Can the defaults for WordPad be changed?

In Windows 7 the default word processing program is WordPad-05WordPad which offers basic features including font and paragraph controls. The default settings are fixed and not easily changed by the average user. This article shows a work-around for “pre-setting”  font and paragraph properties to more desirable settings.

The approach creates a desktop shortcut for WordPad that opens a “template” document, thus loading the desired settings. The template is set to read-only so is is not accidentally over-written when the document is saved.

Prepare a WordPad “template” file

  • WordPad-01Open WordPad in the normal manner.
  • Set the desired features such as font, font size, paragraph spacing, tab positions, without typing any text.
  • Save the document to your normal document folder using a name such as “WordPad-template”.
  • Open Windows Explorer and locate the “My Documents” folder (or the folder you are using for documents).
  • Locate the file and right-click on it. Click Properties (at the bottom of the menu).
  • In the properties dialog click Read-only so the box is checked.
  • Click OK.
  • Click in the address bar of Windows Explorer. The folder location will be shown and selected.
  • Click Ctrl+C to copy the folder address for use later.

Now your template file is ready.

Create a shortcut that loads the template

The next step is to create a shortcut on the desktop that starts WordPad and loads the template file. 

  • Click Start, type “wordpad”. WordPad will be listed at the top of the start menu and beWordPad-04 already selected. Right-click on that program listing for WordPad. 
  • Move the pointer down to Send to then to the right and click on  Desktop (create shortcut).
  • Right-click the newly created shortcut icon and click on Properties (at the bottom of the menu). The WordPad Properties dialog opens with the Shortcut tab selected.
  • Find the Target: text box. Click anywhere in the box and press the End key to get to the end of the text that is already in the box.
  • Press the spacebar to enter a space then type in the full name of your template file. You can see that illustrated here. I have enclosed my template file name in quotes, this is only necessary if the file name contains spaces, but it does not hurt.
  • Locate the Start in: text box. Click in the box then press Ctrl+V to paste the saved address of your documents folder.
  • Click OK.

Using WordPad with your defaults

WordPad-02Your shortcut is now ready to use. Every time you double-click this shortcut WordPad opens and loads the template file. Your presets will be applied to any text you enter. You can still use all the controls.

When you click the Save icon or select Save or Save as the “Save as” dialog will open and you can enter the name of your document. WordPad-03Even if you try to overwrite the template file Windows will not let you do so. You will see a warning like this:

So you can safely and effectively use this approach to preset WordPad to the font and other properties that you prefer.

Happy writing!



© 2011 Ludwig Keck



8 thoughts on “Can the defaults for WordPad be changed?

  1. Problem with Shortcut > The folder WordPad-Template specified in the Start In box is not valid. Make sure that the folder exists and that the path is correct. [Window Pop-Up]
    My file is in the Documents Folder?

    • Hello Ian,
      It seems that you put the “WordPad-Template” file name into the “Start in” box instead of appending it to the “Target” text. The actual template should be placed into the normal Documents folder and that folder should be where WordPad normally starts. Go though the procedure again, step by step, carefully. If you cannot find and correct you problem, please get in touch with me via the Ask Ludwig link (upper right).

      • Got it to work Ludwig
        Documents Folder > WordPad-template
        Hold “Shift” while Right Click >> Copy as Path
        Paste this “Path” into ‘Target Field’
        Leave ‘Start In’ as it is already automatically filled in.
        = Short-Cut opens Template

      • yes it work…using “copy as path”… thank you Ludwig and Struncated…. Happy writing

  2. This fixes only cases in which you are creating a new file, but if for an update or another cause wordpad settings are alterated you are certainly going to find all wordpad file alterated, even the ones you had created with this ingenios way. So you are winning a battle not the war.
    A suggestion: in the next article try to steal from microsoft the secret of where Wordpad’s default settings are saved: this can be useful.
    From then on, it will be possible to reset them with a program that starts at startup.
    And only then we will win the war.

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