Before I install the Arduino IDE, I was just wondering whether I could just use notepad++ to write the files and move them into correct location. I assume notepad++ doesn't support Arduino code, but I suspect there will be a mod for it, even though sketches are a low-end version of C++, which is supported.

4 Answers 4


You can easily use notepad++ or any text editor to edit arduino code files (.pde or .ino). I use the sublime text editor for all my arduino coding.

As you noted, the arduino syntax is c++, so setting the syntax highlighting mode to c++ is all that you need to do; no mod should be necessary.

Arduino includes a "Use external editor" option in the preferences menu that will make it reload the file every time you compile or upload. It also disables editing in the editor window. In this mode, just save your file in any editor, change to the arduino window, and hit upload.

Since 1.5, arduino has had command line support. most editors allow making the "build" button execute arbitrary commands in the current directory. by setting build to run "arduino --verify" or "arduino --upload" you can code in any editor you want even without having an arduino window open.


You can use any editor to write Arduino code. @BrettM has already detailed it.

Instead of the external editor option, you can do away with the Arduino IDE completely using Makefile and build and upload your code yourself.

Arduino IDE sucks. Ok, I admit it’s nice for beginners and for the click-and-forget kind of programmers, but it needs the full Java stack and hides to the user the fundamental steps involved in compiling and uploading programs to the arduino board.

I (like many other software developers) prefer to understand what I’m doing and running a Makefile from the command line is the way to see the individual steps and choose which to run and when. Finally, I’m not going to drop my favourite editor just to write arduino programs.

Here's how to do it.


The Arduino files are just text files with the *.ino extension, so it is OK to edit them with a text editor.

The Arduino IDE is needed to compile them (easily) however. To make an Arduino project without the IDE, create a directory e.g. MyProject, and create a file inside it called MyProject.ino. They have to have the same name. Adding extra *.ino files inside the directory will result in extra tabs in the Arduino IDE for those files when you open MyProject.ino.

  • The Arduino IDE isn't needed to compile them. It's just calling the avr-g++ compiler then avrdude to upload. (Ok, so it does some pre-processing too, but it's probably worthwhile to just write valid c++ anyway)
    – RubberDuck
    Sep 28, 2017 at 0:59
  • @RubberDuck The Arduino build script adds all the headers in to the *.ino files. Personally I use netbeans with avr-g++ and a library of all the Arduino code. Works really well once it is setup. Sep 30, 2017 at 7:58

Its fine, you have to start asking questions somewhere right? You could use notepad++ to write your files and move them to a correct location, but it would be pointless, because you would need a mod to compile and upload it to your Arduino. I would recommend just using the native Arduino IDE, because it does all the work for you, all you have to do is write your code, upload it, and sit back and watch.

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