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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 9 of the Best Free & Low-Cost Alternatives to Microsoft Office 9 of the Best Free & Low-Cost Alternatives to Microsoft Office Microsoft Office has dominated the market of text documents, spreadsheets and slide shows for years, and for good reason – it’s one of the very best. However, there’s one drawback and that is the price.... Read More 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 Notepad Not Doing The Trick? Try Out The Lightweight Alternatives Xint & Subpad Notepad Not Doing The Trick? Try Out The Lightweight Alternatives Xint & Subpad Read More and alternative text editors for Macs available TextWrangler Just Might Be The Best Free Text Editor [Mac] TextWrangler Just Might Be The Best Free Text Editor [Mac] Use an advanced text editor on your Mac, free of charge. TextWrangler comes complete with code highlighting for most major languages and a whole lot more – and it's free. If you even occasionally edit... Read More . 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:

1. Caret

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.

caret-text-editor

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Modelled on Sublime Text Sublime Text: The Text Editor You'll Fall in Love With (Windows) Sublime Text: The Text Editor You'll Fall in Love With (Windows) Read More , 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.

2. Writebox

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.

writebox-text-editor

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 WriteBox: Online Text Editor That Connects To Dropbox WriteBox: Online Text Editor That Connects To Dropbox Writebox is an online text editor with an extremely simple interface. Even better: you can connect it with your Dropbox account to edit any file you store with that service. Every keystroke you make is... Read More , 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.

3. Text

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.

text-text-editor

The app is powered by CodeMirror, though it doesn’t take full advantage of the versatile text editor’s features. For example, there is no integration of JavaScript autocomplete, yet smart indentation and bracket and tag matching is supported.

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.

Chrome-text-editor

Conclusion

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

  1. Sachin
    November 19, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Material Neuron is the best! Caret is not really good, according to me. Material Neuron fulfills all requirements and is really good.

  2. Mike
    September 25, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    I personally love "ain't" (rich-text, full featured) text editor for Chrome. Advanced and useful. Works offline, as well.

  3. Deb
    August 14, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    I am looking for a text editor that works on a chromebook that will allow me to teach html coding and give the students a chance to preview their web page. On a Mac we used SMULTRON, but that does not work on a chromebook. Will the google chrome text editor allow similar functionality? Thanks! DKS

  4. Matija
    March 16, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    I received a file with .js. If anyone knows how to open that kind of file on Chromebook. Tried with different programs, unsuccesfull. thx, Matija

  5. Paul Anderson
    March 13, 2016 at 12:49 am

    Writing a rather belated entry to the mix, I'm new to Chromebooks (Acer CB5-571) but not to Google or the Chrome browser; I'm a long-time googler. So I thought it time to get their OS.

    I use Caret for my html files. For simple text editing I use the QuikNote extension; as its title implies it is quick and it has a right-click function to copy any highlighted text directly into it. Additionally, it uses the Chrome universal spell checker function (settings/privacy); it auto-saves so if you do not "trash" content, its just there, even if you close the program or the computer itself. You can send text directly to Gmail (launches in new tab).

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/qwiknote/kbnjcnadgpdpaphlplanahkfphkkfnnh?hl=en-US

  6. Dan Price
    March 30, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Fantastic - glad you found it useful Monica, makes it all worthwhile!

    Dan

  7. Monica
    March 30, 2015 at 11:48 am

    I searched for 3 days to try and find some way to edit my Dropbox files on my Chromebook - thank you, thankyou, thank you for this article - WRITEBOX IS PERFECT!!!!!

  8. Yusef
    June 9, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Hi Daniel,
    There is an alternative to these applications for ChromeOS: http://www.calmlywriter.com
    Disclaimer: I'm the author :)

  9. Dave P
    March 22, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    I wasn't previously aware of the final option, and I have to say -- as someone who always opts for the simplest solution -- it works extremely well as a simple text editor.

  10. K
    March 22, 2014 at 12:37 am

    I use Writebox for basic word processing. I love it! I wish that it had some formatting abilities, but great to use when I don't want to lug around my laptop and just want to use my Chromebook!

    • Daniel Price
      March 25, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      If you add formatting I feel it might lose some of its uniqueness though. Its brilliance is in its simplicity...

      Daniel

  11. Ed
    March 21, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    This is definitely cool stuff for a "browser only OS".

    Curious. How does Chrome OS store these installed, off-line web apps? Windows will create a folder of the installed files.
    Does Chrome OS create a folder of installed files similar to how Linux installs programs, or does it create a folder of a "local website" with html5/javascript/css files, or is the offline web app in some sort of cache tricking Chrome OS that it is a web site?

    Curious about non offline web apps too. Are these pretty much just shortcuts to an actual website? I know it used to be this way before Chrome apps got their own windows separate from the actual browser.

    Explaining how Chrome OS apps get installed in the system and how Chrome OS treats them (as web sites or as installed apps similar to Linux) would be a nice article.

    • Daniel Price
      March 25, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      Hey Ed,

      I am really not sure about where the offline apps are installed, there is certainly no file you can see or access from the file manager. I guess if you knew the root you could access the files through the terminal though.

      Re: online apps, it varies. Soundcloud's app is just a shortcut, whereas Workflowy is its own app. I think we'll start seeing less regular shortcuts and more specialist apps over time.

      Daniel

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      April 24, 2015 at 12:11 pm

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