Mousepad: A variation on the Leafpad theme

Jack Wallen
May 5, 2010
Updated • Dec 5, 2012

If you've been following my series on Linux text editors you have read about a number of different variations on this theme. Some editors have been very GUI friendly, some have been just shy of a text-based editor, and some of them fall somewhere in between. Many people seem to prefer the in between editors because of their simplicity, speed, user-friendliness, and tiny foot print. One of those editors is Leafpad. But there is another editor, very similar to Leafpad, that was developed to be very Xfce friendly. That editor - Mousepad.

Mousepad was originally created to bring printing support to Leafpad. Well, since then Leafpad has added printing support, so what's the diff? Very little. But if you look around enough you will find a few variations on the Leafpad theme. In this article I will show you how to install Mousepad and illustrate it's use and some of the differences you will find.


As you can imagine, installation of Mousepad is simple. You will find Mousepad in your distributions' standard repositories, so all you need to do is:

  1. Open up your Add/Remove Software tool (such as Synaptic or Packagekit).
  2. Search for "mousepad" (No quotes).
  3. Mark mousepad for installation.
  4. Click Apply to install.

Once installed you will find Mousepad in your Accessories menu. If not there you can look in the Programming menu (if you have one). If not in the programming menu you can always hit <Alt>F2 and then enter mousepad in the run dialog to start up Mousepad.


Figure 1

When you start up Mousepad (see Figure 1), as you can imagine, it will look very similar to Leafpad (which, in turn, looks very much like you have a terminal window open). Mousepad borrows directly from Leafpad's minimalist sensibility. You have a text area and a toolbar - that's it! But don't be fooled, Mousepad is a very worthy contender in the text editor arena. This little guy can do just about anything the others can.

  • Word wrap.
  • Line numbers.
  • Auto indent.
  • Find/replace.
  • Jump to.
  • Copy/paste.
  • Print.

And, unlike Leafpad, Mousepad has a menu option for "Open Recent". But as far as differences are concerned - that's it. So why use Mousepad over Leafpad? That's a good question. At one point you would have used Mousepad over Leafpad when using the Xfce window manager. And although there may be some tiny benefits to using Mousepad over Leafpad in its native environment, you would be hard pressed to notice a difference.

In the end, the only advantage to using Mousepad over Leafpad is the "Open Recent" menu option. Other than that you won't be able to tell the difference.

Ultimately, however, you are just using a text editor that is nothing more than a step above a text-based editor. And since most text-based editor offer far more features than do either Leaf or Mouse pad, your best bet is to learn the ins and outs of the text-based editors (I will begin to cover some of these editors very soon!)

Final thoughts

It's up to you which you prefer. But if you've tried Leafpad then you've tried Mousepad. But, if you use Xfce, you might just feel a bit more at ease using the editor that was originally created for your window manager of choice.


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  1. Zorklat said on July 13, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    @Bob Smith:
    Dang it, why don’t we have just one simple car? And why don’t we have just one simple set of clothes? And why don’t we have just one simple cell phone?

    Obvious answer: Because different people like different things. The wonderful thing about linux is that it helps each of em get what they want.

  2. msx said on February 15, 2011 at 4:13 am

    Hi Jack, I’m sorry but your article is inc m plt.
    Mousepad does not only have a couple more options than Leafpad but also:
    1. uses less memory (~10.5mb vs ~13.9mb)
    2. It has a UNIQUE feature over Leafpad: if you open a file in superuser mode Mousepad will display a bar while you’re editing the file warning you about that… something that saved my ass more than once.

    Go Mousepad go! (A KDE SC and Arch fanboy)

  3. Bob Smith said on May 5, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    can’t they make a simple pad gosh dang it. They should come out with a distro called one linux that sums of all the open source program features so that there is no need for more than one program. And It should have every panel button etc. Linux here I come… after college ,obviously.

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