Text editors are among the most versatile tools around. They can be used for anything from simple composition to programming and development. Windows has long included its own text editor (Notepad), but a number of third-party text editors offer a larger collection of features. This article lists five such editors.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.

1: Programmer’s File Editor

Programmer’s File Editor (Figure A) is a free text editor that’s geared toward programmers, but it also has some nice features for general use. This is one seriously old application (it was created in 1999), but the 32-bit version runs without issue in Windows 8.1 and is useful in spite of its age.

Figure A

Programmer’s File Editor contains all the basic text editing features you would expect, along with a couple of other nice features. For starters, the editor includes functionality for creating macros and for building and using templates. It also provides shortcuts to the Windows Control Panel, the Command Prompt, and other areas of the operating system.

2: Crimson Editor

As free text editors go, Crimson Editor (Figure B) is one of the best. It includes text editing capabilities that rival those of some word processors. For instance, you can control word wrap, line spacing, screen fonts, printer fonts… and the list goes on and on.

Figure B

Crimson Editor is designed to be used as a programming tool. Its killer feature is syntax highlighting. Obviously, syntax highlighting is nothing new. It has existed in one form or another since at least the 1990s. What makes Crimson Editor unique is that it provides syntax highlighting for more than a dozen programming languages, including some you might not expect. You can even create your own custom syntax highlighting rules.

3: TextPad

TextPad (Figure C) is a commercial text editor that includes a nice feature set. In addition to standard features such as the ability to record macros, the tool has a built-in file compare function. There are also some useful display features, such as selection mode (block, word wrap, etc.) and a synchronized scrolling feature. TextPad even allows you to create a clip library.

Figure C

TextPad sells for $25.80, but a free trial version is available for download.

4: EditPlus

EditPlus (Figure D) is another commercial text editor geared primarily to programmers. It offers features like syntax highlighting, word highlighting, brace highlighting, and URL highlighting. As you would probably expect, EditPlus also contains a nice search and replace feature. The EditPlus search differs from other tools in that it can also perform Web searches. The icing on the cake is its text-to-speech engine, which is rare to find in a text editor.

Figure D

EditPlus sells for $35.00, but a free trial version is available for download.

5: UltraEdit

UltraEdit (Figure E) is a premium text editor. It costs as much as some word processors but has a nearly overwhelming number of features. When you first install it, you’re given the option of choosing its screen layout and theme. There are also tutorials for things like adding new programming languages for syntax highlighting and reformatting CSV files.

Figure E

UltraEdit’s awesome feature set includes a multi-file search and replace, support for hex mode, column formatting support, conversion features, macros–and just about anything else that you can imagine.

UltraEdit sells for $79.95, but a free trial is available.

Also read…

What’s your favorite text editor?

Do you rely on one of the apps on this list or do you have a different go-to text editor? Share your suggestions with fellow TechRepublic members.