Best Free Text Editor


There are lots of text editors. Some of these aspire to just be Notepad replacements, while others are full-on programming text editors.

If you are looking for a text editor with programming or source code editing features, such as Notepad++, please take a look at Best Free Programming Editor. Or if you are searching for a text editor that is good for editing html codes, you might want to check out Best Free HTML Editor.

This review will only focus on text editors used for file saving in plain text format. It will include some free programs which give more useful features, such as a tabbed interface, than those available in Notepad and they still remain reasonably lightweight, fast and reliable.

Expect that some of the text editors shown will have programming capabilities, so do not be afraid to try those ones out, too.

In a Hurry?

Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide


EditPad LiteEditPad Lite is small and compact and yet offers the most functionality that users would expect from a basic text editor.

The program comes with a tabbed interface for switching between open files easily and allows users to set the application window on top of other windows.

Some other useful features include: block functions; no file size limitation; unlimited undos and redos even after saving the file - so long as it remains open. On the down side, the spell checker is not included in the free version.


ATPadATPad is useful for working with multiple files that can be opened in tiled or cascaded windows within the main user interface, while featuring a tabbed environment.

Basic features such as redo/undo, find/replace and word wrapping are included. The program also supports: line numbering; display whitespace; own text snippets; sending documents via email; and so on.

No installation of the program is required. Just download, extract the zip file and run the executable. The program does not come with a spell checker.


NoteTab LightNoteTab Light is a very handy basic text editor to have. You can open separate tabs to work on more than one project at once.

This program includes find and replace, undo and text statistics. The interface is quite easy to use although it has an old look to it. I wouldn't recommend this as a full-on text editor, but it still is a very good notepad replacement.

This program is quite basic by itself as many other features come in the full versions.


To be reviewed:

  • AEdit SX - 1.37 MB, ultra-fast text editor, with spell checker, print preview and setup.
  • DocPad - 6 MB, a free alternative to Notepad for plain text editing, offering an arsenal of time-saving text editing tools.
  • Writer's D'Lite - 715 KB, a lightweight text editor good for writing short stories and articles without any bells and whistles to distract you.
Related Products and Links

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Quick Selection Guide

EditPad Lite
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Small and compact, tabbed interface, block functions, unlimited redo and undo, etc.
Spell checker is only available in the commercial version.
9.2 MB
Feature limited freeware
Windows XP, Vista, 7, or 8.

Supported formats: txt and html.

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Tabbed environment with tiled or cascaded windows, basic editing features with lines numbering, own text snippets, sending documents via email and so on.
No spell checker.
124 KB
Open source freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.

Supported format: txt only.

NoteTab Light
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Tabs for more then one program open. Easy to use interface.
Missing many needed features in light version. Old looking interface.
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Win98 to Win7, Linux Wine, MacOS


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text editor, plain text editor, notepad replacement, basic editor, windows text editor, program editor, best editor

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by Panzer on 7. February 2014 - 9:18  (114300)
by ChocolateChip on 13. November 2013 - 12:15  (112205)

Of the various notepad replacements I've tried, I like Notepad++ and Akelpad the best. At the time of writing this, Notepad++ has the most features of the two and is one of the most popular replacements around. However, Akelpad is more customizable. It starts off very basic, but plug-ins can be enabled or disabled, increasing or decreasing functionality and loading times respectively.

I tested the loading times of both of them using AppTimer on different machines. After enabling the features I needed, such as Code Folding, Syntax Highlighting, etc, I found that Akelpad loaded 40-50% faster than Notepad++. That being said, the loading times of Notepad++ aren't particularly slow when compared to other text editors.

I use Akelpad because I want something that loads at a speed similar to that of the operating systems Notepad and lets me make quick edits or write small code. I prefer using a complete IDE instead for medium to large projects. Notepad++ is still an excellent application if you need the extra features though.

Note: I prefer to set the file associations myself, rather than choosing to have Akelpad replace the default windows notepad during the installation.

by sicknero on 3. February 2014 - 17:04  (114217)

Akelpad is always my default text reader/editor, I really like it.

It loads extremely quickly, quicker even than Notepad2 and has a fantastic selection of plug-ins and toolbar buttons.

One of the reasons I like it is that it has a print preview option, something that's missing from the other freebie text editors I've looked at.

by poemmuse on 19. July 2013 - 23:10  (109415)

I want to advise you a new text editor Poet []
It's simple and free, but has powerful capabilities.
There are
- multiple document processing
- floating tabs and windows
- powerful search (regular expression support)
- devide text area
- syntax highlighting (XML, HTML, CSS, SQL, Java, C#, C++, PHP, Ruby, Python and others)
- more 100(!) encodings
- beauteful and freandly interface
- other useful features

by MidnightCowboy on 19. July 2013 - 23:17  (109416)

Poet is beta status software and so won't be featured here until after the final release. MC - Site Manager.

by poemmuse on 9. November 2013 - 20:46  (112140)

Poet has been released already. You can try it.
There are many smart and powerful features.
Also editor has a beautiful interface.

by Panzer on 24. June 2013 - 8:51  (108696)

Jovial Notepad:


* Single .exe file
* Small footprint at < 50 kbytes file size
* Encrypting and decrypting of content
* Copy and paste images directly (for saving as .rtf rich text format)
* Colour and font on individual words
* Saving as normal plain text in .txt or rich text format in .rtf
* Context-sensitive quick colour highlight on selected words

by Odinbc on 7. May 2013 - 2:32  (107502)

I will give RJ TextEd a two thumbs up but not in the Best Free Text Editor category but as a Best Free Programming Editor. It's comparable to PSPad and as much as I like PSPad I now prefer RJ TextEd.

by Panzer on 4. March 2013 - 8:46  (105928)



- small (under 2 MB)
- easy-to-use interface
- saves in txt, RTF format
- Spell Checking and Live Spell Checking
- Additional Reading feature

by Panzer on 21. February 2013 - 8:58  (105631)

Two online editors:



by Panzer on 18. February 2013 - 9:17  (105515)

Textroom is a free full screen rich text editor developed with especially writers in mind:

by Panzer on 29. January 2013 - 8:47  (104912)
by Panzer on 28. December 2012 - 9:12  (104037)

MetroTextual is a Windows text editor inspired by Microsoft’s Metro Design Language. It’s designed to be a visually appealing replacement for Notepad; with significant improvements to performance and aesthetics.

Hotshot programmers will also enjoy MetroTextual’s syntax highlighting; which is powered by Scintilla.


# Syntax highlighting with file extension detection
# Lighting fast; thanks to unique multi-threading technology.
# Compatible with all character encodings supported by Windows
# Beautiful and simple Metro UI style user interface.

MetroTextual requires Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8. The Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 (or newer) must be installed before MetroTextual can be used.

by Brendan Peckitt on 28. December 2012 - 14:38  (104047)

That looks like a pretty good program. I've been short on review able text editors so Ill take a shot at this one. Thank you.

by Scorpiorajkumar on 6. November 2012 - 7:43  (101940)

I think two of the most powerful text editors in recent times as compared to any other text editors mentioned in this article or any articles on text editors are

1. Notetab Light (Although free, some regard this as crippleware. Full version is trialware. MC - Site manager)

2. RJ TextEd

Available at

If any users find any other text editors more powerful than these two,please also do let me know.Feedback appreciated.

(Yes..I also know about Notepad++,Polyedit,Jarte etc.)


by Brendan Peckitt on 20. November 2012 - 12:40  (102611)

I don't really approve of notetab unless your purchasing it.
As for RJ TextED, never heard of it. That will be a good one to check out.

by Dan44 (not verified) on 4. October 2012 - 9:17  (100239)

My favorite text editor is TotalEdit Lite. It comes with a spell checker which is a must for me.

by de37cel on 13. June 2012 - 20:50  (94812)

Does anyone know whether there's a text editor that will do bulleted list? I can't find this feature in a text editor!

by Goliath95 on 14. June 2012 - 6:29  (94828)

Hi de7cel,
What operating system are you using? If you are using Mac, there is TextEdit.
If you are using windows, please reply to this comment and I will find one for you.
Thanks for the comment!

by de37cel on 14. June 2012 - 22:48  (94880)

Hi Goliath -- thanks for your response. I am on Windows platform. I like the speed and simplicity of text editors but would like to find one that has bullets and maybe numbered outlining. If you know of one, please let me know. Thank you very much.


by quailrancher on 2. May 2012 - 18:34  (92913)

I've been looking for a text editor for Windows that will serve for writing novels intended for conversion to Kindle ebooks. The requirements are simple: Word wrap, the ability to use fonts on my computer, including bold and italics, the ability to set first line indents for the document, and the ability to create blank lines by some means other than the enter key.

It's the last requirement that eliminates the ones I've tried. The Kindle conversion process will ignore blank lines created by the enter key, and I don't want to put a symbol in the line to hold it open. The programs all have the ability to eliminate blank lines, but I need the ability to create them, such as with Word's Format/Paragraph/Space After.

A bonus would be an editor that's simple, not a Swiss Army Knife. Any recommendations?

by innn on 12. May 2013 - 5:15  (107685)

Textroom has been mentioned is what I use for writing novels check to see if it does what you need

by Goliath95 on 2. May 2012 - 20:29  (92921)

I'm onto it. This is a feature that is not very common with text editors, so I will try and find it for you.
Perhaps there is a plugin to configure keys?

by quailrancher on 2. May 2012 - 20:36  (92922)

"Perhaps there is a plugin to configure keys?"

I don't know. I'm in geek kindergarten. But someone could have quite a market by developing a simple text editor just for that purpose. Word often causes problems during Kindle conversion, even after saving to html.

by Goliath95 on 2. May 2012 - 20:48  (92924)

Another reason Word and most other text editors have trouble with is that they insert extra crud to style the document, such as headers and footers, that HTML doesn't like. Notepad++ does not add these extra tidbits, so it could be ideal for writing a book. If you are geek kindergarten, then enter geek elementary school and take a HTML coding course. It takes about an hour, and it is really useful. That is how I started coding, and have now moved on to C+ , Visual Basic, Python and Lua. The best thing is, lots of these tutorials are free!

by quailrancher on 2. May 2012 - 21:58  (92930)

Thanks for the input. I had Notepad++ a few years back, for what purpose I don't recall. I downloaded it again and will play with it.

Actually, a number of text editors would be usable if it weren't for the blank line requirement. It may be against the nature of a text editor to create blank lines, although articles and non-fiction works require a lot of that. I've used a number of HTML tags, including placing hypertext in messages, so maybe I got into the first grade and didn't realize it.

Quite possibly I could use ENTER or a symbol to to create an empty line, then convert to HTML and enter the right code for an empty line, or maybe I enter it, then convert to HTML. I feel myself slipping back toward juice and naps.

I'll try that. As long as it isn't double work, which isn't insignificant when we're talking about a novel with over a hundred blank lines.

by Brendan Peckitt on 20. November 2012 - 12:37  (102609)

Have any luck? Guess you probably would have by now.

by Goliath95 on 2. May 2012 - 20:44  (92923)

That's true. Ive heard that notepad++ has been used to write ebooks, because of its functionality and compatibility with HTML.

by Hristo (not verified) on 15. March 2012 - 19:34  (90661)

This is what I get when I try to open >2GB text file with EditPad Lite:
"EditPad Lite does not support files larger than 2 GB. Please upgrade to EditPad Pro if you want to edit the file"

I'm pointing this in response to "no file size limitation"

by MidnightCowboy on 16. March 2012 - 5:02  (90677)

According to their website, this limitation also applies to the Pro version:

"Edit huge files without breaking a sweat. EditPad Pro will instantly open files up to 2 GB in size, even if your PC has less than 2 GB of RAM. Also, the maximum length of a single line is not limited, which is a problem with many editors claiming to support "unlimited" file sizes".

Maybe I'm missing something here?

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