Best Text Editors for programming both free and paid

Text editors have been a fundamental part of the computing workflow right from when the first computing systems were designed and operated. The Windows people have typically used the humble Notepad, the MacOS people TextEdit and the Linux people Gedit and so on.

But computing needs specifically the programming ones have changed drastically over the period of time as coders/programmers today like to write faster code with less time spent on debugging. This is where these sophisticated text editors come to the rescue.

What is a Text Editor?

A Text editor is an application used for editing text files on a computer system.

How do Programming Text Editors differ from normal ones?

  • They are suited for programming workflows.
  • They have autocomplete feature for programming syntax.
  • They can be extended for having a greater functionality to suit a typical workflow with the help of packages.

List of Text Editors suitable for Programming Purposes are as follows:

  • Notepad++.
  • Atom.
  • Sublime Text.
  • Visual Studio Code.
  • Vim.
  • GNU Emacs/Emacs.


Notepad++ - Best Text Editors

Notepad++ is one of the veterans of the Windows world when it comes to text editing. It’s UI resembles that of the humble notepad but don’t let that simple UI fool you as the underlying technology has been implemented as such that Notepad++ always feels and behaves fluidly to the user.


  • UI/UX is minimal and entirely customisable.
  • Syntax highlighting and theming with the added functionality of user defined syntax highlighting as well.
  • Zooming In and Out Functionality.
  • WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) followed.
  • Functionality can be extended with the help of plugins.
  • Tabbed Interface with multi-language support.
  • Allow editing multiple files at once.


  • Only available for the Windows Platform.

Download Notepad++ from the link below:


Github Atom

Atom Text Editor is built by the guys from Github itself. They have created Atom with the help of their own cross-platform technology Electron.

The guys from Github brand it as “A hackable text editor
for the 21st Century”.


  • Completely free and open source.
  • Embedded Git Source Repository Control from Github itself.
  • A vast number of languages supported by default.
  • Customisable till the core element.
  • Available on all the OS platforms, i.e. Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
  • Functionality can be extended with the help of plugins.


  • Can feel a bit heavy on system resources on the systems that are a bit underpowered.

Download and install Atom from the link below:

Sublime Text:

Sublime Text

Sublime Text is a very good text editor fit for programming purposes despite being a proprietary one.


  • Very beginner friendly.
  • The vast number of themes to suit each and every user alike.
  • Excellent support inbuilt by default for a wide range of programming languages by default.
  • A huge number of plugins provided by the community to extend the core functionality easily available via Package Control (Sublime Text’s 3rd party package manager).
  • Blocks of code can be saved as snippets to enable code reuse.
  • Settings can be easily customised via its JSON structure menu.
  • Allow to edit multiple files at once and also side-by-side.
  • Preferences can be custom set for Project and Platform specific both.


  • Although it can be evaluated for free for an unlimited period of time, it has an annoying popup that asks to purchase a license for it that may irritate the end user.

All in all, Sublime Text is “The text editor you’ll fall in Love with”.

Download and install Sublime Text from the link below:


Visual Studio Code:


Visual Studio Code/VSCode is an open-source text editor from Microsoft who is contributing heavily to open-source these days.

This text editor has been very well received within the Developer Community with its sleek UI, loads of plugins to extend its functionality.


  • Available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
  • Syntax highlighting for a wide variety of programming languages by default.
  • Plugins to extend core functionality.
  • Intelligent Code Completion for a subset of languages provided by default (can be extended with the help of plugins).
  • Integrated Debuggingfor a subset of languages provided by default (can be extended with the help of plugins).
  • It has Git integrated by default.
  • Frequent code blocks for a subset of languages can be saved as a code snippet.
  • Code Refactoring (for C# & Typescript only).


  • It has telemetry service operating in the background.

Download and install Visual Studio Code from the link below:



Vi IMproved/VIM is a command line based text editor that is suitable for hard core users for whom anything less than this doesn’t scratch their itch.

No external software installation is required as it is a command line based utility but you shouldn’t be fooled by its minimal looks and feel.

Although this has one of the steepest learning curves of all text editors, users who have felt its power and functionality have been mesmerized for its cult and ask for no other poison.

Invoking VIM on Linux:

Start a terminal from either the Menu or by using keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl-Alt-T) and enter vi into the terminal window.

Invoking VIM on MacOS:

Find terminal by clicking on Finder icon -> Go -> Utilities -> Terminal or search through Spotlight and enter vi into the terminal window.


  • No extra software installation.
  • Extremely lightweight on system resources but not on functionality.
  • Deeply customisable.


  • Has a Steep Learning Curve.
  • Looks Non-intuitive to the beginner and hence less beginner friendly.
  • Available by default on Linux and MacOS only.

GNU Emacs/Emacs:


GNU Emacs or simply Emacs is another titan of the text editing world having its cult of followers like the Vims.


  • Has over 10,000 built-in commands and these, in turn, can be combined to form macros to automate a wide range of stuff.
  • Truly cross platform as it is available as a port for other OS as well.
  • WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) followed.
  • Can be used to edit and create text files in a wide variety of other language dialects other than programming ones.
  • System resource friendly.
  • Can compare and highlight file differences from two files.
  • Can be used as a debugger, compiler too.
  • Allows playing games such as Tetris, etc.


  • Can compose a quick email, read RSS feeds and much more.


  • Only con which we can think of is the age old UI/UX that might turn off some new users.
  • Has quite a Learning Curve.

Download and install GNU/Emacs from the link below:

We at The Techies Guide use both Sublime Text and Visual Studio Code among our team members. What your favorite, do mention in the comments below!

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