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Chapter 14. Prose Programs: Windows XP's... > Using Notepad for Garden-Variety Tex... - Pg. 158

Prose Programs: Windows XP's Writing Tools 158 Notepad is the subject of the first part of this chapter, and I discuss WordPad's eccentricities a bit later (see the section "Using WordPad for Fancier Word Processing Files" later in this chapter). Note also that whether your computer comes stocked with Microsoft Word, Microsoft Works, or some other program, if you write a lot, you'll be better off using the other program rather than WordPad. Using Notepad for Garden-Variety Text Files If text files are so plain, why on earth would anyone want to use them? Perhaps you want to send a document to another person and you want to make sure they can open it. Most of the personal computers on the planet can deal with a text file, so that's your safest bet. If you used WordPad, on the other hand, your friend has to have WordPad (or a relatively recent version of Microsoft Word) installed to open the file. Another reason to use a text file is that perhaps you need to create a document that must be plain text. For example, if you want to create a Web page from scratch, you have to save it as a text file; a word processing file won't work. Just about anyone using just about any PC can read a text file. This universality means that you'll get a lot of text files coming your way. For example, if you examine the installation disk of most programs, you'll almost always see at least one text file with a name like "Readme" or "Setup." This file usually contains information about the installation process (such as how to prepare for the install and how the install operates), last-minute changes to the manual, and so on. You can identify these and other text files by the icon they use in My Computer. Figure 14.1 points out a couple of text files. When you see the text file icon, double-click the file to open it in Notepad. Figure 14.1. Windows XP shows text files using a special icon. If you need to create a text file, begin by opening Notepad: Start, All Programs, Accessories, Note- pad. Figure 14.2 shows the window that materializes on your screen.