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Lightweight Win32 Editors
(Notepad replacement)

News Recommended Links Orthodox File Managers Orthodox Editors Eastern Orthodox Editors Western Orthodox Editors
Metapad Notepad++ NoteTab Light EditPad GWD VIM
    Sysadmin Horror Stories  Random Findings Editor-related Humor Etc

See Orthodox Editors page for more general discussion of the editors.  Here is will discuss only super-lightweight editors in windows environment which are usually called notepad replacements.

Notepad is a default light-weight editor in Windows. Actually in Windows environment there are two lightweight editors: GUI-based Notepad and command line based Edit.

As for command line editor I strongly recommend to use FAR. You can also use older Volkov Commander if you need really super lightweight editor in DOS.

It is a generally good idea to replace (or supplement) Notepad with a better editor. there are many alternatives, some of which are listed in Comparison of text editors - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

There are several extremely well written free light-weight editors for Window.  You should try at least three:

I would like to note that although capabilities of current PC 3Ghz 2G of memory, 160G harddrive are simply an overkill for a desktop and you can use almost any editor as the lightweight, still it does not make sense to call an editor which is over one megabyte in size a light-weight editor :-).

Also its extremely difficult to distinguish between really good product and well-marketed product even in such trivial category as text editors (actually not that trivial category ;-).  A simple guiding rule here that might help is that you should not pay for Windows Notepad replacement, no matter what they promise... Please note that you do not need to much features in a lightweight editor anyway, so save your money.

Nikolai Bezroukov

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EditPlus Text Editor

EditPlus Text Editor Buy Now | Download
Welcome to EditPlus Text Editor home page!

- Click here to Buy Now
- Download Latest Version - v3.10 (2008-12-03)

EditPlus is a text editor, HTML editor and programmers editor for Windows. While it can serve as a good Notepad replacement, it also offers many powerful features for Web page authors and programmers.

(Click for full-size image)

- Syntax highlighting for HTML, CSS, PHP, ASP, Perl, C/C++, Java, JavaScript and VBScript. Also, it can be extended for other programming languages based on custom syntax files.
- Seamless Web browser for previewing HTML pages, and FTP commands for uploading local files to FTP server.
- Other features include HTML toolbar, user tools, line number, ruler, URL highlighting, auto-completion, cliptext, column selection, powerful search and replace, multiple undo/redo, spell checker, customizable keyboard shortcuts, and more.

Notepad Replacement Notepad++ Free Windows Text Editor Blogote

The best part of Notepad++ is the option to split Windows and to run Macro (record the process) which are helpful to avoid repetitive tasks.

[Feb 24, 2008] The Top 50 Proprietary Programs that Drive You Crazy - and Their Open Source Alternatives WHDb

The list itself is almost useless as the author has no clue about capabilities of most programs he listed but comments contain a lot of useful information from people who did used the programs they mentioned:

I used to use Bluefish, but now I use Geany. I love EditPlus on Windows, Geany is a very nice alternative. My favorite feature is regex search/replace across multiple files.

ramon Says:

... ... ...

an excellent notepad alternative - excellent is an understatement - is textpad. sure, you get an infrequent reminder to purchase, but it comes fully-featured and it's light-weight.

... ... ...

CWordPad 1.0 -- nice free replacement for wordpad.

CWordPad is a replacement for the Windows 95 accessory WordPad. CWordPad is written to the same specification as WordPad except a spell checker has been added and there is a more extensive help file than the original. I'm using CWordPad routinely now for creation of small documents like this review and email. I didn't use the version of WordPad shipped with Win 95 much. For me, the spell checker is a big deal for two reasons. First, I can't spell and second I can't type.

The functions included are the functions I use most for document creation. I'm able to manage fonts including bold, italics and underscore. There also buttons to justify text left, right or center and to insert bullets. The standard file functions, new, open, save, and save as are provided as are print functions. The editor provides cut, copy, paste, find, find next, replace and undo. I rarely need other file, print and edit functions for the simple minded things I do.

CWordPad is based on WordPad source code distributed by Microsoft to users of Microsoft's Visual C++ development system and the Microsoft Foundation Classes product. Output formats can be in ASCII (.txt), Word (.doc), Write (.wri) or Rich Text (.rft) format.

CWordPad, like WordPad, is a limited function word processor. Some the functions of industrial strength word processors, like Word, Word Pro or Word Perfect missing from CWordPad include full justification and hyphenation, tables, outlines, foot notes and end notes, and grammar checking to name a few.

If you have a need to create small documents from time to time CWordPad fits the requirement nicely and because CWordPad supports .txt files you can use it to create and maintain a web page.

ConTEXT Editor

ConTEXT is a full-featured freeware programming editor developed by Eden Kirin from Zagreb, Croatia. ConTEXT is easy to install, configure, and use and it has all the features necessary to develop and test Java applications and applets in an educational setting. In fact, it works like a mini-IDE (excluding debugging).

You can download ConTEXT from It is free, no registration is required.

ConTEXT offers the following features:

The last two features allow you, in effect, to turn ConTEXT into a mini-IDE for Java development. You need, of course, a Java SDK installed.

ConTEXT supports four user-defined "tools" (i.e. applications that are invoked from the editor). Different sets of four tools are associated with different file types. For example, for files with the extension .java, javac, java, and appletviewer may be associated with the tools 1, 2, and 3, respectively. The fourth tool may be set up, say, for viewing Java docs with Netscape. For .html files, one of the tools may be associated with appletviewer, other tools may take you to your favorite HTML tutorials and utilities.

A tool is executed by clicking on the corresponding button on the toolbar, or by pressing a function key (F9 - F12), or by choosing the tool from the Tools menu. A "hint" defined in the tool configuration identifies the tool in the Tools menu and on the toolbar.

Text Editor Notepad replacement with ANSI, OEM, EBCDIC, JAVA C++ and Pascal syntax coloring, hex editor, binary mode Textplorer is provided as FREEWARE, but only for private, non-commercial use!

Fast and compact text editor for text, binary and structured data files in text format. Look at the features why this is what i need:
* Coloring data fields of structured text files.
* Syntax coloring (C, C++, Pascal, HTML, INI, JS, LaTeX, Java, PHP)
* Define your own syntax coloring
* Search in, and sum fields.
* Fast load of large files.
* Automatic character set detection (ANSI, OEM, EBCDIC, MAC)
* Define your own character code translation table.
* Automatic CR, CR+LF detection
* HEX display of not displayable character codes.
* Optional display of control codes (0D, 0A, 09, ...)
* Insert HEX codes
* Remember last cursor positions
* Bookmarks
* Auto indent
* Word Wrap
* Overwrite with block cursor.
* Cross Wires

[Oct 25, 2004] metapad Alexander Davidson

Metapad is a small, fast, written in C and completely free text editor for Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP with similar features to Microsoft Notepad but with many extra (and rather useful) features. It was designed to completely replace Notepad since it includes (just about) all of Notepad's features and much, much more.

I created this program as a personal project. I was simply annoyed with the poor usability of Notepad and it was clear that Microsoft wasn't ever going to improve it (although their latest versions now have some minor improvements). I was pleased with the outcome of metapad (I actually renamed notepad.exe to notepadx.exe and use metapad instead of Notepad) so I decided to release it as freeware.

metapad was created (as was Notepad) in pure ANSI C with the Win32 API. It contained around 1200 lines of code as of version 1 and now has about 7000 lines as of version 3.0. Thus, it is almost as small and just about as fast as Notepad is. Unlike some other so-called Notepad replacements, metapad actually loads in an instant. (Those other programs tend to approach 1 or 2MB instead of being under 100KB and are written using C++ with MFC or even, gasp!, Visual Basic.)

Changes (+ indicates bug fix, - indicates new feature)

3.5 - support for GUI language plugins (see web site)
- ten quick buffers (ctrl+alt+numbers to set, alt+numbers to paste)
- added native Windows XP theme support
- new Windows XP icon (truecolor with shadow)
- new Insert File function
- toolbar button for always on top
- read only status rechecked on save
- scroll window horizontally with Alt+Left & Alt+Right
- sentence case capitalization after any ?, ! and \n
- no maximum number of favourites (was 16)
- Shift+Escape for quick save and exit
- command line option to override plugin version checking
- command line option to skip loading language plugin
- opening the settings dialog loads all options from registry
- can use non-executable files as viewers (e.g., scripts)
+ fixed page at a time mouse scroll wheel bug
+ fixed Chinese Windows copy text bug
+ Shift+Enter adds carriage return
+ fixed crash on loading BOM-less unicode files
+ fixed single character lines changing in WinXP bug
+ fixed minor replace "\n" bug
+ fixed goto line 5 digit limitation
+ upper/lower case changes for intl characters
+ additional minor bug fixes

3.0 - basic Unicode text file support (ANSI code page only)
- new favourites menu
- freaky new transparent mode (requires Win2K)
- new selection margin (see the settings view tab)
- new block quote function (add "> " to each line)
- new strip trailing whitespace function
- new secondary external viewer
- find & replace now support newlines (\n) and tab characters (\t)
- sentence case, title case & inverted case functions
- new launch default (associated) viewer function
- five new toolbar buttons (word wrap, font, two viewers & refresh)
- find & replace dialogs use current font option
- Ctrl+Up and Ctrl+Down scrolls window
- recent files menu does not dynamically resize
- now reads Macintosh text files (converts to Unix)
- separate secondary font colours
- option to always print with secondary font
- option to hide the scrollbars when possible (not in LE)
- option to not select text at cursor for find (uses last find)
- option to automatically close find dialog
- can clear find/replace & recent file histories
- separate option to save find/replace history
- can specify default file format
- can suppress "undo buffer" prompt
- can suppress solitary carriage returns warning
- replace all in selection will preserve the selection
- status bar now uses default GUI font (removed status font width)
- arrow cursor instead of hand for double-click links
- delete (clear text) on context menu
- new /e cmdline option to go to end of file
+ Shift+Enter will not lead to invalid files
+ select all menu item updates cut/copy toolbar buttons
+ insert date updates properly over multi-line selections
+ fixed bottom scrollbar disappearing on load
+ paste is now deactivated when no text is on the clipboard
+ initial messageboxes caused no cursor in main window
+ fixed display bug for block indent more than one screen of text
+ recent files list is now case insensitive
+ minor recent files menu display bug fixed
+ fixed .LOG scrolling bug (in LE only)
+ fixed /g command line bug (in LE only)
+ the '&' now appears on printed output (in LE only)

Notepad Replacements - ZDNet Downloads

Hesky-Data Software Online

NoteTab Light -- not so light ;-) but still useful

Homepage of Crimson Editor - Free Text Editor, Html Editor, Programmers Editor for Windows

Prof. Editor Compare - Mainpage

Text Editor - HEX Editor - HTML Editor - Programmers Editor - UltraEdit capable midweight editor for $35

EDM-2 - A Programmer's Editor Shootout - Andy's Editor 1-1-98 release for OS-2

AE - Andys Source Code Folding Editor.
Is a small portable folding editor which runs on a variety of common platforms.

Among features provided :

[Oct. 11, 2000] Zeus for Windows Programmer's Text Editor Shareware $95 (actually $95 is a lot of money for shareware product). The most interesting thing about this editor is that it uses a plugable scripting engine that allows the built-in macro script behavior to be changed dynamically. The scripting language can be changed by just selecting the appropriate scripting module. Currently there are scripting modules for the SmallC, Python and Lua languages. For those interested, the source code for these modules can be downloaded from the archives page.

[Oct. 11, 2000] Treepad PIM, outline text editor, database

[Oct. 11, 2000] HTMLSoftware - CodeEdit HTML editor

[July 17, 1999] Pedit Freeware DOS editor. Both, columns and lines can easily be marked. Word wrap of marked blocks. 112 bits encryption option. Integrated spelling checker and thesaurus. Copy and paste to other Windows applications. Accesses the Windows printer drivers. Under continuous development since 1995

[June 22, 1999] THE FREEWARE PUBLISHING SITE TEXT EDITORS -- a nice collection

[May 18, 1999] Perl Scripting Tool Beta 2 Product Page

[Jan.25, 1999] PFE version 1.01 was released

TextPad - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Key features include:[2]

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Lightweight/Midweight Editors


Metapad by Alexander Davidson Free replacement for Notepad. Written in C and extremely light-weight. Highly recommended. See also Metapad - ZDNet Downloads

If you are like me, one of the most useful programs for everyday use is Microsoft Notepad. I realized that Notepad was quite powerful and did almost everything I wanted in a simple text editor. Yet I found the UI
to be unlike most 32-bit Windows applications and actually quite poor...

metapad is a small, fast (and completely free) text editor for Windows 9x and Windows NT (2000) with similar features to Microsoft Notepad but with many extra (and rather useful) features. It was designed to
completely replace Notepad since it includes (just about) all of Notepad's features and much, much more



NoteTab Light this is good NotePad replacement but it is slightly biased toward HTML file (which is not a bad bias ;-). Shortcuts can be redefined. It also has built-in scripting:

^!RunGawk ScriptName
Applies specified GAWK script to selection in current document or whole document. ScriptName can either represent the name of a Clip or a script file. The stderr stream is saved in file called "StdError.err" in NoteTab's application directory unless another file is specified with the SetStdError Name command.

^!RunPerl ScriptName
Applies specified Perl script to selection in current document or whole document. ScriptName can either represent the name of a Clip or a script file. The stderr stream is saved in file called "StdError.err" in NoteTab's application directory unless another file is specified with the SetStdError Name command.

^!RunScript "Command" "ScripName"
Similar to ^!RunGawk except you must specify the command to execute the console application. The stderr stream is saved in file called "StdError.err" in NoteTab's application directory unless another file is specified with the SetStdErrorName command. Use the code "^1" to indicate where the Script file name should be inserted.

^!SetStdErrorName FileName
Defines the default filename for the StdError output generated by console applications. If you don't specify a path, the NoteTab application directory is used.

See also NoteTab at

GAWK (required for NoteAwk) is available from:

NoteTab Pro -- home site

NoteTab version 4.5x introduced some significant enhancements to the Clipbook tool. It is now programmable and supports features such as variables, functions, commands, conditional statements, events, etc.! Furthermore, NoteTab also integrates support for Perl and Gawk interpreters; scripts can be stored in NoteTab and applied directly to highlighted text or a whole document. Non-programmers also benefit much from these new capabilities as experienced users provide Clipbook libraries to extend the capabilities of NoteTab. These libraries can be downloaded for free from the Clipbook repository:

Seems to be HTML oriented, nor program oriented. The program offers a convenient tabbed interface and can handle files as large as memory permits. These two features make it possible to open and edit numerous documents of almost any size. Other features include extensive search-and-replace capabilities, text statistics, text filters, and a Clipboard feature that provides templates for HTML tags and other purposes. With version 4.5x, the Clipbook tool is now programmable and provides commands to execute Perl and Gawk scripts. Enhancements in version 4.52 include support for WordStar key mapping, the ability of Disk Search to accept regular expressions, clip language enhancements, minor bug fixes, other interface improvements, and more.

Unlike the commercial versions of NoteTab Std and NoteTab Pro, the Light version does not include a spell checker, nor a thesaurus, and you cannot edit or create new outline-type documents. Probably you do not need them ;-).

Notepad++ Notepad++

Notepad++, a source code editor and MS Windows Notepad replacement, has the mission to offer a greener environment. By optimizing its routines, it results in reducing CPU power consumption then reducing the world carbon dioxide emissions.

Edit Pad Lite --Postcardware text editor by Jan Goyvaerts

Webpage: -- EditPad Lite 4.0.0 BETA 7 is available for public testing. Download links are at the bottom of this page.

Downloads: The Simtel.Net DaveCentral EditPad

EditPad is a nice replacement for the standard Windows Notepad. It offers some interesting features, including the ability to open as many files at a given time as you want. It also lets you change between the open files simply by clicking on their tabs(like in spreadsheets). Like Metapad EditPad also does not require any additional DLLs.

DEdit -- good and amazingly small (less than 200K) free GUI editor !!!

The Simtel.Net Windows 95 Collection simtelnetwin95editor

From: Red Roby Software. Version: Date: June 15, 1998 File size: 53K

DEdit is a freeware, Win32 programmer's editor written in C. It features multiwindows support, history of opened files, syntax highlighting, automatic indent, tree-style bookmarking, multiple- window find and replace (with history), and more. DEdit was not written in Visual Basic or with a component library.

Programmer's File Editor (32-bit) -- Decent Free Midweight Editor

Programmer's File Editor (32-bit) -- 634K. Current version (as of 03/99) is 1.01.



Author: Alan Phillips

Currently no syntax highlighting and no linked windows (the ability to view the same file in multiple windows). Features include multilevel undo, active buttons on a tear-off toolbar, automatic C-aware indenting, Unix file support, remappable keys, keyboard macros, and more. This latest edition adds IntelliMouse support, several bug fixes, and minor enhancements. PFE has good file printing capabilities. You can specify the font and number pages or even lines.

PFE also can capture the output of DOS commands into a window.

All standard GUI editing capabilities are readily available as well as the ability to run compilers and development applications. Can be considered as a decent lightweight general-purpose editor. Interesting and almost forgotten feature (present probably only in Kedit/THE family) is line numbers in the left screen column :-).

Most recently used list is available from File menu, but not from Open panel. No ability to organize recently opened files (favorites, etc.)

Random Findings

Not so light replacements ;-)


Multi Edit is a rather expensive commercial editor(Multi-Edit v.9 UPGRADE (Download) US $ 79.00) popular in Eastern Europe. Sometimes MultiEdit is considered to be Emacs for Dos. I think this is incorrect. Without going into much depth I would like to say that Emacs is somewhat more solid and powerful editor, but MultiEdit wins in interface quality and flexibility. The main difference is that for professional use of Emacs you need to know Lisp and for MultiEdit -- proprietary C-like macro language -- not that great but pretty much OK and for me easier than Lisp. That simplicity lead to a lot of custom programming by power users and in old Softpanorama bulletins one can find some very interesting macros. Some guys managed to do really amazing things with MultiEdit.

Emacs set the level somewhat higher and with lisp as scripting language looks more modern. It's MIT thing and good for MIT graduates ;-). I would prefer Tcl if given a choice. At the same time Dos versions of Multiedit were a masterpiece of character-based interface. Windows support, including linked windows support was especially good. Keyboard support was simply the best I ever saw. For example double and triple key clicking were/are distinct commands -- one keystroke on home key bring you to the the start of the line, two to the first line on the screen, three to the beginning of the file. Same with the end key. It also distinguish gray and non-gray keys on PC keyboard, left and right Ctrl, etc. So regular Enter and Gray-Enter can be assigned to different commands. Here Emacs definitely looks somewhat outdated. I know no other editor which so intelligently used all possibilities of Dos keyboard and screen. This guys were really good in interface design. Neither editor support slicing and outlining out of the box so from that point of view both sucks and here EOS family (Xedit/KEDIT/THE definitely win), but for Emacs you probably can write set of macros for slicing -- I doubt that it is possible for Multiedit (at least until version 7.0 for DOS -- I never used the recent one for windows). But folding editors now became a fashionable thing and one can expect support of folding in Slickedit style in MultiEdit 2K versions.

American Cybernetics - Creators of Multi-Edit the internet programming editor -- main site

Try Multi-Edit FREE! -- Multi-Edit Evaluation versions are available for DOS, Windows, and Windows 95/98/NT versions. They are fully functional versions of the real product, except where stated in the readme file or in startup screens. There is also a shareware version available for the DOS platform.

SlickEdit -- the only portable commercial editor which like Kedit supports folding. Very expensive($300).

Visual SlickEdit, supports most languages out of the box and is extendable to support new languages. Among features: Selective Display (a.k.a. "code folding" or "code hiding"), Context Tagging�, Dynamic Difference Editing�, FTP Support, a Class Browser, Dynamic Tagging and a Code Beautifier. With a multi-platform presence and integration with industry leading development environments, Visual SlickEdit provides an entire organization with a standard coding environment.

Language Specific Features

Tool Integration

Easy to Learn

Customizing Features

Visual Macro Programming

Search & Replace

EMACS Windows Ports

This for those who already used it in Unix environment; does not make any sense for those who never used it. The main advantage is that it's portable between Linux and Windows, but editor concepts are pretty outdated (other then usage of Lisp as a scripting language which is pretty neat, but again not a mainstream).




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