Notepad.exe is the barest of bones plain text editor you can get for Windows, and that’s why so many of us love it or hate it. Notepad has been bundled with Windows ever since Windows 1.0 launched in 1985, and it’s evolved only slightly. But after decades of use, there are a few groovy features hidden in Notepad that you may have never known existed. Check ‘em out:
1. Insert the Time and Date
Press F5 or choose Edit and Time/Date to automatically insert the time and date into Notepad. Handy for all those captain’s logs you’ll be keeping on your next starship journey.
2. Switch to Right-to-Left Reading Order
Right-click in Notepad and choose Right to Left Reading Order to change the way the text is displayed. This is useful if you’re typing in a language that is read from right to left, such as Arabic or Hebrew. As you’ll notice from the screenshot, it only reverses the order of the letters and words if you are actually typing in a language that reads from right to left. For English and other left to right languages, it arranges it much as if it were right-aligned, except the punctuation ends up on the left side of the line.
3. Insert a Timestamp Each time a File is Opened
Create a new .txt file and at the very top on the first line, insert: .LOG. Now, whenever you open the file in Notepad.exe, Notepad will automatically insert a timestamp on the next line. This is handy if you have scripts or other automated network tasks where a log file is created.
4. Customize the Header and Footer in Notepad
Notepad doesn’t have the rich text editing features of bona fide word processors, but you can still add a header and footer to each page for printing. To do so, click File and choose Page Setup. Here, you’ll see the Header and Footer boxes. You can enter plain text here, or special characters which automatically insert the date, time, page number and other information.
See the chart below for the special characters you can use in Notepad headers and footers:
Output - Special Character
Date - &d
Timestamp - &t
Page number - &p
Filename - &f
Ampersand (&) - &&
Left align header/footer - &l
Right align header/footer - &r
Center align header/footer - &c
5. Go To a Specific Line
Press CTRL-G or click Edit and choose Go To… to jump to a specific line in the text document. Note that you must have Word Wrap turned off (click Format and choose Word Wrap) for the Go To… feature to work.
You don’t need to number your lines in order for this to work, and if you do, Notepad will just go by its own numbering, with the first line number as 1, the second as 2 and so forth. This might be helpful if you’re using Notepad.exe to code or script, and your browser spits out an error such as “Syntax error on Line 642.” You can then open up Notepad.exe, hit CTRL-G and type in 642 and automatically be taken to the offending line of code. That’s much easier than counting them by hand.
Also, note, that when you first hit CTRL-G, the number in the field will be the current line number, which his helpful for keeping track of where you are in your text document. You can also see the Line and Column number by clicking View and choosing Status Bar.
So, there you have it—Notepad.exe does more than you thought it could. While this might not elevate it to the full-featured level of programs like Notepad++, these groovy tips can save you some time if you prefer to stick with good ol’ Notepad.exe for your plain text editing endeavors.