Windows comes bundled with a basic text editing program called WordPad. You can consider it a light version of Microsoft Word and more advanced than other simple text editors like NotePad. This tool enables you to create, edit, view, and print text documents. It can be used to type memos, create quick reports or other simple documents. In this article I will share where to find WordPad, how to work with the ribbon based interface, how to create & save a new document and how to print it.
WordPad Comparison: The version bundled with Windows 7 and Windows 8 vs. Others
WordPad is included in all versions of Microsoft Windows since Windows 95. The application has always been a handy tool for quick and easy editing of documents.
In older WordPad versions you had an interface based on lots of small menus and buttons. The application had two toolbars: the Standard toolbar and the Formatting toolbar, each with its set of buttons for common commands.
The new version of WordPad is a bit more friendly due to the ribbon bar, which was first introduced in Microsoft Office 2007.
This is how it looks in Windows 8. As you can see, it is identical to the version found in Windows 7, except a few minor visual differences.
In older versions of WordPad uncommon commands were hidden away in menus. If you wanted to insert the Date and Time in a document, there was no toolbar button available. You had to search for it in the Insert menu. In the new version of WordPad this command is just a click away, on the ribbon.
NOTE: You can find further information about the ribbon on Wikipedia.
The 'Quick Access Toolbar' is another new & interesting feature. It is located at the top of the WordPad window and contains a few important buttons: Save, Undo and Redo. You can add buttons like New, Open, Print or remove any of the existing ones. Just click on the arrow and choose the buttons you want to add or remove.
Another way to add items to 'Quick Access Toolbar' is to right-click the option that you want to add from the ribbon and choose 'Add to Quick Access Toolbar'.
Another useful feature is also the ability to view and edit documents written in Open Office (.odt) and Microsoft Office 2007 & 2010 (.docx) formats. However, WordPad is no longer able to open the '.doc' format used by older versions of Microsoft Office. If you want to open this format, you will have to use Word Viewer.
Despite this restriction, the new version of WordPad is quite good. To find out more about how to use it, read on.
Where to Find WordPad
You can open the application using several methods:
In Windows 7, look for its Start Menu shortcut in the Accessories folder or use the search box and type the word 'wordpad'.
In Windows 8, right click on the Start screen and click All apps. Then, go to Windows Accessories and you will find its shortcut there. Obviously, you can type the word wordpad and the Start screen displays the appropriate results.
This opens the WordPad application and its window looks similar to the screenshot below.
An Overview of the WordPad Interface
The main WordPad window includes the ribbon which is similar to the one found in Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010. As you can see in the image below, everything is split into very well defined areas.
The main menu (named File in Windows 8) offers basic options like creating a new document, opening an existing document, saving, printing and customizing page dimensions.
In Windows 8 it looks the same. It’s just a little more flat and the name of the menu is displayed. The available options are the same though.
The first tab is named Home. It offers a number of customizing options, grouped by functionality. You will find the Font and Paragraph settings, each with its own section. From here you can change things like the spacing used, the alignment, the font, size or color.
Next, there is the Insert section, where you can find options for inserting pictures, custom drawings, the date and time or others objects (e.g. charts or different documents).
There are also options like Find, Replace or Select all.
The View tab has a few display options, including zoom or the ability to show or hide the ruler and the status bar.
How to create a WordPad document
To create a new document, open WordPad and write the text you wish to enter.
For formatting, use the appropriate areas from the ribbon, shown in the previous section of this article.
When done, save your document by going to the File menu and choose 'Save As'. There are five options available for saving documents.
Select the format you prefer, provide the location of the file and type its name. When done, press the Save button.
How to Open a WordPad document
To open a different document, use the same File menu and click Open.
The Open window shows up, where you choose the location where the file is found, select the document and press Open.
To open one the most recent documents you worked with, in the Open menu you can find the recent documents list being displayed.
A click on an entry will open that document, without having to browse for it. Learning to use the Recent documents list will definitely save you some time when working with WordPad.
How to print a document
WordPad has three options for printing documents: Print, Quick print and 'Print preview'.
'Print preview' allows you to see how the document will look before you print it. To use this option, use the File menu, choose Print and then click 'Print preview'. When you are done with the preview of the document, click 'Close print preview'.
If you select Print, a new window is displayed, where you can choose the desired printer, page range and specify number of copies you want to print. When done setting things up, press the Print button.
The 'Quick print' option automatically prints the document using the default printer settings.
The version of WordPad bundled with Windows 7 and Windows 8 is a big improvement over previous versions both in terms of usability and features. However, it has an important downside: it can open files saved in Microsoft Word 2007 or 2010 but it cannot open the older '.doc' format used by Microsoft Word 2003. This can be quite a nuisance to some users.
If you have any questions or tips to share regarding this tool, don't hesitate to leave a comment.