Windows Notepad gets spell check. Only took 41 years

Purists needn't worry – you can turn it off

As text editors go, Microsoft's Notepad has never been big on creature comforts. But after more than 41 years, Redmond has finally seen fit to bestow its humblest of utilities with spell check and auto-correct.

The feature, live in at least version 11.2405.13.0 or later, appears to be rolling out to Windows 11 users now, after some testing in March, and works exactly how you'd imagine. Misspelled words are either corrected automatically or underlined with a squiggly red line. Right clicking on the highlighted misspelled word, and selecting "Spelling" from the context menu will offer a number of potential spellings as well as the option to ignore it or add it to your dictionary.

More than 40 years after its debut Notepad is finally getting spellcheck.

More than 40 years after its debut Notepad is finally getting spellcheck ... Click to enlarge

Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be a global spell check dialogue to check the entire document, so you'll still have to click through to each instance of misspelling to correct it.

The inclusion of even basic spelling checking functionality comes more than four decades after Microsoft launched the minimalist editor.

Introduced in early 1983 as Multi-Tool Notepad, the mouse-based text editor kept it simple rather than attempt to be a word processor. It's been an integral part of Windows ever since.

Spell check and auto-correct aren't the only new features to grace Notepad lately. In 2021, the app added support for dark mode and last year, tabs were added to make juggling multiple files easier.

More recently, the editor became the latest Windows utility to get an AI PC makeover, or at least in testing. The feature, spotted in an insider build of Windows, added a pop-up menu titled "Cowriter" which presumably ties into Microsoft Copilot to tweak text to fit a certain style, formatting, or tone. This functionality hasn't yet made an appearance in mainstream Windows, though with the launch of Microsoft's first batch of Copilot+ PCs last month, we don't expect it'll be long before it does.

For purists who'd prefer that Notepad didn't flag misspellings or auto-correct your keystrokes, the features can be tweaked in settings or limited to specific file types such as markdown or .txt docs.

In any case, the update couldn't come at a better time now that its more feature-rich sibling WordPad is officially on its way out, having already disappeared from Windows' Canary Channel builds as far back as January. ®

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