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Posted March 15, 2009

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Windows Notepad

Windows NotePad Is a Very Powerful Tool

make schedules with notepad Lowly, little Windows NotePad is very cool and powerful.

Sometimes the simplest things are deceptively powerful. That's especially true of computer programs. A wonderful instance would be one of the simplest and oldest of all of the programs in Windows - Windows NotePad.

Windows Notepad Calendar Log

Windows Notepad Calendar Log

Windows NotePad is the little text editor that's been a part of Microsoft Windows since the very first version of Microsoft's Operating System became available. It isn't nearly as complex as Microsoft Word or even Microsoft WordPad but NotePad is an amazing little tool. I used it to build this page you are visiting. In fact, I've used it to build all of the Tech Pages as well as every other page on this site. Maybe you aren't interested in building Web pages. Well, let me show you something else NotePad can do that most people don't know about.

NotePad can easily be configured to be your personal daily journal that opens when your computer boots up with the date and time automatically entered waiting for you to start typing your schedule for the day. Try this. Open a new NotePad document and type .LOG and then save it and close it. You must type a period then LOG in capital letters (see the above illustration). From now on every time you open it, it will enter the current date and time on a new line just like the above illustration. Now in Windows Explorer in Windows XP go to C:\Documents and Settings\Owner\Start Menu\Programs\Startup and use your right-mouse button to drag your new Notepad into the right window pane and click copy here. This way your new Notepad Log File will pop onto your screen with the current date and time printed automatically every time Windows starts up.

Creating Batch Files with NotePad

batch files windows notepadHow to make powerful Batch Files with Windows NotePad.

Another very powerful thing that humble little NotePad can do is create Batch Files. Batch files are simple text files whose file extensions have been changed so that they end in .bat rather than .txt. You create a batch file by typing, one after another, commands that you could execute one at a time at a DOS command prompt. Let me show you how easy it is to create a batch file and get it to do some useful work.

Creating Batch Files with NotePad

Creating Batch Files with NotePad

First, open Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer) and click your C: drive icon to open it so that it looks similar to the picture to the left of this text. Now, re-size it so that you can see part of your Desktop. Next, right-click your Desktop and mouse over New on the menu. In the menu from that click Text Document to get a fresh blank NotePad document to work with. Or in XP you can get a new NotePad by clicking your Start Button and then click Run and type Notepad in the run box and hit your Enter key. In Vista, click Start, type Notepad and hit Enter. In the new NotePad document type this:

@echo off
md c:\testsource
md c:\testbackup
You can copy and paste these lines from this page and save yourself some typing but make sure all three commands are on a separate line so that they look like the picture above.

Batch Files with NotePad

Creating Batch Files with NotePad

Now, mouse up and click File and instead of clicking Save as you normally would, click Save as and in the Save as box beside File name type bat.bat and then click the little down arrow to the right of the Save as type box and click All Files(*.*) Now all you have to do is click the Save button on the right side of the box and you're done. Congratulations, you've created a batch file or as most IT guys and other tech nerds call them - a Bat File. If you look on your Desktop you'll see an icon that looks like a set gears and if you click it open, it will run and perform the commands you typed into it. So before you do that maybe you'd like to know just what it's going to do. I thought you probably would.

The DOS Commands

Here is the explanation for each command:

@echo off - This is normally the first command in any batch file. It tells DOS not to show the commands as they're being executed. The Bat File would run just as well without this command so it's optional. But it's traditional and besides, it looks cool.

md c:\testsource - md tell DOS to Make a Directory meaning a folder. The rest of the command tells DOS where we want this new folder to be placed and what we want to call it. In this case it's to go on the root of our C: drive and it is to be named testsourse.

md c:\testbackup - Obviously, the last command will make another directory (folder) called testbackup in the same place.

So now that you know what it's going to do, double-click it to run it. Now, look at your Windows Explorer window (if you still have it open). You should see your two new folders listed in the right window pane just like mine in the illustration above. Cool! Now that that's done let me show you how to write another Bat File that will use those two new folders that you just now so cleverly created to do some very useful work.

A Cool Backup Bat File

Now let's create a useful batch file that will copy all the files in your c:\testsource folder into your c:\testbackup folder every time you run it. We'll also make it so that the next time you run this new batch file, it will only copy the files that have changed and new files you have added, not make an extra copy of everything in the c:\testsource' folder. Ideally, you'd use this batch file to copy your files onto a second hard drive or some removable media like a USB pin drive but we'll leave it as it is for now. You could always to change the target directory to something more useful later.

First we need to create a couple of dummy files in our c:\testsource folder to give us something to work with. So go to your new c:\testsource folder in Windows Explorer and right click on an empty space inside it. Select new from the menu and then click text document. Let's call your new text file testdoc1. Now right click again and create a new bitmap image. Let's call this new image testbit1. Your c:\testsource directory (folder) should now have the following contents:

Creating Batch Files with NotePad

Making a Backup Bat File

Now let's create a batch file that will backup these files into your c:\testbackup directory automatically. You already have a Bat File on your Desktop that you don't need anymore so you could right-click it and and click Edit to make this new Bat File. Or just open up another notepad document and type the following:

@echo off
xcopy c:\testsource c:\testbackup /m /e /y

The second line in this command uses the xcopy DOS command to copy all contents of the c:\testsource directory to c:\testbackup the first time the batch file is run. The letters after the forward slashes are called DOS switches and they tell DOS that the second time and all remaining times that this code is run, it will only copy new files and files which have changed since it was last run. It will not copy unchanged files which it previously copied.

Now save your batch file as testbackup.bat on your desktop and double click it to make it run.

Check the contents of your c:\testbackup folder. It should now have copies of the two files you created in c:\testsource. So far, so good. Now open testdoc1 in your c:\testsource folder and add some text then save it.

Run your testbackup.bat batch file again, and go to the 'testdoc1' file in the c:\testbackup folder. It should have been updated with the changes you made in the other folder.

You've now created a useful backup utility with a simple two-line batch file that just takes a double click to run. Are you starting to see the potential usefulness of this little Bat File?

Thanks for Visiting the Tech Pages

how to use windows notepadQuestions? Comments? Did I get something wrong? Email me at and I WILL get back to you.

long tail seoAdd this page to your Favorites and keep checking back so you won't miss "How to Create a Web Page - Part Two" or any of the other upcoming posts soon to appear on the Scoroncocolo Tech Pages.

If you see anything in this post that needs to be corrected, email me about it. I'll make the changes and make sure you get credit for spotting my mistakes. If you have any questions or comments about anything in this post or any other posts on the Tech Pages, email me at and I will get back to you.

Don't forget to visit my Website at . And if that's how you got here in the first place, hit your Back button and look around. You can read my other Tech Pages posts by going to my home page and looking for them there. You can also look on the left side of this page and click on any of my Previous Posts.

To make this page and all of the other of my Tech Pages easy to find, type Ctrl + d to bookmark me and come back once a week or so and see what's new.

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