Windows Notepad Get Major Update, Will Now Be Able To Display All Text Files Properly


Windows Notepad has always had a problem displaying line breaks from non-Microsoft operating systems. It is now being updated to be able to handle the end of line characters used in Unix, Linux, and macOS systems.

Notepad will finally be displaying all text files correctly.

Notepad Update

In a blog post, Microsoft acknowledges Notepad's problem with line breaks. Due to the way that other operating systems formatted their line breaks, Notepad couldn't display the contents of texts files made in Unix, Linux, and macOS correctly. This would cause all of the contents of those files to appear in one line and made it look garbled.

Microsoft announced that starting with the latest version of Windows 10 Insider build, that Notepad will begin supporting Unix/Linux line endings (LF), Macintosh line endings (CR), and Windows line endings (CRLF). All of the files that are created in Notepad will use the CRLF line ending by default.

One of the changes coming to the application is that the status bar will now show which end of line format is being used by the file that is currently open. This change can also be disabled by changing the registry keys which will revert the program to its original behaviors.

To do that users will have to go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Notepad in the registry. Then go to fWindowsOnlyEOL and change the value to 1. This will let users see files in the previous garbled form.

Windows Notepad And Line Breaks

Windows Notepad usually has problems reading line breaks from text files from other operating systems. This is because it was only programmed to understand the way that Windows made line endings. Windows, Unix, and MacOS all have different ways of indicating in a text file that there will be a line ending.

Window's way of telling Notepad that there will be a line ending involves two characters, the carriage return (CR), which precedes the line feed (LF). Both characters have different jobs, the CR moves the print head to the start of the line, and the LF moves the paper by one line, according to Ars Technica.

Other systems don't follow this same technique. Unix uses a bare line feed to tell the program that a new line has begun. Previous versions of MacOS use a bare carriage return to do the same thing. This method never carried over into Windows, which always made Notepad require the carriage return and line feed for text files.

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