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Microsoft Notepad - A very useful but underrated software

What is Microsoft Notepad?

This is a very simple, free and easy-to-use text editor. It has been present in all Microsoft Windows version since Windows 1.0 in 1985. Besides just being a simple text editor for which it is known for, it also have several other functions people don't know about.

Microsoft Notepad screenshot

Used with permission from Microsoft

Used with permission from Microsoft

Notice to readers: Due to Copyright grounds, the original Microsoft Notepad software logo is available on Wikipedia

Since Notepad is a free Software which is installed by default on all Microsoft Windows Operating system, this makes it easier to acquire and work on. It's ability to support multiple file format makes it easy to edit source codes for later compilation and many text format (.txt).

Even though the disadvantages of Microsoft Notepad is much more than the advantages, I still find it important to list both of it's benefits and limitation.

Advantages of Microsoft Notepad

Simplicity and ease of operation

Notepad has a very simple and easy to use interface that doesn't take much memory and resources of the computer. It is platform independent and opens at the blink of an eye. It doesn't need any compiler before it can work unlike other Software like Visual basic.

Text Manipulation

Microsoft Notepad offers users the option of editing and formatting texts especially when removing formatting from texts copied from a source e.g. the Internet. All formatting like colour, font size and special designs are stripped leaving just a plain text. This is one major advantage and function of Notepad

Basic functions

The latest version of Microsoft Notepad offers basic functions like copying and pasting, Find and Replace, Time stamping (i.e. adding a date and time to the document. This can be achieved by typing .LOG at the beginning of the text you want to write. Each time you save and re-open a document, the time and date of that activity would be recorded. You can also do this manually by clicking on the edit menu tab, then select Time/date. This is useful in making quick records of an event, a calendar or a list of other things.

Adding a timestamp

Used with permission from Microsoft

Used with permission from Microsoft

You can also use word wrap to prevent your texts just going all the way across the screen. Besides this, you can print a Notepad document as well as create a header, margin and footer on Microsoft Notepad. Check out the Notepad FAQ for guidelines on how to do these things.

Learning Website development / design

Notepad is a very useful tool for starters learning Website design and development in the sense that you get the opportunity to type in the html codes and see what each function does. You can also create a simple website with it, view it on the internet and host it online. Notepad gives you full control of what you can do with your code unlike other website development software like Adobe Dreamweaver that has already inbuilt tools. When you have created a website using Notepad, you need to save it as a .html file format before it can be viewed and used online.

Screenshot of part of website created with Microsoft Notepad

Screenshot of part of website created with Microsoft Notepad

A Batch file

This a computer file containing a list of instructions (DOS commands) to be carried out in turn. Batch file can be used for many purpose ranging from hiding files for security purpose, creating a log of activities to the deadliest of killing a computer and making a virus of your own.

Learn Coding and create batch files

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Notepad is a very good tool for coding as well and it can be used to compile codes and then imported into a programming software like C#, C++, Visual basic etc. It can also be used to create batch files which are advanced coding and are useful for so many things. I will list some use of batch files after the limitations of Microsoft Notepad.

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15 Limitations of Microsoft Notepad

There have been wide criticism and several reasons why Microsoft Notepad has been dumped by several people. These reasons are not far-fetched and this is why.

  • Limitation on the number of words that can be used
  • Simple interface means it doesn't look professional
  • Less options like inability to save and support pictures
  • Inability to spell check for errors means there are more possibilities for mistakes
  • waste of time (e.g. For programming and web design, tools that can speed up the process are available rather than having to type the code one by one and then previewing changes each time the code is saved).
  • lacks the inability to notify users of any errors in the code.
  • limited file size.
  • You need a good knowledge of coding to be able to create an error-free command line.
  • refresh is needed to preview changes made on notepad when coding or using html.
  • It doesn't highlight (colour code) important codes when used for programming.
  • No auto-indentation when programming
  • It cannot be used to create complex programs (From a programmer's point of view)
  • Inability to treat newlines in Unix- or Mac-style text files correctly.
  • It does not support Multiple document Interface (opening multiple files in the same window).
  • It doesn't support code folding (Hiding or displaying a piece of code from a section for easy accessibility of other codes). It doesn't support Macros too.

Things you can do with Batch files / VB Scripts and other fun tricks

There are several things you can do with batch files and VB scripts when created with Microsoft Notepad. Among the unending lists are:

#1 Make a falling matrix code effect

With just six lines of code, you can make Notepad fun. Try these trick on notepad by just copying and pasting then saving as anyname.bat

Save on desktop for easy accessibility

@echo off
color 1e
echo  %random%      %random%      %random%      %random% 
ping localhost -n 1 > nul
goto start

#2 Make a colour-changing Love heart. Try it out

@echo off 
color fc 

echo...........8888888.. ..8888888.. 
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
echo........8:::::::::::8. .8:::::::::::8. 
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
echo....8::::::::::/` \/ `\::::::::::::::::::8
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
color e
echo....8::::::::::\ /` \/ `\::::::::::::::::8 
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
echo....'8::::::::::\ /\ /::::::::::::::::::8' 
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
echo.....'8::::::::::\/:::\ /.:::::::::::::8 
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
color 58
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
echo............'8:::::::::::::::::8' two hearts 
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
echo...............'8:::::::::::8' beat as one... 
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL
PING -n 1 -w 1.0 >NUL

goto start

After copying this code into Notepad, save it as matrix.bat just like in the screenshot below. You can save it on the desktop menu so that it can be easily accessed. When you run it, you should see random numbers falling down the window.

Saving in the batch file format

Saving in the batch file format

Watch my video

#2 Watch ASCII Star Wars on your PC

Most people don't know this trick. Even I myself found out just recently that you can watch the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) version of Star Wars on your computer irrespective of whether you use a Windows 7, XP, Vista or Windows 8.1

So, I'm giving full credit to my source by giving you the link on how to watch it and try it yourself. You don't need a very good Internet connection, or DVD to watch this as well and it won't take any resources on your computer.

learn how to watch the ASCII version of Star Wars

ASCII Star wars Movie

ASCII Star wars Movie

#3 Computer welcomes you by name

Another thing you can do is directly create a simple VB script with notepad that allows your computer to welcome you by name using the variable name you provided whenever you switch on your computer. That's a cool thing to do. Isn't it?

#4 Continuous ejection of DVD / CD player

there is a code which when input in notepad, continuously eject the disk on your computer. For beginner's safety, I decided not to show the code on here because AVG sees it as a virus and I wouldn't be too surprised afterall because it should be classified as a virus. These function of notepad, although when done is completely harmless when you quit the program from the task manager but it also gives you one benefit of testing if your anti-virus program is reliable against threats..

#5 Bypass administrative right on your PC

This simple Notepad can also help you bypass administrative rights. I won't be sharing the steps that make this possible because it is solely meant to be for education and problem solving but most people will only use it for selfish reasons.

Advice to readers

Always download application from a trusted source. Sometimes, it doesn't take minutes to create and be infected with the deadliest of viruses. Also install trusted anti-virus to help you do the job too.

#6 Create a deadly Virus

By using the DOS command feature of notepad, you can create the deadliest of Computer virus. It is just a line of code 19 characters long but very deadly as it shuts down your computer permanently as it formats the C:\ drive on your computer and that's where the boot file for your computer is located.

10 Other things notepad is capable of doing

You can also write a code on Notepad to:

  • Create a text to speech converter program
  • Terminate frozen program.
  • Shut down your PC at a specific time interval
  • Hide or lock private files
  • make keyboard light into disco light (Continuous lock button toggle)
  • make simple animation e.g. Matrix falling code
  • Hackers could use it to create malicious programs
  • annoy your friends
  • erase files easier and faster
  • Grant administrative rights with just small lines of codes.

Share your opinion

How useful did you find this article?

Published on September 16, 2014

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© 2014 Taiwo Kareem


Taiwo Kareem (author) from Salford on September 27, 2015:

There are a lot of new text editors now more powerful than notepad with autocomplete, customization etc. like Notepad++, Sublime text etc. but Microsoft notepad had other functionalities one couldn't have easily known

James from The Eastern Bypass on September 26, 2015:

I have this application in my computer but I have never applied it. After reading your informative article, I have now seen how important it is

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