I've been using Notepad++ more as my primary code editor. Just a few minutes ago, however, I accidentally pressed some combination of keys (no idea what I pressed) and suddenly my standard shortcut keys no longer work.

When I press Ctrl-S, it doesn't save my document; instead it inserts this funky little "DC3" character (looks like a rounded black rectangle with white text inside). When I press Ctrl-F (the Find key) I get a similar "ACK" symbol.

The only answer I've found on the web has to do with changing your shortcut key mappings; however my shortcut key mappings have NOT CHANGED at all, they are still set as they should be, with Ctrl-S mapping to "Save" and Ctrl-F mapping to "Find..".

I've clearly switched to some bizarre alternate key mode, but I have no idea what that might be or how to get rid of it.

Update: I've played around a bit more to see what other shortcuts are broken. So far, they all seem to be, except for the Windows standard ones like "Ctrl-X" and "Ctrl-V". Here's a sampling:

KEY             Should Do:            Current Behavior:

Ctrl-Tab        Cycle open tabs       <does nothing>
Ctrl-W          Close current tab     [ETB]
Ctrl-N          Open New tab          [SO]
Ctrl-O          File Open window      [SI]
Ctrl-A          Select All            [DC3]
Ctrl-Z          Undo                  <Works as expected>
Ctrl-C          Copy selection        <Works as expected>
Ctrl-U          Make lowercase        [NAK]
  • (By the way, the symbols are abbreviations of the ASCII control codes.)
    – Bavi_H
    Commented Nov 16, 2010 at 5:04
  • I think it's an notepad++ runtime error. I've met the same pb as yours serveral minutes ago, and it works correctly now. Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 9:43
  • I face this today. I closed the file where I have run replace all and then restarting resolve the issue.
    – Manoj R
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 10:04

4 Answers 4


Ok, this is pretty pathetic. But it's possible some other moron could run into this issue so I feel justified in posting.

A few minutes ago I did a "Replace all" in my current document. Apparently, the dialog window informing me that "# occurrences were replaced" was hidden under another window, so I never closed it.

And apparently, when that little window remains open, pressing shortcut keys with the main editor window in focus causes those funky results.

It's strange behavior, to be sure, but it's still a pretty newb-ish scenario. Ah well.

  • 6
    Does this mean you didn't try restarting the software? :P
    – Phoshi
    Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 17:31
  • 2
    +1 Thanks! This is actually quite easy to do... to get a dialog or small prompt stuck behind the main window, since they aren't modal. eg. Ctrl+F and search for 'raspberry' - a small postage stamp sized non-modal prompt appears "Can't find the text...". Click back in the Find dialog (perhaps by mistake) without responding to the prompt and the small prompt vanishes to the back and remains open. Close the Find dialog; small prompt remains open.
    – MrWhite
    Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 13:16
  • 11
    +1, Totally worth posting. This just happened to me a minute ago. The "ACK" char was certainly not what I expected. Commented Jan 12, 2011 at 19:18
  • 1
    Had some stupid dialog boxes hiding behind the editor window. Clicked OK to close them and Ctrl+C works agian. Thanks! Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 18:54
  • 1
    I ran into this issue with version 7.5.7, but the above solution did not apply (no dialog box was open). To fix: I closed all open files, closed NPP, reopened, typed a few characters into the blank document, and hit CTRL+ALT+S to "Save as...".
    – James
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 16:30

Check the language bar. It's possible you set the language or keyboard differently for that application.

Do any other applications have this issue?

  • I checked in Notepad and a few other text apps, as well as my IM program. The shortcuts behave as expected. All other settings appear to be the same. Good ideas though! Thanks.
    – Brian Lacy
    Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 17:12
  • 2
    Language bar in Windows can be per-application.
    – Broam
    Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 21:47

I had a similar issue just now caused by a different problem.

Make sure your file is not set to read-only. :)


As an addon to Brian's answer:

Old Notepad++ bug when you have any popups open

This seems to be an old bug inside Notepad++

The first report I found was from 2010: https://notepad-plus-plus.narkive.com/R7BQacOI/notepad-ctrl-s-no-longer-saves-file-and-instead-inserts-dc3-control-character , https://archive.is/wip/oROp0

Here is a video demo with solution from 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTcoMa19huY , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTcoMa19huY

Here is a thread on the NPP forums from 2018: https://community.notepad-plus-plus.org/topic/15803/notepad-7-5-6-inserts-ascii-control-codes-like-dc3-for-control-s-without-any-background-dialogues-open-when-unix-lf-utf-8-w-o-bom-format-is-used , https://archive.is/J3xbk

I found two bug reports that mention "DC3". Unfortunately none of them ended up fixing anything.

And as for the Brian's table: I guess: The ascii table (in hex) is here:

$ ascii -x
   00 NUL    10 DLE    20      30 0    40 @    50 P    60 `    70 p
   01 SOH    11 DC1    21 !    31 1    41 A    51 Q    61 a    71 q
   02 STX    12 DC2    22 "    32 2    42 B    52 R    62 b    72 r
   03 ETX    13 DC3    23 #    33 3    43 C    53 S    63 c    73 s
   04 EOT    14 DC4    24 $    34 4    44 D    54 T    64 d    74 t
   05 ENQ    15 NAK    25 %    35 5    45 E    55 U    65 e    75 u
   06 ACK    16 SYN    26 &    36 6    46 F    56 V    66 f    76 v
   07 BEL    17 ETB    27 '    37 7    47 G    57 W    67 g    77 w
   08 BS     18 CAN    28 (    38 8    48 H    58 X    68 h    78 x
   09 HT     19 EM     29 )    39 9    49 I    59 Y    69 i    79 y
   0A LF     1A SUB    2A *    3A :    4A J    5A Z    6A j    7A z
   0B VT     1B ESC    2B +    3B ;    4B K    5B [    6B k    7B {
   0C FF     1C FS     2C ,    3C <    4C L    5C \    6C l    7C |
   0D CR     1D GS     2D -    3D =    4D M    5D ]    6D m    7D }
   0E SO     1E RS     2E .    3E >    4E N    5E ^    6E n    7E ~
   0F SI     1F US     2F /    3F ?    4F O    5F _    6F o    7F DEL

And I think what happens when CTRL-W inserts "ETB" is that ASCII "W" 0x57 loses 0x40 and turns into 0x17 ETB.

There seems to be a negative 0x40 (decimal 64) offset in all cases.

(Except CTRL-A but I think Brian may have mixed that up with CTRL-S instead. -- Brian's table maps CTRL-A to DC3 But all the other reports I have read map CTRL-S to DC3 instead.

KEY      Should Do:             Current Behavior:
Ctrl-Tab Cycle open tabs        <does nothing>
Ctrl-W   0x57 Close current tab 0x17 [ETB]
Ctrl-N   0x4E Open New tab      0x0E [SO]
Ctrl-O   0x4F File Open window  0x0F [SI]
Ctrl-A   Select All             0x13 [DC3]
Ctrl-Z   Undo                   <Works as expected>
Ctrl-C   Copy selection         <Works as expected>
Ctrl-U   0x55 Make lowercase    0x15 [NAK]

Details regarding the relationship between "CTRL-W", "^W", 0x17 and 0x57:

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