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The best text editors for your Chromebook

The best text editors for Chrome

Your Chromebook is more than a browser. Chrome is a complete application platform, and crafty developers have built out the Chrome Store with apps that fill just about every requirement a modern laptop needs — including text editors.

I write for a living. Anything from thousands of words to review a smartphone or tablet, or a smattering of code for a small project, or just a list of things I don't want to forget. I write a large portion of it all on my Chromebook. I've tried most every app for writing things down in the Chrome Store, and keep coming back to a few different apps that are the best at what they do.

Have a look, give them a try and tell us what you think.

READ NOW: The best text editors for your Chromebook

A notepad replacement — Text

Text app for Chrome

Text is a simple, yet powerful, editor for Chrome. It's lightweight and responsive, and perfect as a notepad. You can open multiple files from your local storage or cloud-based storage, and you can save things directly to Google Drive. Text even offers syntax highlighting for many popular file formats.

If you're looking for a fast and small app to read or create almost any type of text file, the Text app is the best way to do it on your Chromebook.

Download Text from the Chrome Store (free)

Caret for Chrome

A Chromebook makes for an awesome web-development tool. Caret makes for an awesome web-development editor!

Caret is a full-featured editor that's just perfect for developers. It offers full syntax highlighting, project management, a tabbed interface and is completely open-source and hackable through JSON settings files. It's also fully offline for those times when you don't have an Internet connection but still have the need to code things. Caret is one of those apps that you can't believe is free. Even better, it's completely open-source under the GPLv2.

If you want to do a little coding on your Chromebook, Caret is the best way to do it.

Download Caret from the Chrome Store (free)

For all your office work — Google Docs

Google Docs

The "Big Daddy" of text editing, Google Docs offers a complete word processor for anyone with a computer — that includes your Chromebook.

Google Docs has all the tools you need for writing a file of any size, offers collaboration for group projects, and is a seamlessly integrated office suite. You can import file types from other office programs, as well as export to other popular file formats. It's also available everywhere — your desktop, your phone, your tablet and your Chromebook. You can even work offline and sync progress when you have an Internet connection.

Google Docs is our go-to here at Android Central when we're working on something big or that needs input from all of us. We think it's the best set of tools for the times you need a big set of tools.

Check out Google Docs on your Chromebook (free)

Syncable notes and a scratchpad — Google Keep

Google Keep on Chrome OS

Sometimes all you need to do is jot something down, and don't need a full-featured text editor. For those times when you need a scratchpad, Google Keep is perfect.

While it has a simple UI and is perfect for things like grocery lists, Google Keep also has some great tools built in. You can make lists, add images of a map, color code your notes and share them with your friends or family. All good stuff.

Because Google Keep is cloud-based, you'll have all your notes and scribblings on any of your devices. Writing something down on your Chromebook that you (or anyone you've shared with) can look at later on your phone while you're out makes Google Keep the best way to take short notes.

Download Google Keep from the Chrome Store (free)

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

19 Comments
  • I just got Caret the other day; very customizable and easy to use. I like the addition of Tags to Keep too, makes it loads more useful to keep quick notes with.
  • Caret's vi compatibility mode is nice too. I normally use gvim on Linux, and I'm very comfortable with Caret.
  • Where is Writebox or Minimallist?
  • Okay a little off topic but in the realm of Google Drive. I know Google announced that it's moving it's "pictures" over to drive. I don't get it? Besides documents I already store my photos on Google Drive. Seems like Google is always changing something. Google+ All Day Everyday
  • It's not moving, it's just making G+ Photos accessible through Drive. Sadly, there isn't any true integration (say you edit your photos on Drive via G+... Google's help says you have to download it from G+, then upload it to Drive, to update it).
  • Okay. So if I upload pictures to Google Drive they are separate from Google+? I can see why people get frustrated with Google+. I like Google+ but I prefer to keep my photos separate from it. I'm social but not that social LoL Google+ All Day Everyday
  • For the time being, "yes". But in G+, you can enable it so it can see Google Drive Photos. So G+ can "see" it, but it's all still private until you actually share it to someone else. What people really wanted was everything organized and existing on Google Drive (taking advantage of sub folders). Then G+ would just see it all and you could edit/browse nicely. And auto-backed up photos would end up in Drive and most importantly on your computer if you have it set up to sync. This has not happened yet...
  • That would make sense. Okay so I spent part of the afternoon moving photo albums from Google+ to Drive. I'm not sure how much of a difference it actually makes but I like having total control over what is shared on my social media. Google+ All Day Everyday
  • Thanks for an interesting and helpful article. It's easier to write now on Chrome Books, but it's still a hassle finding printers that work with CB when you are going spot to spot... Just not as easy as either Mac or PC to use (yet)...
  • For code, codeanywhere.com is awesome and worth it. You get FTP / SFTP, sandbox environment, connection to your cloud storage (GDrive, Dropbox), even virtual boxes you can customize. Revisions, sharing & collaboration, checkin, checkout, etc. Plus full access from any browser. I have text also, but for writing code, for display customizations, it's codeanywhere. But you gotta be online. (Thus text.)
  • This is a great list. I personally use Google Keep since, as mentioned in the article, all the notes are synced between all the devices and of course Docs for my word processing.
  • You forgot office365 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Thanks for the article...Just got my pixel today and finding out cool apps i can download. More articles like this are always appreciated.
  • I second the Text app. Everything a quick, simple, blisteringly fast ChromeOS app should be. . . Posted via the Android Central App
  • Thank you very much for the goto on Caret. The customization on it is awesome!
  • Great article, and great suggestions from the comments too. I loaned my Chromebook to someone to take on vacation and now can't wait to get it back to try these editors. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I really only use Google Keep and Docs on my Chromebook. I never have plain txt files that I need to edit. I honestly don't even have office software installed on my Windows desktop because I am so used to the Docs web app. It does everything I need. Posted via the Android Central App
  • People actually use Chrome books?? I heard Windows 10's on the way!
  • Writing on tablets is a subpar experience as long as highlighting is required for cancellation. Confucius (would) say: "Highlighting text you erase is like polishing vase you throw out window! Writing on tablets stinks unless all your forward-deletion / connection needs are handled by one single "action" button. This button exists. The concept is devastatingly simple... and it is based on this Word 5 for DOS macro of 1988. <LEFT>«SET X=SELECTION»<RIGHT><F6><ESC>S«X»<TAB>D<ENTER><DEL> Before you run away figuring I'm crazy, consider in the plain speak of 1988 word processor Unga Bunga code what that single line containing only one variable does. Cursor hop one space to the left - "taste" (and memorize) the value of whatever you find there - Cursor go back right to original position - set highlight extender ON - and with highlighting ON, forward search to the "tasted" value case insensitive - delete the highlighting. That alone does it all You probably still won't get it... not because you're dumb... but because it's probably not sophisticated enough. In any case I can prove it to you conceptually, on a filmed computer simulation (me using only one key (Function Key 2) to do all and sundry forward deletions and connections WITHOUT ANY WHATSOEVER need for highlighting (no matter how effected)... using only one action button. Which we shall agree to call [*] (asterisk inside square brackets AKA the cat's ass). 1. [*] kills one word at a time
    Explanation: [*] hops to the left “tastes and memorizes” the space, hops back into position and cancels up to and including the first space it finds – effectively doing a CTRL-DEL (windows). Permit me to point out that there happens to be a space before every single word in the universe… except for those words that start with tabs and paragraphs. Tabs let's forget about right now... but paragraphs, brings us to 2. [*] kills one paragraph at a time
    Explanation: If on its quick leap to the left [*] finds an optionally visible paragraph mark then he returns in place and cancels one paragraph at a time – very cleanly. On your tablet... same button that killed those single words. But oftentimes better yet 3. [*] kills from anywhere in the paragraph to the end of the paragraph
    Explanation: it's a tap-tap (Hit Enter followed by [*]... and re-read point two. Already the three things above are pretty cool on a single button, but unfortunately for all the other deletion systems [*] does more... a helluva lot more. It's that one line of Unga-Bunga code. [*] "tastes" the character immediately to the left of the cursor, returns to position and then kills all the text up to and including the first instance of the "tasted" letter. Therefore [*] can kill up to and including every punctuation mark... symbol, number, accented letter, mathematical sign... anything! ...up to and including everything a keyboard has to offer! Think it through in slow motion. Read the sentence below and then edit the entire first part and just leave the quote. In the words of the great Hungarian scientist Janos von Neumann:
    "If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is." [*] does the job with a single tap.
    Explanation: If YOU tap in a quotation mark, [*] will cancel up to the first quotation it finds. Neumann's quotation started with a quotation mark... so why not take advantage of connection-style deletion? Tap-tap. Done.
    On today's tablets? Ye put thine finger on yon screen... Or you tap tap tap tap highlight extender key - hit backspace and adjust. How about only saving one short line from Neumann's quote above. This one: mathematics is simple Easy! To start with Insert an “m” at the top of the phrase and hit [*] twice Watch m[*][*]In the words of the great Hungarian scientist Janos von Neumann: "If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is." Being a complete idiot [*] will first stop at the “m” of Neumann. So you need to tap-tap! How long did it take? A third of a second? All on the same button? Then to kill the rest: mathematics is simple<ENTER>[*], it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is." (point three: [*] kills from anywhere in the paragraph to the end of the paragraph. All I can tell you is that word connection is fantastic… because that is how editors think. In most cases there is always a re-connection to a “good-to-go” word. For example: It was a bright and gloriously luminous day. Bah! No! Who wrote that crap? It was a sunny day. It was a sunny d[*][*]bright and gloriously luminous day. The good-to-go word above is obviously day. Editing is quite often a process of insertion and reconnection. So. 5: With [*] you get connected to the word you want (in the case above 2 taps) and that’s all that matters. Yes of course OBVIOULSY you deleted, but said deletions were more like a sub-product of the connection. You don’t care… all that matters is getting your “good-to-go” word. That's right! You can call the words you want to the cursor. So what's my favorite text editor? The one above... Done up right by Google... [*] was born as a connector. So what's to keep you from tapping in a reserved letter and ordering [*] the faithful slave to take a vacation from being the most sophisticated word deletion system on the planet and OPENING stuff? You highlight a paragraph in Italian and then tap in "§" and your highlighted text gets translated before your eyes.
    ^ will order pizza
    \ will send out 10,000 scam letters [*] Best regards, Steve from Massimina (neighborhood of Rome)! , if you need to cancel from anywhere within a paragraph to the end of said paragraph then all that’s required is a tip-tap (Hit enter and then [*])