Microsoft is beta-testing a makeover of its venerable Notepad program, which includes dark mode, a better search / find and replace interface, improved undoing, and more.
While the cosmetic upgrades are pleasant, such as the addition of dark mode, an improved right-click menu, and Windows’ new theme-adopting material, the functional updates will likely be the most significant upgrade for anyone who uses Notepad.
The text search tool and the find and replace tool are two separate pop-up windows that are activated by two different keyboard keys in the current version of the program that ships with Windows 11. Instead of looking like it’s from the XP era, the makeover blends them into a single floating bar.
Microsoft also announced the addition of multi-step undo, which would replace the prior version’s one-step undo function. It still doesn’t work how contemporary software should, such as deleting one word at a time with Ctrl-Z, but it certainly has more memory than the old version of Notepad.
Another drawback of the preview is that Word Wrap is still turned off by default. The old Notepad’s “Format” menu has been replaced by the View menu, and the Font button has been moved to the Edit dropdown.
Rather than filling Notepad with new capabilities and making it become a totally new tool, Microsoft appears to be focusing on minor changes to make it feel less like a relic. Given the availability of Notepad’s arguably lesser-known brother WordPad, which is more akin to Microsoft Word than a plaintext editor, I believe this is the proper choice. (Unlike the current version of NotePad, WordPad also allows you to view and edit.docx files.)
The Notepad revamp should be available in the Dev channel for Windows 11 Insiders. If you’re using the test version of the OS and don’t see it, you should check the Microsoft Store for an update. Everyone else will have to wait a little longer, but it’s wonderful to see Microsoft continue to update its built-in apps like Notepad, Photos, and Paint alongside its larger products like Office and, of course, Windows.