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metaFAQ



Contents - Last Updated July 10, 2000

[1] - Feature Requests * UPDATED *
[2] - Fonts
[3] - Installation
[4] - Loading Large Files
[5] - Help
[6] - Inserting Dates
[7] - .LOG files
[8] - Printing
[9] - Advanced Settings
[10] - Custom File Filter
[11] - Recent Files
[12] - Searching (Find Next Word)
[13] - Sticky Window
[14] - Smart Select
[15] - Smart Home
[16] - 2.0 Full and LE
[17] - Windows 2000 * UPDATED *
[18] - Missing RICHED20.DLL
[19] - The Tabs Are Broken
[20] - The Font Suddenly Changed
[21] - Status Bar Text
[22] - Hidden Characters * NEW *
[23] - Column Editing * NEW *
[24] - Default File Folder * NEW *


[1] - Feature Requests

Q:  What new features will you add?

A:  I feel that metapad has evolved quite a bit and will probably not change too much in terms of features. My TODO list:

  • strip excess whitespace
  • search/replace unprintable chars
  • recent list upgrades (favourites, remove dead files)
  • unicode support (low priority)
  • multi-language support
Things to note:
  • I will only add these if and when I have the time and decide they are worth it.
  • If there is something you strongly want or something that you think would be really cool then please drop me a line, but don't keep your hopes up.

[2] - Fonts

Q:  What is the point of having dual font support?

A:  I basically stole this feature from NewsXpress (the best newsreader IMO). It lets you have one font as a proportional font (e.g. Times, Arial, ...) and one as a fixed width font (Fixedsys, Courier, ...). This is an advantage because some text files look messed up in a proportional font (like source code) but some look nice (like email).

In Version 1.1, printing support was added. Now dual font can be very useful here, also (i.e. one for viewing one for printing).


[3] - Installation

Q:  How do I make metapad the default text file viewer?

A:  There are a few things you can do (I like 2 and 3):

1) Associate metapad with *.txt files:

Unzip metapad.zip somewhere (e.g. C:\Windows or C:\Program Files\metapad). Find any text file using Explorer. Hold down shift and right click on the file. Select the special "Open with..." menu item. Check "Always use..." and use "Other..." and browse for the metapad executable that you unzipped.

2) Add metapad shortcut to "Send To":

Use explorer to navigate to the "C:\Windows\SendTo" folder (it may be in C:\Windows\profiles on a multiuser system. Select File | New | Shortcut and follow the wizard. Be sure to locate the metapad executable that you unzipped earlier.

3) Replace notepad (for maximum notepadiness):

This is what I intended metapad for. Follow these directions closely or your file associations can get screwed up.

Locate Notepad.exe (on Windows9x look in C:\Windows; on NT look in both C:\WinNT\ and C:\WinNT\system32). Important: Make a copy of it (Edit | Copy; Edit | Paste). Rename the copy from "Copy of Notepad.exe" to "notepadX.exe". Unzip metapad.zip to a temporary folder (e.g., C:\Temp). Rename "metapad.exe" to "notepad.exe". Drag this new "Notepad" on top of the one in the windows folder and choose yes to the overwrite prompt. That's it! Now when you use applications that depend on Notepad, metapad will take over. To run your old Notepad for any reason just choose Run on the start menu and type "notepadx".

I also created an install script available here which will install metapad as notepad.exe (hopefully) without screwing up any file associations (because it uses the command prompt to do it.)

(For info on how to do this in Windows 2000 see that section in this FAQ.)


[4] - Loading Large Files

Q:  Why can't I load large text files in metapad? (the same problem in Notepad)

A:  This is actually an operating system issue. The main part of both text editors is what is called an Edit window. Under Windows 95 and 98 this Edit window has a maximum capacity of about 32 KB (approximately 32 000 characters). There is no limited capacity on Windows NT (and the upcoming Windows 2000). On Windows NT 4.0 I have successfully loaded text files over 7 MB in size with metapad.

NEW: metapad 2.0 now supports large files under Win9x!


[5] - Help

Q:  Why aren'ts there help topics available with metapad?

A:  A readme file (readme.txt) came with metapad and provides sufficient information for such a simple (and free) product. This metaFAQ is the second source of information for metapad. If you cannot find a solution to your problem in either of these two sources then I can probably help you personally.


[6] - Inserting Dates

Q:  How do I control the format in which the date is inserted into my metapad documents?

A:  The format of the date is controlled by going into the Control Panel clicking Regional Settings viewing the Date window sheet and editing the Short Date Style.

Now in metapad 1.4 you can also insert the Long Date Style (F7). You can also turn off insertion of time which also works in the .LOG (see below).


[7] - .LOG files

Q:  Is the feature of creating a log file that appends the date and time, a capability in the original Windows Notepad, still available?

A:  Yes. Here's How you do it:

To keep a log by using Notepad

  1. On the first line of a Notepad document, type the following at the left margin, making sure you include ".LOG" (in capitals, and without the quotes)
  2. Save the document.
Note:  Every time you open this document, Notepad will append the current time and date, as specified by your computer's clock, to the end of it.
[8] - Printing

Q:  The printing capabilities in metapad suck. How can I get more printing options?

A:  Yes, the printing support in metapad is quite limited. It was thrown in as a afterthought. The problem is that I am not motivated enough to do it well since I never print, let alone print from something like notepad (I prefer Word). A future goal is to have much better printing support in metapad.

A cool printing "hack" that I figured out is you can set up another program as your external viewer (e.g., notepad.exe) and use a command line arg of "/p". This will allow you to use notepad's advanced printing capabilities directly from metapad (simply by hitting Ctrl+L)!

NEW: metapad 2.0 has added printing features including Page Setup and print selected text.


[9] - Advanced Settings

Q:  What do the advanced settings do?

A:  I will give a brief explanation of each of them:

  • Separate recent files menu: Removes the "Recent Files" under the file menu and inserts a new "Recent" menu next to "File".
  • Hide Go to Offset: This hides the ability to go to an offset when choosing to go to a line. Also enables old behaviour of highlighting the line that you want to go to.
  • Enable read only menu item: Adds a menu item to the File menu. This advanced function allows you to toggle the read only status of the file you are working on. (NB: this is different behaviour than in previous (< 2.0) metapad versions.)
  • Disable Smart Home: See the Smart Home section in this FAQ.
  • Don't insert time with date: When disabled, you would get 1:00 AM 9/9/1999 and when enabled you get 9/9/1999. Works with long date format and .LOG files as well.
  • Don't auto-save extensions: This affects how the save as dialog works. If auto-save is on, if you type "file1" in the box it will append an extension depending on what is selected in the file types drop-down (and save "file1.html" for instance).
  • Context button moves cursor: If on, when you right click the mouse the cursor will move to where you clicked.
  • Don't prompt for binary files: 'nuff said. (If you never load binary files, don't worry about this one).
  • Hyperlinks require doubleclick: This makes it easier to highlight and copy URLs with the mouse.
  • Start with sticky window position: Makes metapad not save the window position on exit. Instead it will always load with the position and size that the main window was in when "Set" was pushed.
  • Always launch viewer for large files: Don't prompt when trying to load a file that is too big (for Windows 9x & metapad LE only).

[10] - Custom File Filter

Q:  How do I customize the Open dialog's file filter?

A:  One of metapad's features (added in 1.4) is the ability for the user to customize the "Files of type" field in the Open and Save As dialogs. To do this you must add a string to the metapad section in your registry. To make this easier I have created an example which you can download here. Before running it, examine the file (open it in metapad) and make any changes you want. Then save it and import it into your registry by double clicking on it.

Also note that you must have Save menu settings enabled for this to work.


[11] - Recent Files

Q:  Why is my Recent File list always empty?

A:  Make sure that you have Save menu settings enabled.


[12] - Searching (Find Next Word)

Q:  What is the difference between Find Next and Find Next Word?

A:  Here is a list of different search commands and what they do:

  • F3 - will find the next occurance of what ever string is in the find buffer (what you last searched on)
  • Ctrl+F3 - will insert the string that is under the cursor into the find buffer and find the next occurance
  • Shift+F3 - will find the previous occurance of the string in the find buffer
  • Shift+Ctrl+F3 - will find the previous occurance of the string under the cursor
Basically what this means is Find Next Word (using Ctrl) will allow you to bypass the find dialog!
[13] - Sticky Window

Q:  What is sticky window position?

A:  This is a pretty cool feature. First make sure you have save window placement enabled. Then position the main metapad window just the way you like it. Now go into the advanced setting tab and enable sticky window positon. Next, hit Save Window Position. Now metapad will always start up in the saved position. This means that you can maximize the window (to see a certain file better) and then quit and next time metapad will start up as a smaller window.


[14] - Smart Select

Q:  What does smart select do?

A:  Smart Select determines what happens when you double click on a word or hit Ctrl+Space. Try experimenting with it on and off and click on a string such as "beginning::ending".


[15] - Smart Home

Q:  What is smart home?

A:  Smart Home is a feature mainly used when editing code. Try hitting home a few times on a line with initial whitespace (i.e., indented with tabs or spaces) with smart home enabled.


[16] - 2.0 Full and LE

Q:  What is the difference between 2.0 Full version and LE?

A:  Technically, 2.0 Full utilizes a RichEdit control whereas LE (Light Edition) uses the older but speedier Edit control (as does metapad 1.x). LE is a somewhat quicker under NT when loading large files but it does not have the following features:

  • no file size limit on Win9X
  • multiple undo/redo
  • show hyperlinks option
  • drag & drop text editing
  • insert/overwrite mode

It's up to you to decide which one you like better!


[17] - Windows 2000

Q:  How do I replace notepad under Windows 2000?

A:  Go to the folder C:\WinNT\System32\DllCache and erase or rename notepad.exe. Now you can erase or rename notepad.exe in the default locations (C:\WinNT & C:\WinNT\System32). Simply cancel any warnings that pop up.

Note: This folder may be called C:\Windows\System32\DllCache or something else depending on where you installed Windows 2000. Also note that this folder is probably hidden so to open it you can paste the above path into the Run dialog (click Start | Run) or in any Explorer Address bar.


[18] - Missing RICHED20.DLL

Q:  The full version says I am missing the system file RICHED20.DLL?

A:  This file ships with all versions of Windows except for Windows 95. Microsoft Office will install it for you or you can try to find it on the internet. Try here or you can try searching for it on an FTP or web search engine.


[19] - The Tabs Are Broken

Q:  I've set the tabs to something other than 8. Why isn't it working?

A:  This is a known problem with the RichEdit control under Windows NT. Microsoft has fixed this in version 3.x of RICHED20.DLL which ships with Microsoft Office 2000. Or you can use metapad LE which doesn't have this problem.


[20] - The Font Suddenly Changed

Q:  Why did the font switch from the default to something else in the middle of the file?

A:  This is (yet another) bug in Microsoft's RichEdit control. It can't seem to display special (non-english) characters with certain fonts (e.g., Terminal). I suggest you try using another font or stick with metapad LE.

Update: If you are having trouble saving files with non-english characters in them (they save as ?'s), make sure you have your native language selected as often as possible and especially before saving the file.


[21] - Status Bar Text

Q:  The status bar text gets cut off. Is this a bug?

A:  No. This is because you are not using the default font (MS Sans Serif 8 pt). You can easily remedy this by going to metapad settings and increasing the status bar font width (in the View tab).


[22] - Hidden Characters

Q:  How can I search/replace tabs and carriage returns?

A:  Currently you can't but you can do a couple of things that might solve your problem:

For tabs you can always use the Tabify/Untabify feature (F8, Ctrl+F8) to convert from tabs to spaces and back. You can also copy a tab to the clipboard (highlight it and hit Ctrl+C) and paste (Ctrl+V) it into the Find/Replace dialog (it will appear as a thick bar).

For carriage returns explore the Unwrap Lines feature (F9, Alt+F9). This will strip out the carriage returns so that when word wrap is on, the lines wrap to the window. (With the Commit Word Wrap feature (Ctrl+F9) you can then insert carriage returns after lines that are currently wrapped in the metapad window.)


[23] - Column Editing

Q:  Does/will metapad support column editing?

A:  No. It would be quite difficult to implement and since it isn't required much it is not too hard to use another editor for this purpose (e.g., Microsoft Word). (If you do this a lot I would consider using Word as your external editor. The flow would then be: Ctrl+L (Launch Word), Edit file in Word, Ctrl+S (Save in Word), Alt+F4 (Close Word), hit refresh (F5) in metapad. Simple.)


[24] - Default File Folder

Q:  How can I make metapad start in a certain foler when I choose Open/Save File?

A:  All you have to do is find the shortcut to metapad (or make one with File | New | Shortcut in Explorer). Right click on the shortcut and choose properties. In the shortcut tab there should be a field called Start in where you can enter a path to solve your problem.


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All Contents ©1999-2000 Alexander Davidson