[Techtalk] anyone know of a simple text viewer?

Little Girl littlergirl at gmail.com
Sat Jul 20 12:42:40 UTC 2019

Hey there,

Miriam English wrote:

>Optimal would be something that works in a similar way to image
>viewers which let me see one file after another by pressing the
>spacebar (or backspace to view the previous file), though the actual
>key(s) used don't need to be those. The next and previous commands
>":n" and ":p" are a bit cumbersome compared with being able to
>quickly and repeatedly hit the spacebar to jump through files. I
>have many thousands of small text files that I collect in many
>subdirectories under my "ideas" directory. When I'm writing I often
>go through them looking for useful material. It is a slow,
>repetitive, and clumsy process. I just wanted something to make it

Neither of my suggestions are ideal, but maybe they'll do for the

You might want to try multitail. It's a command-line program to
monitor multiple files at once. It's a bit awkward in that you have
to use Ctrl commands to work parts of it, but it allows you to browse
a bunch of files at once and, at any time, single one out to scroll
through it in its entirety.

Another possibility is PaperBox, which is an open-source document
viewer for GNU/Linux. It's listed on the
https://www.gnome-look.org/p/1129217/ page, but the download link
isn't working. You can click the Files tab to get at some archives,
though, but I didn't try downloading them.

There's a video about PaperBox on the
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pDbreBzcrs page, showing its basic
use. Last, but not least, if the downloads above don't work, a search
for "gnome paperbox" in Google will turn it up in some more
locations. For the record, it's not in the Ubuntu MATE 16.04

>There are many other situations that would be helped by this too. I
>try to keep text descriptions of all videos, photos, diagrams,
>talks, ebooks on my computer.

I also keep a lot of text files on my computer and am often looking
through them. I usually grep them to find what I'm specifically
looking for and follow that by opening them in a text editor if I
want to have a deeper look at the surrounding text. I get the
impression you're looking for something a bit different, though, where
you can just randomly browse through the contents of files for
inspiration rather than doing a targeted search. Grep won't help with
that and text editors are a bit cumbersome.

That said, my preference is for using Geany to read text files when
I want to browse. After all, I inevitably find something I want to
change in a text file I've written or archived, and it's handy to
already be in a program that can do that.

My preferred method for opening a bunch of files in the current
directory in Geany, each in a separate tab, is:

geany *.txt

That can also be done this way, which will also open them all at
once, each in its own tab, in Geany:

for f in *.txt; do geany "$f"; done;

You can probably use either or both of those commands with
pretty much any tabbed editor and, of course, be more specific than
*.txt when wanting to browse certain directories.

>Linux would be greatly improved with a simple method of attaching
>text descriptions to all those things. I know jpeg and png images,
>and mp3 audio, and some video formats, and epub ebooks can have
>descriptive text embedded in the files themselves, but reading those
>descriptions is a major pain, and editing them is even more so.
>Searching them is very inefficient.

It's probably scriptable to get at that kind of embedded information,
but you'd have to find out how to access each individual kind of
information and tailor the script to do it. It would be nice to have
a universal program that could do it with some check boxes for
choosing the desired file types.

>My description text files are also useful because they let me easily 
>search for information. I keep many terabytes of data on my computer
>and this helps me tame the information monster and stop it getting
>out of control.

One last thing I thought I'd mention is collection managers (like
GCstar or Tellico, for example). I'm not sure how well any of them
would work for what you're trying to do, but it's worth a look
through all of the possibilities to see if you can find one that might
just import all your text files and make them viewable.

Little Girl

There is no spoon.

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