Notepad Not Doing The Trick? Try Out The Lightweight Alternatives Xint & Subpad

Craig Snyder 19-05-2013

alternatives to notepadWindows’ 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 [No Longer Available]

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.

alternatives to notepad

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.


alternatives to notepad windows

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

alternatives to notepad windows

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.


alternatives to notepad windows

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 [No Longer Available]

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.


lightweight notepad alternative

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.

alternatives to notepad

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 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 or ResophNotes Retire Notepad! Organize All Your Scattered Notes Neatly On ResophNotes [Windows] Trying out note-taking apps is bit of an obsession. You can make do with the simplest ones around, but can’t avoid taking a look at the next one that arrives with a download link. If... Read More 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!

Explore more about: Notepad, Text Editor.

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  1. gary knott
    January 2, 2015 at 12:37 am

    Thanks for the note. My problem with Notepad, and windows is the hiding
    of file extensions. I often want to save a file called, and i end up with, or some such. Notepad needs to save ascii files by default, and
    to allow truth in filenames.

  2. John Williams
    December 20, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    I just hope MS leaves Notepad alone in Win 10. All the above "alternatives" are just that. They have far too many buttons. Notepad is the scrap paper pad, the post it note, the address label for a parcel ..... if I want line numbers I'll get another program!

  3. David Moreira
    May 20, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I think that Notepad++ should also be on the list.

  4. Rama moorthy
    May 19, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    My default notepad is Notepad++ and for coding I use both Notepad++ and Sublime Text 2 . awesome app ..
    I forget even the interface of notepad . :)

  5. Scott
    May 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    FWIW, I don't use a 'notepad' for any programming or other technical purposes. I just use it for, well, taking notes. And composing long-ish emails that I will then paste in my webmail. Etc.

    Some here have already mentioned Notepad++. I used to use it (yes, it's a great editor), but I stopped because it was a little buggy for me in some ways. Although it has been some months since I used it, as nearly as I can recall, one of the issues I had was that every time I would go back to insert a special character into some portion of text (via the "alt + ___" shortcut), Notepad++ would insert it alright, but always at the end of the line ! I'd then have to cut-and-paste the character into its correct location. :-( Too much of a bother. (There was another issue that I had with it, but it doesn't come to mind at the moment.)

    Anyway, I then switched to DocPad (I liked its built-in spell checker) and finally to Metapad.

  6. Lee
    May 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    You mentioned not liking MS Word because of the bloat, but you can't really compare MS Word to a text editor because it isn't one. MS Word is meant to make documents that look nice (it's meant to do more than just typing) whereas a text editor is designed to edit plain text files.
    A .doc(x) file is actually a compressed file containing images and XML that tell Word how to display the document. You can open it with something like 7-Zip and see the files inside (which is also useful if you want to get the images out of a Word document without opening Word).
    A plain text file (.txt, .cpp, etc) is literally just characters stored in a file. No formatting or images can be associated with them.

    That being said, I really like using Notepad++ on Windows because of the features. It even has an FTP plugin which auto-uploads files to the server so you don't have to really think about it. It's really handy for web development or developing on a remote server.

  7. Luca Vignando
    May 19, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    How about Notepad++
    It is programmer oriented but you can ignore some commands and take advantage of this light (even portable), fast and full featured editor.

  8. Bruno Casarini
    May 19, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Editpad has lite and pro versions:

    And it's great.

  9. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    May 19, 2013 at 10:38 am

    My favorite Notepad replacement: TED Notepad. Metapad is a good one too, but it can't handle Unicode like TED. I replaced Windows notepad with TED a long time ago and never look back.

  10. Scott
    May 19, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I've been using Metapad of late. But I'll definitely check out Xint !

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      May 19, 2013 at 10:39 am

      I like Metapad a lot. The only downside is its inability to handle Unicode. I now use TED Notepad. The feature set is remarkably similar to Metapad, but works well with East Asian languages.

  11. Isaac J. Harris
    May 19, 2013 at 10:04 am

    I've been using NoteTab Light for a while now. It has lots of features like Xint, but starts up quickly. It feels light weight, despite the fact that I keep several text files up and running on it all the time.

  12. Andy Liu
    May 19, 2013 at 7:01 am

    I like notepad++ and pspad. Both of which offers automatically highlighting and tools for various programming codes.

  13. null
    May 19, 2013 at 6:54 am

    what about Notepad++ ?

  14. Ariel
    May 19, 2013 at 4:13 am

    Nice post, although. vim is also available for windows which works nice too.


  15. Chandra
    May 19, 2013 at 4:08 am

    I recommend Notepad2 Mod for lightweight notepad replacement :

    • Nevzat A
      May 19, 2013 at 7:27 pm

      Notepad2 is very lightweight and brings syntax highlighting too. I like it.

    • Nevzat A
      May 19, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Xint seems to be good enough to try. I'll give it a chance. Thanks.

  16. kajehart
    May 19, 2013 at 3:21 am

    Or try out the incredibly versatile text/code editor, Sublime Text 2, with tons of add-ons like spell checker, code helping, FTP access, etc., for free (with only a very occasional reminder popup)!

    • techguyknows
      May 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      Sublime Text 2 is great! I can also use it on Linux.