones before settling on your long-term preference.

The most important thing to take away from this article is that Notepad has been surpassed and you will be able to find a more compelling alternative, regardless of how you use the app.

Which Notepad alternatives would recommend to your fellow readers? What features make them unique? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. John Smith
    June 7, 2017 at 9:24 am

    If you don't want to pay the registration for Edit Plus, which is well worth it, in my opinion, then I recommend Geany and Kate.

  2. Johnny K
    June 6, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    I just leave OneNote open all the time. The impact on system resources is negligible.

  3. Abhinav
    June 6, 2017 at 3:34 am

    Textpad..

  4. Niyaz
    June 4, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Notepad2

  5. Robear
    June 3, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    NoteTab Light

  6. Paul in NJ
    June 3, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    TextPad: the Notepad replacement for people who write... or write HTML... or write software.

  7. fullman
    June 3, 2017 at 1:28 am

    Onenote

  8. Anonymous
    June 3, 2017 at 12:35 am

    vim :P

    just kidding

  9. Davin Peterson
    June 2, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Microsoft has not changed anything with Notepad since Windows 95

  10. chad
    June 2, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    DocPad is great!

  11. ReadandShare
    June 2, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    I may be greedy here... but I'd love to have a simple notepad like the EditPad mentioned in the article - with built-in password protection/encryption. Something like MS Word "Lite"...

  12. makeuseofReader
    June 2, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Worst thing about notepad is that its undo only has a depth of one. Very dangerous...