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A rudimentary plain text editor.

To Open

Start Program Accessories Notepad

Command Prompt notepad


notepad [/p] [filename]


Notepad is one of the simplest, yet useful tools included with Windows XP. Those familiar with word processors may find Notepad to be laughably limited at first glance, as it has no support for even the simplest formatting. However, the fact that it supports only text in the documents that it creates is an absolute necessity for many of the tasks for which it is used on a daily basis (see Figure 4-61).

Figure 4-61. Use Notepad to edit text files without the bother of a word processor

Among the file types Notepad can edit are .txt files (plain text files), .reg files (see registry patch files in Chapter 7), .bat files (see batch files in Appendix C), .ini files (configuration files), .html files (web pages), and any other ASCII text-based file type.

Notepad is the default application for .txt and .log files and is set up as the Edit context menu action for .bat, .inf, and .reg files, among others. Furthermore, via the /p command-line parameter, Notepad is used to print most text-based file types via the Print context menu action.


  • In some previous versions of Windows, Notepad had a limit as to the size of documents it could open. The Windows XP version of Notepad has no such limit, and can be used to open a file of any size.

  • Notepad has no intrinsic formatting of its own, so any file that is opened in Notepad is displayed exactly as it is stored on the hard disk, with the proviso that only visible characters will be shown. This means that you can open any file, text-based or otherwise, in Notepad; if you try to open a binary file, however, you'll see mostly gibberish. There are times, though, when this can be useful; if you suspect that an image file or a movie file has the wrong extension, you can open it in Notepad to verify its contents. (Naturally, some experience is required to correctly identify different types of files.)

  • The Word Wrap feature (Edit Word Wrap) will break apart long lines of text so that they are visible in the Notepad window without horizontal scrolling. However, no permanent changes will be made to the file, so you can use the Word Wrap feature without fear of damaging the integrity of the document.

  • If you type the text, .LOG (in uppercase and including the period) as the first line in a text file, Notepad will automatically place the time and date at the end of the file (with the cursor right below it) every time you open it, forming a simple log file. Furthermore, you can use the F5 key to manually place a date/time stamp at the current cursor location while editing any file.

  • Notepad is a simple program, but by no means a full-featured text editor. UltraEdit (http://www.ultraedit.com/) is a much more sophisticated text editor, and can also be used as a hex (binary) editor.

See Also


  • Creative Edge
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