The notepad.exe is a protected system file, much like the explorer.exe, however you can replace the notepad with notepad++ or notepad2 with some tricks. Detailed instructions after the break.
This is an extensive guide that will teach you how to replace the notepad with either notepad2 or notepad++ in Windows 7. This should also work in Windows XP and Windows Vista.
Table Of Contents - Quick Links!
- Replace Notepad with Notepad2
- Registry Keys for Notepad2 (Easy-Install)
- Replace Notepad with Notepad++
My recommendation: Use notepad2 and you won’t have to replace the notepad over and over again, because it’s only a registry value that you have to add, which can also be removed quite easily. If you replace the notepad with notepad++, you’ll might have to repeat the steps again. Tip: Bookmark this tutorial!
Replace Notepad with Notepad2
1. Download Latest Notepad2 (Notepad2 4.1.24 right now)
2. Install it.
3. Open elevated registry editor:
4. Uncollapse HKEY_LOCA_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\
5. Right-click on Image File Execution Options and click on New – Key, enter notepad.exe
6. Now in the right-pane: Right-click and create a new string value:
7. Give the string the name Debugger
8. Double-click on Debugger and enter the full path to the Notepad2 exe file, e.g. “C:\Windows\Notepad2.exe” and add /z at the end! Complete path: “C:\Windows\Notepad2.exe” /z
Download Registry Keys for Notepad2
Optionally you can use the following registry keys. Copy this into a notepad and save it as a .reg file (select all from the dropdown when you save the file). Also replace C:\Notepad2\Notepad2.exe with your own path:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\notepad.exe]
Replace Notepad with Notepad++
Replacing the notepad with notepad++ in Windows 7 is slightly more complicated than replacing the notepad with notepad2. Why? Because you actually have to replace system files, which is difficult for beginners.
4. Enter cd C:\Windows\
5. Enter TAKEOWN /F notepad.exe
6. Enter ICACLS notepad.exe /grant administrators:F Replace administrators with your username
7. Rename notepad.exe to notepad2.exe
8. Download notepad.exe (launcher) for either 32-bit or 64-bit:
Optionally, you can also download this notepad++ launcher from here.
Copy notepad.exe or notepad64.exe to C:\Windows, respectively C:\Windows\system32.
9. Rename notepad.exe/notepad64.exe to notepad.exe
10. Repeat steps 4-9 for C:\Windows\system32\notepad.exe
If you run into any problems or if you have any questions, please post a comment below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Tip: Keep in mind that you will have to replace the notepad++ files again if you should ever use the Windows System File Checker SFC.exe to restore the original system files. Therefore I recommend notepad2, which is a lot easier to handle.
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