If you want to edit plain text documents, Notepad++ has all the tools you need, and a few more beside
Many people use Notepad for editing simple text documents and program/webpage code because it is small and fast. The disadvantage is that it lacks many features that would be very useful, especially when looking at programming code. Notepad++ 6.1 has a useful document map for navigating long files and has better performance at opening big documents
Notepad++ is designed for this purpose and so comes with lots of useful tools, including colour coding special words in code and the ability to hide sections of a document.
Installation is easy with an option for installing to a USB key and making it the default viewer when viewing the source code of web pages in Internet Explorer. The latter is particulary useful trying to troubleshoot problems.
Extra plugins installed automatically include a file browser, spell checker and a function list. Extra plugins can be downloaded from the Notepad++ website for features such as code completion.
It even has a built in ftp tool so you can access and edit files on a website directly rather than working through an extra program.
Notepad++ can recognise a wide variety of different text file types from HTML and CSS to XML and Python. This adds colour coding to documents, which is a big help when looking for problems.
Lines can be set to a particular width and documents converted between different standards of the same file format. Not a common problem but frustrating when it happens. Other macros can remove problem sections of text and you can record your own.
The Style Configurator can be used to define all of the colour coding settings along with the default font used for editing. Fixed width fonts are best for writing code. Courier New is the default but we use Consolas when it is available. A good free alternative is called Inconsolata. It is much easier to read.
Notepad++ can even completely replace the standard Notepad. This does involve some manual editing of the Registry, so take a backup first.
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More capable than Notepad, especially if you do any kind of programming
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