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


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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View configuration file

Notepad++ makes editing of configuration files much easier with its comprehensive features.

Viewing HTML Source

Where plain text file is concerned, syntax highlighting and awareness of multiple file types and scripting languages mean that errors can be spotted much easier.

Powerful find and replace dialog

Notepad++ comes with features that Notepad should have come with, such as powerful search and replace.

Look at the Preference dialog

The preference dialog looks like this. As you can see, it is perfectly capable of manipulating text files with consideration to how Windows, Unix or Mac platforms deal with new line and carriage feed.

Zoom controls

Zooming in or out using Notepad++ is a breeze with the keyboard shortcuts. Personally, I’ve always used the scroll wheel on my mouse while holding on to the CTRL key.

Supports plug-ins

The software supports a plethora of external plugins as well – far too many to explore here.

Multi-tab Support

Rather than cluttering up your desktop with multiple text windows, Notepad++ comes with a tabbed interface to easily handle multiple open text files at the same time.

Open Source

As noted earlier, Notepad++ is licensed under GPL. So install away to your hearts’ content.