We have covered a lot of tutorials where we have asked our readers to insert a code in WordPress either PHP or CSS. Writing codes in a simple text editor like Notepad could be confusing and cumbersome. Even an experienced developer can easily lost in the code.

That’s where a source-code text editor will help you and make your job easier.

That’s why we are sharing a list of 20 best FREE text editors you can use to edit source code in WordPress. Whether you want to add code to a PHP file, making changes in CSS stylesheet or even coding a WordPress theme , these handy coding editors will definitely make your job easier.

What features to look for in a text editor?

As we are focusing on editing WordPress files, the features to look for in a text editor should be related to edit PHP and CSS files as these are the two dominant file types in WordPress.

The most common features to look for in a source-code text editor are:

  • Show line numbers
  • Syntax highlighting (specially PHP and CSS code color highlighting)
  • Autocomplete code
  • Auto-save time intervals
  • Syntax error checking

Never use word processing programs like Microsoft Word to edit script files. Such programs add extra formatting to code which can cause errors.

Woopoo's Caution

Source-code text editors don’t add any extra formatting into script and are easy to run and compile. Let’s start our review with #1 in alphabetical order.

01. Arachnophilia

Arachnophilia text editor

link: Arachnophilia

Review: Arachnophilia is a general programming software with special HTML editing features. With easy customization and scalable interface, this program can be transformed into different kinds of programming languages. The built-in FTP feature will let you upload the files directly to your web server.

02. Atom

atom code editor

link: Atom

Review: Atom is an open-source text editor that can be used on Windows, Mac and OS X. The real power of Atom comes from thousands of packages which can be installed to add new features to the program.

The software is easy enough to let a beginner start coding right away and can be transformed into a fully developed programming interface for advanced users. That’s why they call it a hack-able text editor for the 21st century.

03. Brackets

brackets editor

link: Brackets

Review: If you are looking for a lightweight and a modern text editor then look no further other than Brackets. With the help of adding visual tools, they have turned coding into a creative process. It is a program made by web developers for web developers.

04. ConTEXT

context text editor

link: ConTEXT

Review: ConText is a small utility text editor with basic programming features. Good for seasoned or amateur web developers. The software is not fancy with visually appealing elements and buttons but a simple interface for basic coding tasks.

05. Eclipse

eclipse wordpress

link: Eclipse

Review: If you want to just copy and paste WordPress code here and there then Eclipse is not for you. Originally developed for java programmers, Eclipse became popular among other software developers also by extending its capabilities by installing plugins.

You will need to install Eclipse PHP plugin if you want to use it to edit wordPress PHP files.

06. EditPad Lite

edit pad lite editor

link: EditPad Lite

Review: By installing EditPad Lite, we have found that it is not essentially a code editor but a general-purpose text editor with like-features as a code editor. The software supports Unicode text editing, tabbed interface to work with multiple files, automatic backups and a powerful search-and-replace feature.

07. Emacs

emacs code editor

link: Emacs

Review: Emacs is real-time display editor with an extensible and customizable interface. The program comes with complete built-in documentation and a set of tutorials for new users.

Apart from simple text files, Emacs can be a great help for editing different programming languages.

08. EmEditor Professional


link: EmEditor Professional

Review: EmEditor Professional is a fast and easy-to-use code editor with extensible support for multiple languages. The software supports block selection mode which means you can select a complete code block easily.

Macros is another powerful feature of EmEditor which let you add already-built small pieces of code to your web development.

09. Gedit

gedit gnome

link: Gedit

Review: Gedit or GNOME text editor is a simple yet powerful general purpose text editor. The software supports multiple tabs to work on different files at once. The features include go to line, a better search and replace, maximize full screen, syntax hightlighiting and spell check. More supporting features are available for more complex tasks.

10. jEdit

jedit text editor

link: jEdit

Review: jEdit is a cross-platform text editor for Windows, Mac, Unix and OS X. Built-in macros and plugins for multiple languages make it a popular code editor among web developers. A separate Plugin Manager can be used to upload and remove plugins from the program.

More features include “intelligent” keyboard shortcuts, comprehensive help, copy and paste with unlimited clipboards (“registers”), graphics-like rectangular selection and much more. All in all jEdit is a really polished and stable text editor for serious web developers.

11. Kate

kate code editor

link: Kate

Review: Kate is another text editor which can handle markup languages (like HTML) very efficiently. The sidebar feature can index and show multiple files to click and start working instantly and simultaneously. Other features include auto code completion, syntax highlighting, block selection, indentation and bracket matching.

Another feature we have found worth-mentioning is the ability to split screens side-by-side or top-bottom. For example, it can be extremely useful to compare code in WordPress PHP or CSS files.

12. Komodo Edit

komodo edit

link: Komodo Edit

Review: Komodo Edit is a free open source editor for basic programming tasks. This program also holds a sidebar with all linked files and multi tabs interface. With support over 100 programming languages, Komodo Edit is the most comprehensive customizable program for beginners and professionals alike.

13. Metapad

metapad text editor

link: Metapad

Review: Metapad is a small utility program which can be used to fix or edit files fast. Some good features include intelligent Find and Replace, extensive keyboard shortcuts, auto-indent, go to line and support of over 30 languages.

14. Nano

nano code editor

link: Nano

Review: Nano is another tiny utility editor to play with code. It’s look-and-feel gives us a feeling of more of it as a hacker program rather than a text editor 🙂 . It is the only program we found difficult to work with WordPress files. May be it is because the program is majorly available for Unix type platforms although a Windows variant is also available.

Nano is quite popular among Unix community.

15. NetBeans IDE

netbeans ide

link: NetBeans IDE

Review: NetBeans is quite popular among professional web developers and coders. It is basically an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) to develop web applications. It includes working with HTML and CSS files. It’s great set of tools can be used to work with other programming languages like JavaScript, Java and C++.

NetBeans, being open-source, also enjoys a huge community and forums of helping people just like WordPress.

16. Notepad++

notepad++ code editor

link: Notepad++

Review: Notepad++ is another free source-code text editor used by many beginners and professional web developers alike. Jam-packed with many useful features, the program includes support for more than 50 programming languages with syntax highlighting and code folding features.

This program is all setup to give you more surprises with adjustable and customizable interface, macros and plugins to add and remove, auto-complete code and colorful themes to select your style.

17. phpDesigner

phpdesigner code editor

link: phpDesigner

Review: If you are looking for an all-in-one text editor for web development then what else could be better than phpDesigner. Above all we can bet it will be in your budget, FREE!.

phpDesigner is an editor to code and edit HTML5, PHP, CSS3 and JavaScript files. It includes an intelligent debugger to hunt code errors on the spot and advanced features to code and edit.

You can use this software with confidence to make changes to your WordPress files.

18. PSPad

pspad text editor

link: PSPad

Review: PSPad offers huge variety of formatting functions, a spell checker and a robust web authoring editor with multiple features to speed up your workflow. One powerful feature of this program is templates which can automate repetitive tasks to really save a lot of time.

Other features include project management, FTP support, Macros, advanced search/replace integrity, code explorer and much more.

The developers of PSPad has a slogan to think twice before buying any paid text editor because free PSPad has everything you want right inside it.

19. Scriptly


link: Scriptly

Review: Webocton Scriptly is a comprehensive code editor to work with HTML and PHP files. Put your coding skills on steroids by using ready-to-add code snippets.

Regular features include code highlighting for different scripting languages and intelligent visual guide.

20. Vim

vim code editor

link: Vim 

Review: Vim is called a programmer’s text editor because of its efficient text editing features. Using Vim, you can even open an SSH connection to your web server to edit your WordPress files directly on server.

Although the software is packed with useful features, but still it is not recommended for beginners at it has a steep learning curve and needs some time to master.

Recommended Text Editors for WordPress

Obviously one cannot install and use all the text editors we have mentioned above that’s why we have decided to let you know about our recommendations. We at learningcms, are using two source-code text editors extensively.

To make quick fixes in WordPress files, we use Notepad++ (#16) on almost daily basis. NetBeans IDE (#15) is a good choice for more advanced level jobs like WordPress plugin or theme development.

Additional Reading:


We hope you like our list of free source-code text editors you can use to code and edit WordPress files. Do share with us your choice of text editor or if we have missed a free text editor worth mentioning here.

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