The notepad.exe is a protected system file, much like the explorer.exe, however you can replace the notepad with notepad++ or notepad2 with some tricks. Detailed instructions after the break.

Replace notepad with notepad++

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This is an extensive guide that will teach you how to replace the notepad with either notepad2 or notepad++ in Windows 7 or 8. This should also work in Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Use notepad2 and you won’t have to replace the notepad over and over again, because it’s only a registry value that you have to add, which can also be removed quite easily. If you replace notepad with notepad++, you’ll might have to repeat the steps again. Tip: Bookmark this tutorial!

Replace Notepad with Notepad++

Replacing the notepad with notepad++ in Windows 7 is slightly more complicated than replacing the notepad with notepad2. Why? Because you actually have to replace system files, which is difficult for beginners.

1. Step Download Notepad++ (Latest 5.7.1 RC2)
2. Step Install Notepad++
3. Step Open an elevated command prompt

4. Step Enter cd C:\Windows\

5. Step Enter TAKEOWN /F notepad.exe

Take ownership notepad.exe

6. Step Enter ICACLS notepad.exe /grant administrators:F Replace administrators with your username

Grant permissions notepad.exe

7.Rename notepad.exe to notepad2.exe

8. StepDownload notepad.exe (launcher) for either 32-bit or 64-bit:

Notepad Launcher @SourceForge.

Copy notepad.exe or notepad64.exe to C:\Windows, respectively C:\Windows\system32.

9. StepRename notepad.exe/notepad64.exe to notepad.exe

10. StepRepeat steps 4-9 for C:\Windows\system32\notepad.exe

If you run into any problems or if you have any questions, please post a comment below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Also make sure to copy it into %windir%\system32\dllcache if you run into issues

Replace Notepad with Notepad2

Notepad2 is no longer our recommended choice, use notepad++ instead (see links above)

1. Step Download Latest Notepad2 (Notepad2 4.1.24 right now)
2. Step Install it.
3. StepOpen elevated registry editor:


4. Step Uncollapse HKEY_LOCA_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\

5. Step Right-click on Image File Execution Options and click on New – Key, enter notepad.exe

6. Step Now in the right-pane: Right-click and create a new string value:
Create new string value in Windows 7

7.Give the string the name Debugger

8. Step Double-click on Debugger and enter the full path to the Notepad2 exe file, e.g. “C:\Windows\Notepad2.exe” and add /z at the end! Complete path: “C:\Windows\Notepad2.exe” /z

Download Registry Keys for Notepad2

Optionally you can use the following registry keys. Copy this into a notepad and save it as a .reg file (select all from the dropdown when you save the file). Also replace C:\Notepad2\Notepad2.exe with your own path:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\notepad.exe]
“Debugger”=”C:\\Notepad2\\Notepad2.exe\” /z”

Download Replace Notepad with Notepad2 Registry Key


Tip: Keep in mind that you will have to replace the notepad++ files again if you should ever use the Windows System File Checker SFC.exe to restore the original system files. Therefore I recommend notepad2, which is a lot easier to handle.