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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 File(s) > 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 File(s) > 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 File(s) > New > File. The command asks for name of the new file and then opens your default editor.

To open file in an associated application use File(s) > 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 favourite editor.

Problems with Some External Editors

Some external editors can open multiple files in one process. Usually such editors have some kind of tabbed interface, but it is also case of new versions of Microsoft Word (2000 and later).

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


To allow using this kind of editor, WinSCP do 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 has it still opened (if the editor can detect the change).

Drawback of the approach is that all the files ever edited by the current instance of WinSCP are kept in temporary directory (until WinSCP is closed) and WinSCP need to watch for changes of them all.

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

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 uncheck preference option Force text transfer mode for files edited in external editor. 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).
  • Exclude and include masks are ignored.
  • Text transfer mode may be forced (see Editing Binary Files).
  • Transfer resume support is disabled.
  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