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If you need a versatile note-taking tool that is small, light and lauches quickly, then you don't have to look far. "Scratch" was designed to be all the above.

The author describes it thus:

  1. Scratch is a mini notepad for windows.
  2. Its primary purpose is to make taking notes as simple as possible.
  3. Scratch is very small and loads almost instantly.
  4. It is designed to be simple and intuitive to operate.
  5. It requires no set-up and has no complex controls or options.

Note-taking Utility

Scratch is for note-taking. It is small and doesn't require much from the CPU. It launched quickly and isn't very complicated to manage.

By default it creates a TXT file (*.txt) in the same directory where it resides named Scratch.NOTES.txt. To make Scratch start with an empty text file, one only needs to rename Scratch.NOTES.txt. Once the file is renamed, Scratch creates a new file the next time it is launched.

Windows CardFile Replacement

Remember the old Windows Card File? Scratch functions just like it but better. By clicking on New, a "Category" is created and one can rename it and use it for the title or subject of the note that one will type into it. The new "Category" can be whatever one wants for a note to be associated with it. The possibilities are limited only by one's imagination.
Note-taking possibilities

There are so many note-taking possibilities that one can use Scratch for

  1. I use it for those snips of thought that one can incorporate into a lecture or a sermon later on. A quotable quote? Sure, why not! Click on "New"; type in "Heart" and in the note, type in the quote and its author.
  2. I also use it for URLs of websites that I intend to visit later. URLs typed into Scratch are clickable.
  3. To do's, telephone numbers, quick reminders ... you name it -- Scratch can be used for all of these.
  4. It can be used as a nice database for your clipboard data. Just copy into Clipboard and paste into Scratch so that the next time you copy something, the previous data is not lost, as normally happens. (Windows Clipboard only keeps your copied data until the next copy operation is made.)

A Text Notes Organizer

Scratch is also in a way an organizer for the text files one creates. I used to keep notes like reminders, software serial numbers, to-see-websites in separate *.txt files. Soon however they get lost among the different *.txt files I create in a week or so. With Scratch all the data are saved in a text file that is internally divided into [Pages] where each page contains the "Category" and the note contents.


Scratch cannot print anything. To have its data printed, one will have to open it up in Notepad or -- better -- WordPad. If with the latter, you can format your data anyway you like and from WordPad -- which is a word processor -- print it.

Scratch Interface

The controls of Scratch is so easy to understand.

No Install

Scratch isn't installed into one's computer. One can put it into a USB flash drive and use it from there. It is small, just about 100 kb.

Advanced Tips

Two or More Instances?

The author of Scratch tells us that one cannot open multiple instances of Scratch.EXE. When one has opened Scratch and clicks on it a second time, it only activates the instance already open. So how does one go around this problem?

Answer: Just make another a copy of Scratch.EXE and rename it into something else.

Let us say you wish to have one instance of Scratch for random notes and another one for a Card File. First, make another copy of Scratch.EXE and rename the copy into -- let us say -- NoteCard.EXE. Once this is done, you can open both and switch between them using ALT+Tab. There will be no conflict in the text file they create since Scratch will continue to use Scratch.NOTES.txt while NoteCard.EXE will save its contents into NoteCard.NOTES.txt.

To create another instance of Scratch:
Safe way:

  1. Create a new folder; rename it into "ScratchApps"
  2. Copy Scratch.EXE into that folder:
  3. Navigate to the ScratchApps folder
  4. Right-click on the new Scratch.EXE and choose "Rename"
  5. Call it whatever you like, e.g. "QuickNotes"


  1. Open up the Windows Console
    Start --] Programs --]Accessories --]C Prompt (in Win98, it has the icon that says MSDOS)
  2. Navigate to the directory where you have Scratch.EXE
  3. Type copy Scratch.exe QuickNotes.exe

Reusing Scratch Data

The data created by Scratch is reusable. Since it saves its contents into a text file, it will be easy to open it up in WordPad or MS Word. Parts of this tip was created using Scratch. Once I was satisfied with the quantity of notes I've made, I simply renamed the created Scratch.NOTES.txt into tipzntrix2.html, rearranged the content and modified it a bit and coded the whole thing as an HTML page.

To rename the Scratch data file

Safe way:

  1. Navigate to where Scratch.EXE is
  2. Look for the filename Scratch.NOTES.txt
  3. Right-click on it
  4. Choose rename
  5. Type in the name you want.


  1. Navigate to where Scratch.EXE is
  2. Look for file Scratch.NOTES.txt
  3. Open it up in Notepad
    Right-click --] Open With --] Notepad
  4. Save As (whatever-you-want-to-call-it.txt)

Advanced way:

  1. Open up the Console
  2. Navigate to where Scratch.exe is
  3. Type ren Scratch.NOTES.txt Whatever.txt


I got my copy of Scratch from SoftPedia ([url=" title=][/url]). Go to SoftPedia and search for "Scratch". Or get it directly from here. If these links prove to be dead, get the zipped file from here. Once you unzip the file, it can be used immediately; no installation is needed. The application is for those who would like to have a functional note-taking tool that does not require much from one's computer. I would recommend it also for those who don't like big downloads. If you don't mind big downloads, try Evernote. You may also try out AZZCardFile

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