Oh No, Microsoft, Don't Mess With Notepad and Paint

By Joanna Nelius on at

Microsoft just can’t catch a break with all its updates that seem to cause more problems. The company rolled out a Windows 10 update yesterday which fixed a major DNS security flaw (and a few other things), but in the process might have removed Notepad, Paint, or WordPad for some users if they were updating to version 2004 at the same time.

Over the last month, there have been several Windows 10 user reports on the Microsoft forms of those apps disappearing after updating to version 2004, so it seems like yesterday’s update isn’t actually the root cause of the problem. Gizmodo has reached out to Microsoft for more clarification, and we’ll update this article if/when we hear back.

Like other ‘broken’ features in version 2004, Microsoft didn’t necessarily break or remove them completely but rather changed how they are accessed or if they get pre-installed and didn’t do a good job of communicating that to Windows 10 users. Microsoft recently removed certain Control Panel features as part of its process to centralise everything in Settings, and it moved Fresh Start to Reset this PC under Settings. It also decreased the number of days that Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education users can manually delay updates, from 365 days to 35 days. In the case of the missing Notepad, Paint, and WordPad apps, they are now ‘optional programs.’ Updating to Windows 10 version 2004 seems to automatically uninstall them, but there is a way to get them back:

Go to Settings > Apps > Optional features > find the app to reinstall. (And cross your fingers.)

However, some version 2004 users have also reported that they also can’t download and install either from the Microsoft Store. The Store will tell them they already have it installed even if they don’t, or it will tell them they aren’t running the latest version of Windows. Microsoft Store isn’t exactly the most reliable in general for this reason, so I would recommend trying to reinstall those apps via the way I outlined above.

I ran into this issue myself, even though I’m still on Windows 10 version 1903. The store tells me I need Windows 10 build 19541.0, which is version 2004, but Microsoft has not made the latest version available to me yet. When I click on ‘update’ it takes me to a separate window that says “We’re sorry, we can’t find that page,” and then directs me to the Windows Insider Program.

Thankfully, Notepad was pre-installed on my PC with version 1903 so it’s not like I need to install it from the Microsoft Store, but this is just one example of a potentially confusing roadblock that some users might encounter. In contrast, Paint 3D is available from the store, but I couldn’t find the old Paint. Microsoft said previously it would retire Paint, but later choose to include it with Windows 10 version 1903, but this doesn’t explain why it doesn’t appear in the store, yet Notepad does.

Both Notepad and Paint are legacy Microsoft programs, and while many people don’t use them much, or at all, they can still be useful. Coders might use Notepad for quick fixes or repairs. I’ve played horror games that make creepy Notepad files randomly appear on your desktop. I also use Notepad when I want to strip the formatting from text that I’ve copied. I’ve also used paint in the past, before I had Photoshop, to quickly crop and resize images, and make really bad memes.

Sure, these programs have been around for 30-some-odd years and are collecting virtual dust on most computers. But like Solitaire, they are simply part of Windows. And while we’re at it, Microsoft should bring back an officially supported version of Space Cadet 3D Pinball.

Featured image: Microsoft