I started using Atom in early 2014 right after it was announced, switching over as a long time Sublime Text and before that TextMate. I love the fact that it’s built on native web technologies — which make it super extensible and portable — and is open source, avoiding the fate of other popular editors like that came before it.

Like any extensible platform, you need to practice good judgement and maintenance when it comes to keeping your environment clean, otherwise it will grind to a halt. You should keep your package additions to a minimum to avoid long start up times and memory leaks, and disable or uninstall stuff you don’t find yourself using frequently. Make a habit of running an inventory of your packages every so often and you’ll continue to be a happy Atom user.

I thought I’d share my list of favorite Atom themes and packages, as I always find it interesting to learn what my peers are using. Sometimes you discover a gem that changes the game for you. And if you have any suggestions for me to check out, please let me know.

♥️ Interface Theme: Nucleus Dark by Mark Brand


I’ve been using Nucleus Dark for quite a while, having tried a bunch of others along the way. Most of the dark themes I tried felt too “heavy” and opinionated, for lack of a better description. Worse yet, I could never find a theme that felt compatible with the syntax themes I was using at the time.

Nucleus Dark was a perfect theme for me. It’s lightweight, clean, and best of all adapts it’s colors to match the syntax theme you’re using.

apm install nucleus-dark-ui

♥️ Syntax Theme: Firewatch by Sebastian Szturo


Inspired by the color scheme presented in Camp Santo’s beautiful (and fun!) first person adventure game, Firewatch. It wasn’t even on my radar until a month or so before launch, but I totally fell in love with it. It also matches my wallpaper very nicely.

apm install firewatch-syntax

♥️ English Writing Linters

I’m leaving out the obvious, programmer-centric linters here (of which I use many!) to feature some really great options for those who, like me, do a lot of their git commits, email drafts and Markdown writing in Atom.

♥️ Quality of Life Packages

  • alignment Aligns selections with a hotkey. Saves a lot of time if you’re OCD about that stuff.
  • dash Integrates Dash documentation. I wish it integrated more tightly.
  • editorconfig Maintain consistency on projects, even if your team uses different editors and platforms. Makes Atom understand .editorconfig files. 🤘
  • language-emblem I do a lot of Ember development, and I’ve learned to love the Emblem syntax format. It still ends up getting compiled to Handlebars, but it’s just so much nicer to work with.
  • lucid-tabs Color codes your Atom tabs based on the file extension. Incredibly handy. 🤘
  • pigments Display colors in package files (great for S/CSSediting.) Note that if you’re having performance issues, this is the first thing to try disabling. It’s quite expensive on the CPU.
  • project-manager Quick access for switching between projects in your dedicated project folder.
  • rename-tabs Makes tab titles behave like Sublime Text’s. I’d be lost without this. Literally. 🤘
  • sync-settings Syncs your Atom settings and packages to a Gist. Helpful for reinstalling or keeping multiple devices similarly configured.
  • zentabs Automatically closes out old tabs you haven’t used lately. Useful, but be sure to tweak the package settings, the defaults are absurdly low.