Windows 11 brought numerous changes to the user interface, including the modern Notepad application. While the new Notepad offers a fresh look and additional features, some users may still prefer the old Windows 10 Notepad. This article explains how to restore the old Notepad on Windows 11, allowing users to enjoy the legacy Notepad they’re familiar with.
Why do some users prefer the old classic Notepad?
The classic Notepad is a simple, lightweight text editor that has been a staple of the Windows operating system for years. Many users prefer the old Notepad because of its familiar interface and the ease with which they can create and edit plain text files. Moreover, the classic Notepad is less resource-intensive, making it an ideal choice for older systems or users who value speed and simplicity.
How to get back the old version of Notepad on Windows 11
Before we dive into the specific methods, it’s worth noting that the process of restoring the classic Notepad on Windows 11 involves some technical know-how and carries some risks, so proceed with caution.
Related issue: How to Recover Unsaved Notepad in Windows 11
Approach 1: Disabling the new Notepad app execution alias
The new Notepad in Windows 11 uses an execution alias to replace the classic Notepad when running Notepad.exe. By disabling this alias, you can run the old Notepad instead. Follow the steps below to disable the alias:
- Click on the Start button and open the Settings app.
- In the Settings app, select the Apps category.
- Look for the “More settings” section, which should expand to show additional options. Click on App execution aliases.
- In the App execution aliases settings, locate the entry for “Notepad”. You should see a radio button next to it.
- Disable the Notepad alias by turning off the radio button.
Now, when you double-click on a text file or run Notepad.exe, the Classic Notepad will open. You can still access the new Notepad by launching it from the Start menu or Taskbar shortcut, or by running the executable file directly.
The classic Notepad.exe is missing
If you’re unable to locate the classic Notepad.exe in its usual directories:
C:\Windows\System32\Notepad.exe, it’s possible that the file is missing from your system. In such cases, you’ll need to install the classic Notepad using the Optional Features functionality in Windows 11. Here’s an alternative guide on how to do this:
- Start by opening the Settings app on your Windows 11 computer.
- Navigate to the Apps section, and then click on Optional features.
- Click on View features to see a list of available features that you can install.
- In the search bar, type “notepad” to filter the list and display the classic Notepad (system) option.
- Select the Notepad (system) entry and click Next to proceed.
- Finally, click on the Install button to initiate the installation process for the classic Notepad.
Upon completion, the classic Notepad should be installed on your Windows 11 system. You can then follow the previously mentioned steps to disable the new Notepad app execution alias and restore the old Notepad using registry modifications, ensuring that the classic Notepad is accessible and set as the default text editor.
Old Notepad not appearing in the “Open with” menu
After restoring the classic Notepad in Windows 11 using the first method described above, it may still be missing from the “Open with” dialog and menu. If you attempt to manually browse to the legacy Notepad.exe, you will likely encounter the “Cannot associate file type with this program” error. This issue occurs because of specific registry settings that handle the interaction between Notepad and the “Open with” menu.
To address this problem, follow the next method outlined below, which explains how to fully restore the old Notepad using registry. This will include the ability to make the classic Notepad available in the “Open with” menu.
Recommended resource: Show Classic Start menu in Windows 11
Approach 2: Restoring old Notepad using registry
To fully restore the old version of Notepad in Windows 11, including its presence in the “Open with” dialog and menu, and to fix any other potential issues, please follow the instructions below.
Before proceeding, it’s essential to understand that making changes to the Windows Registry can be risky, especially if you’re not familiar with the process. Incorrectly editing the registry may lead to system instability or other issues. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to create a System Restore point before making any changes to the registry. In case something goes wrong, you can use the System Restore point to revert your system to a previous, stable state.
- Download our registry script provided here.
- Unzip and run the restore_old_notepad_Windows_11.reg registry file.
- When prompted for confirmation, click “Yes“.
- To undo the changes, simply run the undo_restore_old_notepad.reg file.
After applying the registry settings, the old Notepad will be available in the “Open with” dialog/menu, and you can use it alongside the new Notepad.
Approach 3: Copying Notepad.exe from an earlier build of Windows 10
In the event that Microsoft removes the classic Notepad binaries in future updates of Windows 11, you may need to resort to copying the Notepad.exe file and the associated language file (Notepad.exe.mui) from an earlier build of Windows 10. This method allows you to restore the classic Notepad even if it’s no longer available in the Windows 11 installation. Follow these steps:
- Locate a system running an earlier build of Windows 10 or obtain the installation media for such a build.
- Find the classic Notepad files. They are typically located in the following directories:
- Notepad.exe.mui (language file):
C:\Windows\System32\en-US\(assuming English language)
- Copy both files (Notepad.exe and Notepad.exe.mui) to an external drive or cloud storage.
- On your Windows 11 system, create a backup of the existing Notepad files (if present) by renaming them or moving them to another folder.
- Paste the copied Notepad.exe file from the earlier build of Windows 10 into the
C:\Windows\System32\directory on your Windows 11 system.
- Paste the copied Notepad.exe.mui file into the
C:\Windows\System32\en-US\folder (or the folder corresponding to your language) on your Windows 11 system.
- Follow the steps in the “Disabling the New Notepad App Execution Alias” and “Restore Old Notepad Using Registry” sections above to ensure the classic Notepad is accessible and set as the default text editor.
By following the steps outlined in this article, you can restore the old Windows 10 Notepad on your Windows 11 system. This allows you to enjoy the familiar and simple interface of the classic Notepad while still having access to the modern Notepad application. Remember, always back up your registry before making any changes, and proceed with caution to avoid potential issues.