As of late summer 2023, Microsoft has announced that it’s phasing WordPad out and that the program will soon vanish from your Windows 11 PC! Not to worry, a great – free – alternative is LibreOffice Writer. Here’s how to switch.
WordPad, and its streamlined little sibling NotePad, have been a part of Windows for a very long time. NotePad’s very basic, but WordPad has always been essentially Microsoft Word Lite, with fonts, document formatting, and lots of other sophisticated features. Word, of course, is the granddaddy of complicated software with a million features, from automatic indexing to EPUB export formats, but it’s also a spendy part of Microsoft Office. Well, sort of, because there’s also an online version that’s free as part of Office365, but an online web-based word processor isn’t really a 1:1 replacement for the soon-to-be-sidelined WordPad.
Shortcuts: Best WordPad Replacement | Downloading LibreOffice Writer | Installation Tips | Basic Settings
If you just want to take the simplest of notes, NotePad will actually work fine for recipes, class jottings, even a daily diary. But as soon as you want to change typefaces, make some text bigger than others, add a bullet list, or even just change the color of a word, you’ve gone past the capabilities of NotePad. Used to be the next step was WordPad, but, well, that’s no longer the choice. Instead, I suggest the open-source (e.g., free) LibreOffice Writer program. Let’s check it out…
THE BEST WORDPAD REPLACEMENT?
To start out, let’s have a baseline of WordPad and its basic, but powerful formatting capabilities:
You can see that the first line is a different typeface and a different size to the rest of the content, and that the toolbar ribbon looks rather like Microsoft Word. I’ll miss WordPad, actually, it’s always been a great addition to Win11.
Who better to ask about the best replacement program than Bing AI?
You can see that Bing likes LibreOffice Writer!
DOWNLOADING LIBREOFFICE WRITER
Turns out that Bing search does a nice job of matching the “download LibreOffice writer” query too:
Very attractive and it’s a breeze to figure out how to get to the download link. Click on it, though, and it turns out that there are two versions of LibreOffice at any given time. The first is essentially the “latest beta”:
Sound like it’s describing you? Download this version and you’ll get the very latest code. Or scroll down just a bit further and you’ll find the latest stable version. Me? I prefer stable code to the risk of having something go wrong:
Be warned, it’s a slow download. On the mediocre connection I had it took almost an hour!
The cool kids can try using a Torrent to download it dramatically faster, but if you’re not experienced with Torrents and the complex world of bittorrent (etc) then best to just get a cup of tea while you’re waiting or take your dog for a walk.
INSTALLING LIBREOFFICE WRITER
Once downloaded, a click on the “MSI” (Microsoft Software Installer) package will open up the Install Wizard:
It’s really the next screen that has the key choice for installation, however, a screen you’ll reach by clicking, you guessed it, “Next“:
I recommend that you choose “Typical“, particularly since you can always remove components or add additional components once it’s installed. A few more clicks and you’re done.
RUNNING LIBREOFFICE WRITER
By default, the LibreOffice program will show you a top-level selector window that lets you choose any of the many excellent components (not just Writer). On my system, it looks like this:
Notice the “LibreOffice Community” link on the lower left. That’s a great place to get additional help if you want to learn more about the program, or you can just jump in, as I tend to do with new software. The only thing I don’t like is that it’s defaulted to a dark theme, which makes the text difficult to read.
To choose a light theme instead, choose Tools > Options… and you’ll see this rather complex settings window:
Choose View > Mode and instead of choosing “System”, choose “Light”. Now when you open up a document, it’s not dissimilar to Microsoft Word:
Notice that it easily imported and properly formatted the earlier WordPad document too. From here, it’s time for you to start typing and clicking on menus to learn how to get the most out of LibreOffice Writer. Good luck!
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about Windows for many years and have an extensive Windows 10 & Windows 11 help area. Please check it out to find lots of additional tutorials and guides while you’re here. Thanks!