Help: Safely have several N++ versions on PC; how to access each?

  • Hi all…Can any knowledgeable user pls HELP/comment: I’ve just joined this board, to post a question: N++ crashing when I run as Admin (first & only occurrence). No solution yet, so I’m forced to reinstall/download new, to continue my work. NEW question: I wish to retain my original N++, so I have access to all those files, but add a new version to my PC. — Is it “safe” to have several versions of N++… If yes, how do I access each separately, hopefully via a shortcut? (Am hoping that this is not an unusual/weird practice) — THANK YOU for any knowledgeable advice!

  • @L-Smxxx

    Is it “safe” to have several versions of N++

    Yes, at any given moment when I’m helping people in the forum, I have between 1 and 10 different Notepad++ unzipped to various locations.

    To make multiple Notepad++'s work, you can have no more than 1 “installed”; the rest need to be portable unzips in a different location (for example, I have a c:\usr\local\apps\npp\ directory, where I unzip all my portable Notepad++ instances) – so use the portable/zip version when downloading from the official .

    • The “installed” version will still be in c:\program files\notepad++ or whatever, and likely has its config files in %AppData%\Notepad++\.

    • The portable copies will have their config files in the same directory as the notepad++.exe resides.

    • If you have any Windows file associations (open .txt with Notepad++ automatically, or what have you), those will still point to the original installation, so you cannot use Windows double-click to open a file in the portable copy; double-click will only open in the installed copy of Notepad++.

    • To edit a file in the portable copy, go into the portable directory, and run notepad++.exe from there; then you can use the normal internal methods of opening a file (File > Open, using the Open button, dragging a file from Windows Explorer into Notepad++)

      • if you have *Settings > Preferences > Multi-Instance set to always open in mono-instance (the default setting), then once the portable Notepad++ is open, double-clicking the associated file in Windows Explorer should use the already-open portable instance of Notepad++ instead of trying to also launch the installed copy.

    how do I access each separately, hopefully via a shortcut?

    You should already have your shortcut for the installed Notepad++. For the portable copy, just use normal Windows methods to create a shortcut to the notepad++.exe in the portable directory.

    so I have access to all those files

    In general, there is nothing to prevent you from editing the same files with a new copy of Notepad++ as with the copy that was previously installed currently on your machine – I am not sure why you would be worried about that at all.

    1. If you want to edit a normal file from somewhere on your hard drive, just open that file; there is nothing preventing that

    2. If you want to open one of the new # files from your installed instance: unless you closed the tabs in the installed instance, the %AppData%\Notepad++\backup directory should have those; to stay safe, I would copy those to some known location on your drive, and give the files a proper name rather than new #@yyyy-mm-dd_hhmmss

    3. If you want to know the list of files that you had open in the installed Notepad++:

      1. run the portable Notepad++
      2. in the portable Notepad++, open the file %AppData%\Notepad++\session.xml
      3. session.xml will list all the files that were open in the installed Notepad++; you can then re-open those files in your portable Notepad++

  • BTW, @L-Smxxx ,

    I meant to link you to the FAQ about %AppData% (, so you would understand that you could paste the %AppData%\... directories in normal Windows (and Notepad++) file/directory chooser windows and have it go to the right place.

  • @PeterJones said:

    To edit a file in the portable copy, go into the portable directory, and run notepad++.exe from there

    I’m not sure of the context Peter means this in, but if another Notepad++ is currently running, this won’t work to start the portable N++. What will happen is that an already running version will get switched to.

    To truly start another instance, you must add the -multiInst command-line option to the invocation. This means that a simple double-click on the .exe from Explorer won’t do it – and it probably means you’d want to create a shortcut file where you can add command line parameters.

    Again, not sure the context Peter was going for with his explanation, but I thought I’d point this out.

  • @Alan-Kilborn ,

    I’m not sure of the context Peter means this in,

    Sorry, I thought I had phrased things in a way that it was implied/understood that the installed copy wasn’t running. I didn’t think that @L-Smxxx wanted to run both the installed and the portable simultaneously; I thought he wanted both installed, but only running one at a time.

  • @PeterJones

    Well, maybe it isn’t that big of a stretch to imagine the OP coming back here and saying “When I double click a portable’s .exe, it just takes me back to the installed’s window instead of running – what gives?!?” :-)

  • Thank you very much, Peter! — Appreciate your patient(!) assistance!

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