gedit is Just a Great Text Editor

I use Xubuntu on a laptop without a mouse, which is fine, because there’s nothing I like less than taking my hands off of the keyboard — even on a desktop machine.

I also try and stick to Xfce native applications as much as I can and for the most part, it’s not an issue. The one, consistent exception I make is for my text editor, though (previously).

The default Xfce text editor is Mousepad and like the Application Finder says, it’s a simple text editor. It’s pretty much Windows Notepad.

mousepad from the application finder menu

But since I do just about all of my writing in a text editor, I need something more robust, so I work with gedit, the default GNOME text editor.

gedit does standard enhanced text editor things, like highlighting syntax (if you’re working on CSS or HTML, it’ll highlight the various elements so you can see what’s what). You can change the appearance of the editor, so you’re typing one custom color on another, which is something I find easier than typing black on white.

It has a built-in spell check and word counter which I find essential. You can go full-screen for a distraction-free writing environment, which I never use, but I know some people love.

But it also has two features that aren’t as universal and that make gedit very special for me.

The first is the Quick Open plugin, which lets me open any file using Alt-Ctrl-O. It tends to put frequently used files in right away, but older files can be located, just by typing the file’s name and/or navigating folders. One of the things I loved about Ubuntu was GNOME Do, which let me open ANY file just by typing in its name. This gives the same functionality, with only text files, which is right where I need it.

gedit quickopen menu

The other feature I love is the snippets plugin, which lets me assign text to a keyword. When I type the keyword and then hit tab immediately afterwards, it inserts whatever text I’ve assigned to the keyword. I don’t use it for simple HTML tags, although I certainly could, because I feel like those tags are so ingrained in my fingers, I can actually type them about as fast as I can execute a snippet. But for text I don’t use as often, and for longer yet regularly used strings of text, the snippet feature is a huge time saver. For my hockey blog, I need to grab Creative Commons photos from Flickr. I have a snippet to insert all of the blank credit information, so all I need to do is pop in the links and fill in the blanks.

It’s actually way more customizable than I take advantage of, but even using just some of its potential saves me a lot of time and typing.

One final note about gedit: there are builds for Windows and OS X. I use the Windows one at work and while it’s not as snappy as it is in Xubuntu, the same functionality is there and it’s not bad to work with.

gedit isn’t super sexy but it’s a great, surprisingly powerful text editor that’s very easy to learn.