Hands-On with the Redesigned Notepad for Windows 11

After a few days of waiting, I was finally able to download the redesigned Notepad for Windows 11 that Microsoft announced Tuesday. It’s exactly what I figured it was—a refresh of the classic Notepad desktop app—and it doesn’t appear to lose any functionality, or have any major issues, like the refreshed Paint. That’s good: I use and rely on Notepad every single day, just as I do Paint.

But there are a few changes.

First and most obviously, Notepad has been updated to fit in better, visually, with the new Windows 11 look and feel. That means that the app header uses the Mica material from the Fluent Design System, the fonts are updated and larger than before, and there’s a central settings interface. Other changes, like the rounded corners on the app window and menus, were already applied to the previous version of the app by Windows 11.

For the most part, the interface is the same: there’s still a simple menu with no toolbar, and the status bar at the bottom retains all of the same textual displays as before. Nice.

But there are some differences.

The most obvious is the addition of a settings gear at the far right of the menu bar.

When you click this button, the new settings interface appears and takes over the entire app window. It offers just two options, for app theme—which can be Light, Dark, or Use system setting (the default)—and Font, which has separate drop-downs for Family, Style, and Size, plus a nice preview.

The menu is also slightly different. Where classic Notepad has File, Edit, Format, View, and Help top-level menu items, the new Notepad has only File, Edit, and View.

The File, Edit, and View menus are almost identical to classic Notepad, with all the same commands. File is literally identical. Edit adds a new Font item, which navigates to settings and expands the Font group. And View adds the Word Wrap command that used to be under Format.

There’s no Format menu item. That used to contain Word Wrap (now under View) and Font (now under Edit).

And there’s no Help menu item. That used to contain View Help, Send Feedback, and About Notepad. Each of those is now available in settings.

Overall, I’m happy with how this looks so far. I hope they don’t muck it up by adding new features, of course. But so far it’s respectful to the original and modern looking.

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Conversation 24 comments

  • thewarragulman

    Premium Member
    09 December, 2021 - 8:30 pm

    <p>Some new features wouldn’t be so bad, like the option to highlight syntax when writing code for example, one of the reasons I use Notepad++ is exactly that. Other than that, it’s pretty basic which is great. Exactly what it should be.</p><p><br></p><p>Now if only they could fix Paint.</p>

    • kingpcgeek

      Premium Member
      10 December, 2021 - 3:28 pm

      <p>There is never a time where I don’t have Notepad++ open. </p>

    • simard57

      10 December, 2021 - 4:37 pm

      <p>If you want to write Code – Visual Studio Code cannot be beat.</p>

      • houser2

        Premium Member
        16 December, 2021 - 1:07 pm

        <p>Heck, even as a text file viewer I’m loving VS Code. Excellent Language Modes that bring useful syntax highlighting. Example the "log" language mode makes almost any log MUCH more readable. Hit CTL-K, then M and scroll through all the available modes!</p>

  • hrlngrv

    Premium Member
    09 December, 2021 - 9:02 pm

    <p>Serious question: who uses Notepad with a proportional font?</p><p><br></p><p>I’m not advocating Courrier New for everything. Windows now comes with lots of other (better) monospaced fonts. For the type of text one would edit/compose with Notepad, for me the absolute #1 priority is distinguishing the numeral one from lower case L and numeral zero from upper case O. Bonus for my aging eyes if commas were as distinct as possible from periods.</p>

  • innitrichie

    09 December, 2021 - 9:21 pm

    <p>It looks absolutely gorgeous. I might buy myself a new PC to upgrade to Windows 11 to enjoy these new benefits.</p>

    • miamimauler

      09 December, 2021 - 9:34 pm

      <p>@innitrichie</p><p><br></p><p>You forgot the /s. </p>

  • Donte

    09 December, 2021 - 10:15 pm

    <p>Slow tech news day when you have a review of Windows notepad.</p>

    • rm

      10 December, 2021 - 7:26 am

      <p>Or take the time to comment on it! ;)</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      10 December, 2021 - 9:16 am

      <p>Not at all. I’ve been looking forward to this. I use Notepad every day and rely on it, and I’m glad they didn’t screw it up as they did with Paint.</p>

    • jwpear

      Premium Member
      10 December, 2021 - 10:39 am

      <p>As someone that uses Notepad every single day, I was looking forward to this review. I appreciate Paul blazing the trail for us.</p><p><br></p><p>I was hopeful it would just be some light adjustments to freshen up the UI a little. I’m glad to see that’s exactly what it is.</p>

  • spiderman2

    10 December, 2021 - 2:25 am

    <p>After new Store, snipping tool, on more UWP app join the party, nice!</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      10 December, 2021 - 9:17 am

      <p>This is very clearly not a UWP app. It’s the same desktop app as before, probably with a new WinUI (3?) front-end. </p>

  • Davor Pihač

    10 December, 2021 - 3:31 am

    <p>New Notepad looks and works quite nicely. I was able to load cca 40 Mb SQL file and while it took some time to load, I was still able to read and edit content as expected.</p><p><br></p><p>Now, next to update would be "Run", which still does not have support for dark theme.</p>

    • rob_segal

      Premium Member
      10 December, 2021 - 6:05 am

      <p>Everything needs to be touched. Property windows, task manager, computer management, remote desktop connection, services. Will Microsoft finish the job and update all these tools and windows? I don’t think so. It’s a daunting task.</p>

      • Paul Thurrott

        Premium Member
        10 December, 2021 - 9:17 am

        <p>"Details matter" — Panos Panay</p>

  • Belralph

    10 December, 2021 - 7:51 am

    <p>Is this available to us normies? A search of ‘windows 11 notepad download’ didn’t find anything that looked like this W11 model. </p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      10 December, 2021 - 9:15 am

      <p>This is being tested in the Dev channel of the Windows Insider Program now.</p>

  • AlexKven

    10 December, 2021 - 10:34 am

    <p>What they really should do is change the Save As menu option to a submenu with options for TXT file, CSV file, JSON file, etc. /s</p>

  • covarr

    10 December, 2021 - 4:10 pm

    <p>The very notion of the Format menu always bothered me. The two options within, Word wrap and Font, both impact only how Notepad displays content; neither saves any formatting to the actual file (nor could they, in a format that doesn’t actually support it). Eliminating a barely-populated menu and moving its items to more sensible places was an obvious choice, and to the soon-defunct Format menu I say good riddance.</p>

  • datameister

    11 December, 2021 - 2:33 pm

    <p>I wouldn’t mind if they added line numbers as an option to turn on/off like Wordwrap.</p>

  • fuller1754

    11 December, 2021 - 4:58 pm

    <p>I’m glad they didn’t add new features, but everyone has that one small feature they would add. For me, it’s word count.</p>

  • BizTechSherpa

    12 December, 2021 - 9:58 pm

    <p>What the heck is going on with this site? Two ads, each repeated three times on this page. Plus a few other Ads. Unusable. </p>

    • pwalczak

      Premium Member
      13 December, 2021 - 4:47 pm

      <p>Upgrade to premium and then there are no ads. "Free" content is paid for by ads. Since the beginning of mass media.</p>


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