Fire Notepad and Hire Metapad

Alex Gets Annoyed

Some time around 1999, Alexander Davidson grew so annoyed with Windows Notepad that he decided to create his own text editor. Metapad has undergone three major revisions since then. It’s basically a small executable file, only 94KB in size but it’s full of many useful features that you may not find anywhere else. In addition, after 10 years of development, it’s now FOSS (Free and open source software).

Over the years, I’ve tried at least 30 different free text editors. Despite that, Metapad is the only free Notepad replacement that I’d really hate to live without.


My favorite option is Show Hyperlinks(CTRL+K) and it turns a plain text document into a hyperlinked database by allowing clickable links.


URLs starting with http:or www.are recognized automatically.

Adding the key word mailto:in front of an email address creates a working hyperlink.

Files and folders will need to have the file:prefix in their location but UNC paths (e.g. \\ComputerName\SharedFolder\Resource) are automatically recognized and linked.

Note: Spaces in file and folder paths will break these links, but using %20instead of a space will fix this problem.

Wrong: file:C:\Documents and Settings\

Right: file:C:\Documents%20and%20Settings\

Options and Toolbar

The most significant options are just under the “Options” menu and are also assigned to hotkeys for instant use.


Other commonly used features are displayed in the toolbar at the top of the application.


Many people will agree that it’s aggravating to attempt dragging and dropping selected text in Notepad, only to find the Notepad just won’t do it. If you are used to this feature in other editors, you’ll be happy to know that it’s supported in Metapad.

Favorites and Recent Files

Metapad includes a Favouriteslist and also a Recent Fileslist so that you rarely have to use the “Open File” button and waste time looking for files.


Block and Convert Selected

When you’ve selected a section of text, the Block features in the Edit menu will let you do some pretty amazing things such as block indents and paragraph unwraps.


The Convert features under the Edit menu add more text magic to Metapad’s bag of tricks.


External Viewers

The geekier among us may like the ability to add two external viewersthat you can launch from the toolbar. If you’d like to edit the text file you are working on in another editor or viewer, the General tab in the Settings applet allows you to specify their locations.


Fonts and Advanced Settings

You can choose two different fonts in the View tab.


There are more settings in the Advanced1 tab.


The Advanced2 tab allows you to add up to ten Quick buffersthat can be changed in the Settings or even on the fly with a key combination. These are handy for pasting in commonly used phrases by simply holding down the ALT key and hitting the numbers 0 through 9.



Give Metapad a try and I think you’ll quickly see that Notepad should be fired or at least given a gold watch and retired.

The toughest part of switching entirely to Metapad is creating new file type associations for .txt and other plain text files but you’ll find it’s actually pretty easy after you’ve studied our How-To articles for XP and Vista.

Download Metapad

Published by

Clif Sipe

Promoting Freeware and Free information since 2004. Owner of with over 2000 pages of freebies. Please subscribe to my Google Feed or follow me on Twitter @clifnotes.