What does your favorite text editor say about you?

Remember this post? I’m doing it again. I once said that your choice of a web browser reveals something about your personality. Same can be said about the choice of your preferred text editor. Tell me what is the default editor on your system, and I will tell you what kind of person you are.

Vim Logo

Vim or Vi

You are a minimalist at heart, but you value raw power of a sophisticated, and yet simple editor. You hate to waste key strokes. You laugh derisively at the fools fighting with their silly Notepad like editors. You either use a traditional unix keyboard or you switched around Ctrl and Caps Lock so that they are in their popper places. Chances are that you might be (or have been) a sysadmin. You think that Emacs is not a text editor, but a fucking operating system with a built in kitchen sink, and a circus tent. You might as well use an IDE.



Your choice of text editor was simple. You wanted the most powerful, and most extensible editor on Earth. And you can write a formal mathematical proof that Emacs is that editor. You are a lisp hacker and you are not afraid to use it. In fact, when you watched Matrix you were disappointed that the streaming code on the screens was not lisp. You still think that the back-end and AI of the Matrix is done in that language. You might have (or are working towards) a PHD.

Pico or Nano

As everyone knows, Pico is an acronym which stands for “I can’t figure out vi and Emacs is crazy”. You do try to be as hard-core as your Vi and Emac’s friends but you just can’t deal with their funky editors. You are ok trading off all their power for familiar simplicity because you don’t need advanced features. All you need is a working text editor. And Pico/Nano is just that. No frills, no bells, no whistles. Just rock solid functionality. You think that people who put time and effort into “mastering” a text editor have way to much time on their hands. It is very likely that you are using Pine for your email. Pine of course stands for “can’t figure out Mutt”.



It actually never occurred to you to try a different text editor. Notepad was always there, and you never needed more. All the extra features in the other editors are just making them slower and harder to use. Notepad does what it was designed to do, and doesn’t get in your way.



You are a bit like the Notepad user, but you use Ubuntu or Fedora instead of Windows. Gedit is the default, and that’s what you use. It is completely sufficient for editing small config files, and you never really needed stuff like syntax highlighting. It never occurred to you that you could use anything else. The KDE practice of starting names of all their applications with k annoys you.


Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is not a text editor. You should not be allowed near a computer. In fact you are the cancer that is killing the internet. Kill yourself.



You are a hard code KDE user. Kate is not only a robust editor with syntax highlighting – it is also a fully functional KDE component. This means that you can use it to edit files on remote servers in place by simply using the fish:// or sftp:// protocol in the file dialog. Because of this you wouldn’t change this editor for any other. In fact, almost every single application that you use on daily basis starts with a K: kontact, kmail, koffice, kopete, kdevelop, konqueror, konsole and etc.. You try to use as few non KDE apps as possible. GTK applications piss you off because they clash with your interface, use counter-intuitive file dialogs, and look awkward and unpolished.


Ed is the standard text editor. Enough said. You are in fact, too fucking awesome for this article. You have yet to meet a person who would be worth your respect. Every person you ever worked with was a fucking clueless n00b. You are a BOFH and proud of it. On the systems you administrate you symlink vi, emacs and nano to ed just to watch the lusers squirm in their seats and hit Ctrl+C repeatedly. You are likely to have a big bushy beard, and are probably wearing a T-shirt with a cryptic joke that only people with unix background will understand.

Notepad2 or Notepad++

Notepad2, Notepad++ and etc..

You like the simplicity of Notepad, but you wanted a bit more. Not to much – just some syntax highlighting and maybe having line numbers displayed on the margin. You do use the editor to write some code, but you like to keep it simple. You are not a Linux user so you have no clue what that whole Emacs vs Vi thing is all about. You also hate IDE’s – they are bloated and get in the way of doing your work. Simplicity is your mantra.



You tried many different text editors. You could never get a hang of vi and Emacs. You think it’s a bit crazy to spend time and effort learning how to use them. You were dissatisfied with every single editor on the market. They were either to difficult to use, to simplistic, or too bloated. Then you found TextMate and it felt like an extension of your body. It did for text editing what OSX did for operating systems. You love this editor so much, that you actually don’t mind it’s not free. For you it’s worth every penny. You don’t mind being the only guy in your town who actually paid for a text editir. You are a smug Mac user, and proud of it. You have recurring fantasies in which you strangle Justin Long with you Mighty Mouse cord.


You love vim but you can’t deal with it’s sharp learning curve, and funky key bindings. So you took the easy way out, and got the best of both worlds – the power of Vim, and standard key bindings for the most common functions. When hanging out with your Vim buddies you usually forget to tell them about this and act as if you were using the real thing. Because in essence you are. Your version just has the added key bindings. You would be embarrassed if anyone found out abut it though.


Your text editor is lightweight, full featured, extensible and cross platform. In addition, it can work as a stand-alone executable which requires no installation. Fits perfectly with all your other portable tools on your USB thumb drive. You also love how SciTE let’s you write Lua scripts to extend it’s functionality. You take your text editor choice very seriously. You like tinkering, and minimalistic, portable applications.


TextPad or EditPlus

You use your editor for programming. What you want is something like a mini IDE with the ability to launch compilers from within the editor, and capture their output, but without the bloat. You value simplicity. Scite was to funky to you, and choices like Notepad2 were bit too basic. Your current editor has everything that you can need, and you probably won’t ever need more. You suffer from a common affliction known as IDE phobia. Whenever you want to make yourself puke all you have to do is to just imagine working in Visual Studio and/or Eclipse. You think that all the Vi and Emacs people are even more crazy than the poor misguided souls who use IDE’s.


Jey, 1987 called and they want their Word Star key bindings back!



You are one of the last representatives of the dying breed of MS DOS enthusiasts. You are master at batch scripting, and you wrote dozens of scripts, and small applications to streamline your work on Windows. You are one of the last few people who knows how to squeeze out every bit of functionality out of cmd.exe. You are to windows what a hard-core vi/ed user is to unix. You know almost all there is to know about windows, and all your systems run blazing fast and efficiently. You strip all your windows installations down to their bare bones, move around important files, and optimize everything. You think that Windows 2000 was the best OS that came out from Microsoft. You run a mix of win NT, win95-98 and win2k boxes at home but you don’t own Windows XP. Vista scares you. It signifies an end of an era and a sad victory of bloat and eye candy over simplicity and functionality.


You are one of those smug assholes who thinks it is hip, cool and retro to use a full screen editor. “Uh, oh! I’m a big time writer. I can’t be distracted by a taskbar and a clock when I write.” Give me a break. You probably also use words like blogosphere and blogerati and consider yourself a journalist. Sigh…

That’s all I have for now. Feel free to “remind me” about your favorite editor that I omitted in the comments. Also please note that this is all good natured humor. So feel free to complain that judging people by their text editor is stupid, shallow and etc. But that just means you are not getting it and you will be laughed at.

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129 Responses to What does your favorite text editor say about you?

  1. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I already apologized for that – see some of my comments above. My primary experiences with Gedit were in on an old machine with an old version of Gnome. That was the impression I got back then. I was wrong.

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  2. Jim Storch UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Fedora Linux says:

    Gedit user here. Enjoyed the post anyway :)

    I started using Gedit for notepad reasons while searching for a new editor. Over time, Gedit turned into the new editor I was looking for.

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  3. Ashton CANADA Mozilla Firefox Linux says:


    OK, guys …. don’t you feel he has apologized enough for his post on Gedit?

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  4. pipitas GERMANY Mozilla Firefox SuSE Linux says:

    I’m currently using ‘edlin’.

    So what kind-a person does that make me??

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  5. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Edlin is kinda like Ed for DOS. So read that entry, substitute every occurrence of the word Unix and Linux with Windows, and vi/Emacs with edit/notepad and etc. Also the bushy beard and a T-shirt joke probably doesn’t apply either.


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  6. Ashton Fedler CANADA Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Luke you have gone too far!!!

    There is no way you can compare ed with edlin. Such a comment is to say Dos was comparable to Unix.

    Ed comes with the full power of the unix terminals and all they have to offer including but not limited to every possible scripting language. It’s power is simply unmatched. The simplicity of design and implimentation into the core of the system has never been matched anywhere. And no matter how simple the commands are, like q to quit or w to write to disk, it’s completely unusable to a person lacking the confidence and forsight off a prepared programmer/administrator.

    Did I mention size??? just look:

    -rwxr-xr-x 1 root 24 Oct 29 1929 /bin/ed
    -rwxr-xr-t 4 root 1310720 Jan 1 1970 /usr/ucb/vi
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 root 5.89824e37 Oct 22 1990 /usr/bin/emacs

    But to put it as simply as you and everyone else did…. ed it the STANDARD for EVERY unix system. Plain and simple ed stands for edit

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  7. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Oh, no – I haven’t implied they are the same. But edlin was kinda inspired by ed. It is not the same tool, nowhere near as standard, and useful. It was merely and attempt to bring ed like functionality to the world of DOS.

    So I’m merely saying that an edlin user would be roughly equivalent to a hard core ed user in due to their old school ways in their respective domains (DOS and unix). Or something like that.

    Btw, I don’t use ed itself, but I write sed scripts all the time to accomplish various tasks. Does that count?

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  8. Pingback: Information Rain » Seven great Mac applications for freelance web designers UNITED STATES WordPress

  9. Alex Kritikos UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    Personally, I like Acme. It’s from Plan 9 (what the guys at Bell Labs did after Unix), but has been ported to OS X, Linux and other Unixy things. Syntax highlighting? Nope. Consistent, powerful, simple interface that actually uses the mouse well? Yes.

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  10. riffraff GERMANY Mozilla says:

    I am using VI and on PCs (yikes) GVIM.
    The descriptions are absolutely correct :-) I am a system administrator. Also I like to use ED in singel-user-mode :-) :-)

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  11. riffraff GERMANY Mozilla says:

    Oh, you did not get my OS-info:
    It is HP-UX 11.11

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  12. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Heh… I guess the user-agent sniffing plugin doesn’t know about HP-UX. Either that, or your Mozilla does not have any OS relevant information in the user agent. :)

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  13. sloopy UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    hmm nice, but back in the day on macs i used to use BBEdit, it is a very nice editor, even bought several versions of it, but i started with vi, continued to use vi when on a non-mac and now use vi(m) exclusively…

    when a mountain gets in the way,
    a clear path is a few keystrokes away…


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  14. DMcCunney UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Thanks for the chuckles. The first real text editor I ever used was on an IBM mainframe via a 3270 terminal. It emulated TSO/SPF with some additional bells and whistles, and when the shop moved to “real” TSO/SPF, I thought it was a step backward. Among other things, editors on block mode devices have a completely different idea of “full screen editing” than anything people see on a PC.

    The first PC editor I learned was WordStar, back in the days when it was the second editor you learned because the first one you preferred might not be available on the PC you had to work on. I still prefer to remap my editor keystrokes to WS if possible to avoid retraining my fingers.

    I’ve used most of the ones you mentioned. These days, I use vi or vim on *nix boxes, and an assortment of things on PCs.

    I like good things in small packages, so my favorites are probably Dr. David Nye’s e.com (an MS-DOS editor that did word wrap, right and left margins, and macros in 5KB, and Brian Kelley’s MS-DOS tm, which implements emacs key bindings, macros, and unlimited undo in 4KB.

    Folks interested in editors in general should look at http://texteditors.org, a wiki devoted to the topic, which has so far identified and listed 742 editors for various platforms.

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  15. nathan UNITED STATES Safari Mac OS says:

    I use edxor a lot. It’s small, simple, and unobtrusive. Then again I don’t write very complicated code.

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  16. Emacs all the way! lol I havent used it in a while but was very useful for me.

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  17. tort UKRAINE Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    It’s a lot easier to junk windows explorer and get Firefox and FireFTP http://rapid4me.com/?q=FireFTP , which you can have open in a tab. Firefox is noticeably quicker than IE.

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  18. DMcCunney UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Easier and safer to get FireFTP from Mozilla Addons:

    And Firefox+FireFTP don’t really substitute for Windows Explorer. Firefox is just the thing to use instead of IE.

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  19. RiffRaff GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    It is so great that this page is still up and running :-)

    Although the changes are seldom I still enjoy getting the info about updates to this page and I also still enjoy reading the descriptions over and over again!

    Great job!

    “RiffRaff” from way-up-north in Germany :-)

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  20. I like notepad ++ because of it’s plug in. It’s great tool for work with different languages..

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  21. Big Denis Opera Windows says:

    Jason F wrote:

    Bull computer

    HVS Version 6

    full screen editor: SCORPEO

    not bad.

    Hi, Jason. I’m desperately looking for Honeywell-Bull’s SCORPEO editor. I made a personal web-site mainly dedicated to Honeywell, but unfortunatly I haven’t found any screenshots about editors. Have you anything? Please, send me links, pictures, whatever about Honeywell!!
    My adress: bigdenis962@yahoo.com
    Look at my site at: http://personal.stcable.net/~bigdenis/@ Jason F:

    Reply  |  Quote
  22. Carlos CANADA Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    What about Smultron/Fraise? :D

    An extra vote for Gedit; it can be “da’Bomb” for pretty much anything! Very flexible and extensible if needed.

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  23. Ramesh INDIA Google Chrome Linux says:

    I love gedit : I have customized the gedit to look/act like TextMate ..

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  24. Bob UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    Text editors suck. I handwrite my code with pencil and paper, snap a pic with my iPhone and OCR it

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  25. Matunos UNITED STATES Netscape Navigator Mac OS says:

    I use vi a lot for quick stuff, but for certain operations (esp. regular expressions), I turn to NEdit, the graphical text editor they started us with back in college.

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  26. Ron Opera Mac OS says:

    Left a few obscure good ones: pepper, ne and aee. I actually use ne as my editor of choice.

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  27. Stas UKRAINE Google Chrome Windows says:

    My default editor is Codelobster
    What can Yousay about me? :)

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  28. DMcCunney Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    don’t really have a favorite editor. What I use depends on what environment I’m working in.

    I started on IBM mainframes and DEC minis, went from there to Unix, and next stops were MSDOS, Windows. and Linux.

    On mainframes, the realistic choice is ISPF.
    On DEC boxes, edt got the nod. On Unix, you learned vi because it was likely to be available when things like emacs weren’t. On MSDOS, you learned WordStar for the same reasons. I maintain basic fluency in all three.

    In Windows, I normally use a fork of Florain Ballmer’s Notepad2 called Notepad2-mod. It’s small, comes up fast, and can replace standard Notepad with a registry hack. Most of the editing I do is quick and dirty scripts and config file changes, so I don’t need one of the big guns, though I have an assortment available.

    On Linux, I normally use vi from a command line, and gedit or lightweight IDE geany from a GUI. Again, my needs are modest.

    My current “Hey, that’s neat!” candidate is Albrecht Kliene’s e3. e3 is a rara avis – a Linux editor written in assembler. It has partial emacs, ne, pico, vi and WordStar emulations, and which personality it assumes depends on the name it is called by. There is also a generic C source file for bringing e3 up on other machines. On Windows7 here, the underlying EXE is all of 20K in size.

    See http://texteditors.org/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?E3

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