Do you miss having a simple text editor on your Chromebook’s OS? Although Google scrapped its native app, there are still alternatives available.
As of today the only native text app for a Chromebook is Google Docs. While it works brilliantly as a replacement for Microsoft Word or OpenOffice, it is not so effective when you want to make a quick list or do some basic text editing. The inability to save files locally can be a hindrance when you’re away from a Wi-Fi signal and the permanent syncing to Google Drive can be frustrating if you’re only making simple text edits or one-line notes.
The Microsoft and Apple versions of basic text editors are Notepad and TextEdit respectively, though there are alternative text editors for Windows and alternative text editors for Macs available. Files created using these programs have no format tags or styles and are perfect for making quick notes, copying text from the internet, and writing HTML code.
Here we present three of the best Chromebook alternatives to Notepad and TextEdit:
With a 5-star rating on the Chrome Web Store, Caret is the text editor of choice for developers and coders. The app runs completely offline and, importantly, is capable of opening and saving files either locally or in your Google Drive.
Modelled on Sublime Text, Caret is a full-featured code editor that uses Mozilla’s Ace code editor to highlight code in almost any language you want. Key features include tabbed editing, JSON-format settings files, and sublime-compatible keymappings. The only drawback for coders is the lack of Git and SFTP integration. Unfortunately, the developer has indicated he has no plans to incorporate support in the future.
For users who just want to use it as a simple note-taking and text-dump application, it works equally well. The interface is basic and clean, just like Notepad and TextEdit, and it allows users to create simple documents and make quick edits to text files.
Similar to its rival Write Space, Writebox brands itself as a distraction-free text editor. While the online aspect of this text editor has been around for some time, the latest incarnation in the Chrome Web Store now works offline and auto-saves all your work locally. In fact, the app saves your document after every single keystroke you make, meaning there is a permanent backup available and you can never lose your work.
Although the app doesn’t have any advanced features and you can only write in plain text, it does offer excellent syncing functionality. Both Dropbox and Google Drive are supported, allowing users to save, open and edit text files in either of these cloud locations.
The app doesn’t have the same support for coders and developers as the aforementioned Caret, but that really isn’t the main purpose of the app. If you only use Notepad and TextEdit for writing documents and making notes, this is the perfect replacement.
Text offers a mid-point between the coder-friendly Caret and the writer-friendly Writebox. It doesn’t have cloud-synchronisation nor is it modelled on Sublime Text, but it does offer syntax highlighting for various programming languages and uses a distraction free interface.
For those who do not have complex needs Text offers a user-friendly experience that is easy to master. The app can save and open files directly to/from the local hard-drive, supports having multiple files open at the same time, and has full offline functionality.
4. Google Chrome
Unbeknown to many, a (very) simple text editor is built directly into the Chrome browser. Enter data:text/html, <html contenteditable> in your browser’s omnibox and you’ll be presented with an editable page just like Notepad and TextEdit. You can even save the document (as an html page) by hitting Ctrl+S. It’s worth bookmarking the link – although it’s basic it will work 100 percent of the time, giving you a fail-safe option in an emergency.
What do you think? Do you use a plain text editor on your Chromebook? Do you recommend the apps I mentioned, or do you think there are better alternatives? Let me know in the comments below.
Image Credit: Happy Notepads by 19Melissa68 via Flickr