Announcing Metapad 3.6

I am proud to announce a new version of Metapad: 3.6. This release arrives almost 9 years since the last feature release!

Download Metapad 3.6 here

So, what’s in it?

Metapad 3.6 has: a new high resolution app icon, UI & usability updates, a new feature that remembers folders across sessions, better defaults for general settings, UTF-8 file support and the biggest new feature: portability mode.

What is ‘portability mode’?

Portability mode allows Metapad to properly run and save settings on an external or thumb drive and it will not leave any trace on a friend or family member’s system. This is also very useful when you are setting up an additional computer or migrating to a new one – copy over your Metapad directory and simply pick up where you left off.

A glimpse at metapad.ini

Technically portability mode means that all settings, window attributes, menu options, find/replace and recent file histories are stored and loaded in a local text file called metapad.ini (instead of the Windows Registry.) To enter this mode simply ensure that a file named metapad.ini exists where metapad.exe does – or use the one time command line option /m to migrate all your registry settings over.

Cool. So why wait almost 9 years till a new feature update?

About a year ago, after I released the Metapad source code, a fellow named David Millis sent me a code patch with a new feature he wrote for UTF-8 file support. This inspired me to get the code up and running again but I still wasn’t sure that I would get around to releasing a new version.

Then when Windows 7 came out at the end of 2009 and I played around with it I was a little irritated by how shoddy the Metapad icon looked in the task bar (due to the lower resolution scaling up poorly).

Windows 7 taskbar scales Metapad's icon poorly

That feeling inspired me to refresh the icon which was lots of fun. Once that was done I knew a release was forthcoming so I slowly added the other features in my meagre spare time through 2010.

Why is 3.6 twice the size of 3.5?

Thats entirely due to the updated icon. Metapad’s new icon is almost 100 KB which makes the compressed download about 100 KB instead of about 50 KB. But hey, we’re still talking about kilobytes, here – not megas or gigas.

Future proofing Metapad with a massive icon

How did you make the new icon?

I used a neat little app called Opacity for the bulk of the design. I then used the slick tool IcoFX to clean up the pixels on the various size and color palette variations.

Progression of Metapad icon with early 3.6 concept

Wait, isnt Opacity a Mac app?

Yes and 3.6 was mostly developed on a Mac using Parallels to run a virtual Windows 7 machine.

Weird. Will 3.5 language translations work in 3.6?

For the most part, yes although you won’t see the new UTF-8 menu item and some of the settings dialog usability improvements. You will also get a warning upon startup which you can disable via command line option /s (and you might want to stick that into a shortcut to avoid typing it each time at the command prompt.)

What was the hardest part for development?

First, getting Dev-C++ to generate a small binary or one that used the latest common control visual styles (I eventually gave up). Then getting Visual C++ to generate a binary that actually worked on Windows XP without an additional DLL.

What changes are in the beta releases?

Beta 2 was posted on Feb 26, 2011:

  • Fixed “Randal Munroe bug” where Shift+Enter inserted invalid newlines (thanks to Curtis Bright)
  • Fixed Metapad 3.6 not loading on Windows 2000 or Windows 98
  • Fixed INI mode leading/trailing spaces bug for quote string, find/replace history and quick buffers
  • Updated external viewer toolbar icons with numbers for better usability (idea from Gerard Juan)

Beta 3 was posted on Mar 9, 2011:

  • Open/save folder is remembered across launches with option to disable (thanks Paolo)

Beta 4 was posted on Mar 12, 2011:

  • Fixed bug where “save options menu” wasn’t persisting in settings dialog
  • Fixed convert to Title Case bug where apostrophes counted as word boundaries

Beta 5 was posted on Mar 26, 2011:

  • Minor visual refresh to the toolbar buttons

How can I provide my feedback?

Please email “metapad-feedback” at this domain, Thanks!

Check out the Metapad homepage for more details and the Metapad twitter feed for news.


  1. Ohh, does this mean I can now finally edit files without losing unstandard chars?
    If you’re going to continue developing it, I got a few easy yet nifty suggestions ;)

  2. The /m switch to migrate settings out of the registry into an ini file appears to work except for:

    1.  The settings are left behind in the registry.  A quick regedit to delete them took care of that.
    2.  It forgot my window size & position.  That took a one-time reestablishment & Save Window Position to put it back.

    Unlike everybody else here, I’ve been using Metapad for about an hour.  As the saying goes, once you go Metapad, you never go back.  Either that or I’m easily addicted.

    One niggle.  This makes me crazy in Notepad & it seems Metapad has it, too.  When you open the Find/Replace dialog, it’s sitting smack on top of the file contents over toward the left side of the window.  OK, so you drag it off the to the right so you can see it replacing text as you go.  You dismiss the dialog.  Come back later.  The dialog has forgotten where I dragged it to.

    May this be the worst thing I can find about this utterly wonderful product.

    It would be perfect if its icon were a big red C, filled with blue, with a white H inside the C over the blue background.

    And in case you missed it . . . <:-))

  3. Oh Awesome! Hey great icon ! wow yeah its been years since I droped in to check to see if its been updated I’ve been using the last edition for a very long time off my thumbdrives.

    I have to agree with another poster down below, Metapad would be nice & polished with the addition of  TABS, so I don’t have to keep launching another copy to check something else out. It gets irritating sometimes when I need to multi doccument view somethings. I’ll check in again sooner for any word on adding tab pages to the client. :)


  4. The only thing it still lacks is proper unicode implementation so we can use cyrillic characters. At the moment if you paste any in Metapad, they show up as ?????????? question marks.
    Should be easy to fix, no?

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