WordPad

For those who want something more powerful than Notepad, Microsoft makes available a word processing program called WordPad. WordPad provides a number of features found in more sophisticated word processors including fonts, sizes, colors, etc. Some people find the power of WordPad to be sufficient for their purposes. To really appreciate the power of WordPad, you need to experiment with it. Try typing something into WordPad and then modify it using the different features available. As soon as you bring up WordPad, you'll notice a couple of things. First, the layout is very similar to Notepad, which is a good reason for knowing Notepad before trying to understand WordPad. Second, there are some definite differences and those differences are what makes WordPad so powerful.

When we talked about Notepad, I told you the purpose of Notepad was to edit text files and that you should never use WordPad or a more sophisticated word processor because of the special characters they put into files. I just want to repeat that here in case you skipped over that discussion in Notepad. DO NOT USE WORDPAD TO EDIT TEXT FILES! You will get yourself into big trouble.

One more thing before we get started with the discussion of WordPad. I will assume you have read and understand Notepad. Notepad is a starting point and I will be referring to things I said there from here on. If you came here without reading about Notepad, I encourage you to go back and get a good foundation in Notepad first.

As with Notepad, you have a menu bar across the top of the window. You see some familiar items (File, Edit and Help) and you see some unique items (View, Insert and Format). We'll take a look at each of these and see the differences. Under the menu bar you should see the Standard Toolbar with some eleven icons on it. We'll look at each of these as well. Under the Standard Toolbar is the Format Bar with eleven additional things. We'll look at each of these as well. Under the Format Bar is a Ruler that indicates the typing area. In essence, what you type will remain within the ruler. You have a large area for typing below the Ruler. At the bottom of the windows is the Status Bar that will give you some information as you use this tool. Don't worry about it if you don't see all of these things. You'll learn how to control the window in a few minutes.

Menu Bar

Before we go to the individual menus, let me point out something about the menu bar itself. Hold down the <Alt> key.  See the underlined letters in each of the menu items (File, Edit, View, etc.)? These are meaningful. If you hold down the <Alt> key and press these letters, you will select that menu. Obviously you can select each menu with the mouse, but this gives you an alternative way of getting into them. So, you can get into the File menu by pressing <Alt>F.

File Menu

Most of what is on the File menu is the same as what you learn with Notepad. This should make it much easier for you to pick up the new stuff here. Notice the "..." at the end of several selections. This indicates that selecting these items will take you to a dialog box that will allow you to carry out that operation. Notice that some of the items in the File menu have a key combination on the right (Ctrl+N, etc.). These are hot keys that can be used from within the document without having to go to the File menu. For example, you can start a new document from within a document by holding down the <Ctrl> key and pressing the "N" key. I don't recommend that you try and memorize these hot keys just now. Instead, I would recommend that you just make note of them as you use the menu items and over time pick up on those you use most frequently.

New - This will start a new document. If you are currently working on a document that you haven't saved, the system will prompt you to save the old document before starting a new one.

Open... - This allows you to bring an existing document into WordPad to view and/or edit it. You'll see the following dialog box when you make this selection:

The only difference between this dialog box and the one you get with Notepad is that here you are looking for Rich Text Format (*.rtf) files instead of Text Documents (*.TXT).

Save - If you are making modifications to an existing file, Save will put the changes back into the file after confirming that you really want to make the changes. If the file you are working on is a new file, Save works the same as Save As....

Save As... - Save As... brings up a dialog box similar to the Open dialog box above. By default, WordPad will save a new file in the My Documents folder. It's easy enough to change folders and save a file anywhere on the system you want though. I would encourage you to create a special place where you save your files. See Naming a File for some suggestions on how to organize your data.

Print... - This is a standard print operation sending the information to the default printer. As was the case with Notepad, WordPad allows you to change printers via the following dialog box:

Print Preview - WordPad offers a neat feature of allowing you to view your document as it will look when you print it without actually having to print it. You won't actually be able to read the document, but will be able to see the layout. The Print Preview will look something like this:

Page Setup... - The Page Setup... dialog box allows you to customize some of the things you see when you print your document. For example, you can change the size of your paper as well as the margin at the top, bottom and either edge of the paper. The Page Setup... dialog box looks like this:

WordPad provides quick access to the most recently edited document simply by clicking on the name of the file you want or by typing the number corresponding to that file.

Send... - This brings up a dialog box that allows you to send the file you're working on to someone via your default E-Mail software - Microsoft Outlook in my case. The dialog box should look like this:

Exit - This shuts down WordPad. If the file you've been working on has not been saved, you will be prompted to save the file before WordPad exits.

Edit Menu

The Edit menu contains those functions that allow you to manipulate the information you have on the screen. In this case, there are several items that appear dim in the menu. The reason for this is that these items are not available at the present time. In most cases, you have to have something selected for these items to work. Windows does a pretty good job of communicating with you to tell you what you can and cannot do. Again, take note of the hot keys available with the Edit menu.

Undo - WordPad has a rather neat feature called the Undo. In essence, this is your Oops button. If you make a mistake and suddenly say "Oops", you can select the Undo and reverse whatever it was you just did. Unless I'm mistaken, the Undo item will only work on the most recent change you've made to your document.

Cut - This item is only available if you have something selected in your document. Otherwise you have nothing to Cut. You can select some piece of your document by holding down the left mouse button and dragging across the letters/words/sentences that you want to select. Your selection will have white letters and a blue background. Now you will be able to Cut this selection. Cut removes the selected text from your document and puts it on the Clipboard. The information is not totally deleted, but is being held in case you want to put it somewhere else.

Copy - Copy is very similar to Cut. The only difference is that with Copy, your selected text is not removed from the document. Instead, a copy of your selected text is placed on the Clipboard for you to use later.

Paste - Once you have something on the Clipboard (using either Cut or Copy above), you can move to wherever you would like to put it and Paste it back into your document. In other words, the combination of Cut and Paste allows you to move text around within your document while the combination of Copy and Paste allows you to duplicate information.

Paste Special... - The Paste Special... function allows you to bring in information from another file. You can either bring the information in as separate information or you can insert a link to the other file. If you bring the information in as separate information, it becomes part of this document independent of the source of the information. In this case, the information can be edited by double-clicking on the information and bringing up the application associated with the information. If the information is inserted via a link, any changes made to the other file will be reflected in the copied information. The Paste Special... dialog box will look like this:

Clear - When you Clear text from your document, it is gone. If you do this by accident, you can use the Undo function to bring it back, but otherwise it is gone. Clear does not place the selected text on the Clipboard.

Select All - If there is something you want to do with everything in your document at the same time, all you have to do is select the Select All function and your entire document will be selected. Now you can either Cut or Copy everything to your Clipboard.

Find... - This function opens a dialog box that allows you to enter the text you want to search for along with a couple of pieces of information to help WordPad perform the search. If the text is found, it will be selected ready for you to Cut, Copy or overtype.

Find Next - The Find Next function simply locates the next occurrence of whatever it is you did the Find... on in the first place.

Replace... - The Replace... function can locate and replace text within your document. Simply tell Replace... what you want to locate and what you want to replace it with and WordPad will do the rest.

Links... - If you have information that you have linked into your document using the Paste Special... function above, then you can perform certain functions on that link using this function. The Links... dialog box should look something like this:

Object Properties - The Object Properties function allows you to do a lot of the same things you do with the Links... function above. In essence, you're editing the properties of a linked object and controlling how that object will be displayed and controlled.

Object - The appearance of this menu item will change depending on what you have selected within your document. Essentially, this function allows you to edit imbedded objects in your document.

View Menu

WordPad allows you to edit several different types of files. Among these are Text files, Rich Text files, Word 6 documents and Write documents. Each of these allows something different as far as the content is concerned. As a result, WordPad allows you to customize the look and feel of WordPad for each of these types of files.

Toolbar - This is a toggle that allows you to display the standard toolbar across the top of WordPad.

Format Bar - This is a toggle that allows you to display the format toolbar under the standard toolbar.

Ruler - This is a toggle that allows you to display the ruler showing you the typing area for your document.

Status Bar - This is a toggle that allows you to display the status bar at the bottom of your WordPad window.

Options... - This function brings up a dialog box that allows you to set up the view you want for each of the different types of files that can be edited with WordPad. You don't have to have a file open in order to customize WordPad for a particular type of file. The dialog box you get should look something like this:

Insert Menu

Date and Time... - WordPad allows you to maintain a journal similar to the way Notepad does by allowing you to insert the date and/or time into your document. Unlike Notepad though, WordPad allows you to control the format of what you enter. To accomplish this, WordPad will present you a dialog box that looks like this:

Object... - In addition to inserting the date/time into your document, WordPad allows you to put a number of different objects into your document that can help make your document more interesting to read. The objects you can insert into your document depend on how your system is set up, but the following is one possibility for inserting an object into your document:

Format Menu

Basically, the Format menu allows you to control the look of your document by changing the font, creating lists, controlling the look of your paragraphs and setting your tab stops.

Font... - The Font... function gives you access to a lot of the same function you'll find on the format bar. The format bar is probably more convenient if you have it turned on, but the Font... function puts everything in one dialog box:

Bullet Style - This function turns the current paragraph into an unordered list meaning that it begins with a bullet and is indented from other paragraphs before and after it. If you begin a new paragraph while in Bullet Style, the new paragraph will also be in Bullet Style.

Paragraph... - This function allows you to control the indentation of the current paragraph from the left and right margins as well as the indentation of the first line of the paragraph. You can also control the alignment of the paragraph (left, center or right) just as you can from the format bar.

Tabs... - By default, WordPad gives you a tab stop every half-inch. This may be satisfactory, but if you'd like to have more control over your tab stops, look in the Tabs... function. To set a tab at a particular rule location, type in the position on the ruler and click on Set. To remove a tab stop you no longer want, select the setting from the list and click on Clear.

Help Menu

Most programs in Windows have a Help menu that provides information about using that particular program. The Help menu may not answer all your questions about a program, but I would encourage you to explore what is there before you look elsewhere. Most companies marketing software today are providing more Help and less hardcopy documentation.

Help Topics - WordPad contains a few more bells and whistles than Notepad, but is still simple to use. The Help Topics is a little longer than in Notepad. It'll take you a little longer to explore all of Help Topics, but I would encourage you to do so anyway. First, you'll know nearly everything there is to know about WordPad. Second, you'll become familiar with the format of the Help facility Microsoft uses so you'll know what to expect in other Microsoft products.

About WordPad - The function of the About for any program is simply to let you know what version of the program you are running. From time to time, the programmer might include some additional information about your system, but don't expect this.

Standard Toolbar

You'll notice that all the functions available on the Standard Toolbar are also available elsewhere in the menus. In essence, the Standard Toolbar gives you quicker access to frequently used functions.

 - This will start a new document. If you are currently working on a document that you haven't saved, the system will prompt you to save the old document before starting a new one.

 - This allows you to bring an existing document into WordPad to view and/or edit it.

 - If you are making modifications to an existing file, Save will put the changes back into the file after confirming that you really want to make the changes. If the file you are working on is a new file, Save works the same as Save As....

 - This is a standard print operation sending the information to the default printer. If you don't want to send the printout to the default printer, use the Print... function in the File menu instead.

 - WordPad offers a neat feature of allowing you to view your document as it will look when you print it without actually having to print it. You won't actually be able to read the document, but will be able to see the layout.

 - This function opens a dialog box that allows you to enter the text you want to search for along with a couple of pieces of information to help WordPad perform the search. If the text is found, it will be selected ready for you to Cut, Copy or overtype.

 - This item is only available if you have something selected in your document. Otherwise you have nothing to Cut. You can select some piece of your document by holding down the left mouse button and dragging across the letters/words/sentences that you want to select. Your selection will have white letters and a blue background. Now you will be able to Cut this selection. Cut removes the selected text from your document and puts it on the Clipboard. The information is not totally deleted, but is being held in case you want to put it somewhere else.

 - Copy is very similar to Cut. The only difference is that with Copy, your selected text is not removed from the document. Instead, a copy of your selected text is placed on the Clipboard for you to use later.

 - Once you have something on the Clipboard (using either Cut or Copy above), you can move to wherever you would like to put it and Paste it back into your document. In other words, the combination of Cut and Paste allows you to move text around within your document while the combination of Copy and Paste allows you to duplicate information.

 - WordPad has a rather neat feature called the Undo. In essence, this is your Oops button. If you make a mistake and suddenly say "Oops", you can select the Undo and reverse whatever it was you just did. Unless I'm mistaken, the Undo item will only work on the most recent change you've made to your document.

 - WordPad allows you to maintain a journal similar to the way Notepad does by allowing you to insert the date and/or time into your document. Unlike Notepad though, WordPad allows you to control the format of what you enter.

Format Bar

 - This function allows you to select the font for any selected text or for any future text. Simply click on the down arrow at the right and select the desired font.

 - This function allows you to select the size for any selected text. The down arrow at the right will give a list of potential sizes you can choose from. If the size you would like is not listed, you can type in any size you want. Obviously your printer needs to support the size you enter, but figures like 150 or 200 are even acceptable.

 - This function will make whatever text is selected bold.

 - This function will make whatever text is selected italics.

 - This function will underline whatever text is selected.

 - This function allows you to change the color of whatever text is selected.

 - This function will left align the current paragraph.

 - This function will center align the current paragraph.

 - This function will right align the current paragraph.

 - This function turns the current paragraph into an unordered list meaning that it begins with a bullet and is indented from other paragraphs before and after it. If you begin a new paragraph while in Bullet Style, the new paragraph will also be in Bullet Style.

 Hughes Glantzberg

Last Revised: 03/06/2005

Created by
The PC Help Desk
(Hughes Glantzberg)