[Tip] Change the Default View Source Editor in Internet Explorer

When you click the View Source command in Internet Explorer, it opens the html source using IE (F12) Developer Tools. If you want to change the default view source editor to a different viewer such as Notepad, Notepad++, use these steps:

Changing the View Source Editor in Internet Explorer

1. Launch the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) and navigate to:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\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_CURRENT_USER\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. For example, I’ve set Notepad++ as the default view source editor.

ie view source editor change to notepad

6. Exit the Registry Editor.

Article was last updated on August 16, 2016. Information in this post applies to all versions of Windows, including 10 Anniversary Update, aka Redstone 1 (Version 1607.)

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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded Winhelponline.com in 2005.

25 thoughts on “[Tip] Change the Default View Source Editor in Internet Explorer”

  1. Thanks for the first method, I have been looking all night trying to figure it out. Very simple fix thanks to you! 🙂

  2. I had upgraded to IE8 but then needed to back down to IE7 for some compatibility issues. After that when I tried to view source it would open up Windows Explorer for my desktop! I’ve searched for a solution and your registry edit suggestion worked like a charm. Thank you!

  3. Great, thanks. This also helps to get rid of a strange error message when trying to view source code in Internet Explorer 8:
    German: “NA konnte nicht gefunden werden”
    English: “NA could not be found”

  4. Thank you, thank you , thank you
    I upgraded to IE8 about 12 months ago, but went back to using 7 for a number of reasons, this beeing one of them.
    Upgraded again at weekend, but not having notepad as the default was driving me mad.
    After finding this page my sanity has been restored

  5. Thanks for this tip! I was desperate because Outlook insisted in using an editor which needed a registratio instead of my preferred HTML editor. I tried that editor once and it seems that I did not pay enough attention where it set itself as the preferred editor …

    Note for other users: for some reason does not launch the Developer Tools in my IE8; but it works via the menu: “Tools” – “Developer Tools” and then as described.

  6. I was trying to find the editor used because I liked the code coloring and the line count, but wasnt the ability to edit . . . should have know Microsoft would cripple it just like everything else

  7. Thanks for this tip, I was going crazy trying to figure how to edit the source code. This tip also works with Internet explorer 9

  8. THANK YOU THANK YOU… THANK YOU… can I say it again?…. I do all my website coding by notepad on my hard drive before loading it to my site.

  9. Thank you so much! I kept having computer issues at work and at one point lost the viewsource-notepad file that had enabled sources to open in Notepad. Opening in Word, copying into Notepad, then saving was terribly time-consuming and posed various problems. While the IT guy was trying different files, I googled and found this and it worked like a charm!

    Thanks again!

  10. The ability to edit ‘on the fly’ was the reason I stayed using IE when it seemed most everyone else had gone over to FireFox. Once that edit capability was removed I saw no reason to keep IE as my default browser, but frustation eventually led me to find this Regedit solution – many thanks.

  11. Thank you so much!! I knew how to open Notepad to change the source code in IE8, but I did not know how to make Notepad the default source viewer once gain. You have saved me a lot of time!

  12. I still cannot get Word to be the default editor, even though I think I followed all the steps. It defaults to Excel, which makes not sense.

  13. 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”?

  14. 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.


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