Roland Weigelt

Born to Code


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WinXP SP2 - How to Replace Notepad.exe

Installing SP2 brought back good ol' Notepad... what a shock. So I performed my usual steps for replacing Notepad with Florian Balmer's excellent Notepad2:

  • Create backup copy of c:\WINDOWS\notepad.exe
  • Change Explorer view options to show system files
  • In temporary folder: Prepare new notepad.exe.
  • Copy the EXE into the clipboard
  • Open folder C:\WINDOWS\system32\dllcache in Explorer
  • Ctrl-V, Backspace
  • Ctrl-V, Backspace
  • Ctrl-V, Backspace
  • Answer the "insert WinXP CD" dialog so Notepad won't be reverted to the original version.

But this time the dialog didn't appear and after a few seconds Notepad was changed back to the original (huh, what original? Didn't I just overwrite the version in the dllcache directory?).

Well, with SP2 there's a Notepad.exe in C:\WINDOWS\ServicePackFiles\i386 that will overwrite the replaced versions. After creating a backup copy of C:\WINDOWS\ServicePackFiles\i386\Notepad.exe and replacing this file with the new EXE I tried to replace Notepad again -- with success (even though no dialogs appeared).

Update 2007-07-31: My colleague Jens Schaller has posted a how-to for replacing Notepad on Windows Vista

Posted: Aug 11 2004, 07:14 PM by WeigeltRo | with 18 comment(s) |
Filed under: ,


James said:

Thanks! I was wondering why the old technique wasn't working.
# August 12, 2004 12:22 AM

Stephane Rodriguez said:

notepad.exe is part of WFP (files protected by Windows File Protection). It's safer to update the WFP entries.
# August 12, 2004 3:03 AM

gandalf said:

thanks heaps! I tried the old method with no success: however, still google hasn't indexed your page. I happened to come here after (desperately) searching for "SP2 dllcache"
# August 13, 2004 6:13 AM

travis said:

sweet thx! that worked like a charm.
# August 23, 2004 8:03 PM

Joel said:

Thanks a bunch!! This made my afternoon more enjoyable.
# August 26, 2004 4:48 PM

Tom said:

Thanks for figuring this out. You would think after all these years that they would realize that their notepad sucks.
# August 28, 2004 9:29 AM

Stan said:

Doesn't work for me. Even if I write a batchfile to do the work fast.
# June 15, 2006 5:42 PM

Stacy said:

How do I update the WFP entries?  Please, step-by-step instructions.  I'm not a programmer.  

Thanks a bunch.

# July 18, 2006 1:05 PM

WeigeltRo said:

> How do I update the WFP entries?

I don't know (I didn't need to do it) -- maybe somebody else can help?

# July 18, 2006 6:23 PM

Lo said:

Tip on some systems (like one I worked on) the directory is C:\i386 and the file is something like notepad.ex_. Just replace that first

# July 25, 2006 9:03 AM

Bill said:

Tom: re: Notepad sucks

Tom, I must disagree with that. Notepad is probably one of the best-written components of Windows. Small, fast and powerful, and the reason it is so is that the designer (whom I've spoken with via email)left out the bloat so common in MS products. Yes, there are many features that could be added to make it even more useful, as evidenced by the success of products like NoteTab and, of course, Notepad2, but do not take this to mean there was anything particularily wrong with the original.

# September 4, 2006 12:23 PM

Tony said:

The above methods didn't work for me, I didn't have a service pack directory.  I finally found the location where notepad.exe was being cached in my version of Windows XP.


Once this file is moved or removed, you can then replace the other instances of notepad.exe as stated above.

Works very well, but requires that you have administrator priviledges, which is not always the case.

# September 6, 2006 3:29 PM

nAv said:

yup, what Tony said. I just renamed the two C:\Windows\Prefetch\ files and then did the regular replace. worked like a charp

# September 21, 2006 10:38 AM

a2i said:

my version of doit.cmd:


copy notepad2.exe C:\Windows2\System32\notepad.exe

copy notepad2.exe C:\Windows2\notepad.exe

copy notepad2.exe C:\WINDOWS2\ServicePackFiles\i386\notepad.exe

copy notepad2.exe C:\WINDOWS2\$NtServicePackUninstall$\notepad.exe

copy notepad2.exe C:\WINDOWS2\LastGood\notepad.exe

copy notepad2.exe C:\WINDOWS2\system32\dllcache\notepad.exe


works fine.

# November 14, 2006 7:51 AM

misan587 said:

@echo off

 setlocal enableextensions

:: ReplaceNotepad.cmd

:: Original: replace.cmd - replace a file that is under windows file protection

::- edit begin ----------------------------------------------------------------

:: file in %systemroot%\system32 and/or %systemroot% to replace :

 set ef=notepad.exe

:: backup file :

 set bf=%systemroot%\system32\original_%ef%

:: WFP directory :

 set dc=%systemroot%\system32\dllcache

:: Windows version; needed for %systemroot%\ServicePackFiles\%pr% :

 set pr=i386

::------------------------------------------------------------------ edit end -

 if not defined ef echo  You must edit this script. & goto finish

 if not defined bf echo  You must edit this script. & goto finish

 if not defined dc echo  You must edit this script. & goto finish

 if not defined pr echo  You must edit this script. & goto finish

 mode con lines=30 cols=85 & color 17 & cls


 echo  Replace / restore original "%ef%" in Windows 2000/XP/2003



 echo  - You should have administrator priviledges when using this script.

 echo  - Please close or minimize all other windows when using this script.


 if not exist "%systemroot%\system32\%ef%" if not exist "%systemroot%\%ef%" (

   color 1e & cls & echo.

   echo  ERROR: "%ef%" not found on your system.

   goto finish


 if not exist "%dc%" (

   color 1e & cls & echo.

   echo  ERROR: This script will only work if "%dc%"

   echo         is the default directory of Windows File Protection [WFP].

   goto finish


 if exist "%bf%" goto restore



 echo  Do you want to replace original "%ef%" ?



 echo  A backup file will be created if you choose yes:

 echo  "%bf%"



 set /P yn= Press y (for yes) or n (for no), and press Enter:

 if /I not %yn%'==y' goto finish



 echo  Type the full path and name of the executable file you want

 echo  to replace "%ef%" with, e.g.:

 echo  C:\New Tools\NewPad\newpad.exe


 echo  Tip: You can also use drag'n'drop for this.


 set /P rf= Type, and press Enter:

 set rf=%rf:"=%

 set rf=%rf: =/%

 set rf=%rf:/= %

 set rf="%rf%"

 if not exist %rf% (

   color 1e & cls & echo.

   echo  ERROR: %rf% not found.

   goto finish


 color 1e & cls


 echo  Ready to replace "%ef%" with:

 echo  %rf%



 echo  IMPORTANT - if you choose to do so:


 echo  Wait until the Windows File Protection message window appears:

 echo    - for the 1st question click Cancel

 echo    - for the 2nd question click Yes



 set /P yn= Press y (for yes) or n (for no), and press Enter:

 if /i not %yn%'==y' goto finish

 set go=1

 attrib -r -h -s %rf% > nul

 attrib -r -h -s "%systemroot%\%ef%" > nul

 attrib -r -h -s "%systemroot%\system32\%ef%" > nul

 if exist "%dc%\%ef%" attrib -r -h -s "%dc%\%ef%" > nul

 if exist "%systemroot%\servicepackfiles\%pr%\%ef%" attrib -r -h -s "%systemroot%\servicepackfiles\%pr%\%ef%" > nul

 if exist "%systemroot%\system32\%ef%" (

   copy /y /v "%systemroot%\system32\%ef%" "%bf%" > nul

 ) else (

   copy /y /v "%systemroot%\%ef%" "%bf%" > nul


 if exist "%systemroot%\servicepackfiles\%pr%\%ef%" copy /y /v %rf% "%systemroot%\servicepackfiles\%pr%\%ef%" > nul

 if exist "%dc%\%ef%" copy /y /v %rf% "%dc%\%ef%" > nul

 copy /y /v %rf% "%systemroot%\system32\%ef%" > nul

 copy /y /v %rf% "%systemroot%\%ef%" > nul

 attrib +r "%bf%" > nul




 echo  AFTER you have answered, press any key to continue . . .

 pause > nul

 goto finish



 echo  Do you want to restore original "%ef%" ?



 echo  Backup file found:

 echo  "%bf%"



 set /P yn= Press y (for yes) or n (for no), and press Enter:

 if /i not %yn%'==y' goto finish

 set go=1

 attrib -r -h -s "%bf%" > nul

 attrib -r -h -s "%systemroot%\%ef%" > nul

 attrib -r -h -s "%systemroot%\system32\%ef%" > nul

 if exist "%dc%\%ef%" attrib -r -h -s "%dc%\%ef%" > nul

 if exist "%systemroot%\servicepackfiles\%pr%\%ef%" attrib -r -h -s "%systemroot%\servicepackfiles\%pr%\%ef%" > nul

 if exist "%systemroot%\servicepackfiles\%pr%\%ef%" copy /y /v "%bf%" "%systemroot%\servicepackfiles\%pr%\%ef%" > nul

 if exist "%dc%\%ef%" copy /y /v "%bf%" "%dc%\%ef%" > nul

 copy /y /v "%bf%" "%systemroot%\system32\%ef%" > nul

 copy /y /v "%bf%" "%systemroot%\%ef%" > nul

 del "%bf%" > nul



 echo  Done.

 goto finish




 echo  Press any key to exit . . .

 pause > nul

 if defined go start "..." "%ef%"



# February 22, 2007 7:54 PM

Alexander Kriegisch said:

On my XP Pro SP2 system dllcache *is* protected by WFP. So what I read about it being unprotected is wrong, as it seems.

I found another copy of notepad.exe in c:\i386, the place where my PC vendor (Dell) placed the Windows installation file. I don't know if this is what finally brought up success, but after I had backuped and overwritten the file there it worked.

# February 28, 2007 12:18 AM

SkAvEnGeR said:

Sorry, but all these things are to complicated for me. And if you want go backward to the original notepad, it is complicated too.

I use a very simple solution.

Notepad from MS is essential for the system, but sometimes i prefer Notepad2 for editing files.

So in XP exist an easy to use commandline-tool called FTYPE.

Now i use this tool to associate some filetypes with Notepad2.

Here my Script:

@echo off


FTYPE inffile=%programfiles%\notepad2\notepad2.exe %1

ASSOC .inf=inffile


FTYPE inifile=%programfiles%\notepad2\notepad2.exe %1

ASSOC .ini=inifile


FTYPE txtfile=%programfiles%\notepad2\notepad2.exe %1

ASSOC .txt=txtfile


FTYPE nfofile=%programfiles%\notepad2\notepad2.exe %1

ASSOC .nfo=nfofile

:System-Informations-files SIF

FTYPE siffile=%programfiles%\notepad2\notepad2.exe %1

ASSOC .sif=siffile

Works fine and is a simple batch-file.

If you change the string "%programfiles%\notepad2\notepad2.exe" to "notepad.exe" (without the quotes) and safe the script to a different filename you can go back to the default Editor NOTEPAD from MS.



# March 12, 2007 11:22 AM

SkAvEnGeR said:


in my last post i a small error.

it must be %%1 at the end of the lines.


If u use the command FTYPE on the command-line its working with %1. But within BATCH-files it must be

%%1 .

Sorry. SkAvEnGeR

# March 12, 2007 11:43 AM