Say, for example, that there's one process that's writing to a file. While the process is running, I opened the file in notepad. The process keeps writing to the file.

Other than closing and reopening the file, is there any way for me to "refresh" the data that notepad is showing?

  • 3
    Use Notepad2 (F5 refreshes)
    – Jesse
    Jan 13, 2011 at 17:12
  • Use a Windows port of the Unix tail command Jan 13, 2011 at 17:14
  • 5
    Get Notepad++!!! Jan 15, 2011 at 1:31
  • Many of the comments assume that the user has OS level privileges to install another program. In some environments, that is not permitted. So the short answer is: no, there is no quick and easy way to refresh the loaded file. Reloading via CTRL-O works, but becomes more mousing/keystrokes if the file does not have ".TXT" extension. Aug 19, 2021 at 20:33

6 Answers 6


While it isn't possible with notepad, there are many notepad replacements. They usually have this feature. Notepad++ is my personal favorite, and the one I'd recommend.

  • Notepad2, like stated in the comment of the question, is much more like regular notepad, but with all the advantages of Notepad++.
    – Chuck
    Jan 18, 2011 at 22:24
  • And I still have to google for it. flos-freeware.ch/notepad2.html
    – Rob
    Mar 20, 2012 at 14:21


Here are some more words to make the answer long enough to go beyond the 30-character minimum.


Other than closing and reopening the file...

You don't have to close the file. Use file>Open or Crtl+O to reopen the file. That way you don't have to open a new instance of notepad.

Other than that, I agree with everyone else. Use a different editor.


No, however if you use other Notepad alternatives like, Notepad++ it will notify you if the file has been altered since opened.

  • 2
    You can even set it to auto-update, if you wish. It's all in the Tools->Settings->Misc section. Jan 15, 2011 at 1:32

If you want to watch a file as it is actively being written to, then you want a program capable of following it such as baretail.


Baretail is a great program, but better is the free PSPad, which I use for all kinds of text file editing, including programming and it has syntax highlighting for a couple dozen different kinds of programming languages/file types, which is really nice. It also has an autorefresh, and the refresh rate is settable in the settings (I like 3 seconds).

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