DreamWeaver requires customization in order to work efficiently. Obviously, options in DreamWeaver are far more varied and complex than those in Notepad or Textedit; I shall focus on the application's core options, matching, as close as possible, the approach we have taken in the past.
Note that the steps shown are for Adobe DreamWeaver CS5: earlier and later versions may be slightly different.
First, start up DreamWeaver. Preference settings are CTRL/CMD-U, as for most Adobe products.
Under the General option in the Preferences pane, turn off Show Welcome Screen. The option immediately under it, Reopen documents on startup is very useful if you can guarantee that you will be returning to work on that computer. This is not the case in most computer labs, but is true in most offices and at home.
Change the spelling dictionary to your appropriate language and location. (You should typically write your body copy in a fully-fledged word processor, but using the dictionary in DreamWeaver is a useful backup.)
Code Hints: DreamWeaver can speed up production significantly by anticipating and auto-completing your code. DreamWeaver is not the only tool that does this, and not everyone finds the behavior advantageous. Used well, with planning, the feature typically decreases production time by 5 – 10%. If you find it more annoying than helpful, choose Never for the Close tags option and turn off Enable code hints.
Fonts: change the Code View font to a more legible choice, as you did for Notepad and TextEdit. Note that DreamWeaver has a bug: after setting the font here, creating a new page may reset the preference setting for fonts. If so, you will need to go back and change it again.
New document: change from XHTML 1.0 Transitional to XHTML 1.0 Strict or HTML5.
Preview in Browser: set up Firefox to be your primary browser; other browsers should be secondary.
Validator: turn on "XHTML 1.0 Strict" or "HTML5", turn off all other options. (This is not terribly important for DreamWeaver CS5, as the validator does not really work: use DreamWeaver 5.1 or the Firefox Web Developer plugin instead.)