A Classic

If you’re anything like me, you find yourself frequently reaching for Notepad. It’s often the handiest way on Windows to jot down quick notes, passwords, reminders, etc. It’s a basic text editor with no frills and few options. Just what I need when I want to compose a quick note for just about any purpose.

I’ve always loved Notepad’s simplicity. Plain text: no formatting, no styles, certainly no advanced features like syntax highlighting or code folding. And a look that hasn’t really changed that much since Windows 3.1.

Notepad Comparison Screenshot

I’m not the only one who appreciates it’s tried and true nature. See Mary Jo Foley’s tweet begging Steve Teixeira (GM for the Windows dev ecosystem at Microsoft) not to mess with notepad.

A Confession

I have to admit something, though. With the advent of Windows 10, that same ol’ look and feel began to grate on me. It seemed so out of tune with the OS. So, I started hunting around for a UWP replacement. I didn’t necessarily want more functionality. I was purely interested in a plain text editor with an updated look and feel. Something that blended in a bit more with Windows 10.

I tried several Notepad replacements available from the Windows Store. I won’t name them here because, frankly, none of them really struck my fancy.

A Contender

That is, until I came across Sönke Köhn’s NotepadX.

I’ll admit it took some time to grow on me. I wasn’t thrilled with the default look and feel. Out of the box, mine looked like this. (Your results will probably vary based on your theme and accent colors.)

NotepadX's look and feel out of the box

There’s a lot going on here: Line numbers, a status bar, and several tools in the Command Bar that I don’t need. And I’m not crazy about the having my theme color splashed across the top of the app. It looks, well, not Notepad-like enough for my taste. Thankfully, Sönke has provided users with a host of customization options. You can find them under Settings > Editor and Settings > Appearance. To suit my tastes, I changed the background color to white, turned on word wrap (which disables line numbers), got rid of the status bar (all under Settings > Editor). Under Settings > Appearance, I set Design to Light and hid the Headline. While I was at it, I disabled several of the tools in the Command Bar.

Here’s the result.

NotepadX

Nice!

Features

NotepadX has a some functionality you won’t find in the classic Windows Notepad program. (More than I need, really.) And, if you’re a Notepad poweruser, you’ll find that most, if not all, of your favorite features of classic Notepad are here as well.

In no particular order…

Find and Replace

NotepadX has respectable find and replace functionality, including the ability to match case and replace all instances (as does classic Notepad). A small complaint: the Find/Replace dropdown overlays the main window and isn’t draggable; it can’t be moved. This makes is impossible to view your find results beneath the dialog. You’ll need to press esc or toggle find/replace in the Command Bar to view your obscured results. Again, a pretty minor complaint, but classic Notepad gets this functionality right. And while I’m complaining about minor things, the Find/Replace dialog (as well as other dialogs) doesn’t appear to respect the color customization settings applied app as a whole. I can deal, though.

Search with Bing

True, classic Notepad now has the feature as well (Ctrl+E). In NotepadX, you can search by highlighting any text and clicking the Search icon in the Command Bar. Or, you can just press Ctrl+8. This opens a Bing search in your default browser. Handy.

Read Aloud

Select any text and press Ctrl+K (or click the speaker icon in the Command Bar) and NotepadX will you read your input aloud, presumably using the UWP Speech Synthesis API. You can change the voice (dependent on your localization settings) and even adjust the reading speed. This could be quite useful for vision-impaired users or even if you just want to hear how your writing sounds out loud. The voice is robotic, of course, but it’s a cool feature nonetheless.

Backups

NotepadX keeps a record of backups for your files when you save and open them, allowing you to restore past versions with ease.

Other Features

NotepadX has even more features, including Go To Line (if you’re using line numbers), the ability to insert date/time (though there doesn’t appear to be a hotkey for this, à la classic Notepad’s F5), and the ability to insert tabs and adjust the default tab spacing. You can change the file’s encoding, get file information, lock/unlock the file, and even access Window’s Share functionality (text only or the .txt file itself) right from inside the app.

Is all that functionality overkill for what’s billed as a “simple text editor?” Depends on your needs. Sönke readily admits he really likes to add features to NotepadX.

As for myself, I mostly just want to create and edit .txt files. And NotepadX does that task beautifully. If you’re looking for a modern UWP replacement for classic Notepad, look no further. This is, hands down, the best I’ve found so far.

Even still, I haven’t completely made the switch. While writing this article, I even opened up classic Notepad to paste in a link! But that’s just muscle memory. I’ll get over it, because I’ve got a new partner now.

Check NotepadX out here.