Whether you’re a seasoned programmer, or a beginner trying to code your first piece of software, a good text editor is one of the most important things you’ll need on your Mac. Thankfully there are a lot of free text editors as well as great paid text editors out there. To save our readers from the time consuming (and often confusing) task of choosing the right text editor for their use, we’ve picked out the 12 best text editors for Mac that are actually worthy of attention in 2020. Note that while all the Mac text editors mentioned on this list are great, you should choose the one that fits your needs. So, without further ado, let’s check out the list, shall we?
Best Text Editors for Mac in 2020
In this article, we are focusing on the best text editors for coding but if you are looking for a text editor for your writing purposes, you can check out our article on the best writing apps for Mac.
List of Best Text Editors for macOS
1. Sublime Text 3
Sublime Text is probably one of the most famous text editors available for Mac and for all the right reasons. The software brings a ton of features including syntax highlighting and folding, a high level of customizability, easy to navigate interface, multiple selections, powerful API and package ecosystem, and more. One of the best features of Sublime Text 3 is the “Goto Anything” feature. As it names suggests, the feature allows you to instantly jump to symbols, lines, or words that you are looking for, and can be activated simply by hitting the keyboard shortcut ⌘P.
Combine this with features like split editing, Goto Definition, Command Palette, batch editing, and instant project switch and you have one of the best and most powerful text editors out there. Probably the only drawback of Sublime Text 3 is its cost. Just like any well developed Mac software, Sublime Text 3 boasts of a premium price. That said, since a text editor is going to be the foundation for your future work, investing up front in a good text editor is not a bad thing. If money is no concern for you, definitely check this out.
- Easy to use
- Customization options
- Ability to assign custom keyboard shortcuts
- Fast and smooth
- Cross platform
- Some plugins affect performance
Download: (Free Trial, $80)
- Open-source and free
- Nice UI
- Customization options
- Tons of packages available
- A lot of packages can slow it down
- Can be a resource hog
Another popular text editor for Mac is Brackets which mainly focuses on web design. Brackets is a better option for front-end developers and web designers than the ones mentioned above. While this text editor has been designed by Adobe, which is famous for its subscription pricing model, Brackets is a completely free text editor. Adobe has developed Brackets as an open-source project which is supported by its active and passionate community. One of the best features of Brackets is the “Live Preview” feature which allows users to see any changes that they make to the CSS and HTML of the code reflected live in a Chrome window. This feature allows developers to keep an eye on their code and stops them from making any drastic mistakes.
Since Brackets is an Adobe product, it works really well with other Adobe products. For example, there’s a feature called “Extract” which lets users automatically extract color, font, gradient, and measurement information from a photoshop document file. Brackets is already a feature-rich text editor, however, if you want to add more features, you can do so by using Brackets’ extensions which are free to download and install. Some of the most popular Brackets’ extensions are Beautify, Autoprefixer, Emmet, Minifier, Bracket Gits, and Brackets File Icons. If you are into web development, you should definitely try Brackets.
- Open-source and free
- Various free extensions
- Cross platform
- Aimed mostly at front-end developers
- Lacks a few useful text editor commands
4. BBEdit 13
BBEdit is developed by Bare Bones software and is probably one of the oldest and most reliable text editors you can find on Mac. Not only BBEdit is used by thousands of developers out there but it is also used by many writers as the software provides features for editing, searching, and manipulation of prose, source code, and textual data. Some of the biggest features of BBEdit include built-in tools for text manipulations, Hard Wrap, customizable syntax coloring support for over two dozen built-in languages, placeholder options for easier site maintenance, multiple files manipulations, complete set of HTML Tools for fast, easy, and correct markup, extensive file handling capabilities, and more.
One of the things that is important when choosing a software like a text editor is its longevity. You don’t want a text editor which won’t receive any updates, or worse, get killed few years down the line. With BBEdit, you can be sure that it will never happen. The software has been available since 1992 which is longer than the existence of macOS as we know today. BBEdit’s existence of more than 26 years is an enough proof that the developers are not going to let this die. If you want a powerful text editor for web development which will be there for you for the next decade, definitely give this a try.
- Stable and reliable
- Packs in almost all the features you can think of
- Great performance
- Various built-in tools and languages
- Simple to use
- A little pricey
Download: (Free Trial, $49.99) / (Get it from the Mac App Store – $3.99/month)
UltraEdit is a very capable text editor, however, if you need more features, you can buy it with other Ultra products like UltraCompare, UltraEdit Suite, UltraFinder, and IDM All Access, all of which bring additional features. Finally, do note that UltraEdit is not cheap and is one of the costliest text editors out there. However, there is a 30-day free trial which you can use to get a feel for the software before springing up the money.
- Supports most languages
- Handles large files very well
- Reliable and regularly updated
- Fast and easy to use
- Some features available to purchase separately
Download: (Free Trial, $99.95 – comes with UltraCompare)
6. Coda 2 / Nova
Another hardcore text editor specially designed for web developers is the Coda 2 which brings a multitude of features like project-wide autocomplete, syntax highlighting for tons of languages, code folding, find and replace, indentation guides, automatic tag closing, and fast commenting and shifting of code. Coda also brings one of the best deeply integrated file system. Users can open local files or edit remotely on FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, or Amazon S3 servers.
Coda 2 has recently launched a ton of new features. Now Coda 2 supports touch-bar on MacBook Pros, offers faster syntax highlighting and symbol parsing, indexing of local files, CSS overriding, and more. However, by far my favorite feature of Coda 2 is built-in WebKit Preview which includes a web inspector, debugger, and profiler. Using the WebKit Preview developers can see the real-time effect as their code changes. Also, like many other text editors on this list, Coda 2 brings an extensive set of plugins which can be used to further enhance its feature set.
Note: Panic, the company behind Coda 2, is creating a new text editor called Nova. Once Nova is officially released, Coda 2 users can seamlessly move to using it. Nova is basically a re-branded Coda 2 with enough new features to justify the brand change. You can sign up to test Nova here.
- Great search feature
- Accessing and editing files remotely
- Specially designed for web developers
- Lacking in features when compared to others
- Quite pricey
Download: (Free Trial, $99)
7. Visual Studio Code
Although developed by Apple’s arch-rival Microsoft, Visual Studio Code is one of the best text editors that you can get for your Mac. The text editor is packed with features and has been optimized for Mac in such a way that you don’t feel any performance difference from its Windows counterpart. The main features of Visual Studio Code include the ability to highlight syntax for more than 30 different languages, lightning fast source-code editor, keyboard-centric code editing approach, automatic real-time API description, Git control, IntelliSense for smart completions based on variable types, Debugging support, and more.
Visual Studio Code also comes with support for extensions and a big extension library which can be used to not only enhance its features but also customize the interface to suit your workflow. Some of the popular extensions are Git Lens, Sublime Text Keymap, Azure Storage, Angular Essentials, Vim, and Debugger for Chrome. Also, the text editor is completely free to download and use.
- Support for most languages
- Various plugins available
- Good performance
- Great UI
- Free to use
- Monthly updates
- You have to install a lot of plugins to make it feature rich
- A bit of a learning curve
- Can be buggy at times
It might not be the most powerful text editor for the Mac, however, it is fairly capable. Also, its easy to understand user interface ensures that you have a less of a learning curve here than with some of the other text editors on this list.
- Supports a number of script and markup languages
- Simple to use
- iCloud sync support
- Multiple tabs feature
- Mac and iOS only
- Not as powerful as others on the list
- No Python and SSH terminal support
9. TextMate 2.0
TextMate bridges UNIX underpinnings and GUI by cherry-picking the best of both worlds so that it can be used by experts and novices alike. It brings enough project management features to keep most users happy, but is otherwise very lightweight and has a clean and minimalist GUI. Features of TextMate include the ability to research and replace the code in projects, auto-pairing of brackets and other characters, column selection and typing, recordable macros with no programming requirement, syntax highlighting for multiple languages, and more.
TextMate also works with Xcode and can build Xcode projects. One of the best things about TextMate is that it comes with extensive documentation and video library which should easily get users started. If you want a no-nonsense text editor, TextMate is the one for you.
- Works with Xcode
- Handles packages well
- Only macOS
- Development not very reliable
Download: (Free Trial, $56.25)
10. CodeRunner 2
Just like Textastic, CodeRunner 2 is a very affordable text editor which has been specifically designed for Macs. CodeRunner 2 supports a large number of languages and delivers big IDE features while remaining lightweight and clutter-free. Some of its features include full-blown IDE-level code completion, support for 23 different languages, support for multi-file projects, breakpoints and debugging support, theme support, file and symbol navigator, automatic indentation support, intelligent bracket matching, and more. CodeRunner 2 brings a powerful text-editor in a simple to understand package which is good for beginners and experts alike.
- Supports various languages
- Clean UI
- Packs in necessary IDE features
- Does not play well with big projects
- Not as feature rich
Download: (Free trial, $14.99)
If I were to pick one text editor for macOS purely based on productivity, Espresso would be my go-to choice for more than one reason. For starters, the text editor sports probably the most intuitive editing interface that offers a more simplified text editing experience. Not to mention, it’s highly rated for making the CSS editing pretty easy-going, taking way less time than rival text editors.
Another notable feature of this Mac-only text editor is the ability to enhance the real-time text editing, thanks largely to the well-timed segregation into three columns that consist of the code editor, navigator, and files. Thus, you can comfortably keep an eye on the many sections of the code you are working on; without having to hop from one end to the other. And with the handy drag-and-drop gesture, Espresso lets you move content back and forth with consummate ease. All things considered, this macOS only text editor is what you need to ramp your productivity.
- Built for real-time text editing
- Highly productive
- Makes CSS editing pretty fast
- Drag-and-drop gesture
- A bit expensive
- Supports only Mac
Download: (Free trial, $79)
Should you want a powerful text editor for Mac without having to shell out a single penny, don’t fail to try out Vim. While it may not have an elegant user-interface, it’s loaded with a range of handy tools to let you code your favorite software. And if you don’t mind going through some steep learning curve, you will find it quite useful. One of my favorite features of this text editor is a solid collection of keyboard shortcuts which can enable you to go about your business at a fast clip. Not just that, it has also got a massive command set including set compiler, conversion to HTML, automatic correction, automatic syntax, and error list. Add to that the compatibility with several platforms like macOS, Windows NT, Linux, Unix, iOS, Android, MorphOS, AmigaOS, MS-DOS and you have the text editor that has checked off most of the essential boxes.
- Vast command set
- A solid collection of keyboard shortcuts
- Compatible with many platforms
- Complex interface
- Requires steep learning curve
Code Smarter Using These Excellent Text Editors
That ends our list of the 10 best text editors that you can get for your Mac. Do note that most of the paid text editors on the list offer a free trial option, so check them out before you settle for one. Once you do find your favorite text editor for Mac, share its name in the comments section below. Also, if you have a favorite text editor which is not on the list, do share its name too.
TextMate its best for quick edits and tiny projects. Its search functionality is very intuitive, and multiline editing is a killer.
For anything more serious I totally recommend IDEs from JetBrains such as PHPStorm, intelliJ IDEA etc. They aren’t cheap but worth it!
It’s unbelievable that there is no simple text editor like Notepad on Windows for Mac. Yes, there is TextEdit, but you can’t even choose the standard font. You have to choose it for every particular file. It also annoys me that you have to click on “New file” when you open it up.
In TextEdit Preferences you can select the default font for plain text and rich text files. Also, if you go to System Preferences > iCloud > iCloud Drive Options and uncheck TextEdit, it will open directly with a new document.
What, CotEditor not included ?
Seems fast and lightweight.
Plenty of features for simple editing.
Free and OpenSource of course.
I’ve been using Atom for several years, simply because it’s free, but it has some glaring problems:
1. When you double click on a file, Atom also opens the parent directory as a “project”. For directories that have many files, this is a problem. They refuse to solve this problem calling it a “feature”.
2. Can’t print. Seriously, a text editor that can’t print sucks.
3. Problem handling large files.
BBedit is a wonderful program – BUT – it has one GLARING omission that keeps myself, and a lot of other users, from using it as much as we’d like to: No overstrike mode. For a company that advertises that their software “doesn’t suck”, a text editor without overstrike mode SUCKS – I’m sorry. From reactions both myself and others have received, BareBones won’t include one because that “isn’t the Macintosh way” – which is religious nonsense. It would take anything at all to build it in – and I can say that as I’ve written text editors myself – the “Mac religious” could ignore it.
As it is, I guess I’m going to have to write yet another text editor, because pretty much ALL Mac text editors suck for this, and other reasons. I’m tired of “computer religion”.
TextWrangler has been mothballed and isn’t compatible with macOS 10.13
I just used TextWrangler on Mojave 10.14.6 today. Works fine.
TextMate is not free. It is a commercial product that can be downloaded for free, but requires a license to use.
TextMate 2 is released on GNU. It’s free.
I apologize, you’re right. I must have missed or forgotten the news that they open sourced it. I found this article about it: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/08/textmate-2-0-goes-open-source-in-response-to-os-x-restrictions/.
I use Espresso since MacRabbit introduce it to my world. Maybe is just me but CSSedit is included and that’s why I can’t let it go
All good choices. I’m new to coding so I know of but have never used something powerful like vim. My list would be.
1. BBedit – primarily because it’s 25 years old and basically handles almost everything.
2. Sublime – Just a well made app that works on Windows and Linux .
3. Visual Studio Code – Improving every month. Not the best optimized app but it works.
4. Coda 2 – If you’re a Mac user Coda feels like joy it’s just fallen a bit behind in features and extensibility
5- Atom – lots of config ability …it’s beautiful but it’s been pretty resource heavy for it’s life.
6- Espresso – New version just hit, looks solid with SASS support, static site support and
7. Brackets – love Brackets but the development on it is slower that the competition
8. Coderunner – good solid app
9 Textmate – the venerable Mac editor. Not updated nearly as much as it used to but still flexible and powerful
10. Cot Editor – free and basic …great for new coders who may get overwhelmed with other options
after 25 year do not support unicode?!!!!
Good One, Perhaps you haven’t heard yet about the Visual Studio Code, its amazing also supports many languages with it’s extensions.
How could you forget Emacs (or even Aquamacs) from this list?
Nice article, but could you add Visual Studio Code to the list? I would like to know where it would be added, thank you.
Okay, but: What alternative(s) do you suggest that don’t have the deficits you mention? Please include at least one freeware choice (if you have one). Thanks!
I don’t know what kind of coding or anything like that the author has done but most of these are garbage. They are resource hungry, they are glitchy in performance, they will max out your CPU and they are unreliable if you are trying to do anything across a network.
Hi, I’m looking for a good new editor (long time user of TextWrangler) and curious which one(s) you’d recommend over all of these? Not for coding very much, mostly manipulation of plain text docs and some infrequent (minor) coding (Puppet, scripting, etc.). Thanks
“AlvatrossTE” was released a few days ago. But it is much better than the above apps.
Thank you for recommending this. I’ll check it out and we’ll probably include that in a future round-up, too.
How the hell is Coda2 not on there? LOL!
Thank you for the suggestion. I’m sure there are several others out there, too, that I would have missed, but that’s why your suggestion is valuable.