One important tool that any web developer, programmer or blogger should have is a text editor. Aside from the popular Notepad that goes with Windows, there are a lot of free text editors that are available in the Internet for you to download.

I decided to make a compilation of free text editors that use a graphical user interface. With so many available free text editors, I’ve decided to make this into a two part series. The first part consists of free open-source text editors.

AkelPad is a small, expandable text editor written for the Windows family of operating systems. It can also be run under Wine, an application which allows users to run Windows applications on Unix-like systems such as Linux. AkelPad’s author states that the program can “replace standard Notepad” and has many features which NotePad lacks.
OS support: Windows

Beaver is a recursive acronym for Beaver is an Early AdVanced EditoR. It is intended for Linux and other Unices (even Windows eventually). It is licensed under the GNU GPL and intended to be lightweight, but full of useful features for programming, from website editing to coding. It is based upon the GTK+ 2 toolkit, supports many languages through config files and offers functions such as automatic indentation, completion and correction, as well as syntax highlighting. It even has its own mini macro language.
OS support: Linux / Unix

Crimson Editor is a professional source code editor for Windows. This program is not only fast in loading time, but also small in size (so small that it can be copied in one floppy disk).

While it can serve as a good replacement for Notepad, it also offers many powerful features for programming languages such as HTML, C/C++, Perl and Java.
OS support: Windows

A small programmer’s editor whith syntax highlight, extended search features, beautiful icons and colors. The programming language is object pascal (delphi/win32 and lazarus/linux).
OS support: Windows / Linux (requires Wine)

jEdit is a mature programmer’s text editor with hundreds (counting the time developing plugins) of person-years of development behind it.

While jEdit beats many expensive development tools for features and ease of use, it is released as free software with full source code, provided under the terms of the GNU General Public License.
OS support: Mac OS / Unix / Linux / VMS / Windows

Kate is a multi document editor, based on a rewritten version of the kwrite editing widget of KDE, offering all the features of that plus a bunch of its own.

With a multi-view editor like Kate you get a lot of advantages. You can view several instances of the same document and all instances are synced. Or you can view more files at the same time for easy reference or simultaneous editing. The terminal emulation and sidebar are docked windows that can be plugged out of the main window, or replaced therein according to your preference.
OS support: Linux / Unix

KatePart is a fast and featurerich text editor component with many advanced features. It implements the KTextEditor interfaces, a common interface collection for text editor components in KDE, allowing it to be selected as the editor in applications that lets the user chose from different implementations, as well as it can use KTextEditor plug-ins.
OS support: Linux / Unix

Kile is a user friendly TeX/LaTeX editor for the KDE desktop environment. KDE is available for many architectures such as PC, PowerPC (Mac for example) and SPARC.
OS support: Mac OS / Linux / Unix

Leafpad is a simple GTK+ text editor that emphasizes simplicity. As development focuses on keeping weight down to a minimum, only the most essential features are implemented in the editor. Leafpad is simple to use, is easily compiled, requires few libraries, and starts up quickly.
OS support: Linux / Unix

MadEdit is an Open-Source & Cross-Platform Text/Hex Editor written in C++ and wxWidgets.
MadEdit can edit files in Text/Column/Hex modes, and supports many useful functions, e.g. SyntaxHighlightings, WordWrap, Encodings.
OS support: Mac OS / Windows / Linux / Unix

NEdit is a multi-purpose text editor for the X Window System, which combines a standard, easy to use, graphical user interface with the thorough functionality and stability required by users who edit text eight hours a day. It provides intensive support for development in a wide variety of languages, text processors, and other tools, but at the same time can be used productively by just about anyone who needs to edit text.
OS support: Linux / Unix / Mac OS & Windows require X windows environment

Notepad++ is a free source code editor (and Notepad replacement), which supports several programming languages, running under the MS Windows environment.

This project, based on the Scintilla edit component (a very powerful editor component), written in C++ with pure win32 api and STL (that ensures the higher execution speed and smaller size of the program), is under the GPL Licence.
OS support: Windows / Linux & Unix (requires Wine)

Notepad2 is an open-source text editor for Microsoft Windows, released under a BSD software license. It is written by Florian Balmer using the Scintilla editor component, and was first publicly released in April 2004. Balmer based Notepad2 on the principle of Microsoft Notepad: small, fast and without frills.
OS support: Windows

Programmer’s Notepad
Programmer’s Notepad 1 (PN1) is an open-source text editor targeted at users who work with source code. It was released in 1998 by Echo Software (a trading name for Simon Steele). Programmer’s Notepad 2 (PN2) was released in 2002 and is now based on Scintilla. Possibly the most unique feature common to both versions is the combination tabbed document interface and multiple document interface called “Tabbed MDI” by the developer.
OS support: Windows

RexEdit – very powerful and fast programmer’s text and source code editor. Includes highlighting for over 50 syntaxes (programming/markup languages, scripts, specific files, etc). Fully customizable environment: you can change everything – from button layout to syntax highlighting colors. It also has very helpful ready to use additional functions such as text transformation procedures or specific files managing routines. Effective templates engine and integrated project management features helps edit your files in lighting speed.
OS support: Mac OS / Windows / Linux / Unix

SciTE is a SCIntilla based Text Editor. Originally built to demonstrate Scintilla, it has grown to be a generally useful editor with facilities for building and running programs. It is best used for jobs with simple configurations – I use it for building test and demonstration programs as well as SciTE and Scintilla, themselves.
OS support: Mac OS / Windows / Linux / Unix

Smultron is a free text editor for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger which is both easy to use and powerful. It is designed to not confuse newcomers nor disappoint advanced users. It has all the advantages of an Cocoa application and some of its features are tabs, line numbers, support for syntax colouring for many different languages, functions list, support for text encodings, snippets, a toolbar, a status bar, preview, split window, multi-document find and replace with regular expressions, possibility to show invisible characters, authenticated open and saves, command-line utility, full screen editing and running commands and scripts from within the application.
OS support: Mac OS

TeXnicCenter is a free open source IDE for the LaTeX typesetting language. It uses the MiKTeX or TeX Live distributions. It allows the user to type documents in LaTeX and to compile them in PDF, DVI or PS. A menu gives access easily to precoded elements and environments (formulas, symbols, sections). It also allows for the creation of projects to organise and access the sections and environments of documents, and to insert a bibliography (using BibTeX) and an index (using MakeIndex).
OS support: Windows

The Hessling Editor
The Hessling Editor (THE) editor is one of the oldest open source editor projects and for the last decade it was written and maintained by Mark Hessling, who along with being the original author of THE is also a maintainer of Regina, an open source REXX interpreter that has been ported to most Unix platforms.
OS support: Windows / Linux / Unix

Yudit is a unicode text editor for the X Window System. It was first released on 1997-11-08. It can do TrueType font rendering, printing, transliterated keyboard input and handwriting recognition with no dependencies on external engines. Its conversion utilities can convert text between various encodings. Keyboard input maps can also act like text converters. There is no need for a pre-installed multi-lingual environment. Menus are translated into multiple languages.
OS support: Linux / Unix

Let me know if there are any broken or bad links. Watch out for the second part of this series for more free text editors.

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Owner and editor of JaypeeOnline. Self-proclaimed geek. New media writer and consultant. WordPress advocate. Loves blogging, gadgets, video games and sports. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.


  • JP Habaradas, October 15, 2010 @ 2:00 PM Reply

    @Julian – I haven’t tried UltraEdit myself but unless your job is a programmer, you don’t have to purchase a text editor for $59 when you can get fully functional free text editors. Just my two cents. :)

  • Julian, October 15, 2010 @ 1:56 PM Reply

    I actually switched from Notepad++ to UltraEdit way more stuff

  • JP Habaradas, October 1, 2010 @ 3:30 AM Reply

    @Bojan – Thanks for sharing about AkelPad! I’ve edited the post and added it to the list. :D

  • Bojan, October 1, 2010 @ 3:26 AM Reply

    No Akelpad? :( It's lightweight, small and fast. I think it's writen in CPP using WIN API. That makes it perfect replacement for notepad on any system (you don't sense it running).

    I install it on every Windows computer I work on. And yes… It works one every Windows since (and including) Win95. There's only one little drawback: I think there is not 64bit version yet.

  • JP Habaradas, July 11, 2007 @ 2:52 PM Reply

    @Julian – I’ve tried several free text editors before but never looked back after I started using Notepad++. :)

  • Julian, July 11, 2007 @ 1:53 PM Reply

    i love to use notepad ++ using it for over a year now and was never disapointed

  • JP Habaradas, July 11, 2007 @ 11:00 AM Reply

    @jhay – Me too, I use it on my desktop that runs Windows. However, since I don’t want to install Wine on my laptop, I can’t use Notepad++.

  • jhay, July 11, 2007 @ 10:03 AM Reply

    I’m a Notepad++ fan. It simply works. :lol:

  • JP Habaradas, July 11, 2007 @ 7:00 AM Reply

    @Ade – Really? Hehe..I used Notepad2 right before I was introduced to Notepad++. IMO, Notepad++ is better than Notepad2.

  • Ade, July 11, 2007 @ 6:02 AM Reply

    I could swear my life by Notepad2. Been using it since forever.

  • JP Habaradas, July 10, 2007 @ 11:15 PM Reply

    @Euri – Dreamweaver is not free and Notepad sucks. Hehe :D

    Haven’t tried Editpad though. You should try Notepad++ or Bluefish.

  • Euri, July 10, 2007 @ 11:00 PM Reply

    Well, my personal preference for HTML editor are Deamweaver, Notepad or Edit pad.

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