My search ended when I found, downloaded, installed, tried and fell in love with Jarte. NO, it's not free, but for under $20 it has proved to be my most used piece of software next to my browser and email. While powerful enough to create .doc and .rtf files, it's also simple enough to use as a plain text editor for those times that you just want to jot down notes.
Jarte \jär · 'tay\ noun (est. 2001) 1. A free word processor based on the Microsoft WordPad word processing engine built into Windows. 2. A fast starting, easy to use word processor thatexpands well beyond the WordPad feature set. 3. A small, portable word processor whose documents are fully compatible with Word and WordPad. [from their website]
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I love that I can mark files as favorites and quickly access them with a flick of my mouse. Once I got used to it, I love the clickless interface. Just hover the mouse over a button, the menu automatically expands. I love that I can define defaults for both plain text and rich text. I love the quick dictionary/thesaurus look-ups as well as the spell checking. I love the infinite ways I can choose which toolbars and layouts to use.
There are just too many features to list here, please take time to visit their website and read more. Oh, and did I mention that the support has been amazing? Twice I emailed offering suggestions, only to get a reply back that the feature already existed and an explanation on how to find and use it. ...and I don't think I have found all the great features yet, even after six months of use.