Fraise: A Free, Simple Text Editor for Your Mac

An essential tool for both web and software developers is a text editor. Text editors streamline the process of working with code, and save time by providing shortcuts for repetitive tasks. Text editors are also useful for other web users – for example, they are very handy for tidying up text that has been copied online, before pasting it into a blog or word document.

Fraise is an app that sits at the ‘basic’ end of the market for text editors, and performs these basic (and some more advanced) tasks well.

Our 5 Minute Screencast Overview

We’ve produced a quick five-minute screencast overview as a companion to this review, just to give you an idea for how the application looks and feels. You’ll receive far more insight from the full review below, but this might be a helpful look at how the application works. Hope you enjoy it!

Getting Started

Fraise makes it easy to clean up text and edit code in a very simple and easy to use interface. Fraise prides itself on being “designed to neither confuse newcomers nor disappoint advanced users.” This is a fair assessment of a text editor that will come in handy for a range of users.

Fraise is developed for Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and is based on the open-source text editor, Smultron. Development on Smultron has ceased, but Fraise is faithfully continuing the legacy – the help manual for Fraise even refers to ‘Fraise’ as ‘Smultron’ (with the Fraise logo)!

In Depth

In terms of design and inteface, Fraise is clean and simple, and will be a familiar sight to Mac users. It uses the standard Mac layout and controls, all executed in a clutter-free fashion:

The Fraise Interface

The Fraise Interface

Fraise incorporates Quick Look icons in the left-hand menu, which is a nice touch when flipping through different pages and documents:

Quick Look for Icons

Quick Look for Icons

The functionality of Fraise is well demonstrated by what’s available in the toolbar. This resembles that of a basic word processing application, with similar options to customise the menu bar as required:

A Simple Toolbar

A Simple Toolbar

It’s a simple observation, but an important one – the basic toolbar is surprisingly comforting to see when you open up Fraise. Compared with some of the more advanced text editing apps (e.g. TextMate) that don’t even provide a toolbar, the Fraise toolbar helps newer users know where to begin!

Some of the other useful functions of Fraise include:

  • Split the document into two windows (or open in a new window)
  • Easily view all of the functions in use in your document
  • Access code snippets to speed up repetitive tasks
  • Save all of the open documents as a project
  • Manage the colors of syntax in use in the document
Preferences & Syntax Colouring

Preferences & Syntax Colouring

Fraise also includes a handy ‘find and replace’ function – with the ability to find a term in the current document, the current project, or all documents, and replace it with another term.

Find and Replace

Find and Replace

One of the areas where Fraise stands out is its localisation – Fraise is available for in 13 different languages (including two Chinese localiations), making it a tool of universal appeal.

The only (very minor) frustration when using Fraise was the inability to rename documents from the left-hand menu. This functionality has become so commonplace in apps with similar menu set-ups, that it was surprising not to be able to do this with Fraise.

At 9.6MB, Fraise isn’t going to take a dent out of your hard-drive, and its small frame enables it to zip along and perform its role at speed.

Comparison to Other Apps

The text editor marketplace is reasonably busy, and there are several quality apps competing for attention. Starting at the bottom, TextEdit comes standard with every Mac, and is the most basic text editing application (suitable for not much more than cleaning text).

Fraise would sit on the next level of functionality, with others, such as TextMate and TextWrangler in a similar, though more advanced league. Some of these more advanced apps contain functionality that is absent in Fraise – for example the ability to see the differences between two files, and merge the two to incorporate the differences, as well as larger libraries of snippets – to name a few. However, the primary consideration isn’t necessarily which app has the most functions, but which app has the functions that you need.

For example, BBEdit has been on the scene for years and is a highly respected text editor (many would say the best in market), but it comes at a price – US$125 for an individual licence. In part, this is because it includes functionality that you may not require in a text editor – such as its advanced software development tools.


Fraise is available at my favourite price – free! In comparison, TextWrangler is also free, while TextMate is available for US$53.


Fraise is a little bit more than a bare-bones solution, at a bare-bones price. When an app is free (as Fraise is), you can’t complain!

If you need a text editor, give Fraise a go for yourself – for a free application, it’s surprisingly nimble and suitable for the needs of many people looking for a text editor. It won’t let you program a web application or edit a novel, but it’s great for basic requirements.


Fraise is easy to use, and its beauty is in its simplicity. What it does, it does well, but don’t expect a suite of advanced features in Fraise.