metapad turns ten


It feels great to say that after a full decade I still enjoy using metapad on all of my Windows installations.

Today marks the 10th aniversary of the first public release of metapad (see the history page if you don’t believe me). To celebrate I have finally, after long promise, released the source code for metapad. That’s right, now metapad is officially open source and available on GitHub. Not just freeware but truly “free software”, as is defined by the FSF.

I started developing metapad back in early 1999 when I was an intern at a very cool Toronto based media company called (at the time) Digital Renaissance.  It was my second internship there and I had graduated from VB programmer to C++ programmer (woohoo!) and I was pretty stoked to be learning the ins and outs of hardcore object oriented Windows programming with MFC. But I guess I was pretty good at squashing the bugs they were throwing at me because I had a lot of free time on my hands…

So I decided to write my own text editor — one that was as fast and lightweight as Microsoft’s Notepad but had some serious features that people could use to, say, write the front-end code for a web site. Plus back in ’99 most folks still used these things called modems so downloading software was a pretty big deal. The fact that the initial release of metapad was less than 20 kilobytes was an important factor in its relative success. (Competing products that relied on fat runtime libraries were ten to fifty times larger than metapad).

Other than the superiority of metapad’s size, speed and feature list, there were two other major factors contributing to its overall success: suporters and multiple language support.

Very soon after metapad was released, an up and coming tech email newsletter called Lockergnome run by one Chris Pirillo, decided to recommend metapad. A little later on, I was very proud to get a 4 star and then an upgraded 5 star editors’ pick rating from ZDNet, the publisher of the once popular and powerful PC Magazine. A sincere thanks goes out to Chris and to the editors at Ziff Davis as well as all the other sites around the world that helped to spread the word about metapad.

Early metapad supporters
Early metapad supporters

In the year 2001 I came up with the idea to let volunteers translate metapad’s user interface (very similar to what Facebook has recently done). Thanks to the dedicated efforts of some computer savy, multi-lingual metapad users from around the globe, metapad is currently available in 32 languages other than english (each available as a downloadable plugin).

I was amazed to discover that since I installed Google Analytics in late 2005, there have been 442,881 visits (generating just shy of a million pageviews) coming from 212 different countries! Here’s a graph of the visitors by country (breaking out the top 10).

Top 10 countries visiting this site
Top 10 countries visiting this site

Special thanks to Florian BalmerAaron HawleyCarlos Fleitas and all the other users who submitted bug reports, feature requests and kind words. All of your feedback and support was what drove me to improve metapad from v1 to v3.5. Big thanks to all who have sent donations which have generously helped me maintain the website.



  1. You forgot one feature: It has a purple notepad icon!! Purple is so much better than notepad’s aqua.

    Anyway, thanks for creating this extremely useful piece of software!

  2. One of the three programs I use everyday, all day long; and I’ve been using it since pretty near the beginning. Not just for editing, Metapad is THE best “bookmark” app on the planet, if you are willing to use CTRL-F Find. The Favorite Files menu makes Metapad truly useful for note taking, brain storming, to-do lists, you name it. Especially useful with WordWeb, BTW. Thanks for Metapad!

  3. I’ve been using this (and loving it) since 2002. It fits perfectly as a notepad replacement. I don’t use it to code, e-mail or work on a batch of files. I use it as a real notepad. Jot down quick notes, perform swift text manipulation. (token replacement without needing to remember regex) I also use it as a global “edit” on all files. (because sometimes, you just wanna see a file in good ol’ text). So on my right click of EVERY file the second item is: “With Metapad..”.

    Cheers to such a good program!
    [Only wishlist: let me rearrange the icons, I sometimes have small windows and the font and topmost buttons are hidden]

  4. I use Metapad from years, and still enojoy it on all my Windows installations, included Windows 7 on home pc. :-)
    Still unbeated as notepad replacement. Compliments from Italy!

  5. One neat trick: rename Metapad into Petapad. Search and replace all occurences of the word Metapad in the program with Petapad. Do it again but call it Vetapad. Now you have three editors, Metapad, Petapad and Vetapad which you can give different sizes, colors, fonts, positions and use for different purposes, because their settings will be stored in three different places in the registry. One can be used as your diary, one as a ToDo list and one as a general text editor, for example.

    Roger J.

  6. I love Metapad but for some reason it runs slowly if it has more couple of screens of text. The FAQ says RICHED20.DLL can cause Metapad to go slow and a solution is to use Metapad LE. However, both full Metapad and Metapad LE have the same problem.

    I tried changing RICHED20.DLL (which I put in the Metapad folder) for a different version but it doesn’t help. I have tried RICHED20.DLL versions 3,4,5 and 6. Can you help? I am running WinXP/SP3.

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