How to Put “Open With Notepad” in Every Context Menu in Windows 7

How would you like to have the ability to open everything with Notepad using just two clicks? Normally, you have to right-click, go to “Open With,” and choose Notepad from a list of applications, if you’re lucky. Other times, you have to manually add Notepad to the menu. Why not just skip all that and have it in every context menu for every file type? Surely enough, Microsoft didn’t think it would ever be useful, but you may see the benefits of such a feature. I certainly do.

Why Would You Want This?

Perhaps you might not understand the need for a context option to open things with Notepad, but it might become clear enough once you start trying to edit SRT and SUB files without using third-party applications. Perhaps you want to edit a PHP or HTML file without having to open anything fancy. What if you know your way around things enough not to need any of those applications that only take up space on your hard drive and bloat up your memory for nothing?

If you’re a developer looking for a quick way to fix a line of code when something goes wrong instead of having to wait for a bloated Visual Studio to open, you’re going to wonder where this feature’s been all your life.

The Tutorial

The best part of this feature is that it doesn’t take a lot of steps and isn’t difficult to put into your computer. The following short tutorial will lead you to Notepad Enlightenment, I promise:

1. Press “Start + R” on your keyboard. This brings up the “Run” dialog.

2. Type “regedit” in the dialog and press “Enter” on your keyboard. This takes you to the registry editor.

NOTE: From here on in, don’t change anything unless instructed by this tutorial. Any stray changes to the registry might damage it and render your computer incapable of functioning. Back up your registry before making anything minor or major, like this project. Read the rest of the tutorial to determine whether you are capable of comprehending all of the steps. If you feel unsure about even one step, I recommend you forgo this experiment, because it involves modifying key components of the skeleton that holds your operating system up.

3. Navigate to “HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell.” You should be here:


4. Right-click “shell”, hover your mouse over “New”, and select “Key”. Name the key “Open with Notepad”.

5. Create another key under “Open with Notepad” called “command”. Select the new key you just created.

6. Right-click “(Default)” on the right side of the regedit window and click “Modify”. Under value data, type “notepad.exe %1”. This tells the context menu to open notepad with the contents of the selected file inside the window. Here’s what the final result should look like:


Now, go to a PHP file or something you consistently open using Notepad. Right-click on it, and click “Open with Notepad”. You just made your own little context menu with almost no effort. You can wipe the sweat off your forehead, but make sure you proceed with tons of care every time you work in the registry.

Miguel Leiva-Gomez
Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

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