Microsoft is testing a redesign of its venerable Notepad app, adding some welcome modern features like dark mode, better find / find-and-replace interface, better undo, and more.
While visual updates like the addition of Dark Mode, updated context menu, and new Windows theme adoption hardware are nice, Functional Updates will likely be the biggest upgrade for anyone who actually writes in Notepad. In the current version of the app that ships with Windows 11, the Text Finder and Find-and-Replace are two different pop-up windows, accessed by two different keyboard shortcuts. The redesign combines them into a single floating bar instead of something that looks like the XP era.
Microsoft is also saying it’s adding multi-step undo, which replaces the old version’s undo system that only lets you go one step back. It still doesn’t work as you might expect from a modern app, letting you press Ctrl-Z to delete one word at a time, but it clearly has more memory than the older version of Block- notes.
Another unfortunate thing about preview is that Word Wrap is always turned off by default. However, it has a new home in the View menu – and with the Font button going to the Edit drop-down menu, the old Notepad’s “Format” menu is gone.
It looks like Microsoft is focusing on smaller updates to make Notepad look less like a relic, rather than cramming it with new features and turning it into an entirely different app. Seems like the right move to me, given the existence of WordPad, the perhaps lesser-known brother of Notepad, which is closer to Microsoft Word than a plain text editor. (WordPad also lets you view and edit .docx files, unlike the newer version of NotePad.)
The Notepad redesign should be available for Windows 11 Insiders using the Dev channel. If you’re running the test version of the operating system and you don’t see it, you might want to check the Microsoft Store for an update. Everyone will probably have to wait a bit to get it, but it’s nice to see Microsoft continuing the trend of updating some of its built-in apps like Notepad, Photos, and Paint alongside its bigger products like Office and, of course, Windows.