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The best code editors in 2021: our guide to the top options

Best code editors: Notepad++

(Image credit: Notepad++)

07. Notepad++

A classic code editor that's still popular among Windows users.

Specifications
Price: Free
Platform: Windows
Developer: Don Ho
Reasons to buy
+Free+Continually updated+Supports tabbed editing
Reasons to avoid
-Windows only

It's been around for a long time, but Notepad++ deserves a place on our list since it can still compete with the best text editors around. The work of Paris-based software engineer Don Ho, this is an option is for Windows users only. For no money whatsoever, you get a capable (if rather workmanlike) editor with plenty of features. You can also mess about with the interface to suit your preferences, and it's still being actively updated.

best code editors: GNU Emacs code editor

08. GNU Emacs

A feature-rich code editor for Emacs.

Specifications
Price: Free
Platform: Windows, OS X, Linux
Developer: Richard Stallman
Reasons to buy
+Free forever+Content-aware editing modes+Unicode support
Reasons to avoid
-Learning curve

There have been various incarnations of Emacs, but one of the most often used is GNU Emacs – a free-forever, extensible and customisable text editor. As one of the most powerful editors out there, it takes a while to find your way around it, but perseverance pays off. Features include content-aware editing modes and full Unicode support for nearly all script types. 

best code editors: Komodo Edit code editor

09. Komodo Edit

A simple yet powerful code editor.

Specifications
Price: Free
Platform: Windows, OS X, Linux
Developer: ActiveState
Reasons to buy
+Multi-language support+Track changes+View a Markdown version
Reasons to avoid
-Fully featured IDE requires payment

Komodo Edit is a basic but powerful code editor. It offers multi-language support, multiple selections and autocomplete, plus the ability to track changes or view a Markdown version. There's also a more fully featured IDE, but you'll need to pay for that.

Best code editors: Buffer interface

(Image credit: Buffer)

10. Buffer Editor

An editor for on-the-go coding on your iPhone or iPad

Specifications
Price: £9.99
Platform: iOS
Developer: Jesse Kuronen
Reasons to buy
+Split view and fullscreen +Fast interface+Multiple terminals in tabs
Reasons to avoid
-iOS only

If you want to code on the move (and you're a fan of Apple), Buffer Editor could be the option you're after. This iOS app is designed to make it easy to make quick changes to your website via your iPhone or iPad. It offers split view or fullscreen modes, and you can quickly switch between tabs. It also connects with BitBucket, GitHub, GitLab, Dropbox, iCloud ,Google Drive, SFTP, SSH and FTP servers. It's a nice option for working on the go.

Coffee Cup HTML editor

(Image credit: www.coffeecup.com)

11. CoffeeCup HTML Editor

A slick code editor with both free and paid options

Specifications
Price: Free version, or $29 (free trial available)
Platform: Windows
Developer: CoffeeCup Software
Reasons to buy
+Free version+Customisable themes+Components library
Reasons to avoid
-Must pay to unlock some features

CoffeeCup HTML Editor offers two different versions of its code editor. First, there's the free version, which is great for beginners looking for a simple text editor. This allows you to create new HTML and CSS files from scratch or to edit existing site files. Alternatively, there's a bunch of customisable responsive themes you can use to kick-start a new project. Then there's also a paid version. This includes extra features, such as HTML and CSS validation tools and a table designer.

best code editors: Coda code editor

12. Nova

A fast and clean native Mac code editor.

Specifications
Platform: OS X
Price: $99
Developer: Panic
Reasons to buy
+Fast and flexible+Useful tools
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Mac only

While Panic has discontinued its Coda text editor, it now offers Nova, a new look Mac code editor that offers plenty of handy tools. It boasts flexible workflows, a themeable interface and lots of settings. The super-fast text editor has smart autocomplete, multiple cursors, a Minimap, editor overscroll, tag pairs and brackets, and a lot more to make this a great free option for Mac users. It costs $99, or if you already use Coda, you can upgrade for $79.

best code editors: DroidEdit Pro code editor

13. DroidEdit Pro

A slick code editor for Android.

Specifications
Platform: Android
Price: $2.49/£1.99
Developer: André Restivo
Reasons to buy
+Cheap+Simple interface+Supports syntax highlighting
Reasons to avoid
-Android only

DroidEdit Pro is a slick code editor for Android tablets and phones. For the low price tag, you get an app that looks great and works nicely for coding on the move. The simple interface keeps out of the way, and the app supports syntax highlighting, bracket matching, Dropbox, and SFTP/FTP. There are also configurable shortcuts, to cut down on hunting and pecking on smaller Android device keyboards.

best code editors: Textastic code editor

14. Textastic

A code editor for use on the iPad

Specifications
Platform: iOS
Price: $9.99
Developer: Alexander Blach
Reasons to buy
+Optimised for iPad+Extra keyboard keys+TextExpander support for snippets
Reasons to avoid
-iOS only

Textastic is a code editor aimed specifically at coding on the iPad (although there are iPhone and Mac versions). Along with all the usual bits and bobs you'd expect (FTP/SFTP support, local and remote preview, syntax highlighting), you get a handy additional row of keys on the virtual keyboard that provides fast access to regularly used characters. There's also TextExpander support for working with and expanding snippets.

Next page: How to choose the right code editor