Scratchpad, the rapid note-taking tool

Created on Thursday, December 27, 2012.
Filed under Software, Productivity.

Scratchpad is a quick-and-dirty note-taking tool with a minimum of frills, meant to show up when you need it and get out of the way when you don’t.


Download Scratchpad (Windows, with source code)
(6500+ downloads, I’m so happy!)

What is it?

Scratchpad is a quick-and-dirty note-taking tool with a minimum of frills, meant to show up when you need it and get out of the way when you don'’t. Programmers can use it to document code changes as they happen without having an extra program on their taskbar, or writers and students can use it to store snippets of text temporarily.


  • Show or hide Scratchpad from anywhere in the operating system using a custom hotkey.
  • Your notes autosave and autoload between sessions.
  • Scratchpad refreshes your active file if it’s been changed by some other program, making it friendly for use with Dropbox and other cloud storage services.
  • Edit the template to give yourself a ready-to-go framework every time you create a new file.

I wanna download it!

Download Scratchpad (Windows, with source code).


Either run the desired .exe, or download Autohotkey and run the included source .ahk.

Custom hotkey — Show or hide Scratchpad. Escape — Hide Scratchpad (if it’s active) Ctrl + S — Save the current text. Ctrl + Shift + S — Save as. Ctrl + O — Open a text file. Ctrl + N — New file from template. If you want Scratchpad to start minimised, either check the ’Start minimised’ checkbox, or make a shortcut to it and place ’ /min’ (without quotes) into the Target box.

Edit template/template.txt to change Scratchpad’s default startup text.

Known Issues

If you’’re running multiple monitors, autosaving upon exit sometimes makes the Save dialogs pop up in the wrong monitor or in some other part of the monitor than you’d expect. This is probably because the save dialog is no longer parented to the now-closing Scratchpad window.



  • Scratchpad now refreshes your active file upon unhiding, if it detects that the version on-disk is newer than the version you currently have open.
  • Added a confirmation box if you are trying to save an older Scratchpad version of the active file on top of a newer on-disk version.


  • Added a Start minimised checkbox to the GUI.
  • Ctrl+S now attempts to silently save your active file, instead of popping a Save dialog every time.
  • You can now Save As by pressing Shift + Ctrl + S.
  • Window titlebar now indicates whether your file is unsaved since your last edit.


  • Option to autosave the current file when Scratchpad closes (also makes a backup).
  • Scratchpad also attempts to load the last-used file when it starts up.
  • You can define a custom show/hide hotkey, as some users reported Win+S conflicts with other software they were using.
  • Scratchpad remembers its screen position from your last session.
  • Ctrl+N makes a new file from the template. There’s also a ’New’ button on the GUI.
  • There’s a Help button (?) in the bottom-right that tells you shortcuts and version.
  • Cancelling a file-open command no longer blanks the edit box.
  • Executable is now compressed (approx. half the size it used to be).
    • MPRESS (the compression tool) was causing false positives in virus scanners.


  • Added UTF-8 support.
  • Added /min command-line flag to start Scratchpad minimised in the system tray.


  • Scratchpad is no longer on top of its own Save/Load dialogs.


  • Scratchpad is always on top of other windows.


That's all there is, there isn't any more.
© Desi Quintans, 2002 – 2022.