Do you need to jot down a few thoughts in a text file? Are you trying to make a list on your computer and looking for an easy-to-use app that lets you do that? Whatever it is, if all you intend to do is write some text and don’t mind not being able to make complex edits, then Notepad is the app you should use - a simple and basic yet handy and useful app that’s already available on all of your Windows computers, including the ones that run on Windows 11. Here’s what Notepad is, what the purpose of Notepad is, and how to use Notepad in Windows 11:
Notepad is an old application found in all Windows versions ever released by Microsoft. It’s been around since 1983, so right now, it’s almost 39 years old! Its basic purpose hasn’t changed much throughout time, but its appearance and some of its features did. What is the use of Notepad? What are the main features of Notepad in Windows 11?
Well, Notepad is one, if not the most basic text editor you can get, and it’s definitely the simplest app for writing and editing text in Windows. It doesn’t have advanced features like other, more complex document editors (e.g. Microsoft Word, Notepad++, LibreOffice Writer), but that’s not necessarily a disadvantage. Its simplicity makes Notepad very easy to use, as you’ll soon find out in the next sections of this article.
Opening Notepad in Windows 11 is as easy as it can be, and, like most things in Microsoft’s operating systems, there are multiple ways to do it. You can find them all in this tutorial: How to open Notepad in Windows (11 ways). However, if you don’t have the time to read them all, you should know that one of the fastest ways to open Notepad is to use Windows 11’s search. Click or tap the search button next to Start, on your taskbar, type notepad, and select Notepad from the search results.
Once you open Notepad, you should see a window similar to the following screenshot.
In order to create a text file with Notepad, all you have to do is start typing inside its window.
All the editing options available in Notepad for Windows 11 are found in the Edit menu. If you’ve used Notepad in other Microsoft operating systems such as Windows 10 or Windows 7, you should already be familiar with everything here.
However, for the sake of completeness, let’s take a look at each of them to see what they’re all about. In Windows 11’s Notepad, you can edit the text using the following options:
Undo (Ctrl + Z) removes the last change you made to the text file. For example, it deletes the last word you’ve typed.
Cut (Ctrl + X), Copy (Ctrl + C), Paste (Ctrl + V), and Delete (Del) are the common commands found in any document editing application. You can use them to move text, duplicate or delete words, paragraphs, or entire portions of text from your file.
Find (Ctrl + F), Find next (F3), Find previous (Shift + F3), Replace (Ctrl + H), and Go to (Ctrl + G) allow you to search for, replace, or navigate to a specific text in the file opened in Notepad.
If you use the Find or Replace commands, Notepad opens a dialog where you can enter the text you want to be found or replaced. Additionally, you also get a couple of search options. Next to the search field, you can choose whether the search will be run downwards or upwards throughout the file, as well as whether you’d like the search to “Match case” or “Wrap around.”
While the former options are self-explanatory, the latter is interesting. “Wrap around” enables Notepad to continue the search for the text you entered even after reaching the end or the beginning of the text file. By default, Notepad starts searching from where the cursor is found in the text file and, if you go downward, it stops at the end of the file. Similarly, if you go upward, it stops the search when it reaches the beginning of the file. With “Wrap around” activated, Notepad continues your search: when it reaches the end of the file, it carries on from the beginning and the other way around.
TIP: Wrap around is a feature that’s also present in Notepad for Windows 10. You can read more about that, here: What is Notepad? 9 things you can use it for.
Select all is a command with an obvious purpose: it selects all the text in your file.
TIP: If you spend a lot of time working with text, like yours truly, here are all the ways to select or highlight text in Windows.
Time/Date allows you to automatically insert the current time and date in Notepad.
Font takes you to the font settings from Notepad, where you can change the font family, style, and size used by the app to display text.
Keep in mind, though, that changing the font applies to the entire text. Unlike in more advanced document editors (like WordPad or Microsoft Word), in Notepad, you can’t use a font for one portion of text and another one for the rest.
In Windows 11, Notepad also offers a couple of different options for how it displays the text files you open with it. These are all found in the View menu, and they allow you to change the zoom level, show or hide the status bar at the bottom of the window, and wrap words.
Zooming in or out is done either from the menu or, faster, by using the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl + Plus or Ctrl + Minus.
The Status bar is useful for some people, as it keeps you informed about the position of the cursor inside the text file (unless you enable Word wrap), the current zoom level, and the text encoding used.
Speaking of Word wrap, you might be wondering what that is. By default, Notepad shows every line of text from beginning to end in a single row. The only way to split a line of text into two rows is to press Enter. That means that to read a long line of text, you’ll probably have to scroll horizontally inside the Notepad window to reach its end. The word-wrap feature automatically fits the text inside the Notepad window, displaying it on the next row, instead of forcing you to scroll. So, if you want to read text easier, without having to scroll horizontally, you should turn Word wrap on.
When you’re done editing, you can save everything as a text file bearing the “.txt” extension, anywhere you want on your computer. To do so, click or tap on Save (Ctrl + S) or Save as (Ctrl + Shift + S) in the File menu.
If you’ve just created the text file, choosing either save option will trigger the same response. Notepad will ask you where you want to save it and what name you’d like to give it. Choose what you prefer, and then press the Save button.
There’s also the possibility that you didn’t create the text file just now, from scratch, instead opening and editing a previously created one. In that case, choosing Save will automatically update the text file you’ve edited. Choosing Save as allows you to create a new text file in a location you want, leaving the old one untouched.
If you want to print a document that you’ve opened or edited in Notepad, things couldn’t be simpler: access the File menu and select Print.
However, before you print anything, you might want to adjust how your document will look on paper. For that, you can use the “Page setup” option from Notepad’s File menu.
Although the Page setup options are relatively limited in Notepad, they do provide you with all the basics. You can select the paper size and printer tray used, the orientation (portrait or landscape), margins, as well as the header and footer used, if any.
TIP: If you have more than one printer installed, here’s how to set the default printer in Windows.
Windows 11’s Notepad has a feature that’s not available in older Microsoft operating systems, not even in Windows 10. That’s its ability to display its interface in light or dark mode, depending on what you prefer. To change Notepad’s visual interface, press the Settings button in the top-right corner of its window.
Then, on the Settings page, click or tap on App theme and select the display mode you like best: Light or Dark.
Additionally, you can also let Notepad “Use system setting” if you prefer its appearance to automatically change depending on the system-wide settings you’ve made in Windows 11’s Personalization options. For more about how dark mode works in Windows 11, read this guide: How to turn on Dark Mode in Windows 11.
Truth be told, I don’t really use Notepad often. However, I find it helpful every now and then, when I’m in a hurry and want to write something down. What about you? Do you use Notepad on a regular basis? Let me know in the comments below if you find it handy and whether you like its features in Windows 11. What would you like Microsoft to add to this app?