10 Best Text Editors For Mac

Last Updated: September 30, 2016

The need for text editors is almost inevitable for any level of computer user, mainly because the functionality that the serve is pretty universal. From note taking to programming, there is a wide array of possible functions that a text editor can, and does, perform. Almost every operating system out there comes with some form of text editing utility — Notepad in Windows, Text Edit in OS X, Notes in iOS etc — and they all aim to serve some form of text editing needs. Then, there are document creations tools like the MS Word and Pages out there which cater to a slightly different audience, but, to some extent, with the same goal in mind.

Generally, when we speak of text editors, it’s not text as in document text that we’re talking about. Most text editors out there, especially the more capable ones, will turn out to be very powerful code compilers, too, and that’s wherein lies their true potential. Today, we bring you our top picks of the 10 best text editors for Mac OS X, all of which double as truly powerful code editors as well.

1. Brackets

brackets

Brackets is a free and open source text editor maintained by one of the biggest names in the tech industry; Adobe. The thing that sets Brackets apart from the rest is its elegant interface and the unique “Extract” feature, which basically allows you to grab font, measurements, colors, gradients etc, from a PSD file into a clean CSS ready for web usage. Other features include extension support (with a massive and growing library), inline editors, previews, and several other features.

FreeDownload Brackets

2. TextWrangler

TextWrangler

The second pick on our list, TextWrangler, comes from Bare Bones, the same guys that are the creators of the infamous BBEdit tool for OS X. Consider TextWrangler a lightweight version of BBEdit, which drops all he features that only hardcore programmers and developers would need, and instead focus on those that will find use with people who need to, say, play with text to change order of certain columns in a CSV, or a server admin that needs to write scripts. TextWrangler is also as close to Notepad++ as you’ll get in OS X, and considering that it’s a free tool, it’s definitely worth looking into if basic text editing and manipulation is your thing.

FreeDownload TextWrangler

3. BBEdit 11

bbedit

BBEdit is the holy grail of text editors for Mac, or so the company behind it — Bare Bones — claims. It is an extremely powerful and feature rich text and HTML editor that is aimed specifically at web developers, and offers features like advanced editing, searching and manipulation of text. It allows the user to command files, folders, text and servers, all from the comfort of one software. It also boasts the largest syntax support of all the tools on our list, and has color coding to make development work easier. As expected, such a powerful tool comes at a cost, and hence, BBEdit has several packages that you can purchase according to your need.

PaidDownload BBEdit 11

4. TextMate

textmate

TextMate is another great free text editor that brings Apple’s approach towards operating systems into the world of text editors. This software basically puts the massive powerful of UNIX command console in a neat and easy-to-use GUI, bringing you the best of both worlds, whether you’re a dedicated programmer or an amateur code user. Combining features like search and replace within project, auto-indentation, column selection, word completion from current document, dynamic outlines, regular expression support etc, this is also the text editor that incorporates full Xcode support and allows building of Xcode projects within TextMate. There is also massive theme support to make the software visually more to your liking.

FreeDownload TextMate

5. Sublime Text

sublimeText

An extremely popular text editor that offers probably the best interface of all in this list (except maybe Atom). This is also one of the few text editors that support prose as much as code and markup, although it still could use some polish. Sublime Text has one of the fastest search engines out there, and offers shortcuts for pretty much any part and feature of the software. This tool also has a very powerful plugin API, making it highly customizable to suit the needs of pretty much anyone.

Although the full version of Sublime Text is paid, it offers free evaluation period which is virtually unlimited, so you can continue trying it with limited features for as long as you like.

Paid/Free TrialDownload Sublime Text

6. Atom

Atom

Atom is the newest to join the foray of capable text editors for Mac, Windows and Linux, but it’s already making a strong mark. To begin with, Atom is free and open source, maintained through github, and has a massive user-submitted package library. Key features include a file system browser, fuzzy search, multiple panes for editing, code folding, multi-selection for quick edits, support for TextMate themes, extension library, and much more.

FreeDownload Atom

7. Textastic

textastic

Textastic is a cross-platform code editor that lives in the Apple universe, meaning that it’s available not just for Mac, but also for iPhone and iPad. In fact, this is one of the software’s key features; it offers cloud syncing of all he work that you do, so that if you are coding on your Mac, you can switch over painlessly to your iPad and pick up where you left off. This makes this tool excellent for on-the-go edits, especially if the fixes that you need to make are real quick. Textastic is also pretty versatile, supporting more than 80 coding and markup languages out of the box.

PaidDownload Textastic – Mac App Store

8. UltraEdit

ultraedit

UltraEdit comes from IDM Computer Solutions, which has made a name for itself for developing a number of developer-friendly utilities over the years. The software’s primary strength lies in its editing capabilities for HTML, PHP, javascript, C/C++, Perl, Python, and a wide variety of other programming languages. This tool also features syntax highlighting, column/block editing, file/data sorting etc, and has integrated ftp client as well as SSH/telnet support. This is a premium offering but totally worth the buck.

PaidDownload UltraEdit

9. CodeRunner 2

coderunner

CodeRunner is a good choice if you’re looking for a premium offering that doesn’t cost an exorbitant amount. On the other hand, this is a hardcore “code” editor that doesn’t really suit well for people who’re just looking for prose writing. It also offers full TextMate theme support, making it one of the most customizable options out there. Other features include symbol navigation, autocomplete for words, bracket matching (highly useful if SQL is your thing), argument execution with input sets, an interactive console, and much more.

PaidDownload CodeRunner 2

10. MacVim

MacVim-screenshot-10

MacVim is the version of the famous Vim text editor for OS X, and is a free offering that, despite its somewhat primitive interface (compared to some other tools on this list), packs quite a punch. The most unique thing about this software is its bringing of standard OS X keyboard shortcuts, lessening the learning curve quite a bit. There are transparent backgrounds and full screen mode for distraction-free coding. MacVim also supports tabs and multiple windows, and comes with a fully-featured ODB editor.

FreeDownload MacVim

SEE ALSO: 15 Best Free PHP Frameworks

That’s it for our top 10 picks in text editors for Mac OS X. There are many other out there, we know, and if there’s one that you absolutely love and think should be a part of this list, let us know.

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Aatif is a veteran tech blogger with a passion for gadgets and mobile apps. He describes himself as a "student of technology" and spends most of his money on getting the latest and greatest gadgets. He is also a diehard fan of science fiction, and enjoys casual photography in his free time.

12 COMMENTS

  1. TextMate is not free. It is a commercial product that can be downloaded for free, but requires a license to use.

  2. 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
    10.

  3. Good One, Perhaps you haven’t heard yet about the Visual Studio Code, its amazing also supports many languages with it’s extensions.

  4. Hello,

    Nice article, but could you add Visual Studio Code to the list? I would like to know where it would be added, thank you.

  5. 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!

  6. 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

    • Thank you for recommending this. I’ll check it out and we’ll probably include that in a future round-up, too.

    • 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.

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