Are there any basic text editors available that are just drop-dead simple, that allow me to instantly view the contents of a small text file? GEdit is nice, but it takes several seconds to start. I need something that is extreme bare-bones that doesn't have to load a bunch of features that can pop up and show the contents in the blink of an eye. Is there anything like that?

Edit: I'm looking for a GUI application that I can use to open a file from Nautilus.


I just tested a few editors by right-clicking on a text file in nautilus, selecting open with/other application


and then clicking on find applications online. One I liked (apart from my standard editor, bluefish) was LeafPad, small, fast to open, nothing fancy.

  • Wow, that one even beat SciTe. Super-simple. – Jonah May 6 '13 at 19:40

Mousepad is a very small and simple text editor that starts instantly (literally).

Install it with:

sudo apt-get install mousepad

If you want a GUI editor, try SciTe. It's a bit hard to configure, but very powerful and fast.

  • That's perfect! If it started any faster, it would open before I clicked! :) Used to use SciTe as my main editor, forgot all about it. – Jonah May 6 '13 at 18:33

Just found gnome-sushi - a quick previewer for nautilus.

Highlight the file in Nautilus (so it gets focus) and hit SPACE.


  • I tried Sushi, but wasn't very fast, and didn't allow me to select text at all. – Jonah May 8 '13 at 0:13

nano launches very fast at least in this machine.


Ubuntu comes with nano and vim. You have to run those applications from the command line. You can also use them when you don't have a GUI.

Fastest is Midnightcommander. It's a file manager that runs from the command line. To start type mc. To view the contents of a file just hite the F3 key.

You have to download Midnightcommander via Ubuntu Software Repository or via Synaptics.

  • You're right, vim and nano both start basically instantly, but I would need to start a terminal emulator, and I don't always have one up. I'd like a GUI I can start from Nautilus. – Jonah May 6 '13 at 18:14

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