Microsoft outlines the improvements in store for Notepad - RTF, syntax highlighting and more

Feb 24, 2022
Windows 11 News

Notepad has been a core app in Windows since the operating system's first version. However, unlike other features in the OS, the text editor wasn't the recipient of improvements.

Microsoft outlines the improvements in store for Notepad

This changed recently, when the Redmond company gave the text editor a much-needed overhaul. If you are out of the loop, the latest version of Notepad brought several new features such as Multilevel Undo and Redo, Emoji support, Drag and Drop text, Unicode characters, etc. The interface of the program received a makeover that has a fluent design with rounded corners, new menu styles, a settings page, and even a Dark Theme.


A dev blog article at Microsoft's website highlights the technical details behind the improvements made to Notepad. The classic version of the text editor had a couple of features like Line-ending Detection (CR, LF, CRLF), and Show Unicode control characters. These hurdles made it difficult for Microsoft to make the transition to the new version.

The latest build of Notepad uses the RichEdit engine that is implemented in Microsoft Office applications like Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. This allowed the developers to modernize the program to add features like auto URL detection, color emojis, etc. Notepad has been made available at the Microsoft Store, and this has allowed the company an easy way to update and improve the app.

The Future of Notepad

The blog post by a Microsoft Engineer, Microsoft's Murray Sargent, outlines the plans in store for Notepad. Since RichEdit has been properly implemented in Notepad, the tool could gain additional formatting options including text coloring, spell check and other Rich Text Format (RTF) features. It is possible that Notepad could assist programmers to write code faster with features such as syntax highlighting, indentation for XML files, toggling between start and end tags for HTML/XML, JSON.

It is certainly interesting to see the direction in which the basic-yet-essential text editor is heading toward. I'll admit that I was worried whether the new Notepad would be bogged down by the new features. But it has been quite similar in terms of performance, when compared to how the old version used to run. Of course, my use case might not be the same as yours. I primarily use the program for viewing/editing small documents, or to jot down notes, simply because it is the fastest program in Windows.

Microsoft's article does mention that the program struggles to handle large files. It turns out auto URL detection is one of the culprits that impacts the experience. But it also goes on to say that the text editor's performance needs to be improved for such tasks, so that is something we can look forward to. The post also states that some of the features that were added to the text editor were inspired by options that are available in Visual Studio Code. These include the new Find and Replace drop-down menu, character selection, and plain-text controls.

I wish Notepad had an auto-save option, supported tabs and sessions like in Notepad++ and CudaText.

What features do you want to see in Notepad?

Notepad in Windows 11 could support RTF, Syntax highlighting and more
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Notepad in Windows 11 could support RTF, Syntax highlighting and more
Microsoft says that it plans to improve Notepad greatly, by adding support for Rich Text Format, Syntax highlighting, etc.
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  1. OldGamer said on February 26, 2022 at 1:48 am

    Yep, un-bloated, good Old Notepad for quick and easy stuff.
    Notepad++ (forever my love).
    LibreOffice for anything else.
    Microsoft – read and learn…

  2. KERR said on February 25, 2022 at 3:39 am

    I hope it won’t be a “modern” app. The Win10 Calc still takes way longer to launch than the Win7 one, no matter how fast your machine is. The modern apps often die randomly (nobody seems to know 100% why?) and need 14 different attempts to fix them with random powershell commands and hacky stuff. If modern apps were fast(er) and more reliable, I’d be more onboard with them.

    1. Anonymous said on February 27, 2022 at 1:58 am

      I have tried the new notepad in Windows 11. It has more features but it’s slower than old notepad.. I then noticed it’s UWP app now..

      I use notepad++ in Windows 11 as default text editor now, sure it’s slower than the old notepad but faster than the new notepad.

      1. matthiew said on March 3, 2022 at 4:39 am

        I was worried that would happen. I welcome the new features, but not at the expense of Notepad’s speed. The whole reason I prefer it over more advanced text editors is it’s so quick to load and start typing. Notepad3 manages to have some of the same features while being as quick as Notepad, so I’ll be using that when I eventually switch to Windows 11.

    2. Anonymous said on February 25, 2022 at 7:23 am

      i know right. if it not broken dont fix it.

  3. Anonymous said on February 24, 2022 at 11:10 pm

    Its now bloatware. Switch to alternatives.

  4. Zeo said on February 24, 2022 at 10:36 pm

    Did the add an option to remove ads from it in the impovements? Maybe I would start using it again if they added the option to remove the Bing ad on it.

  5. Murray White said on February 24, 2022 at 10:22 pm

    Never have found NP valuable and much preferred Wordpad and I save everything as .rtf as that is a universal extension. When I need more capabilities I simply open and use Libre Office. For spreadsheets I still use Works which came with my first computer in 1995 upon the arrival of W 95 and there were good books to use to learn how to do the tasks required and I was lucky to find some helpful folks online to develop my skills. Wordpad sits on the taskbar and is used constantly as my needs are rather simple. Same thing with a .pdf reader and Works along with a few browsers and 7 digital imaging programs. Keeps me busy in my retired lifetime.

  6. Vlad O. said on February 24, 2022 at 7:34 pm

    Emoji support? Nothing about the fact that it dies when you try to open any file above 20 MB? Welp.

    1. Martin English said on February 25, 2022 at 10:12 am

      +1 for Notepad++

  7. CJV said on February 24, 2022 at 6:45 pm

    “…of course, my use case might not be the same as yours. I primarily use the program for viewing/editing small documents, or to jot down notes, simply because it is the fastest program in Windows.”

    My Notepad use pretty much echos this. Using a small, simple, minimal window is ideal for note taking where you can have the small Notepad window over the top of what you are working on and then save it as *.txt. I also use Notepad for removing formatting from text and setting it as the default program to open potentially harmful files (like .js, .jse, .hta etc.). It’s simplicity is why I use it so much.

    – For more advanced plain text/code, I use Visual Studio Code.

    – For PowerShell, I use Visual Studio Code with the PowerShell extension for VSCode.

    – For advanced text editing, I use Microsoft Word or LibreOffice Writer – depending on who’s paying for the licence.

    Therefore, adding too many features mitigates the reason why many people like myself are using Notepad in the first place – there are more suitable programs that we already use for doing more advanced things. However, improvements like spell-checking, or the ability to undo more than one step (CTRL + Z) would be a welcome addition to Notepad.

  8. chesscanoe said on February 24, 2022 at 4:58 pm

    It is OK if Microsoft wants to compete with a subset of Notepad ++ v8.3.1 features, but I have no reason to change so far. The temporary inconvenience of some plugins needing a recompile is circumvented by running v8.2,1 .

  9. allen said on February 24, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    Notepad should remain plain text only and as simple as possible. That’s its one job, which it did very well. Now they’re going to ruin it… as expected.

  10. ShintoPlasm said on February 24, 2022 at 2:44 pm

    @Martin: thanks for restoring the previous comment-section UI!

  11. Anonymous said on February 24, 2022 at 1:48 pm

    Just like everything they updated, the UI is ugly and more restricted. The program itself is bloated up. 34MB of ram just opening it. I switched to zufuliu notepad2.

  12. John G. said on February 24, 2022 at 1:40 pm

    Imho the new W11 notepad needs to be able to fix the zoom level at startup because default zoom is too high! Please MS fix it, I always need to reduce it to 90% because letters are too big than before! Thanks @Ashwin for the good article. :]

  13. beemeup5 said on February 24, 2022 at 11:40 am

    Programmers using Notepad? Hah! Good one!

    I like Notepad _because_ it’s the simplest possible text editor. CR, LF, CRLF detection and unicode support were really the only features missing that I wanted. Any more advanced features is largely pointless as there are already more alternatives to Notepad than you can shake a stick at.

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