What are the best alternatives to Notepad?

I would like to get syntax highlighting support for major languages. Other desired properties are:

  1. Simple to use
  2. Light weight
+114  A: 

Notepad++ is very nice and free. It has a lot of highlighters included, but you can download or even create custom highlighters.

I use Notepad++ all the time. Very nice indeed
There are also tons of plug-ins for Notepad++. There is a file compare plug-in that works great, not as nice as BeyondCompare, but works for small compares. There is a document monitor that works like tail. Tons of text formating helpers. I use it every day!
Mike Schall
3rded, it's a very nice program indeed, even without optional plug-ins.
A word of caution: extremely long lines (a meg of text w/o linebreaks) are not drawn correctly. And, loading huge files (a a few hundred meg of text) can crash it (not an error message - actual crash).
my biggest problem with notepad++ is the total fail on regex. Why is it so hard to find a simple text editor that supports true POSIX multiline regex for find and replace?
+5  A: 

This is going to be rather large.

are two good ones. I like the later because it is FAST.

If you're on a Mac, I have to mention TextMate, maybe a reason to switch to a Macintosh, no, seriously. :)

PS: none of the above are free.

Martín Marconcini
+1 for editplus and although it isn't free the trial period never seems to expire
TextWrangler is a perfectly respectable free (as in beer) Mac text editor.
Jared Updike
+107  A: 

My editor of choice is Emacs but it does have the same learning curve as running into a brick wall.

Lifehacker had a good rundown of text editors. Their top choices were:

Dave Webb
I don't think it's quite *brick-wall* tough. When you start Emacs, it shows a link called "Emacs Tutorial", and it's actually really good. Simple? Probably not. Impossible learning curve? Not at all.
Emacs is a ridiculous answer in the context of this question. There are many other editors that better meet the needs stated in the question. Did the 73 up-voters actually read the question or just vote for "my favorite"? Emacs is powerful no-doubt, just not the best for the stated reqs.
If you read the whole answer there are links to a 6 text editors of which Emacs is only one. Perhaps it is that which was being upvoted. I explicitly warned that Emacs wasn't easy to use which is why I linked to all the others too.
Dave Webb
+1 for Notepad++ (even though I moved to Emacs since using it)
+1 for TextMate
Mark L
emacs and notepad++ are both very good. np++ is more lightweight and windows-y.
Paul Nathan
Dave, I have nothing against Emacs and you have the right to suggest it. But going from notepad to Emacs is like walking to work as opposed to flying a helicopter. To start with, he might be better off with a bicycle (ie Notepad2, Notepad++, EditPad etc).
+1 for UltaEdit, Textpad and brick wall.
Surely the learning curve for running into a brick wall is rather short and straight ? How often did YOU do that before learning to stop ? I agree that Emacs is the answer to all questions about 'What is the best editor ?' regardless of context, but I learned not to run into brick walls after one experiment lasting approximately 10 seconds. It took at least twice as long to learn all the ins and outs of Emacs.
High Performance Mark
Notepad++, UltraEdit, PSPad, kate, vim matches the requirements. Emacs doesn't. Agree with Ash.
Good luck with running TextMate on Windows!
John Topley
I don't think the hard part is learning to stop running into the wall... I think it's learning how to run into it properly... let that one simmer for a while.
Emacs has syntax highlighting. My Emacs binary is about the same size as a TextMate binary. Emacs has a built-in tutorial which is excellent, and which I used to learn Emacs; I tried TextMate once but it has only a reference manual and I never actually got very far in learning it. I don't see how Emacs is such an outrageous answer to this question. Are you claiming other editors listed here like UltraEdit are simpler or smaller?
+18  A: 

I just use Notepad 2. Simple yet powerful enough and easy to rename it as Notepad.exe to replace the original.

+11  A: 

Here's a very good review of various editors:

+4  A: 

I like the Crimson editor, and also EditPlus. Also, I haven't used it, but have heard good things about Notepad++.

+3  A: 

You also have the ubiquitous Emacs and Vim. The learning curve is a bit steep at the very beginning, but really worth it in my opinion (I mostly stick to Vim).


On Windows, I like TextPad.

On Mac, I like TextWrangler.

It would be a mistake for me to recommend a text editor to any linux users :)

+46  A: 

You want Notepad2

Lightweight and fast. And supports syntax highlighting for most common languages. Can open very big files also.

It even comes with a .bat that helps you replace notepad.exe

Sergio Acosta
definitely recommended.This one is the fastest and least bloated.
Loads up lightning fast but has syntax highlighting, takes unix format files.
Extremely stable too, I haven't been able to crash it down and I'm using it since version 12 (very old). Much recommended.
One of the first things I usually do when I set up my development environment: replace Notepad with Notepad2!
NEVER EVER EVER REPLACE SYSTEM FILES. An alternative to replacing is available at (and has the same net effect as replacing).
Andrew Moore
+1 for @Andrew Moore's comment. much better way to replace notepad. very clean and easily reversed if desired.
Not that anyone actually wants to reverse it, once they have tasted that sweet honey after Notepad's leaden gruel.
Notepad2 is fantastic. I prefer it by far to Notepad++.

Btw Notepad++ and Notepad2 is also based on Scintilla and they basically have the same functionality.

+10  A: 

@Martin Marconcini

You might want to try the e Text Editor - a windows alternative to textmate. It feature some cool features like inbuild version control for the small save that you do.

It does cost a bit and I am still waiting for the linux version.

I find that it works OK in Wine.
Lucas Jones
+5  A: 

Another vote for Notepad2 ; it's the most similar of the bunch to the original Notepad, but with a lot more glitz & glamour (syntax highlighting, line numbers, current line highlight, etc). I actually prefer the single-document approach, as opposed to the tabbed multi-doc views of Notepad++ & Crimson (which are also very good editors).

+3  A: 

Notepad++ is also my favorite. besides syntax highlighting it has several other plugins like:

compare plugin - A very useful diff plugin to show the difference between 2 files (side by side).

ftp synchronize - A FTP client which is integrated in Notepad++ seamlessly. Open a php file from a server of distance, modify it, save it and try it on your browser directly just like you work locally

+13  A: 

Definitely TextPad for me. It is easy to use, a lot of syntax files are available and it supports a number of extensions. If you cannot find a syntax file to suit you, it is pretty easy to build one yourself.

+1  A: 

I love TextMate for the Mac, but on Windows I have been using Notepad++ lately, which seems to be handling itself decently enough. I've been meaning to try E TextEditor which is a windows clone of TextMate - If it's anything like the original, I'd highly recommend it.

Matt Sheppard
+10  A: 

I work with EditPlus, mainly because I'm so used to pressing CTRL+B to open the current webpage in an browser tab right in the editor.

Might be that other editors also have this feature, but as in most cases that's one of the "started with it and stuck with it" programs. Once you know all your important keyboard shortcuts the expense of changing your editor is quite high ;)

Of course it also supports syntax highlighting, regex-search'n'replace, ANSI and UTF-8 character encoding. Oh, yeah: And it can work with the PHP Help file to show context sensitive help with just one key press. Or you can add external programs like HTML Tidy as filter.

I really like the regex search-and-replace and grep features of EditPlus.
Stephen Harmon

Emacs on *nix, Notepad++ on Windows.

The Emacs version on Windows feels clunky to use.. :(

+5  A: 

The gVim (graphical Vim) distribution for Windows comes with a shortcut named eVim, which I believe stands for "easy Vim" -- in this mode it works like the point-and-click text editor (i.e. notepad), and still has all of the syntax highlighting capabilities available through the menu bar.

I recommend trying this out if you don't want an immediate switch to a steep learning curve text editor but hope to learn one: you can get accustomed to the gVim interface in "easy" mode and switch out when you feel adventurous and want to experiment with the more powerful features.

+1  A: 

Sorry, but I have to plug my personal favorite Programmer's File Editor.

It's from the previous century, you don't get syntax highlighting but you get line numbers. It looks like the times when computing was fun and keeps the simplicity of notepad.

I tried a lot of editors but always liked notepad better till I fell in love with PFE

+1 In addition to the line numbers, it also supports macro recording/replay and customizable shortcut keys. It also does not require installation, so no interaction with the registry.
Matt Davis
+1  A: 

I favour Notepad++ over any other editor on Windows.

If you happen to use a macintosh I would suggest SubEthaEdit (availiable at:

Another Editor I recently heard about is Context, availiable at

But I have not yet tried Context.

It may not be the best maintained application out there, but ConTEXT is full of useful functions that I really miss in other Windows editors such as UE and Notepad++.
Paul Lammertsma
+2  A: 

I tried several over the years finally settled on Programmer's Notepad. Simple, fast, easy to configure and all the features you would expect from a notepad replacement.

Don't be put off by the complexity of the default configuration (screenshot) which has all the IDE features turned on.

You can easily configure it to look like this: (screenshot)

Antti Sykäri
Thanks for recommending PN! It's interesting that you prefer it with a simple config, I'm thinking of changing the default to look like that.
Simon Steele
+9  A: 

cdleary mentioned gVim for Windows. It is definitly a great text editor for windows. All the power of the original, no learning curve since there is a menu you can access, a small executable and right-click menu integration in Windows. Here is a link: gVim

"No learning curve because there is a menu" isn't really the case. When you hit `ESC` while editing, you will be helpless.
Otto Allmendinger

I am a fan of vEdit.


TextPad and e-editor for windows and textedit for the mac.


We use Textpad, have done for ages - one of the nice things about it being the way it copes with huge files.

I've looked at others but not found anything compelling enough to make me want to switch (though there is only so much one can do with a text editor before you progress from useful to bloated...)



Try TextPad. It does a great job of highlighting HTML with JavaScript and PHP (or whatever). There is plugins for virtually any language.

+5  A: 

TextMate for Mac OS X. There's a "port" to Windows: E.

James A. Rosen
+5  A: 

On Windows, I really like EmEditor. I've used it for years.

Ryan Duffield
Excelent for large files
Ivan Nevostruev
+10  A: 

SciTE - small, fast, syntax highlighting for everything.

I wrote my entire honours project, code + thesis, in SciTE! Not sure if it's in SciTE's favour but some of the other suggested editors on this page are also based on the Scintilla library; Notepad++ for one. Personally I prefer SciTE -- it starts up faster and is less cluttered.
+1  A: 

I not only use Notepad2, I've completely replaced notepad with it in XP. It's just that good. :-)

+7  A: 

I SWEAR by Scintilla based SciTE. For my money ($free) it the best text editor: lightweight, tabbing, syntax highlighting, you can run code in it ,

See it here download it here

It is also open source and the source code is an interesting read (if you like that sorta thing)
On Linux, you can configure a *hundred* of its options, per user, per language! SciTE is magic.

I personally love notepad++ and use it all the time.

+3  A: 

I use Notepad2 and replaced notepad.exe with it. Lightweight, fast and perfectly meets my demands.

Markus Dulghier
+7  A: 

I was put onto Programmers Notepad and love it. I had been using Notepad 2 but this is much better and more customizable.

Rob Bazinet
Agreed. PNotepad is by far the easiest, but still powerful.
+1  A: 

I use notepad2 as a replacement for notepad (replaced like travis suggested), along with SciTE as a standalone executable on my tools flash drive. I also have notepad++ through Portable Apps, which I use on occasion.

notepad2 -- very lightweight, lacks tabs, love the flawless replacement of notepad.exe

SciTE -- Portable, tabs, syntax highlighting by default, can run basic console inside

Notepad++ (on portable apps) -- nice interface, slower response

Rob Hunter
+4  A: 


+1  A: 

I have to go with Notepad 2 or Notepad++

+2  A: 

Programmers Note pad for me.


I use a combo of Notepad2 and Notepad++ for my coding needs.


Real programmers use cat :)

lol - thanks for making my day :)

Huge TextPad fan. If it had source control integration and intellisense it would be the perfect code editor.

Scott Dorman

If you're using Mac OS X and want a FOSS text editor, I recommend Smultron.


If you are after a free solution, you can't go past Notepad++.

Otherwise, E Text Editor is fantastic on Windows, and TextMate is like the best on Mac OS X.

+1  A: 

I use Far Manager's built in editor for simple text editing. The editor has highlighting for a lot of different languages including C# and XML.


Notepad2, hands down..

It includes all the core functionality of a major editor (color code, zoom, line numbers, identation controll, auto tag closing, bracket identifying), but is also as fast and light weight as they come. Oh and it has an extremly simple interface. The complex stuf fare nicely tucked away.

Alexander Morland
+3  A: 

Here is my preference:

On Windows:

On Linux:

  • Vim to quickly view and edit stuffs. Do mind the learning curve.
  • gedit for serious stuffs and if I need to use the file browser side pane. Check out the extensive plugins as well.
+1  A: 

I'd have to say EditPlus, $35 well spent!

$35 seems quite reasonable alright.
+2  A: 

On Windows: PSPad

On Mac: SubEthaEdit

Multiplattform: Editra

Everywhere: Vim

+2  A: 

EditPad Pro from JGSoft used the trial version for several years till I finally got my company to man up and pay the $50 license fee but it is a wonderful piece of software. Super-fast, complete, has exactly what you want and need and the trial version is hardly limited at all.

I do also occasionally use JEdit (free) for its ability to split window, its neat search features and its excellent Macros support but its java nature just makes it feel clunky to me. Otherwise, it was my IDE of choice before I became a Visual Studio rat back in the days of simple ol' PHP.

George Mauer

I am a fan of ConTEXT, it also allows you to fully program your own syntax highlighting. Not sure if it is still being developed though.


For a lightweight solution either notepad++ or vim/gvim. For a more project based solution pspad is pretty good. I also like the customisability of notepad++ and pspad with their syntax highlighting. Eg. Add extensions like csproj, vcproj, wix to the XML language family to get the appropriate highlighting.

+1  A: 


+1 to gedit. It is my choice when writing ruby, groovy and trying some java code.

Kind Regards


I use Notepad 2, replaced Notepad with it. Lightweight and feature full.

Julien Nephtali
+1  A: 

I've been using UltraEdit on Windows for a long time, and TextMate on Mac for at least a year. I'm not using them near their fullest (it's tricky to memorize advanced features in two different tools), but they both work well and highlight syntax for a bunch of languages.


Vim in Linux and Notepad++ in Windows.


I'm a big fan of SciTE, myself. Syntax highlighting, bracket matching, supports multiple languages, and it is very fast and lightweight.

+2  A: 

Check out EmEditor ( It is super light (right now it is currently consuming 424K on my system), blindingly fast regardless of file size, and the one time I had a feature request for it I mailed the guy who owns it and he replied, "great idea!" and added it a week later.

I won't give up my IDE, but EmEditor is a great complement to it.

+4  A: 

I use EditPad Pro. Has many features including great regex searching (which gets a lot of use as my RegEx tester :)). There's a free version, EditPad Lite, that comes without the regex support, which I guess makes it pretty much useless.

+3  A: 

EditPad Pro. A pretty interesting guy living the life in Thailand producing this most excellent editor. It's all I use on the Windows side of our existence.


The Zeus editor has syntax highlighting for quite a few programing languages and the syntax highlighting can be easily configured for almost any language.


Geany is cross-platform and uses the same editor component like Notepad++ and SciTE, but has much better IDE stuff.

Milan Babuškov

And you could also try . It has python syntax highlighting and is really smart and neat (but need some configuration before using with python)


Mac: Textmate Windows: Intype


I love SciTE!


I use NetEditr

It's web-based based on TinyMCE and EditArea.

I mainly use it as an extra buffer when editing content in a CRM such as Joomla or Drupal. It's more like a sandbox to do your editing and copy paste to where you want. Saving source code to local computer is supported also.


The Zeus IDE wins hands down.

+1  A: 

TextPad always. First class product. Almost a must have for programmers.

+1  A: 

I have been using EmEditor for years now for both code and regular content editing. When working with files in different encodings it performs flawlessly. The latest version also offers a hex view of your opened file.


UltraEdit - very handy text editor.

Mike Trader

Snippely is a great little Adobe Air app for mixing thoughts and code together in a much more organized way then just text files. The only problem I had with it was it didn't have support for as many languages as programs like Notepad++ have, but it's still worth a look.


Notepad 2 or Programmer's Notepad 2. Notepad 2 for quick editing, Programmer's Notepad 2 for text clips, projects, and more

+1  A: 

I'd just want to mention


for the mac users among us...

+1  A: 

Obviously the best and free one is NotePad++ out there. Of course if you can spare money to those paid programs, you can find better ones maybe.

+2  A: 

I've used Textpad from Helios for quite some time. Only thing I miss is the "Visual Basic" style context menu which autocompletes or describes e.g. function in certain programming langues.

Why TextPad?

  • No limits on files opened
  • Unlimited undo/redo even when you saved the files, you can always undo (GREAT!)
  • Find in files, in open files
  • Find/Replace with Regex (that was one of the biggest reasons)
  • Block select (although that's something in the Windows standard ALT + Mouse should every program understand)
  • Document classes (e.g. trim lines yes/no, save as tabs/space characters etc.etc. very flexible)
  • Code highlighting (also very easy to understand and modify if you need some custom things)
  • Cheap (free to try with no limits and the developer has earned my money, also you don't have to pay upgrades for the same major release)
+1  A: 

I still use Kedit from the days when I was installing programs under VM/CMS. Kedit is a very lightweight and powerful emulation of IBM's XEDIT. It is a REXX interpreter which, similar to Emacs, allows me to modify its environment. A single Kedit session can edit up to 100 files simultaneously up to the size of memory.

One of the major benefits that I enjoy with this editor is it's capability to edit text within a column or a block. Another is it's capability of issuing complex commands.

I have used many of the editors in this writeup and I keep coming back to Kedit because it does more.

BTW, the learning curve is considerable as is true with any "good" editor.

+1  A: 

Notepad++ is REALLY solid, that's the one I ended up sticking with and it does HEAPS of languages. It has lots of cool little things you can do with it, but it's definitely light. I'm not a fan of the epic, "chew all your memory just to edit text" Eclipse, style IDE's either..

Although, I think IntelliSense in Visual Studio 2008 is freaking awesome. I've used a fair bit of Vim in my time as well when I need to get freaky with .conf or GCC stuff on Linux. I once read a famous quote saying that you should master one IDE?? Not sure where that is from..

Notepad++ works with

  • C/C++
  • Java
  • PHP
  • C#
  • JavaScript
  • SQL
  • Objective-C
  • CSS
  • Assembler
  • Ruby
  • Python
  • Lisp
  • Scheme
  • TeX
  • ini
  • etc.

And you can hook up 'auto complete' functionality (with API's) as well. It also has tons lots of other really cool helpful stuff.


Nice tool between Windows Notepad and Notepad++ is Notepad GNU.

Fabian Vilers

I have used TextPad for years. The part I really like about it is the find and replace functionality, which works really well over multiple files. I have found the ability to use "find" with regular expression syntax to bookmark lines, and then copy the bookmarked lines to another file, to be very useful. And, it has enough syntax highlighting, and you can define your own if you language is not already supported. And you can run it in demo (=free) mode indefinitely, although I did buy a license long ago. I don't usually program in it though. For that I use Visual Studio + Whole Tomato Visual Assist X, which is not light weight by any stretch of the imagination. If you want the editor specifically for programming I would choose one of the other suggestions here. But you did ask for an alternative to NotePad, and that's what I use TextPad for. Ohh yes - I did use it on Linux for a while by installing it with WINE.


It does not look like anyone mentioned KomodoEdit yet.


Notepad++ is the best one, because it is free and works fast.


Xemacs has a less steep learning curve than emacs, but with all of the underlying power. That might be a reasonable choice.


Nobody has yet to mention JEdit which is an excellent open source text editor for any language....


I wonder why people don't mention AkelPad (

If you don't need full-fledged code editor like Emacs but rather notepad replacement AkelPad is best choice. It's incredibly fast and ca

  • It's incredibly fast. It loads very quickly and opens big files very fast.
  • It's not bloated with toolbars and looks almost like windows notepad (can be turned into MDI style)
  • It supports various codepages and can easily switch between them
  • It can do all essential things that programmer needs: syntax highlighting, folding, auto-completion, scripts execution, keyboard macros and much more
  • It's free and open-source