After 40 years, Notepad on Windows 11 is finally getting this basic feature

Image of Notepad with character count
With the newest update to Notepad, you can highlight sections to see a selected and overall character count. (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft announced the newest Windows 11 preview build for the Dev and Canary Channels.
  • There are a handful of updates but nothing was as surprising as Notepad getting a character count after 40 years of missing the feature.
  • Users can download the new preview builds now via the Windows 11 Insider Program.

If you are still a fan of Notepad, you are probably one of the few. The stripped-down note-taking application from Windows was so feature-barren that many people have switched to another note-taking application such as Notepad ++. If you're still using Notepad and haven't seen what it is missing compared to Notepad++ check out our Notepad vs. Notepad++ comparison. Luckily, as we point out in that article, Microsoft has been working to update Notepad to make it more usable besides occasionally needing to remove formatting from a copy and paste. 

Want to learn more about the changes coming to the Dev Channel? Check out our Dev Channel update article.

Why is character count in Notepad a big deal?

The truth is this shouldn't be a big deal, but Microsoft has inflicted all of us with a touch of Stockholm Syndrome, so once they finally bring a basic feature to a basic application like Notepad after years of our constant requests, we feel like it's a reason to celebrate. 

That might be a bit harsh, but in reality, this is something that should have been implemented decades ago. I guess we can wait another decade or two for a word count toggle as I don't know who in the right mind prefers character count over word count. 

That being said, for today let's enjoy getting a new feature from Microsoft as it works to improve the Windows platform for us fans. No need to look a gift horse in the mouth and all of that. A Windows engineering team member at Microsoft shared their excitement on X (Twitter). Check out @JenMSFT's post. 

Some applause should be sent to the engineers' way as they are the ones actually doing the work and the decision to delay quality of life updates was likely not up to them. With time, maybe we won't need to immediately download application alternatives when loading up a fresh install of Windows. 

What do you think about Notepad? Do the recent changes and updates to Notepad make you want to switch back to it full time? Let us know in the comments. 

Colton Stradling

Colton is a seasoned cybersecurity professional that wants to share his love of technology with the Windows Central audience. When he isn’t assisting in defending companies from the newest zero-days or sharing his thoughts through his articles, he loves to spend time with his family and play video games on PC and Xbox. Colton focuses on buying guides, PCs, and devices and is always happy to have a conversation about emerging tech and gaming news.