Microsoft’s Notepad goes from a simple text editor to a mini-Word thanks to spell check and autocorrect – but could it lose its charm?

The once-unloved Microsoft Notepad app continues to get new features, with spell check and autocorrect reportedly coming to the Windows staple next. Originally debuting as a heavily stripped-down version of Microsoft Word, Notepad is now beginning to resemble Word more and more with each successive update. 

This latest Notepad update is currently only available in Windows 11 Preview Build 26085, which you can get through the Windows Insider Program, Microsoft’s community for professionals and Windows enthusiasts to try out new Windows versions and features before they’re released to the wider user base.

According to MSPowerUser, the upgraded Notepad app (version 11.2402.18.0) is available in both the Dev and Canary release channels of the Windows Insider Program. Apparently, the update will also allow users to customize how these new features are used. This is good news, as Notepad is widely known as a simple text editor, and I’m sure many users will prefer to keep it that way.

Windows Insider @PhantomOfEarth shared the Notepad upgrade on X (formerly Twitter), where he noted that the features are currently being tested by Microsoft ahead of a wider rollout. He also shared a screenshot of what Notepad’s settings page will look like and some of the new settings that users will be able to adjust (specifically, being able to turn autocorrect and spell check on and off).

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While not seen in this screenshot, MSPowerUser claims that additional settings will allow users to tailor their feature preferences even further by selecting which file types the new features apply to. It also reports that beyond Notepad, Microsoft is experimenting with new sections in the Windows 11 settings menu and new user interface (UI) animations that will be included in this Windows preview build.

Early user reception of the new Notepad

The introduction of spell check and autocorrect into Notepad follows the recent introduction of Cowriter, an artificial assistant (AI) writing assistant, which was seen in a previous preview build.

Cowriter didn’t get the warmest user response, as again, Notepad is Windows’ staple ‘simple text app’, and many users aren’t interested in additional bells and whistles. It’s also a pretty overt attempt by Microsoft to carry out its promise to inject AI into as much of the user experience in Windows as possible, which has rubbed some users the wrong way. 

It does seem that Microsoft may have taken note of this backlash in its attempts to try and flesh out Notepad further, with it giving the users options in settings to turn the new features on and off, and tailor what file types they apply to. I think this is wise and Microsoft would do well to keep this behavior up, especially if it insists on changing and removing apps that users love and have gotten used to over decades.  After all, Microsoft killed off WordPad just a few months ago – but that doesn’t mean we all want Notepad to simply replace it. Sometimes, simplicity is better. 

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Microsoft is adding ChatGPT-powered AI to its iconic Notepad app – but does it need it?

Do you think the iconic Windows Notepad app lacks flashy features? Then don’t worry – Microsoft is integrating ChatGPT AI into Notepad for Windows 11. 

Microsoft’s newest all-purpose digital AI assistant, Windows Copilot, has been around for a little while now, and it’s currently fairly limited in what it can actually do. Microsoft is no doubt working on adding features, such as the recently-added ability to analyze user-uploaded screenshots. Alongside Copilot, Microsoft announced a specific assistant AI bot for Paint named Cocreator, an AI image generator that generates images from a user-provided description. 

Now, it looks like Notepad, a Windows staple and simple text editor that’s been included as default on Windows devices since 1983, is also getting a Cocreator of sorts (possibly named Cowriter). Windows Latest reports that Microsoft is testing out an AI bot powered by GPT-4, OpenAI’s large language model (LLM) and its most advanced language generation system. 

References to this feature (yet to be officially announced and released by Microsoft) have been spotted in the app package folder of Notepad by Windows enthusiasts. The updated Notepad app package reportedly has files with prefixes like “CoWriterCreditLimitDialog”, “CoWriterDropDownButton”, and “CoWriterWaitlistDialog” in their names. According to Windows Latest, these refer to user interface (UI) elements and dialogs that we could possibly see in Notepad AI’s UI.

Copilot in Windows

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Sneaking a peak at what's coming to Notepad's UI

From what we’ve seen so far, an AI-assist bot in Notepad will enable users to enlist ChatCPT-powered text generation directly in the Notepad app. That said, it looks like there will be limits in place, with the reference “CreditLimitDialog” suggesting a potential usage quota and “credit” system for how much you can use the AI feature. If it’s similar to Bing Image Generator or Cocreator in Paint, you’ll probably receive boosts (or credits), to generate unique content within Notepad. After this initial bonus amount, you might still be able to generate content with Notepad’s AI feature, but it’ll take longer than it does using the boosts. 

Because Microsoft itself hasn’t announced the feature yet, we don’t know if the credits will be on a word-by-word basis. 

Other references have been spotted that might indicate what Notepad’s AI will look like in Notepad’s UI. A reference to “CoWriterDropDownButton” points to a button on the right hand side of Notepad that allows you to open up the Notepad AI feature’s panel to use it. This was spotted by Windows Insiders, members of the Windows Insider Program which allows enthusiasts and developers to previous upcoming Windows features and builds, who publicized their findings on X (formerly Twitter). 

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One other UI-type reference that was found was “CoWriterInfoButton” which could be a button that might work like a “Help” button. This could provide users with more information such as instructions on how to use it, ideas for how users can use the feature, and other help and troubleshooting information. 

Windows Latest speculates that Notepad’s AI feature might start rolling out to tests (presumably Windows Insiders) very soon, but there might be a waitlist (according to references found by some Windows testers according to The Verge). 

This isn’t the first AI-powered text editing feature that Microsoft has worked on – it introduced an Editor feature to Microsoft Edge last year that was capable of a range of text-related functions. These include spelling and grammar suggestions, autocompletion functions, help with research and formatting, and rewriting and clarity-related suggestions. 

In a similar way, Notepad’s AI tool will seek to make suggestions relevant to the context of the document and specific to the type of content you’re writing. In a promotional image for the feature, found in Notepad’s updated app package, there’s a counter in the bottom ribbon of Notepad that reads “1 of 4,” indicating that you can get multiple suggestions for a text selection that you can browse and choose one to your liking. You can ask for modifications to do with “Length,” “Tone,” “Format,” and “Instructions” for a selection of text, similar to how Windows Copilot functions in Office apps like Word, Powerpoint, and Outlook.

Microsoft Office Visual Refresh

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The AI tool might be in testing – but opinions are already coming out

Vigilant observers also pointed out that there’s a “thumbs up” icon with a counter to allow users to give their opinion of the output that the AI tool produces, similar to the feedback function you can see in ChatGPT itself after it gives you a response. Feedback helps the developers of these AI tools fine-tune them to provide better responses. 

When Copilot was first introduced, Microsoft made it clear that it wants to transform how you interact with Windows altogether with the help of Copilot and that Copilot was going to make its way through Microsoft 365’s apps, and be deeply embedded in Windows 11 to help you with all kinds of tasks. This development shows just how insistent Microsoft seems to be about Copilot, and AI-assistant bots and features in general. Some people point out that apps like Notepad and Paint are known for their straightforwardness, and that an AI-assist bot detracts more from that than it helps. The feature has not yet officially been debuted for beta testing in testing channels, but Microsoft seems very keen to push forward with AI on as many fronts as possible. 


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Windows 11 gets a bunch of small but useful changes – including something nifty for Notepad

Microsoft has pushed out a new preview build for Windows 11, and made some useful changes in the earliest development channel – plus the company has applied some nifty tweaks for default apps in testing, too.

Let’s start with the freshly deployed preview build 25941 in the Canary channel, which introduces a toggle to turn on dynamic refresh rate (in Advanced Display settings). This allows Windows 11 to adjust the refresh rate of the screen on-the-fly, so when you don’t need to be running at the display’s maximum refresh, it can be toned down, thus saving a bit of power with your high refresh rate display.

Another related tweak is that when choosing a refresh rate, Windows 11 will now mark rates (with an asterisk) that can’t currently be selected due to the resolution you’re running at (but could be used at a different resolution).

Build 25941 also has a raft of bug fixes as detailed in Microsoft’s blog post introducing this new preview version.

Elsewhere in testing, Microsoft has rolled out updates for the Snipping Tool and Notepad apps in Windows 11 (for Canary and also Dev channel testers).

With the Snipping Tool, users now get the benefit of a ‘combined capture bar,’ a panel that easily allows you to switch between capturing screenshots and video clips. And with those videos, screen recording has been bolstered so you can record the PC audio and a voiceover using a microphone should you wish.

As for Notepad, this is getting an auto-save feature. Anything you write will be saved, and sessions will be saved when you close Notepad, coming back up when you next start the app.

Analysis: Small tweaks with bigger results

Dynamic refresh rate is a neat feature to see arrive in Canary (it was previously in Dev channel, too), and hopefully this will be inbound for beta builds before too long, and shuffling its way through to the release version of Windows 11.

It’s going to be of considerable benefit to laptop owners, as the energy savings to be made by lowering the refresh rate (where possible – such as when you have a screenful of text you’re reading, which really doesn’t require any smoothness) will add up to longer battery life when out and about.

As for the beefed-up Snipping Tool, that’s a more streamlined experience, and the support for voiceovers will doubtless be welcomed by those knocking up, say, a quick help video on how to do something on the Windows 11 desktop.

It’s certainly useful to give Notepad auto-save – it’s a favorite app for some folks – for obvious reasons (and there’s the ability to switch it off, if you don’t want it). What’s also cool about this is that you don’t have to engage with any dialog boxes (such as confirming ‘Do you want to save?’). Notepad just keeps the content saved without prompting you when you close the app, bringing the text back when it’s reopened.

Via Neowin

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Windows 11 finally gets its killer feature with emojis for Notepad

In the latest feature update to Windows 11, you can insert emoji icons into a Notepad file, alongside other new features.

Notepad has not seen improvements since 2006, with a visual update to match Windows Vista. However, Microsoft has now added a dark mode, a new look to align it to other apps in Windows 11, and a redesigned menu to select different fonts.

These updates were released in a February feature update, which also brought the ability to try out Android apps in the Microsoft Store

In a detailed blog post by Murray Sargent, Principle Software Engineer at Microsoft, he speaks of the efforts in moving Notepad to a new engine in Windows 11, which brings, most importantly, emoji support.

Analysis: The true Microsoft Word rival?

Notepad emoji picker in Windows 11

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Sure enough, pressing the Windows key and full stop key together in Notepad displays the emoji menu, where you can insert reactions, animals, signs, and more into a document.

Notepad has been a popular app for jotting down quick lists or thoughts for years, which you would then move to an office suite of your choice, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

But Microsoft is making a concerted effort to make Notepad a modern app for Windows 11. The updates are helping to make it a tool for writing more than simple lists and notes, and emojis can be a big appeal to users who haven't used Notepad in years.

The new RichEdit engine that Sargant speaks of in the blog posts allows for features like emojis to appear, but he also talks about what could be possible for the future, such as programming features and web files.

For some use-cases, such as a short report or a chapter to the book you've always wanted to write, the formatting options, thanks to the new engine, could mean that Notepad remains a mainstay on your taskbar for years to come.

But the next question is what Microsoft has in store for Notepad in future versions of Windows 11, or even Windows 12?

Via WindowsLatest

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The new and improved Notepad arrives for all Windows 11 testers

The new year has started with the refreshed Notepad app being made available for all Windows 11 Insiders who can test upcoming updates.

Similar to what Clock and Office 2021 brought, Notepad is also getting the Fluent Design makeover, which brings rounded corners to windows, a softer font to menu dropdown lists, and dark mode compatibility.

The update has been available in the Insider Build Dev Channel of Windows 11 since December, where you can test features under development, but the company has decided to roll it out to users who are testing out upcoming features of Windows 11 on all channels. 

It’s the most significant update of Notepad in years, similar to Paint’s update a few months ago, but don’t expect this simple text editing app to replace Microsoft Word anytime soon.

Analysis: A unified effort

Microsoft has been making efforts to make its apps match the new look and feel of Windows 11, and it’s overdue.

In previous releases of Windows 8 and Windows Vista, some apps had felt out of place, such as Mail and Disk Management. But there’s a concerted effort from the company to ensure that these apps have a unified design where users don’t feel lost, whilst ensuring that the apps and the operating system look similar, but modern.

We’ve been encouraged by this effort from Microsoft so far, and there are other apps that we believe should also benefit from this as well. Other apps are also making a comeback in Windows 11, with Windows Media Player recently returning to replace Groove Music.

But Notepad is an app that you use almost without thinking. It’s a go-to app where you jot down lists or thoughts for the day to save for later. But it’s also a great example of an app that’s not seen an update since 2001.

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Something as minor as dark mode and rounded corners will be welcomed here, alongside a new Settings option to switch between themes and font options as well. But Notepad’s appeal is in its simplicity, which makes it a good alternative to Microsoft Word or other fully-featured (and overcomplicated) office apps.

Other apps that have seen updates in their design have either been included in a Windows update or are available to download on the Microsoft Store. We suspect that the updated Notepad will be a part of a bigger Windows 11 update coming soon – so you won’t need to be a Windows Insider to try it out.

Via Windows Blog

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With Notepad being updated for Windows 11, what other apps could benefit?

More of Microsoft’s apps are slowly being updated to match the aesthetic of Windows 11, but three apps could also benefit from this upgrade.

Notepad is the latest to reap the benefits of Fluent Design, with re-arranged features, an updated look, and a dark mode option for when you decide to change your desktop theme to a darker shade.

Currently in testing in the Insider Build Dev Channel of Windows 11, where you can test features under development, it’s the most significant update of Notepad in years, similar to Paint’s update a few months ago.

However, with Notepad and soon a new Windows Media Player about to be released to everyone in a forthcoming update, we wondered what other applications could benefit from a similar refresh in Windows 11.

Our three picks


Windows 11 weather widget

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Users of iOS 15 have been treated to a redesigned weather app, which adapts to the state of the weather in your location. If it’s raining, droplets of water will bounce and land on the menus, while a ray of sunshine with lens flare will cover the whole layout on another day.

Seeing something similar in Windows 11 would be great, compared to the simple user interface we currently have. There’s a weather widget, but it feels as though there should be more to take advantage of the Fluent Design language of Windows 11.

Alongside this, notifications would be a great addition for when there’s rain scheduled, so you can prepare for an umbrella when you need to head out for some errands.


Pinball3D running in Edge browser, in Windows 11

(Image credit: Microsoft)

While you can download games from the redesigned Microsoft Store, alongside Android apps that are about to arrive for Windows 11, there’s a distinct lack of built-in games available.

Windows XP, released in 2001, arrived with a built-in pinball game that allowed you to ramp up high scores to see how long you could last with three balls.

While we spoke about how the game has been rebuilt as a web app, we’d love to see a sequel or a remake come to Windows 11. Have it feature achievements and unique 2-player modes. Perhaps allow each player to control one flip action, while another controls part of the pinball table.

There’s plenty of potential here, and after twenty years, it’s time for a revival.

Windows Update

Windows 11 update showing as available

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Updating your PC can be frustrating, especially when an update doesn’t work properly. Going to the Settings app in Windows 11 is a slight improvement compared to Windows 10, mainly due to available updates being more visible, but there’s a lot more that can be done.

Easier ways of seeing which updates were installed and which failed would be a great first start, but the process of registering and de-registering for the Windows Insider Programme could go a long way.

This is where you can try out versions of Windows under development that have features not available to the wider public. This is how Notepad and the new Windows Media Player are currently being tested.

If you want to remove your PC from the Insider Programme, you’re required to wipe your PC, which isn’t an ideal solution. Apple does it better by removing your Mac or iOS from the beta program once a new update is officially released, leaving your data completely.

Instead, having the Insider Programme and Windows Update as one separate app, with a simplified user interface could be a big help to those who are anxious about updating their PCs, in fear of updates worsening their devices.

Updates with explainers on what they are and what they feature could help break down that anxiety and give a greater understanding of what an update can provide.

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