Notepad and WordPad are packed in every copy of Windows. Despite having alike sounding names, they do different tasks. Let’s understand them better.

Text Editors: Text and Only Text

Text editors are what their name says they are: editing applications with only focus on plain text. These programs have nothing, or very little if at all, to offer when it comes to the formatting and style of the content.


They have to follow the concept called “plain text”, so they shun editing tags and visual styles and formatting too keep thing broad and wide. The .txt files they save have reading and editing compatibility with a vast number of applications.

For instance, configurations and settings that Windows applications save are just simple lists in .txt format. This is to enable the program read its own instructions and settings, and users to manually edit them in case of an error. Activity logs of programs are also saved in .txt format, and because of no styling and formatting the file are always tiny.


Programmers love plain text editors, and so some writers when going through the first stage of their projects. While in essence, the text editors’ text doesn’t have formatting, some editors however come with tools for basic formatting like wrapping and functions like cut, copy and paste.

Word Processors: Formatting for Print

Word processors are primarily meant for writing, not just text input. The files they produced are fit for reading, editing, and printing.


Their formatting tools are robust and comprehensive with options to cater to both print and digital outputs. They support the inserting of hyperlinks, tables, images and videos. Not only do they have their own formats, but also support general formats like .rtf.

Confusingly enough, they can read and edit the plain text .txt files. However, you should be careful when doing this, as saving .txt files as some rich format will render them unreadable for text editors.

Notepad and WordPad

Microsoft’s Notepad text editor goes back further than Windows itself. Back in 1983, it came as a bundled-in app with Microsoft Mouse, followed by its released with Windows in 1985. Despite it being super basic in terms of formatting, it’s undisputedly the most used program that comes by default.


Microsoft rolled out WordPad with its Windows 95, which has since maintained its position in the league. It took the place of Microsoft Write that came with Windows 1.0. For a free word processor, WordPad sits fair and square between Notepad dedicated paid programs like Corel’s WordPerfect and Microsoft Word.


As a basic text editor, Notepad takes best care of simple, small jobs, and also is a good fit for programming tasks.

Alternative Text Editors and Word Processors

The fact that Notepad and WordPad come free with doesn’t mean that you should think out of the Windows. There’s a big variety of both paid and free programs to these.


Notepad++, many programmers’ favorite alternative to Microsoft’s preserves the simple interface of a text editor with big cherry of useful features on top.