It is always a good thing when Microsoft decides to remember some of their tried and true applications and actually give them an upgrade. Such is the case with the Registry Editor when they added an address bar and now with the Windows Notepad that has been getting a lot of attention by Microsoft lately 

In May, Microsoft updated Notepad in Insider builds to add a "Search with Bing" feature and also finally added support for Unix & Mac linefeeds.

In this week's Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 17713, Microsoft added some major improvements to Notepad that makes its features more in line with what we expect from a modern text editor.  Let's take a look at the new features we can expect to see in the upcoming Redstone 5 feature update for Windows 10.

Wrap around find and replace and search autofill

The current notepad only allows you to search for strings in Notepad in one direction from the location of the cursor. That means you search for a string from the cursor to the end of the file or from the cursor to beginning of the file. This can be very frustrating as sometimes you just want to search an entire file for the presence of a string.

This is where the new "Wrap around" setting comes into play as it will search in the direction, up or down, that you specify and then wrap around and continue searching the rest of the document. By enabling this setting, you allow Notepad to search for a string in the entire document, which is the default behavior of how most modern text editors operate.

Wrap around setting
Wrap around setting

Another useful feature is the ability to highlight a word and when you open the search dialog box that field will be automatically be filled with the selected word.

Text zoom

Another new feature is the ability to zoom the displayed text in order to make it easier to read. To zoom in and out you can use the Ctrl+Plus, Ctrl+Minus, and Ctrl+MouseWheel. To reset the zoom back to the default state you can use the Ctrl+0 keyboard combination.

Notepad Zoom
Notepad Zoom
(Source: Microsoft)

Display of line numbers when using word-wrap

Notepad now allows you to display line and column numbers while in word wrap.  This means that even if a long line is wrapped around it would still be considered as a single line rather than multiple lines.

Line numbers in word-wrap
Line numbers in word-wrap
(Source: Microsoft)

Other improvements

Other improvements that are included with this Notepad update are:

  • Notepad has historically had horrible performance when opening very large files. This has been improved to make it open large files quickly and use them with better performance.
  • You can now use Ctrl+Backspace to delete the previous word.
  • Arrow keys now correctly unselect text first and then move the cursor
  • When saving a file in Notepad, the line and column number no longer reset to 1

Are Notepad replacements necessary now?

Personally, I have been using Notepad2 as a Notepad replacement for many years. It has offered many features that I use often such as automatically populating search fields with highlighted text, better linefeed support, better searching, a greater ability of handling large files. Now with these changes in the Windows 10 Notepad, it may no longer be required to use a Notepad replacement.

One thing that I would like to see added to the Windows Notepad is the ability to easily enable and disable word-wrap with a keyboard combination.

Overall, with these improvements to Notepad, many users may no longer even seek a replacement and will use the built-in Windows text editor instead.

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