Converting a Comma-Separated List in Notepad++

To replace any character with a newline in Notepad++, navigate to Search > Replace > Replace. Enter the character you want to replace in the "Find What" box, enter "\n" in the "Replace With" box, set the search mode to "Extended," then click "Replace All."

If you have a list of values in a text file separated by a character (such as a comma or pipe) but would rather have each item on its own line, you can do the newline conversion automatically in Notepad++. Here’s how.

Convert Any Character into a Newline with Notepad++

Notepad++ includes a feature to replace any separator in your text files with a newline character, which is a special invisible character that signifies the end of a line and the beginning of a new one. So if you have, say, a list of comma-separated values (for example: “Windows, iPhone, Mac, Android”), you can put each item in the list on a new line.

To do this, download the free Notepad++ app and install it on your computer. It’s officially supported only on Windows, but you can get a Linux port too.

Then, launch the app from the Start menu.

Launch Notepad++ in the Windows Start menu.

In the Notepad++ window, open the text file that includes the list that you want to convert. Alternately, you can paste your item list on a line.

A Notepad++ window showing a comma-separated list.

Next, click the “Search” menu and select “Replace.” Alternately, you can press Ctrl+H on your keyboard.

Select Search > Replace in Notepad++.

In the Replace window that opens, click the “Find What” text entry box and type the current item separator. In our example case, our items are separated by a comma and a space, so we’ll type a comma and then press Space. If your items are separated by pipes only, type the pipe character (“|”).

In the “Replace With” box, type this:


Next, locate the “Search Mode” box and select “Extended.” This allows the replace action to convert “\n” into a newline character. Then, click “Replace All” on the right side of the window.

And just like magic, each item in your list will now be on its own line.

A newline separated list in Notepad++.

If you want to reverse the process, just open Search > Replace in the menu again. In the “Find What” box, enter “\n”. In the Replace with box, type the character that you want to replace it with. Make sure “Extended” is selected and click “Replace All,” and your list will go back to being separated by a standard character, such as a comma or pipe.

How to Convert a Newline Character into Any Other Separator

Likewise, you can also replace the newline character with any other separator using the same method as described above in Notepad++. (There are only a few minor differences in the process due to the different ways that various platforms handle newlines.)

To do this, open Notepad++ and the text file that you want to convert or paste your items list into.

Another newline-separated item list in Notepad++.

In your Notepad++ window, click the “Edit” menu and select Blank Operations > EOL to Space. Here, EOL means “End of Line,” and this option converts the invisible newline characters into spaces.

In the "Edit" menu, select "Blank Operations" and "EOL to Space" option in Notepad++.

After that, you’ll find that all your items are now on a single line separated by a space.

A list of items on one line in Notepad++.

To convert this into a comma-separated list using Notepad++, click Search > Replace in the menu.

Select Search > Replace in Notepad++.

In the “Replace” window, click the “Find What” box and press Space. Then, place your cursor in “Replace With” and type the character that you’d like to replace space with, such as comma (“,”) or a command and a space for a human-readable format.

When you’re ready, click “Replace All” on the right.

Your list items will now be separated by the new separator you chose.

A comma-separated item list in Notepad++.

Repeat this as often as you’d like, and you’ll have all your lists in perfect shape quickly.

By the way, if you don’t like Notepad++, you can find and replace text using Microsoft Word as well. Using that option, you can search for any character and convert it into the one of your choice.

RELATED: How to Find and Replace Text in Microsoft Word

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Mahesh Makvana is a freelance tech writer who specializes in writing how-to guides. He has been writing tech tutorials for over a decade now. He’s written for some of the prominent tech sites including MakeUseOf, MakeTechEasier, and Online Tech Tips.
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