Banish Windows Notepad: Replacing Notepad with Notepad++

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It’s no secret around these parts that I hate Windows Notepad. It hasn’t been updated (in any useful way) since Windows 95, and is just plain inadequate for most tasks I need a text editor for. Up to this point I have been content to simply never use it, however as I am finding myself working with text files more and more these days, I would like to completely replace it.

Now obviously I am a big proponent of Notepad++, and this would be my ideal replacement for notepad.exe and luckily for me, there is a launcher made specifically for this. Before we begin, we will need to download the following files:

  1. The current Notepad++ install package from here.
  2. The current Notepad++ launcher from here.

Once we have these files, we can begin the process:

  1. Install Notepad++.
  2. Unzip the Notepad++ launcher, and have it ready to be copied (we will need to put this in a couple different directories.
  3. Turn off hide invisible files in Tools->Folder Options->View.

Now at this point it is pertinent to mention that there are several methods that may work for preplacing Notepad, you may need to try each one until you find the one that works for your OS version (Method 1 worked for me on one XP sp2 install, but I had to use Method 2 on another.

Method 1

  1. Go to %windir%\system32\Restore
  2. Select filelist.xml and right click->Properties and uncheck Read-only
  3. Edit the file, adding:
  4. <REC>%windir%\notepad.exe</REC>

    to:

    <Exclude>
    <REC>%windir%\system.ini</REC>
    <REC>%windir%\tasks\desktop.ini</REC>
    <REC>%windir%\win.ini</REC>
    <REC>*:\AUTOEXEC.BAT</REC>
    <REC>*:\CONFIG.MSI</REC>
    <REC>*:\CONFIG.SYS</REC>
    </Exclude>

  5. Copy the Notepad++ launcher to %windir%\system32, replacing notepad.exe there with the Notepad++ launcher.
  6. If this worked, you should now be able to open a Run dialog, and type: notepad {ENTER}, which will launch Notepad++.

Method 2

  1. Copy the Notepad ++ launcher to %windir%\system32\dllcache
  2. Copy the Notepad ++ launcher to %windir%\system32
  3. A dialog will pop up hit cancel.
  4. If this worked, you should now be able to open a Run dialog, and type: notepad {ENTER}, which will launch Notepad++.

Method 3

  1. Copy the Notepad ++ launcher to %windir%\servicepackfiles\i386
  2. Copy the Notepad ++ launcher to %windir%\system32\dllcache
  3. Copy the Notepad ++ launcher to %windir%\system32
  4. Copy the Notepad ++ launcher to %windir%
  5. When you replace notepad.exe in %windir% and %windir%\system32, a “Windows File Protection” message box appears, click Cancel. Then another message box appears, click OK.
  6. If this worked, you should now be able to open a Run dialog, and type: notepad {ENTER}, which will launch Notepad++.

Now, enjoy the goodness that comes from having a real text editor as your default text editor.

end

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4 Responses to Banish Windows Notepad: Replacing Notepad with Notepad++

  1. Cialis says:

    PnSqlR Excellent article, I will take note. Many thanks for the story!

  2. Tristan says:

    thanks 😀

  3. Robert says:

    great! have been wondering up the possibility of doing this :))))))

  4. Doug says:

    All three methods fail for me. I’M using XP Pro with SP3 slipstreamed using nLite. First tried method 1. Left the modified filelist.xml when I tried Method 2, so did not get a dialog popup. Method 3 seems to be the same as Method 2, just the additional directory. I have no ‘servicepackfiles” directory, so Method 3 is no help.

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