Windows’ Notepad is one of the first accessories that I learned to use on my Windows 98 machine. Notepad is possibly the most simple and easy-to-use application that ships with Windows still today, and it’s tough to pick at any of the features or functionality. It is the most-used text editor in the world and it achieves exactly what it advertises itself as. It’s not broke and I’m not trying to fix it, but sometimes you and I want more out of a text editor without having to stretch to go and download a full-featured word processor.
I’ve never been a fan of Microsoft Word or its alternatives. They often feel bulky and packed with more than what I need. However, there are a lot of basic features that an editor like Notepad could easily add support for. How about line numbering? URL detection? It’s extremely likely that Notepad will never show support for these features, but third-party developers have taken it into their own hands. In this post, let’s look at two relatively unknown Notepad alternatives.
Xint is a rather advanced spin on the Windows Notepad and adds dozens of additional features without sacrificing disk space or memory usage. It still feels incredibly lightweight and simple.
Xint makes nearly all of its features accessible through hotkeys or buttons in the application’s toolbar. Others can be accessed by right-clicking anywhere within your document. Another great perk is that Xint is completely open source, so it can be trusted. Third-party applications are often riddled with toolbar installation paths and other annoyances, but Xint isn’t. As they offer the source code openly, you can feel free to check through the coding and ensure that there’s absolutely no bloat or unwanted snags.
Shown in the above screenshot, you can already see a number of features that Xint supports over Notepad: line numbering, line and column counters, a saved or unsaved status notifier, and more.
Shown above, there are plenty more features that can be viewed and accessed through the many menus. This includes:
- A “most recent documents” list
- Encryption and decryption using Twofish
- View clipboard
- Fast replacement features using the Boyer Moore algorithm
- Instant access to the character map
- Activate in-file URLs in your default browser
- Conversion options to turn spaces or tabs into commas and other delimiters
- HTML stripping
- A-Z sorting
While Xint’s preferences are a bit limited, you’re able to change many aesthetic preferences like text colors, edge colors, tab widths, foreground and background colors, and more.
Also noteworthy is that Xint allows you to assign hotkeys to practically every function that the application offers, including access to the character map, word count, inserting today’s date, and more. It’s good to have such common functions right at your fingertips and free from a reach to your mouse. All of these hotkeys can be accessed and modified under the ? menu above the main toolbar. As there are so many, some may conflict with hotkeys you have assigned to other running applications (such as a media player), so keep that in mind.
Overall, Xint pumps some much-appreciated and useful features into an interface that is practically the same as Notepad’s.
Subpad gets an immediate stamp of approval from me as it introduces itself as a portable application. There’s no bloat or toolbars and getting rid of Subpad is as simple as deleting the folder you’ve extracted it to. If you like it, you can always toss it on a flash drive or in a Dropbox folder to keep with you wherever you go.
Glancing from screenshots of Subpad to Xint, they look a lot like the same application. Subpad’s main toolbar is a bit more refined and has some smoother icons. Other than that, they are extremely similar in appearance. Subpad can actually be described as a slimmed-down version of Xint (which is a souped-up version of Notepad). This is one of my favorite text editors ever.
Subpad includes some of the most core functionalities that Xint does, like word count, URL detection, roll-up forms, word wrap, unlimited undo/redo (which is huge), a list of recently-opened documents, and the ability to run external tools (such as FTP).
The application’s preferences show a window that is exactly the same as what Xint offers, being mostly aesthetic changes that will allow you to change colors, texts, and various sizes of window elements and borders.
If you try Xint and it’s a little too much for you, but Notepad still isn’t enough, Subpad is an awesome balance between the two.
Which of these two alternatives to Notepad do you prefer? Do you like the more extensive solution of Xint or the slimmed-down version of Subpad? Are either of them a better alternative to Notepad? If you’d like to check out some similar applications, you can give AkelPad or ResophNotes a quick look. Both have some interesting features that these two (and Notepad) don’t include. Otherwise, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!