14 Best Free Text Editor Software Solutions in 2018

Lauren Fram
Lauren Fram  |  September 6, 2018

Coding is difficult.

It’s time-consuming, requires a lot of backtracking and is never straightforward. But coding is also rewarding and doesn’t demand many resources to get into. Everyone has to start somewhere, and a great place to do so is with a text editor.

Text editors are platforms that enable users to edit plain text, which is the basis of coding. Often they are pared-down versions of an integrated development environment, or IDE, offering some of the same features but less robust functionality. Text editors are great for front-end development, for example, because HTML and CSS are relatively simple coding languages.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, software development jobs are projected to grow by 24 percent between 2016 and 2026. That projection is faster than the average job growth rate — meaning that a lot more coding jobs are becoming available, and a lot more people are seeking to learn to code. With so many free resources available to lend a hand, there’s no reason not to pick up a free text editor and give it a shot. We’ve compiled a list of 14 tools to help you get started.

While you likely won’t be able to create a website to rival Facebook or Twitter (or the next Fortnite or League of Legends) with a text editor, you can build great, simple tools or websites while you boost your coding skills. And what better way to improve skills than using a free text editor with no risk? If you don’t like the interface, you can easily switch to another free tool that may fit your workflow better. With so many open-source tools with vibrant communities creating plug-ins and extensions to improve functionality, it’s easier than ever to customize a free platform to fit your specific needs.


Best free text editor

The list we’ve outlined here includes any text editor solution with an available free offering. It should be noted that this does not include products that are only free on a temporary basis, such as limited trial versions for new users. They may only support one user or one project, but they’re truly free offerings. Scaling, however, will often require full investments.

These products alone have well over 1,200 validated user reviews on G2 Crowd as of August 13, 2018 and only represent a small portion of the 50-plus text editor software offerings listed on our platform. Whenever possible, the products are ranked by user satisfaction score.

1. Notepad++

 best-free-text-editor

Image courtesy of Notepad++

Notepad++ is a free text editor based around Scintilla. Notepad++ seeks to optimize as many processes as possible to reduce CPU usage without sacrificing features in order to reduce power usage and create a greener world. As an open-source tool, Notepad++ supports user-made plugins and tutorials.

Available for: Windows

Free option:

  • Free and open source

Paid option:

  • N/A

Features:

  • Syntax highlighting and folding
  • PCRE Search/Replace
  • Customizable interface
  • Document map
  • Auto-completion
  • Multi-language environment supported
  • Macro recording and playback

2. Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code free text editor

Image courtesy of Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code is a free and open-source text editor with a library of extensions to customize your experience. It contains built-in support for JavaScript, TypeScript and Node.js. The platform can be customized using extensions that run in separate processes to prevent slowing the editor.

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

Free option:

  • Free and open source

Paid option:

  • N/A

Features:

  • Syntax highlighting
  • Auto-complete
  • Debugging
  • Extension library

3. Atom

 Atom free text editor

Image courtesy of Atom

Atom is an open-source text editor created by GitHub. As an open-source tool, there are a variety of tools and themes available to customize your experience. Atom can also integrate directly with Git and GitHub.

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

Free option:

  • Free and open source

Paid option:

  • N/A

Features:

  • Cross-platform editing
  • Built-in package manager
  • Auto-completion
  • File system browser
  • Multiple panes
  • Find and replace
  • Customization

4. Brackets

Brackets free text editor

Image courtesy of Brackets

Brackets is a free, open-source text editor that enables designers and front-end developers to work within their browsers. Visual tools are included in the editor to provide extra help when needed. Brackets is focused specifically on web development languages like HTMP, CSS and Javascript.

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

Free option:

  • Free and open source

Paid option:

  • N/A

Features:

  • In-line editors
  • Live preview
  • Preprocessor support

5. NoteTab Lite

 NoteTab Lite free text editor

Image courtesy of NoteTab

NoteTab Lite is the free version of NoteTab with a somewhat reduced feature set. NoteTab Lite does not include wildcard searching, customizable menu shortcuts or the Clipbar feature, but does contain tools perfect for simpler projects such as a basic web page.

Available for: Windows, Linux

Free option:

  • NoteTab Lite

Paid option:

  • NoteTab Pro and Standard in a single license: $39.95

Features:

  • Pasteboard
  • Ability to create and reuse snippets
  • In-text calculations
  • Variable-width fonts
  • HTML and CSS libraries
  • HTML autocomplete
  • Web page templates
  • Regular expressions

6. Komodo Edit

 Komodo Edit free text editor

Image courtesy of Komodo Edit

Komodo Edit is a free, simple text editor that offers everything you need for simple programming, such as autocomplete and the ability to track changes. 

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

Free option:

  • Komodo Edit

Paid option:

  • Komodo IDE Single License: $295 without upgrades and support, $394 with upgrades and support
  • Komodo IDE for Teams (5+): $1675

Features:

  • Multi-language editor
  • Autocomplete
  • Multiple selections
  • Toolbox
  • Projects and places manager
  • Skins and icon sets
  • Minimap
  • Track changes

7. Vim

 Vim free text editor

Image courtesy of Reddit

Vim is a free text editor based on the vi Unix editor, but contains more complete features such as search and replace and a multi-level undo tree. Users can program or write plain text documents within Vim.

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

Free option:

  • Free but users are encouraged to donate to charity

Paid option:

  • N/A

Features:

  • Test formatting
  • Jump tags
  • Automatic commands
  • Plug-ins
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Integrated spell check
  • Folding
  • Timers

8. Gedit

gedit free text editor

Image courtesy of gedit

Gedit is a free text editor developed for the GNOME OS that can also be used with any OS. As a powerful general-purpose text editor, it contains many of the standard features expected from text editors such as syntax highlighting and auto indentation.

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

Free option:

  • Free

Paid option:

  • N/A

Features:

  • Syntax highlighting for a variety of languages
  • Undo/redo
  • File reverting
  • Clipboard support
  • Search and replace
  • Auto indentation
  • Line numbers
  • Backup files
  • Configurable fonts and colors
  • Plug-ins

 9. GNU Emacs

GNU Emacs free text editor

Image courtesy of GNU Emacs

GNU Emacs is a free text editor originally created to be an interpreter for Emacs Lisp. Primarily built for Linux, Windows and Mac users can utilize mirrors to use the product.

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

Free option:

  • Free and open source

Paid option:

  • N/A

Features:

  • Syntax coloring
  • Built-in documentation
  • Unicode support
  • Customization
  • Project planner
  • Mail and news reader
  • Debugging interface
  • Calendar
  • Available extensions and plug-ins

10. Bluefish

Bluefish free text editor

Image courtesy of Bluefish

Bluefish is an open-source text editor that supports a variety of languages for programming and web development. It has been released under a GNU.GPL license and runs on most desktop operating systems. As a GUI editor, it seeks to be as lean as possible.

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

Free option:

  • Free and open source

Paid option:

  • N/A

Features:

  • Multiple document interface
  • Project support
  • Search and replace
  • Regular expressions
  • Snippets sidebar
  • Auto-recovery
  • Customizable

11. EditPad Lite

EditPad Lite free text editor

Image courtesy of EditPad Lite

EditPad Lite is a free, general-purpose text editor built for Windows. EditPad Lite can be used to edit any plain text file and contains full Unicode support. The product is free for personal use, but businesses and government users must purchase a license.

Available for: Windows

Free option:

  • EditPad Lite for personal use

Paid option:

  • EditPad Lite for business use: $24.95 for a single user
  • EditPad Pro: $49.95

Features:

  • Clip collections
  • Fully configurable
  • Portable editor
  • Search and replace
  • Unicode
  • Tabbed interface
  • Unlimited undo and redo

12. jEdit

jEdit free text editor

Image courtesy of jEdit

jEdit is a text editor for all platforms that is free and open source. A variety of plug-ins are available for customization, and jEdit has a worldwide team who has put hundreds of man hours into development.

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

Free option:

  • Free and open source

Paid option:

  • N/A

Features:

  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Unlimited undo and redo
  • Unlimited number of clipboards
  • Multiple open windows
  • Rectangular selection
  • Word wrap
  • Search and replace
  • File management
  • Customization
  • Plug-ins

13. Light Table

light table free text editor

Image courtesy of Light Table

Light Table is a free and open-source text editor that was released after 7,000-plus backers raised over $316,000 on Kickstarter — making it the most-funded software technology project on the crowdsourcing platform. Light Table provides users with access to resources right within their workspace. Information is available at the right side of the open window, and users can see all the functions they’ve used in a specific piece of code without opening the doc.

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

Free option:

  • Free and open source

Paid option:

  • N/A

Features:

  • Watches
  • Inline evaluation
  • Open source
  • Keymaps
  • Plug-in manager
  • Customizable
  • Embedding

14. SciTE

SciTE224

Image courtesy of SciTE

SciTE is a Scintilla text editor that is free for Windows and Linux. There are a variety of plug-ins available for additional language support. The build is ideal for creating test and demonstration programs.

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

Free option:

  • Windows and Linux versions

Paid option:

  • Mac version: $41.99

Features:

  • Standard editing
  • Command subsystem
  • Buffers
  • Sessions
  • Multi-language support
  • Find and replace
  • Keyboard commands
  • Folding
  • Importing files

Next steps for selecting the best free text editor software

Coding may be difficult, but free software can open up an entire world of development. With so many free coding schools, coding resources and free tools available, you can get up and running in a relatively short amount of time. Free text editors are lightweight, making them ideal for smaller projects and teams of a few people. If you’re looking for something more robust, many free text editors have extensive customization options available that may make them function much like an IDE.

If you’re looking to use a text editor for front-end development, consider checking out our list of free website builders to help get you started.

* Please note: Reviews may have been edited for spelling and grammar.

Lauren Fram
Author

Lauren Fram

Having lived on both the East and West Coasts, Lauren has settled in the happy medium of the Midwest. After nearly 13 years in Chicago, she has fully co-opted the Midwestern habit of saying "oop" when nearly bumping into things. In her free time she enjoys games of all sorts, and is particularly fond of board games and tabletop RPGs.