How to Add WordPad Shortcuts to Windows 11’s Context Menu 

A Windows 11 laptop and paper note-taking book

Open WordPad in a snap with a handy Windows 11 context menu shortcut.


Windows’ WordPad app is either a limited word processor or an advanced text editor depending on how you look at it. Unlike Notepad, WordPad is a rich text editor that incorporates formatting and styling options for content. Therefore, it is a preferable alternative to Notepad for opening and editing TXT and RTF files.


As such, you might want to add WordPad shortcuts to Windows 11’s context menu, so you can quickly access WordPad and open TXT/RTF documents with it. This is how you can set up context menu shortcuts for launching WordPad and opening files in it.


To create WordPad shortcuts on the right-click menu, you’ll need to do a bit of manual registry tweaking. The editing required is relatively straightforward, but you can back up the Windows registry beforehand if preferred. See how to back up and restore the Windows registry if you need help.

You can add a basic WordPad shortcut to the context menu like this:

  1. Click inside the Type here to search box at the top of Windows 11’s Start menu.
  2. Type the keyword regedit in the search box to open the Registry Editor (see how to open the Registry Editor for more methods).
  3. Erase the current location from the Registry Editor’s address bar.
  4. Enter this shell key location inside the registry address bar and hit Return:
     Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell\ 
  5. Right-click shell in the Registry Editor’s sidebar to select a New option.
  6. Select Key to add a new registry key.
    The New and Key options

  7. Enter WordPad in the text box for the new key.
  8. Then right-click the new WordPad key and select the New > Key options again.
  9. Input command for the subkey’s title.
    The WordPad key

  10. Select the command key in the sidebar, and then double-click its (Default) string.
  11. Input this path in the Value box:
     "C:\Program Files\Windows NT\Accessories\wordpad.exe" 
  12. Click OK to save the value, and exit the Registry Editor.
    An Edit String window

Now you can open WordPad from the desktop context menu in Windows 11. Right-click anywhere on the desktop background and select Show more options to access the classic menu. Selecting the new WordPad option on that menu will open the app’s window.

The WordPad context menu shortcut

The basic WordPad shortcut launches the app, but you’ll need to open documents from its File tab manually. Instead, you can add a second context menu option for opening files with WordPad. That right-click option will provide a shortcut for opening documents in WordPad directly from File Explorer. This is how to add an Open with WordPad option to the context menu:

  1. Open Registry Editor as outlined in the first three steps for adding a WordPad shortcut to the context menu.
  2. Then clear out the address bar, and input this location path there:
     HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell 
  3. Next, click the shell key with the right mouse button and select New.
  4. Click the Key option for adding new registry entries.
  5. Input Open with WordPad for the new key’s title.
  6. Right-click Open with Wordpad and select New > Key to add a subkey.
  7. Type command in the text box for the subkey.
    The Open with WordPad key

  8. Double-click the (Default) string for the new command subkey you just added.
  9. Enter wordpad.exe %1 in the Value box, and click OK to apply.
    The wordpad.exe value data

Now you can close the Registry Editor and try out the Open with WordPad context menu shortcut. Launch File Explorer (see how to launch File Explorer), and navigate to a folder containing some TXT or RTF files. Right-click an RTF or TXT document and select Show more options. Click Open with WordPad to bring up the right-clicked document in that app.

If you ever change your mind about having WordPad context menu options, you can remove them by deleting their keys. To do so, you’ll need to open the following key locations in the Registry Editor:

 Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell\Open with WordPad\command
Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell\WordPad\command

Then right-click the Open with WordPad or WordPad key to select a Delete option. A dialogue box will open requesting confirmation to erase. Select Yes if you’re sure about deleting the key.

The Delete option for registry keys

So, why add Notepad to Windows 11’s context menu when you set up WordPad shortcuts on it instead? Such shortcuts will give you direct access to a somewhat overlooked and underrated advanced text editor that can handle documents with images in them. You can utilize WordPad as a lightweight document viewer for looking at and even editing ODT, DOCX, TXT, and RTF files.

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