(For other word processing software, see word processing software.)

Overview/more info
See Word processors: Wordpad info.
[#wdpadsrc]: Publicly available source code

Wordpad source code has been made available by MSDN. A download page for Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Sample Library.

Executable location

In Windows 7 (and probably some earlier versions) this may be located at: "%ProgramFiles%\Windows NT\Accessories\Wordpad.exe"

(%ProgramFiles% exists in some newer operating systems, and is basically equivilent to %windir%\..\Program Files which is very often the C:\Program Files directory.)

This is often not in the path, and the presence of a space character may require using quotation marks around references to the path. The easiest solution to this may often be to run Write.exe which is a command that typically is in the default executable path.

Note: People who may start to use PowerShell are recommended to get used to typing the program's extension, because PowerShell has a Write-Output command that can be abbreviated as “write”. (This means that running “write” would end up running that PowerShell command. However, running “write.exe” successfully runs Wordpad.) (<sarcasm>Congratulations, for the sheer brilliance, to whatever software designer at Microsoft decided to override a widely used traditional command with something performing incompatible functionality.</sarcasm> Grr...)

Making Wordpad more like Notepad
Take care when saving

Most importantly, if trying to edit an ASCII text file with Wordpad instead of Notepad, be careful when saving. Make sure to save files in ASCII text, if that is what is desired.

Handling the ribbon

Information about handling the ribbon has been moved to the section on user interface basics: “ribbon”-style menu.

Alt-V (for View), w (for “Word Wrap”), and then w again (for “Word to window”) will cause the word wrapping to be based on the size of the window, instead of the ruler.

With these changes, a lot of the desired look of Wordpad becomes sufficiently similar to Notepad. (Another often desired change may be to use the View menu to turn off the Ruler.) Unfortunately, the changes might not be saved, and so may need to be done again when starting up another copy of Wordpad.

Seeing line numbers

Unfortunately, Wordpad does not seem to show a line counter like what is available in Notepad's status bar when word wrapping is turned off.

For text files that are less than 256 lines, a solution may be to convert the document to a numeric ordered list. Preliminary testing indicates that this will simply affect the style metadata, which gets thrown out when a document is saved in ASCII text format, so this document change doesn't end up affecting the entire document. (Thanks to eHow.com page on Wordpad line numbers for the idea!) This may be done by pressing: Ctrl-A (select All), Shift-F10 (context menu), L (for Lists menu), right arrow twice and Enter (to select the Numeric list format).

However, with older versions of Wordpad, the numbers simply keep being identified as 255 for any value over 254. (This was witnessed as recently as Win7 64-bit. The limit related to line 255 did not exist when tested in Windows 10 version 1607 “OS Build 14393.222”.)

[#somefnts]: Wordpad not displaying all fonts

Wordpad may not show all the fonts on a system. (Chances are, there may be more programs that exhibit this behavior.) Two reasons for that follow:

  1. Some fonts may not appear depending on what printer is installed. For example, if the "Generic / Text Only" printer driver bundled with Win98SE is installed, and the format bar (from the View menu) is displayed, the drop-down box will only show the current font ("Times New Roman") and "Roman 10cpi". (Interestingly, when running Wordpad, it starts by showing "Times New Roman (Western)", and then the " (Western)" disappears as the program is interacted with.) More fonts may be available via "Format, Font...". If a printer isn't set up (so the "Gerneric / T ext Only" printer gets uninstalled if it had previously been set up), more fonts will show up on the title bar.
  2. If the SCRIPT.FON from Windows 3.1 is installed, it may not show up as expected. Details on installing that correctly and then finding it in Wordpad follow. (It would make quite a bit of sense if some other font files may also have this happen in Wordpad.)

    One method to install a font is to go to the Control Panel (accessible via the Start Menu, and in some systems stored under the subsequent Settings menu), and select Fonts. Then under the File menu there should be "Install New Font..." Having the "Copy fonts to Fonts folder" checkbox being set/enabled/checked is the recommended option. Another method is to put the file in %windir%\FONTS\ and try rebooting.

    If SCRIPT.FON from Windows 3.1 is placed in %windir%\FONTS\ then that font will not show up before the system is rebooted. (Before rebooting, set ensure the %windir%\FONTS\ directory has the Read Only (and also the System) attributes since MS KB Q133725: Missing Menu Commands in the Fonts Folder (previously at http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q133/7/25.ASP) states this is needed. If the "Install New Font..." command doesn't exist under the file manu, Q133725 says to check the directory attributes. If that doesn't fix things, rename and then replace Fontext.dll which is found in the SYSTEM directory for Win9x and SYSTEM32 directory for at least some NT-based systems, using the Fontext.dll file from the original operating system installation files. In Win95/98, if that doesn't work, also replace %windir%\Fonts\Desktop.ini from the original Windows setup files.

    Once the SCRIPT.FON file is installed, it still won't show up in the list of fonts from selecting the "Fonts..." menu option (either from the "Format" menu or the document's shortcut menu by pressing Shift-F10 or right-clicking). However, using the mouse cursor and the drop down box from the "Format Bar" (which is on by default, and can be made visible if needed via the View menu), the Script font can show up.

(This is all assuming an official copy of Microsoft Windows is being used. Wine has been known to have font-related issues.)

More tidbits

People who plan to use Wordpad much may wish to be aware of these tidbits:

[#wdpdslct]: Text selection bug with Pg* keys

This has been noticed with at least the version of Microsoft Windows's Wordpad that has been bundled with the following versions of Microsoft Windows. (This behavior may affect other versions too.)

  • Microsoft Windows 7
  • Microsoft Windows 10 (Release 1607, “OS Build 14393.222”)

When working with a text file that is substantially large, showing more lines than what is visible in the window, and holding the Shift key and pressing “Page Up” (a.k.a. “PgUp”) or “Page Down” (a.k.a. “PgDown”, “PageDn”, or “PgDwn”) to start a text selection, may select some additional text near where the cursor started to select text. The additional text may be a single character, or multiple characters (seemingly up to the beginning of what Wordpad considers to be the start of a “word”, just like where the cursor will jump to if going forward or backwards a word by holding Ctrl and pressing horizontal-arrow).

This is easily visible by holding Shift and pressing either Page Down and then PgUp, or pressing PgUp and then Page Down. You can also use a rodent to scroll up (using a mouse wheel, or clicking on a scroll bar) and you'll clearly see what gets highlighted.

Operations like Cut or Copy will affect the text that was actually selected (not what the user had specified). Often, simple corrections can make this behavior end up being non-catastrophic if the behavior is known (and remembered) or the effects happen to get noticed, but the results can be less free of problems in other cases.

Holding Shift and then pressing the Down Arrow a couple of times, and then pressing Page Down (or PgUp) does NOT work around the bug. The bug seems to happen when Shift+Pg* is getting used, but it will affect a character by where the text selection started.

This seems to only occur when there is enough text that the start of the selection has scrolled off of the screen. (So, a simple test on a small file, where everything can be seen, does not reproduce the error. The error only occurs when it is less likely to be seen.)

There might be some limitations to this which aren't fully understood, such as only affecting things when the cursor is not at the beginning or end of a line of text. However, information has been shared (by being documented here) before this is being played around with further.

Alternating quotation mark style

This is probably a feature that has been added as non-ASCII characters became common.

[Ctrl-"] (Ctrl-“quotation mark”), which could also be described as Ctrl-Shift-apostraphe, will cause WordPad to switch between using non-directional quotation marks (e.g.: the more neutral " character, representing ASCII 34) when the user presses the quotation mark key (shift-apostraphe), and trying to intelligently use directional quotation marks (the “ character, and the ” character). The default is to use non-directional quotation marks, which is the setting that, generally, is actually better for making the most compatible ASCII text files.

Other character(s)
[#wdpdnbsp]: Non-breaking Space

Hold Shift and Ctrl, and press Space (and immediately release the Space key, and then release the Ctrl and Shift keys).

Saving this to a text file will save the ASCII character 255 (0xFF).

[#wdpdflfm]: File format support

The version of Write.Exe that came with Windows 95 supported reading at least some *.DOC Word Processor files, and called itself Wordpad. At least in Win98SE, this software would cause instability when trying to open *.DOC Word Processor files made from newer versions of Microsoft Word, crashing Wordpad itself and possibly, unfortunately, the entire running operating system instance. It added color support, but still lacked support for a basic dictionary.

MS KB 953331 notes, “notes, “Windows 7 adds the support in WordPad for the .docx odt.file types.” [sic]

In Windows 7, Wordpad doesn't seem to support the *.DOC format anymore. (That was Microsoft Word 2003's default format.)

Speculation: did Wordpad support *.WRI (“Windows Write”) file format?