I often start new text files to paste something or write an idea or phone number. At any time, if my computer were to crash, I want all text to be safe, even text that I had just entered in a new (yet unnamed) file 3 seconds before.


  • Saves changes immediately (to avoid losing data during crashes)
  • Saves even files that don't have a name yet
  • Opens/saves using the local filesystem, not a cloud service. Works offline
  • Undo/redo, search
  • Easy graphical copy/paste with CTRL-C/CTRL-V
  • Fast to start (3 seconds or less)
  • Fast to create a new file (less than a second, with an easy shortcut like CTRL-n)
  • One window, a tab per file
  • Maintained
  • Works on Ubuntu
  • Free and Open source

Scribes was great for the first and second requirements, but unfortunately it is not maintained anymore (last update in 2011) and has no tabs.

  • I developed this tiny tool exactly for that purpose: being able to quickly take some notes, without having to save (data is autosaved). But this doesn't have tabs, it only uses a small part of the screen: github.com/josephernest/NeverForget
    – Basj
    Jun 19, 2015 at 23:48
  • With proper settings, gVim can also do this. I can answer if you are interested. Jun 21, 2015 at 8:11
  • @SantoshKumar: Yes, I am interested, please make sure you address each requirement, thanks a lot! :-)
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Jun 22, 2015 at 4:24
  • @Basj: It would also require a bit of work to use on Ubuntu, I guess.
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Jun 22, 2015 at 4:26

4 Answers 4


You may use geany with the save actions plugin enabled (distributed by default with geany but may be disabled).

Use the menu to navigate to Tools > Plugin Manager, then check the Save Actions plugin if unchecked. Then click at the Preferences button in the same window to choose your autosaving settings. The plugin also has an auto-backup option. Geany is a full-featured text editor with all the features you have listed plus many more.

Opening a new file for quickly pasting your notes/ideas can be performed with Ctrln.

If you have a dropbox account or other similar cloud provider, you may choose to save your new files there to have an online backup copy as well (The free version of Dropbox retains all revisions of your file for the last 30 days)

You can even create a keyboard shortcut to quickly create and open a new file in Geany and save it with a pattern-based file name. First try the command from the command-line:

geany Dropbox/notes/$(date '+%Y-%m-%d').txt

The above command will create a new file named 2015-06-21.txt under the ~/Dropbox/notes/ folder (the folder must already exist) and open it in Geany for editing. If the file already exists, it will just open in Geany to continue where you left off for the given day.

Then, use the keyboard shortcuts customization panel in Ubuntu to assign a keyboard shortcut to the above command. For example you may use something like WinEnter to open your new note.

This way you may keep an auto-saved daily journal, also available to your mobile device or any device through the Dropbox web interface. You may adapt it to your own workflow.

  • 1
    So I should enable "Instant save" in the "Save Actions" plugin's configuration, right? Unfortunately files created via CTRL-n are saved to /tmp, which means I will lose information at every crash.
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Jun 22, 2015 at 4:44
  • 1
    Geany contributor elextr told me this on IRC: "instant save creates a file in whatever your system uses as the temporary directory so no you can't change it I'm afraid". That means Geany does not answer my question, or maybe there is a hidden setting somewhere?
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Jun 22, 2015 at 7:35
  • If you use the solution with the keyboard shortcut I proposed then the file will be saved in the location you defined in the command. e.g. If you bind the shortcut Win+Enter to the command geany Dropbox/notes/$(date '+%Y-%m-%d').txt then a new file with the current date will be saved under Dropbox/notes/ (not /tmp) every time you press that shortcut.
    – henfiber
    Jun 22, 2015 at 8:05
  • That would require me to restart Geany everytime I want to create a new file, right? Whenever I receive a phone call I press CTRL-n to be able to start typing within less than a second.
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Jun 22, 2015 at 8:40
  • No, you won't need to restart. If Geany is already open, the new file will just open in a new tab. With the proposed solution you'll be able to start typing in less than a second as well.
    – henfiber
    Jun 22, 2015 at 9:01

It's fairly pricy for a text editor with fairly liberal 'unlimited' trial period but sublime text does many of these things.

Saves changes immediately

As far as I can tell, yes. My workflow is just to leave it open. Only time I lost data was when my storage hard drive crashed, and anything I was working on at the time was fine.

Saves even files that don't have a name yet

Yup. It uses the first line of the file as a placeholder file name

Undo/redo, search

Yup. And multiline highlights. And bulk search and replace. Its search is pretty much the best thing ever.

Easy graphical copy/paste with CTRL-C/CTRL-V


Fast to start (3 seconds or less)

In most cases, I've opened massive files and its shown me a loading bar, but typically its insanely fast

Fast to create a new file (less than a second, with an easy shortcut like CTRL-n)


One window, a tab per file If you wish. Or multiple windows, or split windows with their own tabs ot..



Works on Ubuntu


Free and Open source

Alas, no. It's commercial software. Nearly nothing else


Well, first off all let me tell you, vim was meant for programmers and is basically a command line editor (that doesn't mean it doesn't have a GUI). And at the start it's relatively harder to learn than other graphical editor. Other than the requirement listed, there are a whole lot of features in vim. One of them is you can undo file even if you have exit. So let's start:

Save changes immediately, even without filename

Yes, with appropriate settings it can do.

Put down this in your .vimrc file.

set dir=~/tmp/vimswapfiles//

Make the directory if it doesn't exists.

More info about autosave here.

Easy graphical copy paste

Vim has its own way of copy pasting, but you can start it in easy mode. Start vim in easy mode. (You can do evim instead of gvim in terminal.)

More info about evim here.

Works offline

Yes, like any other text editor, it works offline.

Undo/Redo, search

If you are doing undo or redo in vim style, you can use u to undo and Ctrl-r to redo. For search you simple have to press and /.

If you start with easy mode (evim), you can do the ctrl-z way.

Fast to Start

Yes, mine one starts within a second. PS. I have many plugins and other vim files installed.

Fast to create new files

Press :tabedit filename.txt to open a new tab with a filename.


Yes, Vim has active development tree.

Works on Ubuntu

Yes, Install it via apt-get, use sudo apt-get install vim-gnome if you are using GNOME as your graphical end.

Free and OpenSource


  • I use Vim everyday for things unrelated to note-taking, copy/paste is one of the areas where I find it slow. I will try evim. To survive crashes, I guess I will replace ~/tmp/vimswapfiles// with something not in /tmp.
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Jun 29, 2015 at 2:07

Try shrib.com, it is up to almost all the criteria asked:

  • Saves changes immediately
  • Saves even files that don't have a name yet
  • Undo/redo, search
  • Easy graphical copy/paste with CTRL-C/CTRL-V
  • Fast to start (3 seconds or less)
  • Fast to create a new file (less than a second, with an easy shortcut like CTRL-n)
  • One window, a tab per file
  • Maintained
  • Works on Ubuntu
  • Free
  • 2
    Requests for webapps have the webapp tag, this is not the case here. I want to edit local files. I just made it clearer in the body of the question. By the way, I tried and the tab handling is non-existent. I guess you could guess copy/paste the URL into a different browser tab, but that's clearly not an efficient workflow.
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Jun 25, 2015 at 4:36

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