Notepad ++ for the Open-Source Investigation

Varul Arora
5 min readApr 25, 2021

What is Notepad ++?

Notepad ++ is a source editor and is an extension of the software Notepad provided by default in the windows environment. Notepad++ supports several languages which helps the developer to code efficiently. Notepad++ is based on the Scintilla which is an editing component used Windows Win 32 API written in C++, guarantying a smaller program size with much higher implementation speed. Under the General Public license (GNU), the Notepad ++ is protected. GNU is the collection of the free software’s which can be used as a part of the operating systems.

Notepad ++ Description

Notepad++ comes with a lot of cool and classic features. The features list may not end as there are endless features. For instance, Notepad++ offers syntax highlighting, auto save option, implementing macros, supporting multiple views, tab support etc. There are many diverse plugins which can be used to enhance the functionality of Notepad++. One of the features is TextFX, which is an inline text generator used to give 3D style effects in Notepad++. Notepad++ also allows to work and edit the XML (Extensible Markup Language). The XML data can be graphically represented in a tree structure which can help the developers to code better. Attribute, comment, and elements can be added by the developer and text to the XML documents by creating the tree structure. It also offers the custom regular expression which eases the code and reduces the line making the code compact.

Tool in Action

ü Notepad++ provide us fast search options and give us the features such as the tab structures etc.

ü Notepad++ backups all the data automatically which helps as many times as the machine crashes a lot, and this feature is a life saver for everyone.

ü Notepad++ can use to open the TOR browser which is must for the OSINT investigation. While working on the TOR, most of the time we need to exit for a specific country and configure the exit nodes and all the torcc file can be opened using Notepad++.

ü Notepad++ records the timestamp which is an integral part of the OSINT investigation by clicking F5. This functions of the Notepad++ helps the content to be concise and precise.

Pros of Notepad ++

1. Notepad++ supports the SQL (Structured Query Language) SQL queries which is not supported by most of the text editors.

2. Notepad++ understands many languages and it highlights comments, keywords and something important like advance find and replace functionality and multiple tabs.

3. Allows better viewing of the files as it provides an option of opening multiple files or documents simultaneously.

4. Notepad++ could also do programming and development because it supports every type of file extension.

Cons of Notepad ++

1. Most of the time the errors in the code are not highlighted

2. The interfaces are less updated which may be sometime complicated for the users.

3. The 64-bit version has less support for most of the plugins.

Notepad++ Tips we can use:-

1) Box Selection

Notepad ++ provides give the same look and feel of Visual Studio and provides the same features such as Column Selection, Rectangular Selection or Block Selection). We just need to hold down the Alt key while doing the selection we want.

2) Develop and set own Notepad++ theme

As per your wish, we can create one and show it as your default theme. The primary prerequisite is that we save demo.xml extension theme file and place it in a different folder.

3) Search for regular expressions

In Notepad++, the users can use the ability of the software to use the regular expressions. It is very handy to find the words to catch the dynamic entries. We can see in the image below that we have used the regular expression and it successfully found the match to which we want to replace the match.

4) Save all open files

With the help of Notepad ++, we can use the feature of Save All and all the files opened will be saved without any hassle.

5) Set Language to match software code

One of the best features of the Notepad++ is that we can colour the code. This is really helpful when we are writing the code in Java, C++, XML, Html or even Matlab which allows the developers to differentiate between the comments, text, code functions and other symbols used in the software code.

Alternative Solutions or alternatives to Notepad++ which could run on all operating platforms and are free:-

1) Atom

2) Emacs

3) Netbeans

4) jEdit

5) Light Table

6) Brackets

7) Bluefish


While Notepad++ has many rivals in the market, what makes it a step forward is that it is easy to use and eco-friendly and can run with a range of other servers and platforms. Notepad++ is also reducing the carbon footprint as they are using less servers and producing less harmful emissions. For the OSINT investigation, it is one of the hot tools as is very user friendly and can be integrated with Maltego for further investigation. Notepad++ is a fast and lightweight programme that keeps our files and data secure even after our device crashes. The most popular and lovable function contrasts the plugin where we can compare the context of two different files and see the differentiation quickly.



Varul Arora

CTIA | Love cybersecurity, completed MSc in Applied Cyber Security from Queen’s University Belfast. Twitter : @AroraVarul