The Zen of Telling Notepad++ That .Config Files are XML

There's a zen beauty in improving the configuration of your tools. Breathe in. Configure. Breathe out. Reconfigure.

Problem: When I open a web.config file with Notepad++ it doesn't realize that it's an XML file. Thus, it doesn't syntax highlight the file accordingly.

A moment of googling led me to an answer at superuser.


  1. Go to Settings > Style Configurator...
  2. Under Language, scroll down and highlight "XML"
  3. Beneath the Language list, find User ext. textbox and add "config" to the list.
  4. Press Save & Close
  5. You will need to close and reopen the file, for the syntax highlighting to take effect.

This is one of those minor frustrations that I put up with, year in year out, and don't even realize I'm tolerating it. Why? because every time I edit a web.config file I'm absorbed in the momentary struggle, struggling under the cognitive load of a deep mental stack of problems. I don't have the time (or the mental resources) to stop and fix this problem before getting the job itself done.

Slow down. Get the tooling right. Sharpen the axe.

Spend five minutes to save five seconds*.

It will pay off in time.

(There's also something nicely recursive about configuring the way config is displayed)


* The idea of 'Spend five minutes to save five seconds' is basically a variation on:

spend two hours to save five minutes

...which is from the Unusual Time Management Ideas Episode of the 3 Month Vacation podcast. A really interesting show!


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