Edit files on FTP with Notepad++ plugin

[update] Nowadays I highly recommend to use WinSCP instead, it supports more secure connections and integrates with Notepad++ well.

My main issue with WordPress engine this blog is running on – editing files online sucks. Despite all that online applications hype web browsers never meant to be text editors and totally fail as such.

There is tried and true option of downloading file from FTP, editing it and uploading back. I am so not patient enough for that. Luckily Notepad++ came to rescue with its FTP plugin.

What it does

Notepad++ by itself is great text editor and I had previously covered that. FTP plugin effectively makes it capable of editing file on FTP server. It’s not actually editing remote files, more like editing copy of file which is automatically synchronized to server.


[update 2009-12-29] In recent versions of Notepad++ plugin is no longer included by default, thanks to Kadimi for heads up in comments.

  1. download it from http://sourceforge.net/projects/npp-plugins/files/FTP_synchronize/
  2. unpack into \Notepad++\plugins\

Plugins > FTP_synchronize > Show FTP Folders will display plugin interface in sidebar-like fashion. You can make it float by double-clicking title.

Settings button shows dialog where you have to input your login details. Don’t forget to press New button first. You can also specify starting directory – useful if you work in specific subfolder (like WordPress theme one).



After that pressing connect button and selecting profile loads folder tree in plugin window. More buttons to play with but in general double-clicking file will open it for editing and saving file (in usual way) will update it on server .

Just don’t forget to make backup of everything first, it’s easy to get carried away and break something on your site.

Notepad++ update

Version 5.1 was released recently. Program got separated into Unicode (main fork) and ANSI (for Win98 and earlier) versions.

I got some problems with copying it over my old version so had to do clean install. Not all plugins are Unicode compatible at moment either.

Download page http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=95717&package_id=102072

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  • Lyndi #

    This is something I most definitely have to give a try. I agree with you, editing in WP is not the way to go and as a result I also FTP an awful lot.
  • Ben Tremblay #

    I use Filezilla to edit files on FTP on the fly...Have you tried both?
  • Rarst #

    @Lyndi It's bit rough (Notepad++ plugins are not too user friendly in general) but works very well. :) I often tweak parts of design offline but it's still very useful to implement and change them online and quickly. @Ben I've only used Filezilla under Linux a bit. It's not one of my usual tools. Good idea to check it out btw, WordPress upped amount of messing with FTP
  • Ky #

    Thanks, Rarst! That's something I've been looking for. Very useful :)
  • Rarst #

    @Ky Glad to be of use as always. :)
  • Nihar #

    I use editplus with ftp to edit my wordpress and website files. I think notepad++ and editplus are almost the same. Have you used editplus. Do you see any more advantages in shifting me to notepad++ ??
  • Rarst #

    @Nihar Hadn't tried EditPlus, it's shareware right? Notepad++ is open source and based on Scintilla core. It may not be the most stable ever but I like functions set.
  • Pallab #

    Notepad++ is my default editor for txt,php,css,html and a bunch of other formats. I remember seeing the ftp plugin but never bothered setting it up. Might do it now.
  • Rarst #

    @Pallab Yeah, plenty of things in Notepad++ that are there but not really visible. Thanks for commenting and welcome to blog. :)
  • Navjot Singh #

    Damn...How could I miss this! Thanks for pointing me to this. Its super easy and cool.
  • Rarst #

    @Navjot Singh No problem. :) As I said above there is really lots of miss-able stuff in Notepad++. Thanks for your visit and comment.
  • Nick Staroba #

    Very cool plugin but have you ever tried XAMPP Rarst? http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp-windows.html I can edit and test WordPress themes all day long locally and never have to worry about messing up my site. The only thing I haven't spent the time to figure out is how to match the MySQL database so that you can see your actual content on the local version. In the meantime, I made up random content/comments locally so I could test and it's been enough for me so far.
  • Rarst #

    @Nick Tried, XAMPP sucks for my taste. It's giant, a lot of unneeded crap and it didn't even start properly at my system until I found separate launcher from another developer. I had recently moved to MoWeS - works way better. Will do post on it.
  • Twelve months blogging milestone | Rarst.net #

    [...] Edit files on FTP with Notepad++ plugin (2822) [...]
  • Kadimi #

    The plugin FTP_synchronize is not included in the current stable release 5.6.4, you need to download the plugin and install it
  • Rarst #

    @Kadimi Thanks for info, I usually overwrite Notepad++ on top when updating so hadn't notice plugin was unbundled. As far as I googled some crashes were possibly a reason, but it still works fine for me.
  • Kadimi #

    Yes, on previous versions using FTP_synchronize with notepad++ on Win XP causes memory leakage from time to time, so (ctrl+s)is yout friend, lol.
  • Rarst #

    @Kadimi I've updated post with download link and some link love for your blog. :) Thanks again.
  • Kadimi #

    (Please remove this comment) Thanks for your feedback !!!
  • Notepad++ – multipurpose text editor | Rarst.net #

    [...] FTP synchronize plugin – it only takes 2-3 clicks to get any file to or from your FTP server. Never again start separate FTP manager to make tweaks to your site or blog. [...]
  • WinSCP – file manager for secure transfers | Rarst.net #

    [...] external editor support with automatic file download an re-upload, see excellent tutorial on integrating Notepad++ with WinSCP; I think this supersedes my usual way of Notepad++ FTP plugin; [...]
  • FK #

    Sometimes FTP_Synchronize doesn't work properly. Leave alone crash cases. If you try to edit something, confirm the eof as it sometimes failed to download it in a full form. just my 2cents
  • Scott Maggelet #

    This is a great tool -- thank you for the article. When I first installed the plugin, I could retrieve a remote directory listing, but double-clicking any file would result in an FTP error: Error writing data to file, closing the connection When I checked 'Use Profile Cache' in the settings, and chose a specific directory, the problem was resolved. Just FYI for anybody else encountering the problem -- this was with Notepad++ 5.6.8 and FTP_Synchronize
  • Rarst #

    @Scott Glad you found it useful and thanks for info on that issue! :)
  • Computer Cleanup and Spyware Removal, Lake Geneva, WI #

    Funny, isn't it? I spend days trying to come up with an editor with a nice balance between form and functionality, with all the features I need, at a reasonable price... and what do I find? Another great Open Source project. Notepad++. Cool, huh? Karl A. Krogmann
  • Rarst #

    @Karl Yep, nice editor it is. Sometimes bit rough but good balance of everything.
  • File Manager #

    [...] it doesn't appeat under the Plugins menu, you'll need to download the plugin first. Instructions here. Note that you must first click the Settings icon in the plugin window, and then the New button [...]
  • Jacob #

    Hello, How do you download the whole directory or folder from the remote folder to your local one? The download arrow which is next to the upload arrow is grey(not active)? Thnaks Jacob
  • Rarst #

    @Jacob I am not sure if it can do that, it's not really meant to be full-featured FTP client. As I mentioned in comments above I had moved on to using Notepad++ with WinSCP for remote edits (and more).
  • Jose Gustavo #

    Muchísimas gracias es exactamente lo que buscaba es un buen plug-in y funciona como me esperaba ;) sigan asi!
  • Jason #

    THANK YOU for this plugin! Simple and works, and fixes the ONE issue I had with Notepad++! I was seriously about to go back to Edit+ but no chance now.
  • Rarst #

    @Jason Well, credit goes to developers of Notepad++ and plugin itself. I merely wrote about it. :)
  • Francis #

    Hi, I activated the plug-in in Notepad++, I've got the sidebar, I can see the directories on the remote site in the top part of the sidebar... but I see no files in the bottom part of the sidebar, and I can't change the directory, only open/close the folders in the tree... Am I missing something?
  • Rarst #

    @Francis Yep, checked and I get same issue - seems like a bug. No idea how long ago it wat introduced or when it is getting fixed. As per comments above I hadn't used this plugin in a long time and now prefer WinSCP for remote edits with Notepad++ and more.
  • domagoj #

    Excellent tool and plugin!! Unfortunately, my hosting doesn't support regular FTP anymore, and FTPSyncronize doesn't support FTPS... bad combination... :(
  • Rarst #

    @domagoj Well, on other hand - security is kinda good thing. :) See comments above about WinSCP - it works with secure stuff just fine.
  • domagoj #

    @Rarst Yes, I use a similar combination with Filezilla client now.. :) WinSCP got stuck on uploads a few times so I gave up on it...
  • . #

    How does one use nppftp with the keyboard? From the notepad++ menu, I can go to Plugins -> nppftp -> Show nppftp window, but from there, I don't see any way to connect to an ftp address without using a mouse. Alternately, are there any other n++ plugins, or any other free "text editor on steroids" programs that feature ftp? (specifically, any that can be operated via keyboard?)
  • . #

    EEK! When you set up a site to ask for the password, and then connect to it, the password fill-in window opens, and when you key into it, the characters show up, rather than dots or stars or spaces! Any fix for that?
  • Rarst #

    How does one use nppftp with the keyboard? From the notepad++ menu, I can go to Plugins -> nppftp -> Show nppftp window, but from there, I don’t see any way to connect to an ftp address without using a mouse.Alternately, are there any other n++ plugins, or any other free “text editor on steroids” programs that feature ftp? (specifically, any that can be operated via keyboard?)
    Really not sure if it can be used that way... I don't really look for keyboard-only use cases.
    EEK! When you set up a site to ask for the password, and then connect to it, the password fill-in window opens, and when you key into it, the characters show up, rather than dots or stars or spaces! Any fix for that?
    Why care? Stars are mostly decoration, they don't matter much for security. Anyone looking for it can see what you are typing as easily as what screen shows.
  • . #

    @Rarst Somebody sniffing what's going up and down the network cable (or wireless connection), maybe. But why open it to someone looking over your shoulder? Solution (albeit a PITA): drag the window down so only the window title shows on the monitor. Still has focus, still accepts the typed characters.
  • Pieter #

    really love this plugin! thanks a lot!
  • Thiago Santos #

    Great plugin! Save a lot of down file, change window, change file, change window, up file. :)
  • Tyler #

    I can no longer find the plugin. Do you by any chance have an updated link? If not, are you able to package the .dll file that you currently have installed and re-host it?
  • Andrew #

    I was really excited about using this, but it does not support SFTP as a connection type, or give any connection type options. Now I need to look elsewhere for this.
  • Rarst #

    @Tyler From quick look it is included again in Notepad++ distribution (only in unicode version). Myself I much prefer WinSCP over plugin now. @Andrew See comments above - I highly recommend to use WinSCP for remote editing. It supports secure connections and easily integrates with Notepad++.
  • kuyilsamy #

    @Ben Tremblay yo man do u know what? the notepad++ is kidding me......
  • Paul #

    This plugin is shit. Sorry but it messes up files and doesn't download the newest version... It's a shit.
  • Rarst #

    @Paul I had not experienced such issues myself. As per comments (and note I just added to the post) nowadays I recommend to use WinSCP instead of this plugin.
  • id meneo #

    Looks pretty nice. I do myself use Filezilla/notepad++ on the fly to modify my files. Do you know if there's a plugin for notepad++ that includes wordpress commands? Would be nice ;-)
  • Rarst #

    @id meneo Hadn't looked into that, all of my WordPress development nowadays happens in PhpStorm.
  • Mathias #

    This is sick dude! Nice i will use this. :)
  • Michael #

    Seems this addon can't handle SFTP (SSH) secure connections :(
  • Rarst #

    @Michael Which is why there is update in bold, recommending to use WinSCP instead. :)
  • Paul #

    @Rarst Kindly please remove my above comment as it was written when I was angry at it. It is a very good plugin. The best out there but I encountered some minor problems when we edit the same files with three people. I sometimes re-download file (like style.css) from server and make changes. Soon after that (like 10 minutes after) it tells me that it was modified by another program (even if nobody else is modifying it at that moment). I have to click "don't update" and upload it again to work. It's a bit odd. You may want to check that.
  • Daniel C. #

    Nice plugin, very useful for downloading files, editing and uploading back to server just saving the file (CTRL + S).
  • Linus Ikechukwu #

    Notepad++ is wayyy cool, especially the way it opens new pages like Tabs instead of windows, like all text/word editor do.
  • aka #

    Plugin doesn't show files, instead it shows folders...? any ideas