Often, plain text files are sufficient to get an idea across (see this question). But sometimes you need more. But not so much more that you need to get all the hamsters together to fire up a behemoth like Microsoft Word, OpenOffice.org, or LibreOffice.

I find that RTF files are excellent for this need.

Microsoft’s Wordpad is fast, efficient, and pretty lean. But it has no spell checker, only left-justified tabs, and has a user interface that only has 2 extreme modes: excessive or virtually non-existent.

Jarte Portable is pretty good, but the user interface is clunky, the keyboard shortcuts are frustrating (and can only be changed by paying $19.95), and for some reason it causes the cursor to spin like the system is busy shortly after it loads.

I'm looking for something better.

Here's what I want: a Windows compatible, free, fast, and lean RTF text editor with the following features:

  1. Excellent find and replace (preferably prevents the find dialog from obscuring the results)
  2. Full indentation control
  3. Left, center, and right-justified tabs
  4. Spelling checker
  5. Change text color and background color of text within the file
  6. Preferably a somewhat configurable user interface (but not essential if it's already good)
  7. Preferably portable

Note that instead of saving files as RTF, it could use markup or Markdown. It could even save files as HTML, but it has to be fast and lean; I've never seen a fast and lean HTML editor.

I've considered AbiWord portable, but it doesn't meet the lean requirement.

  • "Change text color and background color": As theme for the editor, or for the actual content (i.e., saved in the file)?
    – unor
    Oct 30, 2014 at 15:14
  • 2
    Great question. For the actual content saved in the file. I was a little concerned that line was unclear! I'll fix it. Oct 30, 2014 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


After you posted your comment on my question, I actually think the solution I found will fit for you.



  1. Windows compatible Yes, Windows XP SP2 and up.
  2. Free Yes, free for personal and commercial use.
  3. Fast Seems to be on my machine! :)
  4. RTF Can save to .doc, .docx, .pdf, .rtf, ,txt, .html and .htm
  5. Excellent find and replace (preferably prevents the find dialogue from obscuring the results) I wouldn't say it's amazing, but it seems good, and it uses the same find and replace that WordPad and Notepad use, so you can drag the window out of the way of the results.
  6. Full indentation control I'm guessing by this you mean bullets and numbering? The bullets and numbering is as good as it would be in Word.
  7. Left, centre, and right-justified tabs Yes, Left, Centre, Right and Decimal Tabs, and as many as you want of them.
  8. Spelling checker Yes - comes with the default en-US dictionary, more can be added.
  9. Change text colour and background colour of text within the file Yes, typical font dialogue.
  10. Preferably a somewhat configurable user interface (but not essential if it's already good) Not really configurable, but looks ok, fairly functional.
  11. Preferably portable I can't confirm, but it looks like if you copy the folder in Program Files it would still work off a USB drive.
  12. Lean I've left this one till last, as it's possibly a place AbleWord falls down. The Program Files folder consists of a total 40 files between the main directory and two sub-directories. It's not a single exe file.

Screenshot of AbleWord


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