There is a reason why every computer system out there includes some form of text editor, and it’s because there is always a need for it, no matter the expertise of the user. A text editor serves the need for a variety of tasks such as note taking to writing manuscripts to programming, and there is almost as wide a selection of text editors out there for every purpose. There are, of course, default programs that comes with any operating system: for instance, Windows has Notepad, macOS has Text Edit, and so on.
When evaluating the effectiveness and usability of text editors, it’s important to consider how adaptable they are to any function. For more particular functions such as document formatting, a user may be better suited to word processors that have an array of tools for that need, but a good text editor is capable of perform a little bit of everything. The most powerful ones can serve as effective code compilers while having complex and broad functions. Other factors that should be looked at are the editor’s flexibility, it’s lightness for function, and design.
Here ore our 10 most powerful text editors for macOS:
Brackets is a free, lightweight text editor created by Adobe, which is one of the most reliable name in software. It’s clean, elegant and open source, and has an inline editor and live-preview, but it’s most standout feature is the “Extract” function that handily allows you to export a PSD file font, colors, measurements, and gradients from a PSD to a CSS file ready for web publishing. Brackets enables extensions, which makes it all the more customizable with its extensions library that offers a wide selection. Novice coders can’t go wrong with choosing this number one pick, as its prediction feature on finishing codes is on point and very handy. Placing Brackets on the top of this list is a no-brainer.
Also from Bare Bones Software, BBEdit is a powerful and rich text editor aimed directly at web and software developers, and it has a wide variety of functions to back it up. This text editor includes, among many others, grep pattern matching, syntax coloring for many source code languages, function navigation, search and replace across multiple files, project definition tools, code folding, AppleScript, macOS Unix scripting support—all in one intelligent interface. Notably, it also has the largest syntax support among all the other text editing softwares on this list. You can download BBEdit for free for a 30-day evaluation period, after which, you can choose to purchase it with all of its productive tools.
Bare Bones Software is behind TextWrangler, the same creators of BBEdit which is considered by many to be the holy grail of text editors in MacOS. TextWrangler is an all-around editor for text and code. It’s lighter and frills-free, focusing instead on basic editing tools normally used by users such as when writing scripts or changing CSV columns. In many ways, it is similar to Window’s Notepad++, and is also free for download. It’s your text editor for light and easy tasks such as quick edits and previews. On the downside, it has been recently sunsetted by its developer, meaning it no future versions updates will be released on the software itself, but the same feature set will exist after downloading BBEdit and letting its free version expire, with some other unique features added in the mix.
Textmate’s best feature is easily its minimalistic GUI that is easy to navigate for programmers and designers alike. It incorporates UNIX into a text editor that is light and powerful at the same time. It isn’t IDE, but can provide services that language specific IDE doesn’t have by using macros, snippets, and a unique scoping system. Despite being clean and lightweight, it contains features that will keep its users satisfied: search and replace, auto-indent, clipboard history, and many others. It also has full Xcode support and allows you to build Xcode projects within the interface. Elegance and usability combined, it remains as a solid choice for code and markup.
Atom is relatively newer than its counterpart but it comes with a strong case through its flexibility. It’s greatly customizable without the need to touch a config file through its built-in extension system. Atom is also open source, maintained through Github, and has a package library that users can contribute to. It has the standard features such as file system browser that easily allows users to browse and open multiple projects in one window, multiple panes, find and replace, and has a built-in package manager. On the downside, it can be quite heavy and slow for some, as it is built with electron, but we can vouch that its great prediction, good support, and ease of use can be all worth it.
Sublime Text is one of the most popular text editors out there and for a reason; it probably has the most polished interface among the text editors in this list, and easily has one of the speediest startup. It supports prose and code and markup, and boasts of one of the fastest search engines available out there. The shortcuts it has for nearly every function in the editor is pretty nifty. It’s also highly flexible, almost customizable to no end through its plugin API for a very personalized experience. There’s also a certain advantage for using a text editor that’s as popular as Sublime, because being widely used, it has a huge support community behind it.
Sublime Text offers a free evaluation period, but the period is practically extendable, and so the powerful features can be enjoyed fore basically forever.
CodeRunner is a good alternative if you want a paid software that is relatively cheap and still gets the job done. Although it’s less suited for prose writing, it’s still highly customizable and has full support of Textmate themes. It shows off advanced IDE-level code completion for most languages, symbol navigation, multiple-file projects support without manual setup, the ability to set step through code and breakpoints line by line, autocomplete for words, and for SQL fans, bracket matching, and so many others.
UltraEdit does the basic things right and does them at great speed. IDM Computer Solutions is behind this project, and they have made a reputation for quite some time for utilities that are developer-friendly. Here, they give premium to dependable performance, startup, file loading, and replace and find. UltraEdit also comes with syntax highlighting for many programming languages, great interface that’s easily customizable through themes and layout, an integrated FTP client and file compare utility and such other features that are useful for developers and programmers. It comes with a price, but it’s totally bang for the buck.
MacVim isn’t much to look at—it has a prosaic, drab interface that’s very much behind all the other softwares listed here— but it’s free and reliable, and would be a good gateway software for beginners. For one, it packs along with it standard shortcuts for OS X keyboards, which makes it easier for Apple users to navigate and operate. It also has a full-screen mode, transparent backgrounds, multiple windows and tabs and an ODB editor that has full features. The catch is, it can also get a tad slow.
Finding the right fit for you can be a chore, as there are tons of text editors available for download out there, but we’ve saved you the hassle and confusion by ranking those we think will absolutely give you a run for your time and money. Here are the best text editors of 2017 for MacOS, so you can’t go wrong with any of these!