Windows

Review: Notepad++ text editor

Notepad++ is a versatile and powerful source code editor that also serves as an excellent replacement for the default Notepad text editor in Windows.

Notepad++ is a versatile and powerful source code editor that also serves as an excellent replacement for the default Notepad text editor in Windows.

Specifications

Who's it for?

Notepad++ is a free source code editor and Notepad replacement that runs in the Microsoft Windows environment. It was designed as a very lightweight application that loads quickly.

What problem does it solve?

The default Notepad application that comes bundled with Windows is functional, but not adequate for more advanced users. While Notepad++ is positioned primarily as a source code editor, its extensive features mean that it makes an excellent text editor to replace the Notepad.

Standout features

  • Open Source: I suppose nothing beats having a notepad replacement that is completely free. In addition, its open nature means that changes can be made in order to facilitate one's development efforts.
  • Line Numbering: I'm not sure why this was left out of the default Notepad application in Windows. Well Notepad++ has line numbering, which is always useful to have when editing source code or configuration files.
  • Zoom in and Out: Ever had to squint at text that is too small? Rather than having to change the size of the font just so that you can see them better, zooming in and out is trivial with Notepad++
  • Detection of Modified Files: Like most advanced text editors on the market, Notepad++ knows when files have been modified in the background. When detected, the software will prompt whether the user would like to reload the source file, or overwrite the changes.
  • Search and Replace: The value of this feature is often overlooked. I've personally found it to be very useful when editing configuration files, which required a search and replace of multiple items.
  • Syntax Highlighting: Syntax highlighting is always a useful feature to have, whether doing a quick edit or viewing of source code.

What's wrong?

I've been using Notepad++ on all my productivity machines for a number of years now, and have not encountered any major problems with it. On the downside, the plethora of sophisticated options could possibly result in some initial confusion if deployed on a company-wide basis.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

Personally, I consider Notepad++ to be a "must have" application for company-wide deployment. While some administrators might consider it a hassle to install an additional software that might not be appreciated by all users, the existence of system management tools and cloning software essentially means that Notepad++ can be included into a default image file or pushed out automatically with little hassle.

Ultimately, the productivity benefits of the various features in Notepad++ are real, and the software free. Certainly, it is worth giving it a spin if you've not done so yet.

User rating:

Have you encountered or used Notepad++? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

37 comments
Michael Maglothin
Michael Maglothin

Notepad++ retains "memory" of earlier Windows OS extended monitors settings. User must use the taskbar "move" function in order to bring the program back into screen extents after reversing monitor location, etc.

kishimii
kishimii

I agree. This is a must have tool. We've been using this for three years now. And the good thing is, this app now supports Unicode Strings.

munyendo
munyendo

It is a good product. However, it cannot open large files. Edit Pad Lite or Programmers Notepad does better in this respect.

rsbrux
rsbrux

Several years ago I looked at Notepad++, TextPad, UltraEdit and Crimson and wound up instead with an editor not mentioned in this review, PSpad (http://www.pspad.com/en/, also freeware). Looking at the screenshots posted here, it appears that Notepad++ has meanwhile acquired many of PSpad's features. PSpad is already very powerful out-of-the box, but is also easily extendable with plugins, or with scripts written in your choice of scripting language.

Ocie3
Ocie3

brings back some memories(!). I used an early version of it to write C code, because the Borland IDE editor did not support more than 10,000 lines in a file. One program had over 90,000 lines, so the compiler had to access them in the specific sequence in which they were written, but if the compiler had a maximum number of lines that it would read, I never discovered what it was. I had to run the debugger with a file that contained the names of all of the files in the sequence that they had been compiled, too. TextPad spared me the headaches of switching from one source code file to another in order to find and examine the code and comments that I had written. TextPad also made it easier to use the debugger as well as the compiler.

wbranch
wbranch

We use UltraEdit where I work, and I've got to say I have no complaints with the software. It's fairly lightweight, pretty flexible and does all the things I could ask for in a text editor. The ability to open multiple files in one session is nice, because I can use that to actually find text in documents that Windows Search fails to find.

MalakieUSN
MalakieUSN

NP++ is definitely the best out there.. now. But there is still one editor that has never been beaten and in my opinion still retains the best of the best ever created... And now I cannot remember the name... oh crap.. It was on the Commodore Amiga system... dang it.. Has it really been that long ... or am I just getting old? awwwww.... Oh well, trust me there was an editor on the Amiga that was just unbelievable in its capabilities and I have yet to see a Windows editor come close.

Isocrates
Isocrates

Not a simple editor or for quick edits. Nice if you are doing extensive coding. More of a specialty editor. Still not a short learning curve...takes much time to learn.

santeewelding
santeewelding

The "wow" factor I felt when playing with it my first time last year. I stress, "play", since I don't earn my living doing it. I guess that's where your "ho-hum" comes from, whereas, mine was, "Aha! I now see (dimly) what goes on!"

ChallengerTech
ChallengerTech

Multiedit and Ultraedit are way better, and do soo much more.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Out of appx. 250 systems, I have three or four that will use a text editor on weekly basis. I'll bet I don't have five others that will use one even yearly. Other than programmers, who would use one and what for?

Justin James
Justin James

Notepad++ is good, my biggest problem is that the documentation is poor, particularly around the regex search/replace. I've never been able to really figure it out, to the point where I've been happy to pay $20 for NoteTab, which *is* well documented. I use the advanced text editors for search/replace, for the most part, so it has to be top notch! J.Ja

SKDTech
SKDTech

Won't accept the double plus sign in the title. I have it installed on each of my computers, although I do not put on any of the computers I maintain for friends and family. For the non-techs it has too many features and can easily lead to confusion. Any time I go tinkering with code, which for me is most often greasemonkey script modifications or something else relatively simple I turn to this program.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Is text editing a common task in your organization? Do users rely on the standard Windows Notepad or have your deployed a more robust text editor application? What does your organization use and why?

seanferd
seanferd

on your link.* (404) http://www.pspad.com/en/ I do believe I've run across that editor before. (*This is a new definition of "comma splice" for hypertext links that I just made up.)

scg8r
scg8r

I have been using TextPad for close to ten years now as a developer. As far as I am concerned, for the money, it cannot be beat. I have used it to program everything from C to HTML. It has great language specific templates and does anything and everything that a programmer could ever want when it comes to headsdown code writing.

paulenet
paulenet

...and while I like Notepad++, I like UltraEdit's features much better. On the purely dev work side of things, the only tool I like as much as Visual Studio, is Primal Script. It has some robust script features that are desperately needed in Visual Studio.

seanferd
seanferd

And I can't recall the name either. Hm, Cygnus? Otherwise, a lot of the Unix text editors ran on Amiga.

fairportfan
fairportfan

I use a text editor - EditPad Lite, currently, though i'll probably look at this one - for most of my text entry/editing. When i need pretty formatting, i use a DTP program - Serif PagePlus, generally. Most "word processors" are too bloated, with bells and whistles i *might* use once in a blue moon, and have huge footprints. Since i'm not externally compelled to use Word or some other WP program, i don't. I have other things that are a lot more fun to clutter up my drive with.

seanferd
seanferd

I though I may have been particularly dim when it comes to using regex. I only use Notepad++ occasionally, as I don't need most of the feature set, but trying to do some regex searches puzzled me to no end. I've also used NoteTab (Lite) on and off for a long time. It is pretty cool as well. But for most usage, as a straight text editor (I don't churn code), I like AkelPad. Could never (under)stand the limitations of Windows Notepad. Using WordPad or Word was not an acceptable alternative.

rmerchberger
rmerchberger

The code highlighting was the best available at the time (this was around 10 years ago, if memory serves) - and even came with a module for 6502 mnemonics - which I modified for 6809 which I used for quite a while. That said, I now use NP++ on machines I have to run Windows on (work, etc.) but as I use Linux at home for most everything (except XP in a VirtualBox for testing things for friends) I use the TEA text editor for Linux which has a similar feature set as NP++. If NP++ didn't exist now as a free program, I'd still be using GWDEdit tho... Laterz...

paul.froehle
paul.froehle

I tried notepad++ on Windows 7 pro last month. After finding things I didn't like I tried uninstalling it. I could no longer look at web page sources and other things. It kept many associations that tried to load it even though it was deleted. I had to edit the registry to clean up the mess.

Miyamoto Musashi
Miyamoto Musashi

I have used vi and vim extensively under the nix's that I have administered. When I moved to a Windows show, I obtained permission and deployed vim for Windows on all of the servers. With the configuration file for vim, it is easy to use the same config file for both Windows and nix OS'.

Capedawg
Capedawg

I've used Codewright 5.1 for - ever? Or so it seems. It does the block text manipulation (which Word also does btw.) It has a hex view/edit mode which I used to repair corrupted Xbase tables. Part of the attraction is that I am used to it and know how to make it do what I want. I am probably not alone in this. A code editor is a tool a developer or analyst uses for a variety of things. It's kind of the geek's Swiss army knife. I like the article because I frequently wonder if I can do better in a code editor. Whether I will actually try another editor is another issue.

groon
groon

Crimson Editor is also a good choice, also freeware. A number of correspondents were looking for vertical selection. Crimson does this; just click "column mode" in the Edit menu.

BrewmanNH
BrewmanNH

I've switched from Notepad++ to Programmers Notepad 2. I do a bit of vbscript and I find it invaluable for its ability to color code the text depending on what type of item it is. I also use it as a Notepad replacement because it's a whole lot faster opening large text files. Notepad++ is a very good text editor, but for programming PN2 beats it hands down.

rsbrux
rsbrux

:thx: for the URL correction :-)

scottb2
scottb2

Until somewhat recently, Textpad was a dead product. I haven't looked too hard, but there doesn't seem to be much in the way of enhancements that are/were needed. I paid my $50 several years ago and used it until around 2006. I then went to PSPad and Notepad++.

MalakieUSN
MalakieUSN

Yes that's it!! Cygnus Ed from ASDG! That editor was/is just kick butt. I could have powered up my Amiga to check but was being lazy. I use my Amiga for a lot of things but had not done anything for a while and had a blank space when I tried to pull out the name... Oh well... Thanks for the refresher.. Malakie

MalakieUSN
MalakieUSN

Your welcome.. it is a compliment. Cygnus Ed on the Amiga was one heck of an editor.... There are a few features in Cygnus Ed that would be nice... but one of the main features was the ability to easily right and select a menu option to copy blocked VERTICAL text. If that is even possible in NP++ I have not figured out how to do it yet but that means it is not easily accessible either. In Cygnus Ed you could basically cut, copy and paste in any direction from any point almost like you were drawing a square picture in a paint program. You could still copy and past line method as well. The best way to see the features is get a copy and run it on an Amiga or use WinUAE. There are a huge number of other capabilities of course. NP++ is the best editor outside the Amiga platform but Cygnus Ed just edges it out overall for me because of a few critical things it can do that I have yet to see in any other editor. BUT I will keep watching and using NP++ and perhaps someday.... :-)

Justin James
Justin James

What really irks me about the regex situation with Notepad++, is that I actually am very knowledgable about regex's, and the Notepad++ system gave me issues. J.Ja

seanferd
seanferd

I wasn't talking about Utraedit at all, never used it either.

maxxand
maxxand

I use EditPad Pro for this and would need a good reason to move to another editor, though some good suggestions have been made here. Vertical block editing is invaluable to have, as is indenting and outdenting. Does UltraEdit do this too? Not sure if EditPad Lite (free) does it. To use it I have to remember to disable Word Wrap, and re-enable it afterwards. No big deal.

seanferd
seanferd

DOS Edit did that, but was otherwise quite limited. It amuses me to no end, though, to find places where Amiga OS is still running. My old cable company used to expose it on local access/community channels when they hadn't enough junk content to cycle. I also used to see crashed PowerPoint presentations that ran off Windows machines. :p

seanferd
seanferd

Which is why I don't feel quite so dim now, in trying to use regex in Notepad++. :D