I’ve previously written about some of the best Notepad alternatives for Windows, but I didn’t mention anything about replacing Notepad in general. Personally, I find Notepad really useful because you can paste heavily formatted text into it and copy plain unformatted text.
However, if you never do this and only use Notepad when Windows forces you, that is, opening a word document, perhaps replacing Notepad with something else will make you more productive. Unfortunately, the procedure for completely replacing Notepad is quite long and tedious. For most people, I don’t think the benefits outweigh the cost of following this procedure.
An easier way to partially replace Notepad is to download an alternative to Notepad and then simply set the new program as the default program for certain file types Basically, you should go to the Set File Associations dialog box and just change all the current defaults to Notepad. You can also change any other extension to open it with the new Notepad alternative.
This is obviously much easier and safer. However, I’m still going to walk you through the steps of actually replacing Notepad with another program, if that’s really what you want to do.
Before we move on to the procedure, you should test the alternative program to make sure it works on its own. First, you need to download a version of the program without installation. For example, if you choose to use Notepad2, first make sure you download the 32-bit or 64-bit program files, not the installation.
Unzip the files and you should have a folder with multiple files, one of which is an application (EXE) file. Copy this file to your desktop and see if you can run the program.
If the desktop program starts without error, you can use it to replace Notepad. A program like Notepad ++ has a lot of file and folder dependencies, and when you copy the EXE file to the desktop, there are a lot of errors. Therefore, we cannot use this instead of Notepad. Remember, when choosing an alternative, do not download the installer or installer.
Replace Notepad in Windows
So, the first thing you need to find out is 32-bit or 64-bit Windows. You can do this by going to Explorer, This PC, and then clicking the C drive where Windows is installed. If you see two folders, Program Files and Program Files (x86), it means you have 64-bit Windows.
You can also just click Start, type System, press Enter, and then check what is listed under System Type.
To replace Notepad, we have to replace the Notepad executable, which is stored in several different locations in Windows. If you have 32-bit Windows, only two places. For 64-bit Windows, these are three locations.
C: Windows C: Windows System32 C: Windows SysWOW64 – Windows 64-bit only
Now we need to go through all the above places and delete the notepad.exe file. The procedure is the same for every file, so I’ll only show you one time, and then you’ll have to do it yourself for the other two.
Go to C: Windows and scroll down until you see Notepad. Now right-click on Notepad and select Properties.
Now go to the Security tab and then click the Advanced button at the bottom.
At the top, click the “Edit” button next to the owner. This file must be owned by TrustedInstaller. If you are using Windows 7, go to the Owner tab and click the Change button.
In the field that appears, enter the word “administrators” and click “Check Names”. It should format it correctly with the computer name in front.
Click OK and you will see the owner now says Administrators instead of TrustedInstaller. In Windows 7, you don’t need to type anything. You should see admins listed below, so just select them and click OK.
Now you need to exit all security screens by clicking OK. Make sure you don’t click Cancel. You will need to click OK twice: once to exit the advanced security settings screen and once to exit the notepad.exe properties screen. You should go back to the explorer window.
Go ahead and right click on notepad.exe again and select Properties. Click the Security tab again, but this time click the Edit button.
Click Administrators in the list of groups and users, and then select the Allow Full Control checkbox in the permissions box below.
Now click OK to close the permissions screen. You may receive a pop-up message that you are changing permissions and this may reduce the security of your computer. Just click Yes to continue. Then click OK again to close the Notepad Properties dialog box.
You will be returned to the explorer window. You should now be able to right click on the notepad.exe file and delete it. Now take the new notepad application file and copy it to the C: Windows folder.
Please note: if you have a 64-bit version of Windows, you should copy the 64-bit version of the program. This is not a requirement, and if the program does not have a 64-bit version, you can use the 32-bit version and it will still work.
You will also receive a dialog box informing you that access to the folder is denied, but just click Continue and the file will be copied. Now rename the file to notepad. Please note that you do not need to type notepad.exe because Windows hides application extensions by default.
When you rename the file to notepad, you will also see that the icon is replaced with the regular notepad icon. Don’t worry, the program is still your Notepad alternative, but Windows changes the icon because it’s a system folder and Notepad is a system program.
Now you need to do it again in C: Windows System32 if you have 32-bit Windows, or twice more (C: Windows System32 and C: Windows SysWOW64) if you have 64- bit version of Windows.
The first time takes a little time, but the second and third times pass very quickly. After all of the original files have been replaced, you can click Start, type Notepad, and press Enter. Instead of booting Windows Notepad normally, you should see your replacement program.
You may receive a warning that the publisher of this program cannot be verified on first launch. This is because Windows verifies the signature of the EXE file and knows that it is not the original file. In this case, simply uncheck the “Always ask before opening this file” checkbox and click Run.
Now when you start it again, it should just open fine without any dialogue.
That’s all! Overall, it works well, and you can choose from several Notepad alternatives when you follow these steps. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment. Enjoy!