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A Guide to Atom: Top Use Cases and Pro Tips

There are multiple text editors and integrated development environments (IDE) to make the coding experience more enjoyable for programmers. These platforms help beginner and seasoned developers write, edit, and share code among themselves. However, it can still be challenging to maximize the use of these platforms. Atom is considered one of the best text editors for coders. In this article, we will show you how to use Atom. 

We will also provide you with Atom tips to leverage the functionalities and features of this text editor. If you are a web developer, software engineer, front end developer, or backend developer, you can use this guide to Atom to get a headstart in the tech industry. 

What Is Atom?

Atom is an open-source text editor for macOS, Linux, and Microsoft Windows. It was initially developed by GitHub but currently belongs to Microsoft. The source code editor features embedded Git control and supports plugins written in JavaScript. Often, developers refer to it as the hackable text editor because it supports users in installing third-party Atom packages to customize the features of the Atom editor. 

Atom is often compared to Adobe’s Brackets and Microsoft’s Virtual Studio Code (VSCode). Developers usually opt for this platform because of its themes, language syntax, excellent file extensions, and flexible workflow. Its compatibility with some of the most popular programming languages also makes it a favorite among professionals of all levels. It is compatible with C, C++, C#, CSS, R, Python, and many other languages. 

Why Do You Need Atom?

You need Atom because it is an excellent platform for developers to collaborate on coding. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced developer, you will be able to share your workspace and edit code with other developers in real-time. 

This open-source text editor has multiple features that benefit developers. You can expect cross-platform editing, smart autocompletion, file system browser, multiple panes, and a built-in package file manager. 

Atom Use Cases

  • Integrated Development Environment: Developers that know how to use Atom can rely on the platform to code or program. Atom’s IDE is excellent simply because it allows you to install third-party plugins to make your workflow more effective. 
  • Note App: You can use Atom to take notes. There are several Atom packages you can leverage to write down notes that may be required during the coding process. 
  • Automatic code indentation: The platform is excellent for developers to write formatted lines of code. Through it, you will visibly format raw code and avoid losing time to indent.  
  • Syntax highlighter: The open-source code editor is excellent at syntax highlighting. This means you can easily use different color schemes or highlight your lines of code as you write. This makes it very easy to read and understand your code. It also speeds up the process of pinpointing syntax errors. 
  • Autocompletion of code: Another common use of the text editor is autocompletion of code. Instead of writing redundant lines of code, you can use the platform to complete your code.  

Key Terms You Need to Know to Use Atom


If you have a look at the glossary for Atom, you will see that a “buffer” is one of the terms used to refer to the text content of a single Atom file. A buffer is the particular version of an Atom file. 


In Atom, a command is a piece of functionality that may be activated via keybinding. The technique of mapping key combinations to Atom commands is known as keybinding. 


A dock is a collapsed pane container that is located on the sides of the Atom window. A pane container is part of Atom’s user interface that contains several panes or more simply called “visual sections”. Examples of Docks include Tree View, Git, and GitHub.

Key Sequence

This is a special key combination. It features keys that are pressed and released successively. 

Atom Package

An Atom package is a plugin. There are over 80 source packages that dictate the functionality of Atom. These packages include a spell-checker, syntax themes, and Fuzzy finder. With a Fuzzy finder, you can find and open files quickly. Atom packages are separated and maintained by APIs. 

Equipment You’ll Need for Atom

  • Minimap: This gives you a preview of your entire source code. It features a service-based plugin API, decoration API, canvas-based rendering, and stand-alone mode. 
  • Emmet: This is the autocomplete package. Its major features are multiple cursor support, interactive actions, better tab support, and ban keys to expand abbreviations. 
  • Pigments: This package helps in displaying colors in projects and code files. Pigments scan source files in your project folder storage and create a palette using all of them.  
  • Git-Plus package: You can use this package to create some shortcuts automatically and easily click or type information instead of the actual command prompts.  
  • CloudApp: This is an excellent addition that you can use to improve team collaboration. You can easily communicate with other developers while working on your development projects. 

How to Set Up and Start Using Atom

Step 1: Install Atom

Atom installation is very straightforward. You can download the Atom application from its official website. Whether you are using Windows, macOS, or Linux, the application is compatible with different operating systems.

Step 2: Push Commit

Once you finish the installation, you can proceed to click on the GitHub link on the bottom right of your text editor screen. This will prompt you to log in to your GitHub to authorize access. There will be a token generated to Atom once you log in. This will allow you to push your commits without having to navigate to the terminal window. A commit command takes a snapshot of the current state of a project’s changes.

Step 3: Install a Package

You can proceed to install any of the desired packages that the open-source code editor is offering. Click on “edit” on the Atom menu bar and navigate the list of packages. You can select any package since it’s a free source code editor. Once a package is installed, you will see it on the side of the screen. 

Step 4: Format Text

There are different ways of selecting, copying, pasting, deleting, and moving text. If you want to copy the text, you will have to use “Ctrl+ Insert,” to delete the text you should press “Shift + Delete,” and to paste text, you must use “Shift + Insert.” 

Step 5: Create Snippets

You can create different snippets for particular lines of code. To achieve this, you will need the scope, name, prefix, and body of the snippet. Once you type the snippet, ensure you save the configuration file. This will make it easier whenever you press the “Tab” key. 

The Importance of Atom for Business

Atom is an excellent resource for tech companies. These companies can rely on the text editor to collaborate on major or minor tech projects. Developers can easily code in real-time while communicating their goals and milestones, ensuring everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal. That saves a lot of time and resources for the employees. 

Top Atom Tips: Use Atom Like a Pro

  • Text manipulation tools: When you need to alter the style of the text, you can change it to upper case or lower case by clicking “edit”. You will find a series of options on the menu bar.
  • Keyboard shortcuts: There are several shortcuts on the text editor that can save you a lot of time and effort. For instance, if you want to duplicate a line of code, press “Ctrl + Shift + D.” You can also select new characters by keying in “Ctrl + D.” If you want to highlight characters, you should select “Alt + F3.” 
  • Multiple cursors: You can access multiple cursors on your Atom editor by pressing on  “Ctrl” if you are using Windows and “Cmd” if you are using Mac. 
  • Soft wrap: Instead of spending a lot of time and energy scrolling up and down on the text editor, you can simply enable soft wrap. This ensures that your lines of code do not spill over the edges. If you are using a Windows OS, you should go to “preferences,” scroll down and enable “soft wrap.”  
  • Matching characters: You can unselect a lot of values by simply keying in “Cmd + U” if you are using a Mac. For window users, click on “Ctrl + U.”

Atom for Different Professions

Profession Applications
Web developer Write and share code, build websites, test and debug web applications
Front end developer Ensure users can interact with websites easily, enhance user experience, collaborate with other developers
Software engineer Create, design, debug applications
Java developer Design and manage Java-based applications, maintain code documentation
Backend developer Build and maintain the backend of a website
Game developer Generate game scripts, code, collaborate with design team
Quality assurance engineer Run tests, analyze bugs
Developer tools engineer Debug, manage projects
Automation test engineer Conduct tests, develop scripts, collaborate with software developers and QA analysts
Machine learning software engineer Run machine tests, coding applications

Should You Use Atom?

Yes, you should use Atom. The open-source code editor will help you share your code with other developers. Knowing how to use Atom will contribute greatly to team collaborations and positively impact work output. Given that it is a free code editor, you will also have the advantage of a huge online community that can help you navigate coding or programming. 

How to Use Atom FAQ

Is the Atom software popular?

Yes, the Atom software is popular. According to the official page of Atom, there are over one million active users on the platform who are getting familiarized with how to use Atom. The free resources attract beginner and experienced developers across the board.  

Is Atom easy to use?

Yes, Atom is easy to use. The platform has clearly depicted features and functionalities. It also has a large online community that developers can rely on when they get stuck on their coding projects.  

Which is better, Atom or Visual Studio Code?

Atom and Visual Studio Code each have their own advantages. If you choose to code as a career, you will come to understand that the platform a developer chooses depends on their needs and preferences. You have to look at the speed, customization, and code functionality before selecting which platform is best for you. 

Can I hack with Atom?

Yes, you can hack with Atom. Developers refer to it as the Hackable Editor. There are certain packages that will increase the functionality of the platform. The more proficient you are in knowing how to use Atom, the better you will be at hacking with this tool.  

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