Coding Horror

programming and human factors

Revenge of Notepad

I use notepad.exe dozens of times a day. Given the severely limited functionality of Notepad, it's incredible that it has taken me this long to find a suitable replacement for what is, evidently, a core part of my developer toolkit. Check out Notepad2:

The original Notepad shipped with Windows is probably the handiest program of all times, small, fast, without frills! Notepad2 tries to follow this principle, it's a small, fast and free text editor with syntax highlighting for HTML and other common languages.

Amen, brother! And don't worry, it's still relatively small at 550kb. But look at everything you get for that additional 450kb:

  • Customizable syntax highlighting engine (HTML, XML, CSS, JavaScript, VBScript, ASP, PHP, CSS, Perl/CGI, C/C++, C#, Java, VB, Pascal, Assembler, SQL, Python, NSIS, INI, REG, INF, BAT, DIFF)
  • Drag & drop text editing inside and outside Notepad2
  • Basic regular expression search and replace
  • Useful word, line and block editing shortcuts
  • Rectangular selection (Alt+Mouse)
  • Brace matching, auto indent, long line marker, zoom functions
  • Support for Unicode, UTF-8, Unix and Mac text files
  • Open shell links
  • Mostly adjustable

Still not convinced? Here's a screenshot of me viewing some Perl scripts that come with the Tivo Home Media Option developer kit:

I recommend overwriting the original notepad.exe with this version, for simplicity's sake. You'll get some complaints from the XP file protection mechanism, but it works. And it kicks ass! I should have done this two years ago.

I downloaded the VC++ source and compiled the latest version with every optimization I could locate in the project properties dialog (Hey, I don't get to work with C++ much). You can download a zipped version of my compiled notepad2.exe (~250kb), or if you prefer, get it from the official website.

Written by Jeff Atwood

Indoor enthusiast. Co-founder of Stack Exchange and Discourse. Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Find me here: