I use Notepad++ on an office computer where I don't have local administrator privileges. This means that I am unable to install plugins, as I cannot modify files located in C:/Program Files.

I've read that it is possible to make Notepad++ load plugins from my local %APPDATA% folder to get around this restriction, but I've only seen this option when first installing Notepad++. I couldn't find this option in the settings after the installation was completed.

How can I configure Notepad++ to load new plugins without admin rights?


I would suggest downloading and using the "portable" version of Notepad++. If you go to the download page for the version you want (https://notepad-plus-plus.org/download/v7.5.1.html for the current version at this time) you will be presented with the option to download a ZIP file rather than an installer. You can unzip this to any location you want, and add and remove files from the Plugins folder without admin rights.

You will need to change how you access Notepad++, since the default installed version will still lack the plugin you wanted. You should be able to right click a file, select Open with... then Choose another app and choose your downloaded copy, and it should use that version from then on when opening those files (don't forget to check the Always use this app checkbox).

  • While this is indeed the correct approach to the author's problem. It should be pointed out that given the user doesn't have Administrator access, which assumes they don't have this privilege to avoid them from installing applications. So the use of a portable application might still be problematic for them company IT policy perspective. I would caution the author or anyone attempting to bypass IT restrictions, in every network I have been an Administrator of, if you were to install unauthorized applications you would lose your privileges to the network permanently. – Ramhound Oct 25 '17 at 15:05
  • @techturtle I tried this method, and the first part works great - I unzip the portable version, place it in my local directory, and fire NPP using the executable within the portable version. I can add/remove plugins with no issues. When I try to open an existing file with the new portable version, it doesn't do that. It still references my original version (installed by the admin) and does not show any plugins. Any ideas on how to point to the portable version correctly? I'm using Windows 10 - not sure if your solution was tested on Win10. – prrao Feb 7 '18 at 22:14
  • @prrao You might be able to switch the apps by right-clicking the file and select Open With then browse to the location of your portable version. No guarantees though, since your IT Department could have any number of methods in place to prevent overriding this setting. – techturtle Feb 8 '18 at 15:01
  • @techturtle Yup, tried choosing Open With and the file still opens in the original NPP. Perhaps NPP has a default setting in the registry which points to the default admin-installed version. – prrao Feb 8 '18 at 15:34

You can make Notepad++ load plugins from %APPDATA% by creating an empty file named allowAppDataPlugins.xml where Notepad++ is installed.

From Notepad++: Install Plugins without administrator privileges. GPUP.exe:

Notepad++ can load plugins from the users %APPDATA% directory. There is an option to allow this when installing Notepad++. You can also do this after it is installed by creating an empty file named allowAppDataPlugins.xml in the directory where Notepad++ is installed. The plugins will then be installed and loaded from the %APPDATA% directory which doesn’t require admin privileges.

This should allow the users to install most plugins. A few plugins still need admin privileges (e.g. PythonScript) but the majority of them work just fine this way.

Once enabled, user-specific plugins will be loaded from %APPDATA%\Notepad++\plugins.

  • 3
    That has the problem of needing to add an XML file to the install folder, which he doesn't have rights to. – techturtle Oct 25 '17 at 14:05
  • 3
    Please quote the essential parts of the answer from the reference link(s), as the answer can become invalid if the linked page(s) change. – DavidPostill Oct 25 '17 at 14:55
  • @techturtle Requesting admin once to allow loading plugins from my user folder would be an acceptable solution. However, I'm unsure how to enable this once NP++ has already been installed. – Stevoisiak Nov 30 '17 at 16:30
  • @Steven This wasn't my solution, but I updated his answer to include the relevant info from the link. See the bold line in the quote for the method. Still, if you have rights to download and unzip files from the internet, the answer I proposed would give you access to the plugins without even one request for admin rights. – techturtle Nov 30 '17 at 17:05
  • @techturtle In my case I found AppData to be the best solution. However, your solution is probably better for the average user. – Stevoisiak Nov 30 '17 at 18:06

As techturtle answered, you can download the portable version and extract it somewhere and add/remove plugins using plugin directory.

To solve "Open With" problem :
1. Either you keep your portable NP++ open and click on any file which is even associated with installed NP++, they will still be open with portable NP++ ( if you haven't changed the settings to Use multi instance in NP++ settings dialog I think )

2. Or, better you can rename the "Notepad++.exe" to (e.g. Notepadbin.exe) and again right click on a file -> Open With -> Select portable Notepadbin.exe and check the Always use this app. This way they will be associated with portable one, Notepadbin.exe .

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