On my quest to eliminate use of Microsoft programs (which has been successful, except for Calculator: the only Microsoft program I don't have a problem with), I began looking around for a better small text editor. OpenOffice.org's Writer is fine and dandy for writing papers, and CuteHTML works for all my HTML/PHP editing, but I write a lot of notes to myself on my computer and Notepad just wasn't hacking it any more.

After about 3 seconds of looking through Google, I found metapad. The program is about the same size as Notepad (7000 LOC in ANSI C, 95kB; my copy of Notepad is 66kB), loads in an instant, and has lots of options so you can tailor it exactly how you like. Says Alexander Davidson, the program's creator:

Once upon a time, one of the most useful programs for everyday use was known as Microsoft Notepad. I realized that Notepad was quite powerful and did a lot of what I wanted in a simple text editor. Yet I found the user interface 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/NT/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 all of Notepad's features and much, much more.

Among the many features:

  • External Viewer support — view your file in a program! Useful for hand-writing HTML; just click a button at the top of the screen to open your favorite browser and see what your code looks like. You can specify two viewers, each with custom arguments.
  • Language Plugin Supportplugins available for 27 languages other than English.
  • Lots of Settings — two customizable fonts, customizable tab size, always-on-top option, save window placement option, and many more.
  • Favourites Menu — keep frequently-used files handy.
  • Text Buffers — up to ten fields of customizable text (with \n and \t support).
  • File Format OptionsDOS text, UNIX text, or Unicode.
  • Line/Column — displays cursor position in the status bar, plus a "Go to Line" feature.
  • Coder-Friendly Features — optional features like Smart Select and Smart Home, useful when writing code
  • Calculate Size — see how large your file is
  • Find/Replace Function — with find next, find previous, and case-matching options (with \n and \t support).
  • Text Block Editing Functionsindent/unindent, quote, strip first character, remove trailing whitespaces, wrap/unwrap.
  • String Editing Functions — convert case, tabify/untabify, OEM/ANSI format.
  • Insert Date/Time — long or short format.
  • Insert File
  • Recent Files List
  • Window Transparency
  • Hyperlink Support

I now use metapad for all .txt editing, and wouldn't even think about going back.

Get your copy of metapad at http://www.liquidninja.com/metapad/. If you'd like to replace Notepad with metapad, the FAQ on the website contains instructions for making metapad the default .txt editor under many different versions of Windows. The FAQ also contains answers to many other questions, including an explanation of all the options in the Settings dialog.

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