Text Editors

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You can use any text editor for creating a source file for ConTeXt, even notepad should do. Many editors provide generic TeX syntax highlighting, but some have even more support for ConTeXt.


Editor features Linux Win MacOS X Remarks
Emacs with AUCTeX S T U  ? y y y Extremely powerful & highly configurable text editor for CTRL- and ALT- key lovers.
The official AUCTeX distribution beginning with 11.50 has ConTeXt support. Berend de Boers ConTeXt mode for Emacs has been merged with the former ConTeXt support in AUCTeX by Patrick Gundlach. The AUCTeX page on this wiki has further AUCTeX customization for ConTeXt. If you write documents with bibliographies, indexes, or cross-references, you may also be interested in using Reftex. There is also Emacs-muse which is an extension.
Vim S T U 2  ? y y y Extremely powerful & highly configurable text editor. It operates in different "modes": you type in text in "insert mode" and pass commands to the editor in "normal mode." Whether you prefer Vim or emacs is a religious question of the highest importance.
Scite or Textadept C S T U y y y (TA only) ConTeXt since v1.6.x. ConTeXt support files come with the ConTeXt distribution in directory context/data/context.properties. See also the manual mcite.pdf.
TeXshop  ? P S T U - - y (native) Simple Cocoa IDE. Configuration instructions
TeXWorks P S T U y y y Probably the most widespread TeX IDE, similar to TeXshop, supported by TUG.
TextMate C - S T U  ? - - y (native) The ConTeXt bundle is not yet in the distribution, but you can download a copy from GitHub.
Notepad++ S T U 2 + (Wine) y Npp is one of the most powerful and useful text editors around. For Windows users (you can also use it under Wine) wanting a more modern interface with loads of included features (see especially the TextFX menu), it deserves a close look.
Kate - - S  ? U - (KDE3) / 2 (KDE4) + y y y Kate is an advanced multi-document text editor for KDE (KWrite is in the same package, but handles only single documents). It has already built-in LaTeX syntax highlighting, but you can install a file that provides ConTeXt syntax highlight. It is planned to be included in the Kate package itself in the (near) future though.


  • C = TeX/ConTeXt command completion
  • P = PDF preview
  • S = TeX/ConTeXt syntax highlighting
  • T = ConTeXt typesetting
  • U = Unicode (UTF-8) handling
  • 2 = bidirectional edit (right-to-left)
  • + = more…
  •  ? = previous feature probable but unsure

Other editors

The following editors have no specific ConTeXt support, but do a good job for generic (La)TeX typesetting, so you may use them for ConTeXt as well:

Editor features Linux Win MacOS X Remarks
WinEdt - - S T U - - - y - A nice, configurable Windows editor, very suitable for newbies to (La)TeX. A large collection of buttons with Greek letters and other (math) symbols is very helpfulp when typesetting math. It also has spell checker. LaTeX users can also find many templates (tables, enumerations, ...) and compiling/previewing the documents by clicking a button. This is supported for ConTeXt also. You can configure it easily. (WinEdt is not free software, but shareware with 31+ days trial. Discount for DANTE members.)
GNU nano S U  ? y y y Curses-based text editor for Unix and Unix-like systems, designed to be a free replacement for the Pico text editor. Has basic TeX syntax highlighting.
gedit S U  ? y y y (X11) GNOME editor
TextPad - - S T U  ? + - y - Commercial; TeX/ConTeXt/LaTeX command library; configurable to run a whatever-TeX command as a tool
Smultron - P S T U - - - - y Old configuration instructions. Nowadays commercial. Old Open Source version was better.
NEdit - - S - - - - y y  ? X server (Cygwin/Xorg) is needed to run Nedit on Windows. Outdated.
jEdit - - S U - - - y y y Cross-platform mature programmer's text editor. Good support for TeX and LilyPond among the rest.
TextWrangler - - S U - - - n n y Excellent free text editor for macOS.
Atom - - S U - - - y y y The new text editor for the kool kids. Lots of plugins covering any editing task.


For synchronising between text in PDF and TeX source see SyncTeX.