SublimeText_logoIf you’ve just heard about that great text editor, Sublime Text,  you might want to read this post on Sublime Text help for newbies.

I love Sublime Text, but I’m a prose writer, not a coder. If you dig into the help files for Sublime Text you’ll find that most of them presume a fairly high degree of tech savvy. If you’re not a geek and are looking for help to get started with Sublime Text, this post is for you.

First of all you can download a free copy of Sublime Text here.   You can use that copy for as long as you like to try it out. If you stay with it, please buy a copy to support the developer, Jon Skinner.

What I love about Sublime Text as a Prose Writer

  • It’s easy on the eyes. Mine are old and need reading help. The Sublime Text interface is infinitely configurable. You’re bound to find a font and background that suit your preferences.
  • It’s really fast! Fast to launch, and fast in responding to all commands.
  • It saves continuously and automatically, so you’ll never lose your work. Start typing into a ST window and that window is automatically saved in an ST tab. I like this feature for grabbing bits of text from emails or the web, knowing that it will be there even if I forgot to give my jottings a name or folder address.
  • There is a “distraction free” typing mode. Your work area fills the whole screen. This feature can be toggled on and off by holding down the Shift key and pressing the F11 key.
  • It’s cross-platform.  Sublime text runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers, so you can have the same software on all your machines if you use different kinds, and each copy works the same.
  • It can do so much!  There are scads of free ST packages to perform different tasks. They’re easy and quick to install, provided you’ve already installed the “install package” package. (See video below for installation instructions.)
  • Sublime text writes Markdown that makes very handsome output. Markdown is a super easy way of writing hypertext markup language, HTML, the fundamental language of web pages . When you export HTML from Sublime Text you get HTML that’s styled with an inline style sheet. The outcome, when seen in a web browser, looks very nice!

Starting Tips for New Sublime Text Users

When you start Sublime Text for the first time hover over “Preferences” at the top of the window and chose a look for your workspace under “Color Scheme” > default. You can increase or decrease the size of your font by holding the Control key down and pressing the “+”” or “-“” keys.

Right away you will want to install the “install packages” package so that you can set up Sublime Text to perform various tasks. I suggest you follow Will Bond’s manual method for doing this, found here at the top right hand of the page.

How to Install Packages in Sublime Text

Once you have installed the “install package” package as per Will’s instructions, you can summon it at any time by holding down the Shift and Control keys and the “p” key. Then type in the top window “install package” (without the quotation marks). This brings up the choice, “Package Control: Install Package”. Left click on that choice. This brings up another window into which you type the name of the package you want to install. When you see that choice, click on it. Immediately you should see a notice at the bottom of that window that the package is being installed. It takes just a second or two to install most ST packages, so if you’re not watching at the bottom of the window you won’t know that it’s happened! There is a way, though, to check which packages you have installed: Under “Preferences” at the top of your ST workspace, select “Browse Packages.” In the file path window at the top, click on the black triangle to the left of the word, “Packages.” In the menu that drops down, click on “Installed Packages”. Then you will see a list of your installed packages.

How to Remove a Sublime Text Package

If you want to remove a package, hold down Control and Shift and P, type in the top window “Remove Package,” click on the “Package Control: Remove Package” choice, then in the top window type the name of the package you want to remove, and click on that name when it appears in the list. Done!

Which Sublime Text Packages Should a Newbie Install?

I suggest you Google “best sublime text packages” and follow the suggestions in the links.

How to Hide the Line Numbers in Sublime Text

If you’re a prose writer you may not want the line numbers to show in your copy. If so, under “Preferences”select “Settings User” and paste in the following code at the bottom of any that may already appear there, then save that file:

“color_scheme”: “Packages/Color Scheme – Default/LAZY.tmTheme”,
“font_size”: 23,
“line_numbers”: false

How to Insert Date and Time in Any Sublime Text File by Pressing the F5 Key

There are two steps:

1. Paste the following (between the dotted lines below) into a Sublime Text file and save it to packages/user with a .py extension; thus, save as: import sublime, sublime_plugin,


import sublime, sublime_plugin, time

class InsertDatetimeCommand(sublime_plugin.TextCommand):
def run(self, edit):
sel = self.view.sel();
for s in sel:
self.view.replace(edit, s, time.ctime())

The second step is as follows:

2. Paste the following code between the dotted lines below into keybindings-user (under Preferences in the top menu) and save that file:


{ “keys”: [“f5”], “command”: “insert_datetime”}


When you have performed these two steps and you press the F5 key it will insert a date in the following format:  Sat Nov 16 15:09:55 2013.

Sublime Text Has a Spell Checker

An English dictionary is automatically installed in Sublime Text. To check for misspelled words in your copy, press the F6 key. Misspelled words will be underlined in red. Right click on a misspelled word to see a drop-down menu of possible spelling choices and click the one you’re looking for.





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