The default View Source editor is no longer Notepad in Internet Explorer 8, whether it’s in the IE8 which built-in by default in Windows 7 or IE 8 that is downloaded and installed by end-user on Windows Vista or Windows XP. In IE8, when user clicks on “View Source” command from “Page” menu or in right click context menu, the HTML source code of the web page is opened in a built-in viewer, instead of Notepad, which is used in IE7 or older version of IE.

The Internet Explorer 8 built-in viewer is included as part of the Developer Tools in IE8. The built-in web page source code viewer has many features and functions, such as allowing user to save as HTML source or Formatted HTML View, dynamically refresh the displayed source code window, increase or decrease text size, print, copy and paste, and etc. However, some users have preferred to use Notepad or other text editor instead to replace the built-in viewer, which provide more flexibility, such as direct editing of the HTML source code.

IE8 does provide an easy way to change the default HTML source code viewer. In fact, there are many ways to change the associated default HTML View Source editor or viewer. Just pick one of the preferred methods listed below.

Method 1: Change Default View Source Editor or HTML Viewer with IE8 Developer Tools

  1. Launch Internet Explorer 8.
  2. Click on Tools on menu bar, and select Developer Tools in the pull down menu.

    Alternatively, press F12 to start Developer Tools.

  3. Click on File on menu bar, and select Customize Internet Explorer View Source
  4. The following three options are available:

    Default Viewer

    Change IE8 View Source

    Default Viewer will use the default IE8 built-in viewer, Notepad will display HTML source code on Windows built-in Notepad program. Selecting Other will prompt a dialog box to select the executable or program file of the preferred text editor.

Method 2: Manually Edit The Registry Key

  1. Click Start -> Run, then type RegEdit.
  2. Navigate to the following registry key:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer

  3. Create a sub-key named as View Source Editor under “Internet Explorer”.
  4. Create a sub-key named as Editor Name under “View Source Editor”. For example, the complete registry key name is now:

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

  5. Change Default value of “Editor Name” to Notepad.exe (to choose Notepad as default HTML viewer) or another other full path to a text editor’s EXE file as its value data (for Notepad++, Notepad2 or etc).

    IE8 View Source Code Editor Registry

  6. Exit Registry Editor.

Method 3: Download Registry Fix

For user who intends to set Notepad as the default View Source editor in IE, just download the following registry registration file:

Run and execute viewsource_notepad.reg to set Notepad as the default HTML source code viewer in IE8. To revert and restore the original setting so that built-in viewer of IE8 as default View Source editor, run and execute viewsource_default.reg. Note that registry registration files in the ZIP archive will both work in IE6 or IE7 too, but will both set Notepad as the default View Source editor.

Method 4: Third-Party “View Source Editor” Editor

There are few utility that able to help user to change default View Source viewer/editor used to display a web page HTML source code. One such utility is Iconico View Source Editor, which available for free download: With built-in View Source editor changer in IE8 (method 1), third party apps are less useful, as it provide similar function which allows user to choose which program that they want to use as default viewer to open HTML source code of a web page.