Notepad Windows 11 dark mode

Microsoft revamped the Notepad application in Windows 11 last year, giving it a fresh new look and a few new features. More improvements are on the way, according to a new blog post.

Microsoft has started rolling out an update to Notepad on various Windows Insider builds. The most important change is that Notepad is actually natively-compiled for ARM Windows PCs (on versions 11.2204 and higher), so it will be much faster on ARM-powered laptops like the Surface Pro X. It’s a bit ridiculous that Microsoft has waited over four years since Windows on ARM was released to update a core application like Notepad, but the text editor isn’t alone — the Microsoft Store is also undergoing the same update.

image of Notepad with access keys highlighted
Notepad with keyboard access keys Microsoft

Microsoft is testing other improvements that will speed up Notepad on all PCs, not just ARM laptops. The company said in a blog post, “in addition to the improved performance on ARM64 devices, you’ll notice additional performance improvements—especially when scrolling very large files or replacing large amount of text—across all devices in version 11.2205 and higher available in the Dev channel.”

Finally, Notepad will soon have improved support for screen readers, text scaling, access keys, and other accessibility features. Those changes are available in version 11.2204 and higher in all Preview channels.

Before last year, Notepad had changed very little since the first versions of Windows. It was always intended as a plain text editor, with Microsoft offering Word (and previously WordPad) as more powerful alternatives. The first significant update in at least a decade started rolling out in February, with a new design (matching Windows 11), rounded corners, a dark theme, multi-level undo, drag-and-drop, and other changes. Notepad is still strictly for plain text editing, but it’s a lot better at that now.

Microsoft should roll out the new Notepad features to everyone once any bugs are worked out. Notepad is currently updated through the Microsoft Store, so the finalized update might not require a specific Windows system update.

Source: Windows Insider Blog

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Corbin Davenport is the News Editor at How-To Geek, an independent software developer, and a podcaster. He previously worked at Android Police, PC Gamer, and XDA Developers.
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