Unconventional Text Editors for Windows

Notepad is still around, just as it has aLeah’s been. A stalwart component of the Windows operating system, it is overwhelmingly likely you’ve used it before. You might not have liked using it, but you did.

Chief among the reasons you might not have liked using Notepad on Windows is how it works. Depending on what you set out to do, you might have found it does not suit your needs. Fear not: we’ve already outlined three of the best direct replacements for Notepad.

But what if they don’t scratch your itch? Here are a few options that deviate from Notepad’s fundamental design.

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WikidPad plays by Wikipedia’s rules when it comes to linking text together, meaning anything can be linked to from within another body of text.

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Installation is also handled well, giving a choice between a conventional installation and a portable installation.

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WikidPad’s only issue is that, by default, it does not work properly on Windows 8, 8.1 or 10. While we cannot confirm the same fault exists in Windows 7, it seems quite likely. This can be rectified by running it via Compatibility Mode with Windows XP where it works perfectly.

There is a steep learning curve you must surmount to really get the most out of WikidPad. The “WikiWords” are a basic element of the software; any single word with mixed case letters (for example, “eMail”) is treated as a WikiWord. Double clicking this word would then bring you to your main entry for eMail.

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If you find it beneficial, you’ll be pleased to know you can colour-code just about everything in the tree browser on the left-hand side of the window, and you can export your files to HTML for viewing in a web browser, too.

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Originally developed for Linux, CherryTree has since been made available on Windows as well. It’s simultaneously a possible replacement for Notepad and for Wordpad, given how it lets you choose between plain text and rich text formatting for what it calls “nodes.” You might even be able to push its functionality further, given its support for both tables and code.

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Nodes work as different categories and sections, with “child” nodes branching from “father” nodes. If this isn’t deep enough for you, you can create grandchildren from your child nodes or even great-grandchildren. There’s an enormous amount of flexibility.

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The file formats available are SQLite and XML, both of which can be password-secured. The XML files are substantially smaller, but you can export either to a variety of formats, including HTML and PDF. Either way all nodes are stored in the one file meaning that you can copy this single file to a memory stick – no more losing valuable files!

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Rich text editing is oddly implemented. Rather than being able to press “Ctrl + B” to begin writing in bold, you’ll have to highlight words you wish to modify. However, the issue with formatting makes more sense when you examine the shortcuts which are set up to make returning to entered text less of a chore.

CherryTree’s other interesting feature is a full screen mode in a similar vein to “zenware” text editors. We covered some available online and on Windows before, though they’re perhaps a little too niche to totally replace Notepad in the same way as CherryTree could.

WikidPad and CherryTree both take text editing in different directions, allowing you to link seemingly unrelated pieces of writing. CherryTree takes a more orderly approach to connecting different ideas, grouping them into sections as you like. WikidPad is more fluid, allowing you to come up with links on the fly while you are writing. In this respect it’s more analogous to Wikipedia than its alternative.

Both programs have their merits, depending on what you want to do with them. Depending on how you work and how you want Notepad to work, both are very viable options.

Should neither of these programs quite scratch the itch for you, we have a series of articles on Markdown editors available both online and offline.

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