Best Free Programming Editor


Programming editors, also known as source code editors, are text editors that are specifically designed for programmers or developers for writing the source code of an application or a program.

Most of these editors are built with useful features, which may include colour syntax highlighting, auto indentation, auto complete, bracket matching, syntax check, plugins, etc., to effectively support the users during coding, debugging and testing.

In a Hurry?

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


NotePad++Notepad++ is a popular and widely-used editor loaded with features to make the users' programming more productive, including syntax and brace highlighting for many languages, search and replace using regular expressions, macro recording, and playback.

It is also highly configurable through plug-ins, has a wide range of themes and offers multi-language support. Other features include color source code printing, auto-completion, multi-document and multi-view, drag and drop, syntax folding, bookmark, ASCII art display and more.

A plugin manager is included in the program showing the installed and available plugins. The installed plugins include Compare, Document Monitor, MIME Tools, NppExec, NppExport, Spell Checker, etc. Installation of the available plugins is made user-friendly, just tick the items the users need and click the 'Install' button. Some other Notepad++ plugins are listed here with their dedicated forums.


PSPadAs an alternative, PSPad is another programming editor which supports syntax and matching bracket highlighting for most popular languages. It has a hex editor, macro recorder, FTP client and other common features.

PSPad works with projects and provides extensions for scripts, user converters and syntax definition. It allows users to call external programs for different environments as well.

The program has a built-in spell checker but the dictionary needs to be downloaded separately, unpacked and saved in the ".\PSPad\Spell\" directory.


Programming Editors for Cross-Platform

BluefishBluefish is a lightweight yet powerful editor running on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. It is designed for experienced programmers and web designers, and works as a general-purpose editor as well with the IDE.

This program provides options to write websites, scripts and programming codes in many programming and markup languages. Its user interface is complete with toolbars, dialogs and user-customized menus to facilitate insertion of markups and codes. Line numbers are optional.

Other useful features include cold folding, customizable syntax highlighting, advanced search and replace, multiple projects support, integration with external programs to handle advanced text processing or error detection, auto tag closing and matched code highlights for HTML and XML documents, in-line spell checker which is programing language aware and so on.


KateKate works as an advanced and easy-to-use text editor supporting scriptable syntax highlighting, indentation and code folding for an amazing number of source files.

The program loads fast and runs stably. It allows for multiple saved sessions, each with numerous files and completes with a spell checker.

Other useful features include line numbers, block selection mode, configurable templates, text snippets, symbol viewers for C, C++ and Phyton, XML completion and validation, export to HTML and a built-in terminal.


jEditIf you are mainly concerned about text editing power and not concerned about startup time, try jEdit, a programmer's text editor which provides a huge array of features, especially if the users include the plugin library.

It has all basic features like tabs and syntax highlighting for over 130 languages. Its advanced features include a diff utility, an FTP browser, a powerful macro language, block select, and more.

A bit of a heavyweight, yes, but you can't beat the power. Like gedit, this program is cross platform and runs on Linux, Windows and Mac.


Other programming editors to be reviewed:

  • Notepad2, a Scintilla-based text editor with source code syntax highlighting, runs out of the box without installation, and does not touch your system's registry. It is small and fast, but unfortunately lacks the tabbed Windows.
  • Vim is based on the UNIX "Vi" editor and aimed at programmers but can be used for many purposes. It supports multi-level undoes, syntax highlighting for over 170 languages and runs on many different OSes. This editor has a learning curve but if you have spent most of your time in the UNIX world and chose "Vi" over Emacs, then it is a familiar face. Sure, Vim is friendlier than the command line Vi, but all the features you are used to seeing are there.
  • ConTEXT supports unlimited open files and editing file size, with other features including syntax highlighting for many languages, normal and columnar text selection, file compare, macro recorder, customizable color printing with print preview, etc.
  • Crimson, fast in loading and small in size, provides syntax highlighting for programming languages such as C/C++, Perl, Java, Matlab, LaTeX and HTML. Other features include custom syntax support, redo/undo, user tools, macros, spell checker and more.
  • Programmer’s Notepad, unlimited number of schemes supported, powerful syntax highlighting supporting both user-defined and built-in schemes.
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

Quick Selection Guide


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

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Syntax and brace highlighting for many languages, search and replace, macro recording and playback, highly configurable with many plugins with a plugin manager and supported in their forums, together with other useful features.
Running in the Windows environment only.
7.05 MB
Unrestricted freeware
Some Notepad++ plugins are listed here. v6.4.1 released 30 June, 2013 View version release notes here


Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Lightweight yet powerful editor, targeted for experienced programmers and web designed, supports many programming languages, code collapse, matched code highlights, in-line spell checker, etc.
3.7 MB
Open source freeware
v2.2.4 released 12 February, 2013 View the revision history here


Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Advanced and easy-to-use editor supporting scriptable syntax highlighting, indentation and code folding for many source files, loads fast and runs stably.
No auto tag closing and matching tag highlight.
kate 4.7.4.orig.tar.bz2 1.9 MB
Open source freeware


Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Supports syntax and matching bracket highlighting, hex editor, macro recorder, FTP client and other common features.
Works on Windows only, dictionaries need a separate download.
4.5.7 (2450)
4.45 MB
Unrestricted freeware
v4.5.7(2450) released 25 January, 2013 View the release history here v4.5.8(2457)beta available here


Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Cross platform, tabs and syntax highlighting, diff utility, FTP browser, macro language, block select and more.
A bit of a heavyweight, slower start-up.
5.0.0 (stable version)
3.3 MB
Open source freeware
A java cross platform installer is available here v5.1 prerelease 1 is available here

This software category is in need of an editor. If you are interested in taking it over then check out this page for more details. You can then contact us from that page or by clicking here.


free, programming editor, source code editor, text editor, editors, freeware

Back to the top of the article.


Please rate this article: 

Your rating: None
Average: 3.8 (35 votes)


"... Zed is a fully offline-capable, open source, keyboard-focused, text and code editor for power users ...":

I was using notepad++. Then I tried PSPad after seeing it here. Found it is much more user friendly, the settings and highlighter editing are much easier than notpad++. The menus are also quite nice. I got used to it instantly. So, it's my new favourite piece of software.

Hi, thanks for the excellent review.

I'm just a little surprised that jEdit gets such a low rating (I know, I know, everyone has their favorite programmer's editor).

I use a linux platform (ubuntu 12.04) and I've tried a several other editors, Bluefish for one, but the one I use now for an extensive web site development is jEdit.

I noticed that one post referred to saving file problems (bugs) with jEdit in a multi-platform scenario. All I can say is that I've found jedit to be rock solid on linux. And its fantastic configurability is a big plus for me too.

best wishes

I've looked at all the editors mentioned in the comments as well as the article. RJ TextEd (mentioned in comments) and PSPad are about equal. Each has some features lacking in the other, but both are better (in my opinion) than Notepad++.

But I was shocked to see that neither the main article, nor the comments, mentioned SynWrite. This editor stands head and shoulders above the others, with a full compliment of features. The author is very responsive; new features get added; bugs get fixed.

Please consider reviewing this editor. Your readers will be glad you did.

I've used NotePad2 for all my PHP/HTML editing over the last few years and I love it - fast and clean.

Zeus Lite editor: Features: * Seamless FTP file editing * Syntax highlighting for C\C++, Clipper, Cobol, Fortran, Java, Pascal, Perl, Python, PHP, SQL etc * Compilers and builders run as background tasks allowing you to keep typing * Fully Scriptable using the Lua, Python, SmallC, VB Script, Java Script languages * Column, block and stream marking modes using both keyboard or mouse * Search and replace, including support for regular expressions * Brief, WordStar, Epsilon and Emacs keyboard maps provided * Keyboard mappings are fully configurable * Syntax highlighting is based on file extension and is fully configurable * Code templates * Keyboard macros recording, saving and playback * Support for third party tools * Unlimited undo/redo * In-editor, in-line error location and correction * Quick Help searches any number of help files for a specific keyword * Standard status bar, tool bar, tab bar and navigation bar features * Fast load time and small disk space requirements * File Manager associations and drag and drop * Supports both MS-DOS and UNIX file formats * Supports for UNC and long file names * MS-DOS OEM text translation is also supported * Built in spell checker * Split window allows you to create two views of the same document * Line number and bookmarks navigation * Perfect Notepad replacement

And it crashes immediately upon running it under Win7 x64.

I'd throw Emacs in for a comparison. With a decent default configuration it is pretty awesome, it supports "CUA mode" (default Windows keybindings) by default too.

Geany might be adopted by the LXDE as default text editor.

Currently I found it lack two useful tools:
Hexeditor plugin.
Code formatter. The old plugin can not fit 1.23

Notepad2 Bookmark Edition Bookmark Edition Changes: - Bookmark lines with Ctrl+F2 and jump between bookmarks with F2 - Added wildcard search to Find/Replace dialogs - Added help buttons [?] to the Find/Replace dialogs with quick syntax references - Assigned F12 hotkey for 'Save as' - Number of selected lines is displayed in the statusbar - Tweaked 'Convert to Title Case' (based on my experience with Flash Renamer) - Find/Replace dialog will automatically be filled with clipboard content first time used
Enki is a text editor for programmers. It is: * User friendly. Intuitive interface. Works out of the box. You don’t have to read a lot of docs * Hacker friendly Code as quickly as possible. Without mouse. * Lighweight. Some IDEs show splashscreen. enki will never do it. It just starts quickly. * Extensible. Operating systems are designed for running applications. Enki is designed for running plugins. * Cross platform. Use your habitual editor on any OS. Currently has beeen tested on Linux, MacOS X, Windows. * High quality. No long list of fancy features. But, what is done, is done well. * Open source. This is our religion. How to install it on Windows:

Windows installer is already available. (And also installers for Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE)