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5 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Windows Notepad

Notepad.exe TipsNotepad 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. Although I’ve long since moved on to the free feature-packed Notepad++, many still use good old Notepad as their primary text editor. Notepad has been bundled with Windows ever since Windows 1.0 launched in 1985 and it’s only evolved slightly. But after decades of use, there are a few groovy features hidden in Notepad that you may have never known existed. Check them out.

1. Insert the Time and Date

Press F5 or choose Edit and Time/Date to insert the time and date automatically into Notepad. Handy for all those captain’s logs you’ll be keeping on your next starship journey.

Insert Time/Date into Notepad

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 typing in a language that reads from right to left. For English, it arranges it much as if it were right-aligned, except the punctuation ends up on the left side of the line.

Read right-to-left and change reading orientation in notepad

3. Insert a Timestamp Each time a File is Opened

Create a new .txt file and at the very top of 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.

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Create .LOG timestamp with Notepad

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.

Edit Header/Footer in Notepad

Edit Header/Footer in Notepad

Edit Header/Footer in Notepad`

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.

Go to Line in Notepad

You don’t need to number your lines for this to work, and if you do, Notepad will just go by its 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.

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Go to Line in Notepad

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.

Go to Line in Notepad


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 Notepad.exe for your plain text editing endeavors.

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11 Responses to 5 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Windows Notepad

  1. sapnwnewbie February 5, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    I discovered the first one by trying to “refresh” notepad 🙂

  2. fajas colombianas March 8, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    So thats why everytime I open notepad, it seems as if it does not open a blank pad.

  3. Daniel White March 10, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    Groovy indeed.

  4. Sicarus March 29, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    This is stupid… all of these options are readily available, and anyone can find them in 2 seconds if they try… a “groovy” feature would be something like an easter egg that is not found on a menu or with no hotkey…

  5. PeterMan April 12, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Did not know about no 3, but I think the logging option is totally useless. And by the way, the tip #2 can be applied to all system edit controls.

  6. jas April 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    ” Shared on says:
    March 6, 2011 at 2:02 pm
    5 Groovy Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Notepad.exe…
    Notepad has been bundled with Windows ever since Windows 1.0 launched in 1985, ”


  7. Jay April 23, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    Very cool, I love the .LOG, never knew about this one.

  8. DW96 April 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Cheer up guys!
    You want some easter eggs? Try holding the Alt while typing in a 3 or 4 digit number with the numpad. After releasing Alt you will insert a symbol into your document.

    Also, I remember a while ago there was a trick with a certain update on Windows XP SP2 that would trigger opening a hidden system file if you do a few complicated steps. I can’t find it now, though. I still assure you this is 100% true since I witnessed it with my own eyes when a friend showed me this on his own machine.

  9. Pasta September 20, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Wanna see an easter egg in notepad? Well, type this code in:
    start computer.bat

    Then save it as “computer.bat” and open it.
    Two lines of code and you get a fireworks show in your computer, pretty neat right?

  10. HM fan December 16, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    Man Pasta! I had a download going on man! you ttally ruined it. I was waiting for over an hour!

  11. Dexter Wong October 1, 2016 at 7:13 pm #

    How do I keep Notepad from switching writing order? About half the time I find my texts almost unreadable because Notepad has switched from left-to-right to right-to-left with only a tone as a warning. It is extremely annoying.

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