11 ways to start Notepad in Windows (all versions)

Notepad is a simple text editor that Microsoft has shipped with all Windows versions. There are many text editors with more features, but Notepad has survived because of its simplicity, and because it is bundled in Windows. Notepad is easy to use and fast, allowing quick and convenient editing even with underpowered hardware. To use it, you need to know how to open it. Here are all the different ways you can start this text editor in Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7:

NOTE: This guide covers Windows 10, Windows 7, and Windows 8.1. Some methods work in all three versions of Windows, others just in one or two. For each method, we mention the Windows version in which it works. If you do not know the version of Windows that you have, read this tutorial: What version of Windows do I have installed?.

1. Open a text file in Notepad, using Windows Explorer (Windows 7) or File Explorer (Windows 8.1 and Windows 10)

When you have to edit an existing text file, the easiest method is to locate the file in Windows Explorer (Windows 7) or File Explorer (Windows 8.1 and Windows 10) and to double-click or double-tap the file. The default association for text files (.txt) in Windows is with Notepad. The app is started with the file opened in it, ready for editing.

Text file in File Explorer

2. Open Notepad by using search (all Windows versions)

The search in Windows is fast and easy. The only thing that you need to remember is the name of the tool: Notepad. In Windows 10, click or tap the search field on your taskbar, type "notepad" in it, and click or tap the result with the same name.

Search for notepad in Windows 10

In Windows 8.1 start typing "notepad" on the Start screen. The typing activates the search function, and in the results that appear click or tap Notepad.

Search for notepad in Windows 8.1

In Windows 7, open the Start Menu and then type "notepad" in the search field. In the list of results, click on Notepad.

Search for notepad in Windows 7

3. Open Notepad by asking Cortana to do it (Windows 10 only)

If Cortana is enabled on your Windows 10 system, you can ask her to open Notepad for you.

After you activate Cortana by saying "Hey Cortana" or by clicking or tapping the microphone button in the search field, say "Open Notepad." Cortana confirms your command:

Telling Cortana to open Notepad

During the execution of the command, Cortana displays the "Opening Notepad" message:

Cortana opening Notepad

4. Open Notepad by using the Start Menu (in Windows 10 and Windows 7) or the Start screen (in Windows 8.1)

You can find and open Notepad in the Windows 10 Start Menu. Click Start, scroll down the list of apps, and open the Windows Accessories folder. There you find the Notepad shortcut.

Notepad in the Start Menu from Windows 10

In Windows 8.1 open the Apps view from the Start screen by clicking or tapping the down-arrow from the bottom-left corner. Scroll to the right until you see the Windows Accessories list where Notepad is located.

The Notepad shortcut on the Windows 8.1 Start Screen

In Windows 7, open the Start Menu, click All programs and open the Accessories folder where the Notepad shortcut is located.

Notepad in the Start Menu from Windows 7

5. Create a shortcut for Notepad and pin it to your desktop (all Windows versions)

If a desktop shortcut is your preferred way to start apps, you can create one for Notepad. In the Create Shortcut window type the destination "notepad" (without the quotes). Read this guide if you need help with creating shortcuts.

Create a shortcut for Notepad

6. Pin Notepad to the taskbar, Start Menu or the Start screen (all Windows versions)

If you use Notepad frequently, the convenient places where you can pin it for quick access are the taskbar and the Start Menu (Windows 10 and Windows 7) or Start Screen (Windows 8.1). Find and open Notepad in the Windows 10 Start Menu. Click Start, scroll down the list of apps, and open the Windows Accessories folder. Right-click or long press on the Notepad shortcut. In the menu that opens, you have options to "Pin to Start" for the Start Menu and More. When you click or tap on More, the menu extends with the first option to "Pin to taskbar."

Pin to Start and Pin to taskbar the Notepad app in Windows 10

In Windows 8.1 open the Apps view from the Start screen by clicking or tapping the down-arrow from the bottom-left corner. Scroll to the right until you reach the Windows Accessories list and right click or long press the Notepad shortcut. In the menu that appears you have options to "Pin to Start" for the Start Screen and "Pin to Taskbar."

Pin to Start and Pin to Taskbar for Notepad in Windows 8.1

In Windows 7, open the Start Menu, click All programs and open the Accessories folder, and right-click or long press on the Notepad shortcut in the results list. In the menu that appears you have options to "Pin to Start Menu" and "Pin to Taskbar."

Pin to Taskbar and Pin to Start Menu for Notepad in Windows 7

From now on, use the shortcut that you have pinned to open Notepad.

7. Open Notepad by using the Run window (all Windows versions)

Press Win + R on the keyboard to open the Run window. In the Open field type "notepad" and press Enter on the keyboard or click OK.

Start Notepad using the Run window

8. Open Notepad by using Command Prompt or PowerShell (all Windows versions)

You can use Command Prompt or PowerShell too. In any of these apps, type notepad in the command line and press ENTER.

Start Notepad in PowerShell

9. Open Notepad by using Task Manager (all Windows versions)

You can open Notepad using the Task Manager. Launch Task Manager (a quick way is by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + ESC). In Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, you can get the compact view of the Task Manager. In this case, press first More details in the bottom left corner of the Task Manager window. In the File Menu, click or tap "Run new task" in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 or "New Task (Run…)" in Windows 7. In the "Create new task" window that appears, type "notepad" in the Open field and press ENTER or press the button OK.

Start Notepad in Task Manager

10. Open Notepad by using Windows Explorer (Windows 7) or File Explorer (Windows 8.1 and Windows 10)

Windows Explorer from Windows 7 or the File Explorer from Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 are convenient ways to start Notepad. Type "notepad" in the address bar and press ENTER on the keyboard.

Start Notepad in File Explorer

11. Open Notepad by running its executable file (all Windows versions)

The Notepad executable file is found in the System32 subfolder of the Windows folder. You need to identify the file notepad.exe and then double-click or double-tap on it.

Start Notepad by running its executable file

How do you prefer to open the Notepad?

We have given you a wide range of options for starting Notepad so that depending on what you are doing in Windows and your preferences for accessing apps, you can find the best method suitable to your needs. What is your preferred method to start Notepad? Let us know with a comment below.