What simple text editor would you recommend to easily browse and scroll through a large file (a few hundred megabytes+)?

For example, gedit has a problem that when a file is opened, part of the file is darkened which makes reading a file cumbersome.


2 Answers 2


Working with large log files on a daily basis, I refrained from using "widgets" on large files. I'll divide my answer in two sections:


  • less is perfect for browsing (not editing) files, because it is very fast and easy to handle. My favorite for large files.
  • nano is a little editor, which is fast, but you've got to used to it.
  • vi is an editor with its rather awkward handling is also a very handy tool, but has a learning curve


  • Despite your problems, gedit is a rather fast graphical text editor
  • geanyis a small IDE, which might be an alternative. A 500 MB file takes about 1.5 minutes to open. After that, scrolling is fast
  • notepad++ - which is not in the libraries might be worth a try


Terminal based editors/viewers a much faster than any widget based editors. Take your choice and report back, if found something better


I'm on Kubuntu and use Kate for such tasks. Just tried it with a 2.1 GiB text file and it took ~8 seconds to open. Afterwards I can smoothly scroll through it. While typing it lags a little every few seconds though.

Visual Studio Code also copes well with huge files.

Both of the above load the whole file into memory though. That means if the file is larger than your free RAM, you're in trouble. less as proposed earlier doesn't have that problem, it could also let you scroll through a 10 GB file on a system with only 1 GB RAM free.

Maybe if you could describe the specific task you're trying to accomplish with these huge files, we could propose even better solutions.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.