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I bet you are going – not yet another Notepad replacement! Well, the humble Notepad is one of the most under-appreciated programs on a Windows machine. The only reflection of its utility comes from the flattering array of software we tend to bunch together as Notepad alternatives or Notepad replacements.

I have gone through quite a few myself. But time and again, I have relied on a little piece of portable freeware called Notepad2.

The conventional Notepad is unremarkable to the extreme. Notepad2 introduces a few frills (if I can call them that), and gives it a bit of oomph that sits well with a novice as well as a seasoned programmer. Use it with bits of code or just use it to copy-paste text, Notepad2 covers the based well. But is it ready to replace your choice of Notepad alternative? Let’s give it a run.

First Install and Launch

Notepad2 is a free portable software that’s just about 300 KB in size. That’s tiny, but the small size packs a big punch. You can run it straight after unarchiving it from the Zipped file. And I don’t have to reiterate that you can include it in the suite of portable USB tools. Before we go on to talk about what’s there, let’s see what’s not there, and is also one of the most requested features for the tool. Notepad2 lacks a multiple tabbed interface, something that other Notepad alternatives like Akelpad AkelPad vs Notepad Plus - Can It Even Compete As A Notepad Alternative? AkelPad vs Notepad Plus - Can It Even Compete As A Notepad Alternative? There are lots of Notepad replacements out there, and it seems like everyone has their own favorite. Notepad++ is one of the most popular, but AkelPad is a more minimal option. AkelPad is a fast,... Read More , NotepadTabs, or the more powerful Notepad++ 3 Handy Built-In Notepad++ Features For Beginners [Windows] 3 Handy Built-In Notepad++ Features For Beginners [Windows] This summer, I’ve used Notepad++ for my internship quite a bit, so I can see why almost all developers and programmers I know actually prefer it, not to mention, the thousand of Notepad++ fans that... Read More . The programmer explains his reasons and I think I agree with him, as the single window of Notepad2 also lends the work some focus.

As you can see, the interface looks plain Jane enough. The features all lie under the menus. It would be an exercise in ‘Logorrhoea’ if I go into all the features. So, I will cut a few bytes at the corners and give you the highlights of the software.


Notepad2 Is Perfect Is You Are Want To…

For power users, notepads are meant to be more than plain text. Here’s looking at five main uses of Notepad2.

Edit HTML and other programming code

The chief feature that’s touted is syntax highlighting. Syntax highlighting is a programming aid that displays code in different colors and helps to differentiate between correct and incorrect syntax. Notepad2’s customizable syntax highlighting covers HTML, XML, PHP, ASP (JS, VBS), CSS,     JavaScript, VBScript, C/C++, C#, Resource Script, Makefiles, Java,     Visual Basic, Pascal, Assembly, SQL, Perl, Python, Configuration Files, Apache Config Files, PowerShell, Batch Files, and  Diff Files.

You can set the scheme and even customize them with user-defined colors if you so wish. Before you close, save your customized settings.

Learn a programming language

With syntax highlighting support extended to the above languages, Notepad2 is also a good tool to learn programming from scratch. One of the quicker ways to learn a programming language is by editing source code. Hit F12, select the syntax scheme (see screen above) and press OK.

Notepad2 is comparatively more barebones as compared to Notepad++ as it misses out on some features like code folding (which is available in some modified versions of Notepad2). You might also miss libraries of functions and symbols. Automatic source code formatting is a no too. Sounds limiting as a learning tool, but these do put the onus on the learner to code more by hand. for the sake of neatness, you can use indentation guides and long line markers.

Quickly search and replace

Along with the usual Find and Replace search feature, Notepad2 also includes the flexible regular expressions search. You can search by using patterns of strings (called regular expressions). It is a bit limited and is restricted to single lines currently. One of the everyday uses would be to replace tab characters using find and replace.

Turn editing into a productive chore with drag n’ drop text and also rectangular selection

Copy pasting and re-arranging blocks of texts becomes easier on Notepad2 as it supports drag and drop of text, and the very useful rectangular selection (or vertical selection). Rectangular selection is a time-saver when you want to exclude some part and only select a column of text from the middle and paste it elsewhere.

Go with useful line, block, brace, and convert text functions

Continuing with text editing features, Notepad2 allows you to manipulate lines and blocks of text. For instance, you can move lines up and down. Entire blocks of text can be modified by prefixing or appending text to lines. You can remove blank lines, strip characters from the front or remove trailing blank lines. Brace matching is a must-have feature to compile correct code and it helps the programmer to navigate through complicated nested codes.

The Notepad2 Text page gives you an overview of all it features and functions. Do tell us about the feature that appeals to you along with the above five.

Notepad2 is lightweight and its tiny footprint enables it to be very fast out of the blocks. This gives it a point over Notepad++ (also based on Scintilla) that’s comparatively less light on resources. This is one of the requirements of any software that wants to be a Notepad replacement. Personally, I like the fact that it is relatively uncluttered unlike some of its brethren. The absence of multiple tabs is a focus boosting feature. It is simple, but also hands out powerful features which someone with programming leanings can use. A Google search also reveals other fans who have taken the Open Source code of Notepad2 and tweaked it with modifications (like syntax support for more languages). All of these are freely available too.

Notepad2 has been well recommended by our readers and thus finds a place on our Best Portable Apps page. Do you agree? If not, which is your favored text editor that knocks this Open Source text editor off its perch?

Image Credit: Shutterstock


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