Notepad vs. Notepad++: What’s the Difference?

Notepad++ and Notepad are two text editors (or notetaking software) that let you create, open, and edit text files on your computer. Both are free, though there are two versions of Notepad++ – one that you can use completely free and another with features designed for programmers or advanced users that costs a few dollars. This article looks at the differences between the two so you can choose which one will be best suited to your needs.

What is Notepad?

Every time you open a file in notepad, you’re given an empty page with nothing but a few default settings. The most common options include syntax highlighting and line numbers. If you’re using it to work on a large or intricate document, these few features may not be enough to get your job done. But if you’re simply working on one-off documents or taking notes for yourself, then it’s good enough.

What is Notepad++?

Anyone who’s written code knows how important it is to have a good text editor—otherwise, it can be like writing in the sand. Unless you want to go with something super basic, like notepad (or its siblings) on Windows or TextEdit on Mac, you need something a little more powerful—and that’s where Notepad++ comes in.

Differences between Notepad and Notepad++

  • Notepad is a simple text editor that allows users to write and edit plain-text files.
  • Notepad++ is a free cross-platform text editor developed by Notepad++ Development Team.
  • Both are text editors but they have different features.
  • Notepad is a basic text editor while Notepad++ has many advanced features like syntax highlighting, code folding, etc.
  • Notepad can only open text files while Notepad++ can open any type of file including images, videos, audio, etc.
  • Notepad is a single-user application whereas Notepad++ is a multi-user application.

1. Open Source: Notepad vs Notepad++

The notepad program that comes with Windows is a stripped-down version of a text editor called Notepad. notepad was created by Microsoft, but it wasn’t very popular. Many programmers preferred to use another text editor called Notepad, which came as part of an open-source project called C-Dilla.

2. Single Window Interface: Notepad vs Notepad++

The primary benefit of a single-window interface is simplicity. For example, imagine that you have five documents open in Word 2010. To find a particular document, you have to scan through your other four open windows to locate it. With Notepad, you can see all of your files at once, making it much easier to find what you’re looking for.

3. Extended Features: Notepad vs Notepad++

The appeal of Notepad++ stems from its extended features. These range from syntax highlighting to tabbed editing, FTP, macro recording, auto-completion, and even multi-line matching. The developers also provide a custom API that can be integrated into other programs—anyone who wants to integrate features like these will find plenty of help in exploring that API.

4. Coding Languages: Notepad vs Notepad++

The two most common coding languages used today are HTML and CSS. These languages aren’t difficult to learn but can be overwhelming if you are a beginner. In contrast, C is a simple programming language that will allow you to write simple code quickly. Beginners may find it more manageable than other languages because it doesn’t require as much planning.

5. Syntax Highlighting and Autocomplete: Notepad vs Notepad++

One of Notepad++’s main selling points is that it includes syntax highlighting, a feature that not only makes code more readable but also helps to prevent syntax errors. As for autocomplete, well, if you’ve ever used one of those omnipotent text editors I mentioned above, you know what I mean. Having your tools do all the heavy lifting for you can seriously speed up your workflow.

6. Keyboard Shortcuts: Notepad vs Notepad++

A keyboard shortcut is a combination of keystrokes on a computer that triggers a specific command. Keyboard shortcuts can save you time, but many programmers find them hard to learn, especially if they’re not using a program every day. Check out these must-know shortcuts for common programs, such as Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop. Then, look into your programs—you might be surprised by how many shortcuts are available to you!

7. Plugins: Notepad vs Notepad++

There are a host of plugins to choose from with Notepad++, including syntax highlighting, code snippets, and macros. Plugins can be added via download or by manually typing them in (if they’re written as text files). Plugins are also available for advanced coding languages like Java. With Notepad, you don’t have to worry about downloading any plugins; it doesn’t support them. However, if you use a lot of different file types that require different features and functionality, it may not be for you.

8. Free: Notepad vs Notepad++

Microsoft’s notepad app comes free with every installation of Windows, but it also has a useful cousin called Notepad++. Like Microsoft’s offering, it is an open-source, lightweight text editor that you can use to create notes or edit code. Unlike its more basic cousin, though, it comes packed with features like multi-line editing and code highlighting in dozens of languages.


While both products are helpful, they serve different purposes. For basic note-taking and coding, Microsoft Notepad should suffice; if you’re a programmer or need more functionality for your daily notes, you may want to switch to Notepad++. While it can take some time to get used to its features, in most cases it will be well worth your time. You won’t regret switching!