10 Versatile Text Editors for OS X

Whilst you may be content using a pen and paper, many Mac owners need something a little more powerful for writing text on their computer. Fortunately, a wide range of different tools exist, each with their own unique features (and price point). Whether you’re looking for a simple note taking application, need to write reams of code, or simply don’t require the long waiting times of Microsoft Word, there’s a text editor out there for you.

TextWrangler

TextWrangler

TextWrangler

TextWrangler is a free version of BBEdit (see below). It offers a broad range of support for different programming languages, and fantastic find and replace functionality. A reliable and powerful tool, especially considering its freeware status.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later
Developer: Bare Bones

TextMate

TextMate

TextMate

TextMate fits into the OS X user experience well, and is a highly regarded editor. It contains decent project management features, clipboard history, automatic bracket pairing, and can be expanded with plugins.

Price: $50
Requires: Mac OS 10.4.2 PPC/Intel
Developer: Macro Mates

BBEdit

BBEdit

BBEdit

BBEdit is one of the leading text editors for the Mac, and the price reflects that. It’s beyond the reach of a casual user, but offers a range of advanced functionality. Great for searching and replacing, organizing projects, working with remote servers, in-built code validation/standards checking, and highlighting any code you throw at it.

Price: $129 ($49 Educational)
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later
Developer: Bare Bones

SubEthaEdit

SubEthaEdit

SubEthaEdit

SubEthaEdit is a powerful and lean text editor, reasonably priced, and offers unique collaboration features. Featuring command line integration, live HTML previews, and easy customization, it also integrates well with Coda.

Price: €29
Requires: OS X 10.4
Developer: Coding Monkeys

Carbon EMacs

Carbon EMacs

Emacs/Carbon

Carbon Emacs Package is a Mac-friendly distribution of the GNU Emacs text editor. It’s simple, extensible, and good for technically minded users who value the advanced features it offers. Not the most user friendly app, but worth bearing in mind. Also very similar is Aquamacs.

Price: Free (Open Source)
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 or later
Developer: Seiji Zenitani

skEdit

skEdit

skEdit

Geared for web editing, skEdit is good for working with remote files, storing snippets, code completion, automatically tidying HTML, and Subversion integration. It’s also extensible via plugins.

Price: $34.95
Requires: Mac OS 10.4 or Later
Developer: SKTI

Coda and Espresso

Coda and Espresso

Coda / Espresso

After a quick Twitter poll, many AppStorm readers prefer to use a more full featured app for editing text (one also supporting FTP, CSS development, and live previewing). Both Coda and Espresso have been reviewed here, but they’re quite expensive and far, far more than a simple text editor. Worth looking into!

Price: $80-$99
Requires: Coda: OS X 10.4; Espresso: OS X 10.5 Leopard

Smultron

Smultron

Smultron

Smultron is a Leopard-centric text editor, with lovely icons and a well designed interface. Code highlighting, system file management (with automatic authentication), and HTML previews make it an appealing free option.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X Leopard 10.5
Developer: Tuppis

WriteRoom

WriteRoom

WriteRoom

Taking a different approach, WriteRoom offers little advanced functionality but a remarkably simple interface to minimize distractions. Definitely not for everyone, but it could be great if you’re looking for a simple tool. Check out our review for full details.

Price: $24.95
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later
Developer: Hog Bay Software

TextEdit

TextEdit

TextEdit

TextEdit is a simple, open source word processor and text editor. It offers very basic functionality, but is bundled for free with OS X (it’s already in your Applications folder!) Often great for quickly viewing a file, but it won’t satisfy many advanced requirements.

Price: Free
Requires: OS X (Any Version)
Developer: Apple

Conclusion

Whether you have a huge budget for a text editor or not a bean to spare, there should be a good option for you. It’s worth deciding how many of the additional features you really need, as I often find they get in the way when trying to write something simple.

It may be a good idea to combine a couple of the applications, WriteRoom and TextMate for instance, to provide a good mix between complicated code editing and a simple writing interface.

I’m interested to hear what you use, and whether you’d suggest any different applications (just don’t say VIM!).


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