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Windows Notepad finally gets spell check, 41 years later

Windows 11 notepad spell checkImage: Microsoft

Though it’s intentionally simple and there are some excellent alternatives, Microsoft’s humble Notepad text editor has gained a massive following through sheer ubiquity. Today it finally gets a feature that even the best writers (and also I) can’t live without: spell check. The feature is now live in the latest Windows 11 Insider build.

According to Wikipedia, the Notepad program is actually older than Windows itself, going all the way back to the Multi-Tool Notepad program that was included in the MS-DOS update which introduced mouse support in 1983. Then, as now, it was a faster and less resource-intensive alternative to Microsoft Word — and the fact that it was free with the operating system didn’t hurt. It’s since become a feature in every single release of Windows.

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The Windows Insider blog notes that the spell check features works in the familiar way, highlighting typos and incorrectly spelled words with a red squiggly line and offering alternatives with a left click or go through all the detected mistakes with Shift + F10. Users can enable and disable spell check for different types of files.

Not everyone who downloads the latest Windows Insider build (11.2402.18.0) will get the updated version of Notepad, as there appears to be some A-B testing going on. But based on the update schedule, and barring any disasters with the implementation, it seems like a safe bet that release versions of the improved text editor will be headed to all Windows 11 builds before the end of the year.

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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