How to use the Sublime Text editor

Whether you are writing your own HTML code, creating source code or write simple texts Sublime Text is one of the most popular text editors. This is thanks to its cross-platform compatibility and diverse features for editing text when developing software.

Text editors are useful to write plain text files and to edit, share and publish the source code of programs and websites. One of the most popular text editors is Sublime Text. It was developed in 2007 by Google software developer Jon Skinner and others in C++ and Python. Initially, Sublime Text ran on Windows only, but now works on various platforms and can be flexibly extended. For a long time, Sublime Text 3 was the latest version of the editor. As of July 2022, Sublime Text 3 has been superseded by Sublime Text 4.


Want to learn more about the different editors for writing source code? Check out the following guides on:
- Markdown editors
- Code editors
- HTML editors
- Linux editor Vim

Why is Sublime Text special?

The big advantage of Sublime Text is a broad range of features and low resource usage. Being an all-in-one editor, Sublime Text isn’t just a pure text editor, but can be applied to complex program code. The main advantages of Sublime Text are ease of use and flexible extension.

The most important features of Sublime Text include:

  • Syntax highlighting
  • Code completion
  • Use of macros
  • Multi-line editing
  • Parallel editing of data in multiple windows
  • Compiler integration
  • Flexible adjustment of settings
  • Search function in dialog, files, documents and lines
  • Shortcuts
  • Modal editing
  • Python API
  • Multi-tab selection
  • Optional dark mode
  • Plugin APIs for extensions

Another advantage is that the editor is compatible with all major operating systems. You can download Sublime Text for Mac, Windows and Linux.

How to download Sublime Text?

Sublime Text can be downloaded and installed as a free version from the official website or via a reputable and secure download portal from verified providers such as Google Play. You can find earlier versions Sublime Text 3 and 2 at the bottom of the download page of the official website or via “Other Downloads”.

Is Sublime Text available for free?

Sublime can be used free of charge for an unlimited period of time. However, the free version shows frequent pop-ups to remind users to upgrade to a pro license. A license is valid per person, i.e. can be used on as many devices as desired. It costs $99 per year (as of July 2022).

Getting a license has the following advantages:

  • No regular pop-up reminders to upgrade to the paid license
  • Access to Sublime Text beta versions
  • News updates in the app

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How to use Sublime Text?

How you use Sublime Text depends on what you’re using it for. The editor is suitable for writing plain text as well as complex code. Here are some of the most frequent application scenarios for Sublime Text.

Adjust settings

The editor settings are text-based. You can find them in the “Settings” in Sublime Text as text. They’re saved as JSON. Key values in the Sublime Text settings are adjusted in the two arrays. The left array contains the default values; the right array has the custom values and settings.

To adjust settings, you should make changes in the right JSON array. This lets you restore default values from the left later should you need to. It’s also a good idea to use a validation tool such as JSONLint when you’re making changes and reformatting.

Project and file management

From source code drafts to plain text for blogs and magazines, files in Sublime Text are stored and organized in their respective project folders. A graphical interface for project management is available for this purpose. This is useful to create new files or rename, open, edit or delete existing ones. New projects are created automatically when you create new files.

Use and integrate extensions

One of the most practical features of Sublime Text is simple extensibility through plugins and packages. Some of the most useful plugins include:

  • Sidebar Enhancements: Additional commands and settings for the sidebar context menu
  • SideBarGit: All Git commands for using Github are listed in the sidebar
  • HTML5: Full HTML completion
  • SublimeCodeIntel: Code completion for the most important and common internet programming languages
  • SublimeLinter: Provides a framework for installing desired linters for debugging programming codes
  • Formatter: Provides formatting rules for Python, HTML, CSS or JS, as well as automatic formatting and standardization of source code.

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Who can benefit from the editor?

Sublime Text is suitable for users who are starting out and new to learning programming and source code creation, but also for professional programmers, copywriters and editors. Below are some of the aspects of the editor by user group.

For developers and programmers

  • Flexibly expandable via the package manager’s comprehensive range of plug-ins
  • Parallel multi-line editing (in multiple or shared windows)
  • Supports build systems without the need for an external terminal
  • Customize user interface with individual themes and color schemes to highlight tabs, menus and syntax
  • Insert text snippets as text blocks and regex search-and-replace specific text and code elements
  • Practical for creating programs and editing websites, e.g., in combination with a flat-file CMS

For texters, bloggers and editors

  • File management to organize texts by project
  • Search and replace files and folders or text elements in selected folders
  • Optional extension of markdown syntax

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The most important shortcuts

Commands for files:

Shortcut Windows + Linux macOS
New file CTRL + N ⌘ + N
Open file CTRL + O ⌘ + O
Save file CTRL + S ⌘ + S

Text editing

Shortcut Windows + Linux macOS
Delete line CTRL + X ⌘ + X
Move line up/down CTRL + ⇧ + ↑ / STRG + ⇧ + ↓ ⌘ + ^ + ↑ / ⌘ + ⌃ + ↓
Select line CTRL + L ⌘ + L
Select word CTRL + D ⌘ + D

Search and replace:

Shortcut Windows + Linux macOS
Search CTRL + F ⌘ + F
Replace CTRL + H ⌘ + ⌥ + F
Search in file CTRL + ⇧ + F ⌘ + ⇧ + F

Split window:

Shortcut Windows + Linux macOS
Editor array Alt + ⇧ + 1 ⌥ + ⇧ + 1
Four arrays (horizontal and vertical) Alt + ⇧ + 5 ⌥ + ⇧ + 5
Two arrays Alt + ⇧ + 8 ⌥ + ⇧ + 8

Find out more about text editors in our guides and tutorials on all the most important HTML topics:
- Learn HTML
- HTML tags
- HTML attribute
- HTML tag style
- HTML tag img
- HTML tag label
- HTML tag div
- HTML: a href
- HTML: doctype
- Add CSS to HTML.

Summary: many advantages, one small drawback

From cross-platform functionality to custom settings and flexible extensibility, Sublime Text offers everything developers and copywriters need. It can be used for free. While the pop-up reminder to subscribe may be annoying, it’s a small price to pay for one of the best free text editors.

A minor drawback, however, is that the text-based menu and sophisticated shortcut features present a steeper learning curve for beginners.

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