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Editing/Opening Files

WinSCP allows you to edit/open remote file using editor or associated application on local machine. To do so it needs to download the remote file to temporary directory first. Then it opens the file in your preferred editor or associated application. Once you change the file, WinSCP uploads it back. With Commander interface you can even edit/open local files, but most of this chapter covers editing remote files only.

To edit file selected in panel go to Files > Edit. The command by default opens the file in an internal editor. You can make the command open the file in any external editor in preferences. From submenu Files > Edit (alternative) you can open the file in any of configured editors, or even ad hoc editor (Edit With). By default the file is also opened in editor when double-clicked1 (this can be changed in preferences).


You can create new empty file using command Files > New > File. The command asks for name of the new file and then opens your default editor. Note that you can use the command also to open an existing file by typing in its path to avoid need to navigate first to its location. You can also open an existing file this way, or even multiple files by separating their paths with semicolon (;).

To open selected file in an associated application use Files > Open. This way you do not need to configure external editor for each file type. However you will not be able to set an additional options.

Editing and opening of files can be restricted by system administrator.

Especially when the files are opened in an external editor, user can easily change two files at once. For this reason WinSCP must upload the files back using background transfer/queue to allow several uploads at once.

External Editors

For basic editing WinSCP offers a simple integrated text editor. For advanced editing you will probably want to configure your favorite editor.

Opening More Files in a Single Editor Instance

Some external editors can open multiple files in one process. Usually such editors have some kind of tabbed interface, but it is also the case of Microsoft Word.


If such an editor is already running and WinSCP runs a second instance to open a new file, then the second instance just notifies the first to open the new file and exits immediately.

To allow using this kind of editor, WinSCP does not treat the file as closed when the editor launched to open it is closed.

If you choose to edit the same file again during the same session, WinSCP will download it to the same temporary directory as before, allowing the external editor to reload the file content in case it still has it opened (assuming the editor can detect the change).

One drawback of this approach is that all of the files ever edited by the current instance of WinSCP are kept in a temporary directory (until WinSCP is closed). WinSCP watches for changes to them all.

If you want to avoid that, you need to make sure that your editor opens each file in a separate window (process). Some editors do that by default while some offer a configuration option for that (see below). If either is the case, then configure your editor as an external editor for WinSCP and enable preference option External editor opens each file in separate window (process). WinSCP will then treat the file as closed when the editor launched to open it is closed. Note that this setting only affects the “edit” operation. So you may want to make sure that editing is the default operation for double-click.

Learn how to select between opening files in a separate or the same window for some popular editors.

Editing Binary Files

The internal editor supports only Windows-format text files. Thus the text transfer mode is forced when transferring remote file to/from the internal editor.

If you want to edit binary files you need to use external editor that supports binary files (and make sure preference option Force text transfer mode for files edited in external editor is unchecked). The configured transfer mode will then be used even for transfers to/from external editor. Note that if you have configured binary transfer mode, your external editor must support server-side format of text files (Unix format usually), if you still want to edit them.

Transfer Settings when Editing Files

When remote file is downloaded to editor or uploaded from editor, default transfer settings or settings of active preset are used, with some exceptions:

  • Filename modification option is forced to “No change”.
  • Replacement of characters not valid on Windows is enabled (original filename is restored on upload).
  • File masks are ignored.
  • Text transfer mode may be forced (see Editing Binary Files).
  • Transfer resume support is disabled.

Editing from Command-line

You can use command line parameter /edit to make WinSCP open a remote file in internal editor. This way, you can for example create a desktop shortcut that opens a remote file as easily as a local one.


  1. If resolving of symbolic links is disabled or not possible, double-clicking file is always interpreted as attempt to enter it, just in case it is unresolved symbolic link to a directory.Back

Last modified: by martin