When you click the View Source command in Internet Explorer 8, it uses the built-in viewer, which is part of the Developer Tools in Internet Explorer 8. The built-in viewer lets you dynamically refresh the view source window, increase or decrease the text size and lists other standard options.

The new viewer does not allow editing the source though. Previous versions of Internet Explorer use Notepad as the default source editor, which lets you modify the source before saving. To set Notepad as the default view source editor in Internet Explorer 8 (and previous versions), use the instructions below.

Changing the View Source Editor in Internet Explorer

Method 1: Using the Built-in Option in IE8

Internet Explorer 8 includes a built-in option to change the default view source editor. The setting is provided in the Developer Tools.

1. Open Internet Explorer

2. Press the F12 button to start the Developer Tools

3. From the File menu, click Customize Internet Explorer View Source

4. Select one of the following options:

  • Default Viewer
  • Notepad
  • Other…

If you choose Other…, you’ll be prompted to select the executable file of your preferred text editor. Use this option to set your third-party text editing program (e.g. Notepad+) to set as the default source editor.

Method 2: Manual Registry Edit

1. Launch Regedit.exe and navigate to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Internet Explorer

2. Create a subkey named View Source Editor

3. Under View Source Editor, create a subkey named Editor Name

4. Select the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Internet Explorer \ View Source Editor \ Editor Name

5. Double-click (default) and set Notepad.exe as its data

Note: If you prefer a third-party text editor (such as Notepad+, Notepad Lite etc), type the full path to the executable.

6. Exit the Registry Editor.

Registry Fix

Download viewsrc_ie8.zip, unzip the file and extract the contents to a folder. Double-click the file viewsrc-notepad.reg to set Notepad as the default View Source editor. To restore the original setting (built-in viewer as the default), run the file viewsrc-default.reg.

Note: The above REG files can be used with previous versions of Internet Explorer as well.

(Last Updated on March 22, 2009. Article modified for IE8 Final.)


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25 Comments

  1. oni
    said this on Saturday, August 2nd 2014 6:04 am

    Tested working on IE11. Thanks a lot for the article! Too bad Microsoft has gotten to where you have to use regedit to do such simple things.

  2. Shivers
    said this on Friday, April 25th 2014 2:49 pm

    Thanks, tried so many fixes, but this eventually worked

  3. Cor
    said this on Monday, January 6th 2014 6:51 pm

    Thanks Piotr, that worked! Searched half the internet for this!

  4. Piotr
    said this on Thursday, October 24th 2013 5:24 pm

    Mistake in tips !

    NOT “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\…” but “HKEY_CURRENT_USER…”

    That work correct.

  5. Julie
    said this on Wednesday, April 24th 2013 6:10 am

    I tried the first thing and it didn’t work. First I tried just selecting Notepad and then I tried selecting Other. It still opened with its own dumb viewer. i’m not going to all that trouble to edit the registry so I’m just going to have to change the extension to .txt whenever I want to add something.

    Ever heard the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?

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