Leafpad, A Simple and Lightweight Alternative to Gedit [Linux]

Some computers users swear by their text editors. They use them for creating scripts, editing complex HTML and CSS files, or observing other people’s code. Some people just want a simple place to jot down notes. If your note-taking demands are a little more on the lighter side, you may be interested in Leafpad, a bare bones GTK+ text editor that should look right at home on any GNOME desktop.



Getting Leafpad installed onto your Linux box is a pretty simple task, since it is available in the default repos of most distributions. Fedora users can find the application by searching within the “Software” application. If you are an Ubuntu user, you can find the application tucked away inside the Ubuntu Software Center. If you use another distribution, chances are getting your hands on Leafpad should still be a breeze.

For those who prefer the command line:

sudo apt-get install leafpad



This is what Leafpad looks like when it is first opened. You’ll notice right away that this program is bare. It is simple, so simple that it doesn’t even have a toolbar. Some of us prefer this simplicity. I have a tendency to remove toolbars from my word processors and text editors, because I like to have as few distractions as possible when I write. Leafpad ships this way by default. As a plus, Leafpad’s menus are so straightforward that there is diminished need for a toolbar in the first place.


Leafpad presents only the most basic of options. Under the options menu, Leafpad lets you select a specific font to use within the application. This is the only formatting option present in Leafpad, and any change selected here is applied to all of the text within the window. Aside from the options presented above, Leafpad also offers basic search functionality so that users can find and replace text or jump down to specific line numbers.

Still, the biggest draw to Leafpad for many users may be how few system resources it requires. Leafpad is a great option for those of you rocking a minimal install or a lightweight distribution, especially if you are running Linux on top of older hardware.


Leafpad’s weakness is the same as its appeal. Gedit is a more versatile tool, presenting a basic default interface with more advanced features hidden underneath. With Leafpad, what you see is really what you get, with no (or little) capability to extend its functionalities. Even light users might miss the option to have multiple text files open in separate tabs. Leafpad lets you open multiple text files at once, but each file gets its own window.

Make Leafpad your default

It’s easy to make Leafpad your new default text editor. Right-click on any text file and select “Properties”. Click on the “Open With” tab, select Leafpad, then click on the Set as default button. You’re done!



If you like what you have just seen, then give Leafpad a try. This text editor is bare bones and light on system resources, making it a great choice for older machines and people who don’t demand much of their text editors. If you are still waiting to find out about more functionality, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Leafpad, for better or worse, has nothing more to offer.

Bertel King, Jr.

Bertel is a tech blogger and independent novelist who puts perhaps a tad too much trust in Google. He’s loved Android since the moment he got his eager hands on his first device -- if not sooner -- and has understood the Chromebook Pixel from day one.You can follow his work at bertelking.com.

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