What's a good replacement for notepad?
August 10, 2004 5:25 PM   Subscribe

Weapon Notepad of choice. I'm looking for a new notepad replacement for Windows, something with a good looking and customizable GUI and can open fairly large files; syntax highlighting is optional. I've been using the freeware version of EditPad for the last few years as my daily scratch pad. What would you recommend? And on a tanget, what text pads do people on other platforms swear by?
posted by phyrewerx to Computers & Internet (36 answers total)
Since I've been using a Mac, I use BBedit. I really liked NoteTab Pro when I was using a Windows machine. It had a tabbed, fairly customizable interface and was somewhat scriptable so you could set it up to do a lot of repetitive HTML tagging and data cleaning and other stuff.
posted by jessamyn at 5:46 PM on August 10, 2004

Well, as a unix geek I'm partial to vim, and on those occasions when I have to (grudgingly, clumsily) try to use Windows, I go with gvim for windows, which can be downloaded here.

Vim's extremely powerful but seems entirely archaic on first introduction. (Actually, it seemed archaic for the first six months I used it, but it grows on you after a while.)
posted by mragreeable at 5:49 PM on August 10, 2004

Textpad has been my text editor of choice on windows for a long time. If you want to be cool, though, Emacs is the way to go.
posted by majcher at 6:16 PM on August 10, 2004

I second TextPad! You might also try NoteTab which is what I was using before I discovered TexPad.
posted by Grod at 6:19 PM on August 10, 2004

NoteTab light works just fine for me.
posted by Happydaz at 6:19 PM on August 10, 2004

I can't stand TextPad. Metapad makes me happy.
posted by reklaw at 6:29 PM on August 10, 2004 [1 favorite]

Windows: textpad. There are respectable ports of vim and emacs but I find it hard to switch paradigms easily.

Mac: BBedit. It is the single piece of Mac software I miss most on other platforms.

Unix: These days I use vim for small things and editing jobs on remote hosts, emacs for bigger and local things. Basic vi is a Unix survival skill.

I've tried text editors on Unix that take a full-blown GUI approach (gedit, gnotepad) but they've never really seemed usable or natural. Weird. If the Ximian crew ever decided to make a BBEdit text editor I would be real keen to try it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:31 PM on August 10, 2004

EditPlus is, imo, the best. Text editor. Ever.

And, uh, you can find a crack, and some dictionaries in various language pretty easy, too.
posted by armoured-ant at 6:32 PM on August 10, 2004

I second EditPlus, although really I don't have much experience with such things.
posted by neckro23 at 7:30 PM on August 10, 2004

vim is choice on unix, of course, but I use Textpad religiously on Windows.
posted by the fire you left me at 7:39 PM on August 10, 2004

Notepad 2 or Programmers Notepad
posted by banished at 7:42 PM on August 10, 2004 [1 favorite]

emacs is for people who want to play tetris.
posted by the fire you left me at 7:42 PM on August 10, 2004

I third vim, which has a steep learning curve, but is amazing once you get a few shortcut keys down.
posted by bingo at 7:45 PM on August 10, 2004

On other platforms, huh? Well, you asked for it.

Most platforms: If you want configurable, it will be tough to beat vim.

Windows: Some people find vi-like editors uncomfortable, and to them I can offer no better selection than UltraEdit. Some folks swear by TextPad, but I don't find it particularly great.

MS-DOS: I got a lot done in the Norton Commander built-in editor, but QED is damned extensible and very configurable. My favorite of all time, though it's more of a word processor than an editor, is Borland Sprint, which is an editor and a language for making editors along with some potent PostScript integration. If I could find my old Sprint media, I'd still be using it today.

Amiga: CED is the best text editor made for any platform, ever, period, although you can be fairly productive in WordPerfect for nontechnical editing and word processing.

Mac: A lot of long-time Mac users seem to prefer BBEdit, and it really is a pretty powerful editor, but I find it both awkward and ugly. I've been using SubEthaEdit for light text editing duty, although I'm given to understand that Smultron is becoming the free editor of choice these days.
posted by majick at 7:51 PM on August 10, 2004

Oh, and if you just want a decent way to take notes / scratchpad on a Mac, as opposed to file editing, you will go wrong if you are not using Notational Velocity, which fucking rocks. On Windows machines, I'm afraid I just use a "notes.txt" file and plain old Ctrl-Esc, R, notepad.exe.
posted by majick at 7:59 PM on August 10, 2004

Oh, and on MSDOS, the best note-taker-as-opposed-to-file-editor is Tornado Notes. TN has a Windows incarnation by the name of Infoselect, but it's a piece of crap.
posted by majick at 8:05 PM on August 10, 2004

Banished suggested Notepad 2. That's my choice, since it fills the niche of "like notepad, but without the suck". Completely free, smart syntax highlighting, and not ugly or written in Visual Basic. It doesn't try to have every possible feature, just the useful ones.
posted by smackfu at 8:26 PM on August 10, 2004

I use SCITe. Free, syntax highlighting, etc, the usual.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:41 PM on August 10, 2004

For me, I'm in love with Tex-Edit for Mac. Simply because it's small, simple, easy to work with, and can open up giant files.

Plus, the "find/replace in all windows" feature really makes my life easier.
posted by Katemonkey at 10:20 PM on August 10, 2004

TextPad and EditPad don't do it for me for some reason. I'm partial to ConTEXT. Find-replace in all windows (I've opened up to a hundred or so with no performance problems), persistent open files, syntax highlighting, other cool stuff. The only fault I can find with it is that the regexp searching doesn't work very well -- across line breaks, for example, which kind of makes it pretty useless for me. But this may not be an issue for you.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:35 PM on August 10, 2004

UltraEdit on Windows, WinEdt for TeX on Windows (both require some tweakage to be made pretty but it's possible). I have seen no editor short of some full-blown IDEs approach the text editing functionality of UltraEdit (unfortunately its syntax highlight files are not so full featured compared to, say, vim, but oh well).

Emacs on Linux, but I really should switch to vim ASAP.
posted by azazello at 12:01 AM on August 11, 2004

I really should switch to vim ASAP.

Since I swing both ways in the text editing department, I'm curious: why? (I'm thinking about standardising on one or the other, I only have so much brainspace for advanced features...)
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:05 AM on August 11, 2004

I use Notational Velocity on OSX. Reason enough to switch to Mac. (No shit. Probably my most used non-internet app.)
posted by dobbs at 12:11 AM on August 11, 2004

Generally, I use emacs via cygwin, but I "associate" most common files with Alan Phillips's PFE32 (Programmer's File Editor). Last address was http://www.lancs.ac.uk/people/cpaap/pfe
posted by RavinDave at 2:10 AM on August 11, 2004

UltraEdit is the most full-featured general purpose text editor I've ever seen. There's one feature in particular that has married me to UltraEdit for life: column mode. I'm not quite sure what column mode was intended for, but I use it to be able to type the same thing on multiple lines at once, or to copy and paste a rectangle-shaped bit of text. I've seen editors that can do the latter, but no other that could do the former.

Here's an example of what I encounter all the time. Let's say you have the following block of code:

augmentGrammar     ();
calculateFirstSets ();
generateStates     ();
unaugmentGrammar   ();

Now you add a function at the end:

augmentGrammar     ();
calculateFirstSets ();
generateStates     ();
unaugmentGrammar   ();

You want to keep the parentheses aligned. In any other text editor, you do something like space-space-space-down-left-left-left, space-space-space-down-left-left-left, etc.

But in UltraEdit, you can do Alt-C (to switch to column mode), then use your mouse to highlight the space right before each of the parentheses, then space-space-space. UltraEdit will insert three spaces on all of the lines that you highlighted, at the correct column. Result:

augmentGrammar        ();
calculateIsNullable   ();
calculateFirstSets    ();
calculateFollowSets   ();
generateStates        ();
unaugmentGrammar   ();

posted by Khalad at 3:58 AM on August 11, 2004

Khalad: you sure ought to know better not to go talking about the "most full-featured general purpose text editor I've ever seen" when there are Emacs people in the vicinity.

Your parenthesis example: select the column before the parens, "C-x r t [space] [space] [space] RET" and voilĂ . Or you could define a keyboard macro and "C-x e" it as necessary.

Long story short, I'm throwing my chip in for Emacs on this one. If you like discovering features and customizing your tools, it's a real cornucopia. The wiki has examples of all the tasty goodness that awaits you.
posted by letourneau at 4:29 AM on August 11, 2004

Oops: s/most full-featured general purpose text editor I've ever seen/most full-featured general purpose text editor for Windows I've ever seen/.
posted by Khalad at 4:34 AM on August 11, 2004

TextPad. I've used it now for about six years, and I think I'd be lost without it. I just love using it. (You can't really use it as a scratchpad because it runs in an MDI.) More than anything though, editor choice is a personal matter. Try out a few, and stick to the one you like.
posted by seanyboy at 5:10 AM on August 11, 2004

I use and love EmEditor. Simple, streamlined, NOT tabular (a must for me), and powerful.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 6:33 AM on August 11, 2004

TextPad. Simple to use (take that, emacs!), syntax coloring (you can even make your own for new languages), tabbed documents. It's has lots of other features too, but those are the ones I care about.
posted by callmejay at 8:38 AM on August 11, 2004

I'm curious: why?

Because vim does not try to build everything and the kitchen sink into the editor, and it does not try to insult me with a sorry excuse for a GUI that emacs has. Since I haven't learned any of the advanced features of emacs yet, it's about time for me to switch.
posted by azazello at 10:17 AM on August 11, 2004

Re UltraEdit vs Textpad. TexPad also does column editting and document persistance.

Some of the features I use in TextPad are the hex editor, built in file diff, spell checker, and work spaces.

Work spaces are a collection of files that you can open with a single menu selection. For example I have a Mailing List workspace and a NetHack work space. The first has a set of text files containing notes gleamed from various mailing lists and web forums. The second has all my Nethack notes and spoilers plus a scratch pad area for each character I'm playing (so I can remember that Cleaver is in a shop on the 3rd level and the notes for the castle are EBFDC)

I just leave a text file called ScratchPad.text open in the document selector for a scratch pad area.

One of the good things about TextPad is that it doesn't seem to force options on me. For example the MDI can run thru the document selector (which is a dockable tool box) or document tabs or off the window menu item.
posted by Mitheral at 11:14 AM on August 11, 2004

Mitheral: For what it's worth, UltraEdit has all the features you describe implemented in almost exactly the same way.
posted by azazello at 11:22 AM on August 11, 2004

I've never used UltraEdit but it I'll have to try it out.
posted by Mitheral at 1:48 PM on August 11, 2004

vim can do the column insertion thing too, with visual mode.
posted by bingo at 7:57 PM on August 11, 2004

For posterity, I'd like to include my pet peeve with power editors: Unicode support sucks in nearly all of them. I haven't yet seen an IDE or full-featured text editor, other than maybe Visual Studio 7, which had full and straightforward Unicode support.
posted by azazello at 12:24 PM on August 15, 2004

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