CHROMEBOOK Text Editors Review

by on April 22, 2017

in consumer

Chromebook Text EditorsIf you have a Google Chromebook and you are looking for a simple text editor, here’s a bit of a user-experience/warning after using one of the more popular text editors for a few years. I’ll be talking about Gmail, Text, Caret and your own Chrome web browser as a writing utilities.

A little while ago I picked up a couple of Chromebooks and one of the first things I noticed was that you CAN NOT use any kind of developed or over-the-counter app that is not part of the online Google apps world. It’s a bit of a bummer, so you need to have a Google account like Gmail to use these simple laptops and have them be of of any use. And to be honest, if all you want to do is surf the web, use web portals or social networks like Facebook, and do some light work via Google Apps, you should be fine.

Find a cheap Chromebook computer on Amazon.

But if you want to go beyond the basics of Google Docs and other online apps, you’re out of luck. Apps like their Google Docs is fine, but mildly limiting. For one, considering how slow they can act when you load files, even simple ones, could be a frustration point. The other aspect I am not fond of is that in their Google Sheets app, you can’t password protect those files like you can MS Excel. That for me is a bit of a showstopper because I have a few Excel files that I save as password protected files. And I won’t use third party online password file generators and databases because too many times hackers have their way with online based services we trust.

Laptops for under $500 on Amazon.

Then there’s the thing about if you run blogs and type up rough drafts in something other than your blogging platform.

When I write posts for my blog, I tend to do it off-platform or offline of my blog’s application. This way I am not dependent on any kind of internet connection during my brainstorming time of writing. When I’m mostly done with my draft, then I will log on to my blog and copy my content to it, in plain text mode. If you aren’t using Gmail’s draft mode, this is a great way to write without needing an internet connection. And trust me, if you ride Caltrain in the Bay Area region and use Verizon Wireless, you will definitely need to work offline because Verizon’s coverage is spotty in the most surprising of ways. So offline rough draft use it is! (OH, and if you do use Gmail, don’t forget to choose ‘paste as text’ when copying into your blog! Gmail puts a lot of div html flags in their content.)

As far as writing on your Chromebook goes, you have a few options and if you head out to the web and look up reviews, well, they’re OK and all, but sometimes they talk about apps or extensions that don’t exist any more and you find yourself wasting your time.

But there are options.

GMAIL

I did mention using Gmail, but you need a connection. OR DO YOU? If you like Gmail, there’s a Chromebook version that works offline called Gmail Offline and it syncs up with your online Gmail when you get an internet connection to your Chromebook.

And of course, all it takes to use Gmail is to ‘start a new email,’ then save the piece as a draft, as Gmail is want to do for you automatically.

TEXT Text Editor

There’s an app called TEXT. It’s super simple and easy to use, with bare bones functionality, AKA ‘super simple.’ I would like to emphasize ‘super simple’ and ‘bare bones.’

You can start TEXT and use it in a partial window, you can load and save files with it, and what not. BUT… because it’s so simple, you have to manually save your work via a very limited and mildly clunky menu system. And you can only have one file at a time open in it.

I’ve been using TEXT quite successfully for the last few years up until just last week. Last week I was in the flow of writing and I decided to mindlessly open a second file for a quick edit while I was in the midst of working on my ‘first’ file. Turns out that if you open a second file, the first one and all the unsaved work from it will just go away. I got no warning or opportunity to save my work in the situation I found myself in. There was no temp file holding my unsaved work anywhere. It just went poof! Two hours of writing just went away.

The sad part is that TEXT does have an edited file mode for when you’re typing away and you haven’t saved it yet, but in this case, that process failed or it’s design has a huge flaw in it.

Obviously losing the data is on me for not saving often as I go. But the system is mostly pretty robust and the clunky methodology for saving files sort of keeps me from the act of saving a file as often as I should.

After that muck up, it took me all of about 10 minutes to forever change my CB text editor because frankly my dear, the ease of which I lost my work was bullshit! But on TEXT’s behalf, they don’t sales pitch the app as an end all to text writing.

CARET Text Editor

I had tried Caret in the early days of my owning a Chromebook, but it didn’t set well with me back then and I don’t remember why, so I never used it. Until recently.

With Caret, it’s pretty straightforward while it has some of those ‘advanced’ features TEXT does not have, like being able to use ‘ctrl-s’ to save as you go, or having file tabs so you can have more than one file open at the same time. In those tabs, there’s a symbol to instantly show you whether the file you’re working on is saved or not. And that’s pretty nice.

One slight malfunction of the app is that Caret works in full-screen mode only and it’s mostly geared towards towards programmers. BUT it has a simple text editing mode that goes above and beyond anything that TEXT offers. If you try Caret, you’ll see what I mean about why it’s geared towards programmers when you open the ‘Settings’ option from the menu and see that you don’t have a GUI to choose options from. But as a “mere” text editor, it seems pretty flawless. And in almost all ‘mere’ text editors, there is no spell check here.

If you want to customize Caret, you might need to learn a tiny bit of coding, but to be honest, it’s simple stuff you can always find online references to.

The Google Chrome Web Browser Text Editor

Wait, what? Yes, there is a simple text editor within the Chrome web browser itself. All you need to do is enter (then bookmark for later use)

data:text/html,

in your address window.

Starting this might be a bit confusing at first because when you do start it, all you see is a white screen, as if nothing happened and you broke Chrome. But when you click on the white screen, a blinking cursor will appear and you can start typing. Being in Chrome, it does spell checking for you, unlike TEXT or CARET. (But remember, once you copy your preliminary text into your blogging platform, the spell checking will begin there.)

To save a file you’re working on, typing ctrl-s will open a save window. Ctrl-o will open a file-open dialog, and I’m sure other ctrl commands will work too.

After All Is Said and Done, I Like CARET

For me, these are the basic text editors that seem the easiest to use and manage within the limited Chromebook world.

Up until when TEXT lost me two hours of work, I was a begrudging supporter, and obviously, had I saved my work using their base, manual methodology before I flippantly went off to open a new document, I would still have been OK with it. But in my haste, I did not and that, was all she wrote for TEXT.

Trying out CARET seems to make me happier. You can open multiple files without losing anything. Saving is so much easier in CARET and it seems like a useful tool.

GMAIL can be great for preliminary writing but it requires being connected which can be surprisingly iffy with your mobile company, unless you use the off-line version of the app. I haven’t tested if the Chrome web browser needs an internet connection or not yet. I’m going to guess no, but hey, who knows.

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