Apple’s TextEdit is the standard text editor for Macs. It is freely available and built into macOS. It can be used as a word processor and editor. When compared to other text editors, however, its features fall short. Therefore, it’s not a great choice for coding and won’t help you manage application projects effectively.
You should thus check at some of the third-party text editors available if you require a more full experience from a text editor. Here are a few of our favorite text editors for Mac to get you started.
Top-Rated Text Editors for the Mac
There are many varieties of text editors, but they can all be broken down into two general categories: plain text editors and rich text editors, and source-code editors. Functionality and intended use are the primary differentiating factors between the two types.
Whereas text editors’ features are narrowly focused on streamlining the document creation and editing processes, source-code editors’ focus expands to include tools that expedite the coding procedure. Syntax highlighting, autocomplete, indentation, and bracket matching are just a few of the features available in a source-code editor that aren’t available in a regular text editor.
Even if a basic text editor can be used for writing code, a source-code editor is recommended for general document creation and revision. For while it is possible to use a standard text editor, a source-code editor or integrated development environment (IDE) may provide a superior experience due to its development-specific features.
With that out of the way, I’ll be recommending some excellent Mac text editors.
Substantial Code Editor
Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code (also known as VS Code) is a free, open-source code editor. Electron, the foundation upon which it is based, allows it to run on Linux, macOS, and Windows equally well.
VS Code is unique among code editors because, unlike those that are project-based, it allows you to work with numerous folders at once and separate them into their own workspaces, much like a language-independent code editor.
Visual Studio Code has features like IntelliSense and Peek Definition that can assist beginners learn about many facets of programming.
Get the coding software Visual Studio
Atom is a source code editor that was created by GitHub (now owned by Microsoft) and is available for free and open source. Therefore, many of its features are created and maintained by its user base. Atom, like Visual Studio Code, is built on the Electron framework, but its native feature set is more limited. However, because to its plugin architecture, Atom can be customized to your needs and project workflow in a variety of ways.
Syntax highlighting, intelligent autocompletion, and a file system browser are just a few of the standard features you’ll find in Atom, along with plenty of configuration options. Git integration allows you to store and manage your projects without leaving the editor, and the included package manager makes it easy to find and install new packages on your system.
Sublime Text is a shareware source code editor, which means it provides the majority of its capabilities for free but limits access to a select few to a paid product, which may be upgraded to or purchased if necessary. It’s one of the most popular Mac text editors, and it’s built from the ground up with Python and web development in mind. Nonetheless, you can use it with other programming and markup languages as well.
Sublime Text, like Atom, has plugin support so you may add any missing features and make your editing experience even better. Sublime Text’s command palette, snippets, code auto-completion, goto anything, goto definition, and split editing are all useful features. Sublime Text’s integrated package manager streamlines the process of locating and installing add-ons for the editor.
SublimeHQ also produces Sublime Merge, a graphical user interface (GUI) version control (Git and merging tool) for Sublime Text that speeds up repository searches, commits, and conflict resolution.
Get Sublime Text here.
Only Mac users can use BBEdit, Bare Bones Software’s text editor. It’s effectively a free replacement for the popular TextWrangler text editor, which was only ever made for macOS and was eventually discontinued.
In contrast to TextWrangler, BBEdit’s free version includes sufficient functionality and programming functionalities to make it stand out from the crowd of available text editors. It’s a basic text editor that can be used for everything from working with text files to writing code or making scripts. BBEdit is compatible with AppleScript, Python, Perl, RegEx, and Shell scripting.
Among BBEdit’s many features are tools for defining projects, syntax coloring, code folding, automatic code completion, and a fast search and replace capability. You can also incorporate code management systems, and use file transfer protocols like FTP and SFTP.
The Mac App Store features BBEdit.
Get BBEdit here.
Vim, short for Vi Improved, is a modified version of the popular text editor Vi. Almost all classic Unix-like OSes, including macOS, include the POSIX standard editor Vi. When compared to the other text editors on this list, Vim is in a league of its own.
Vim is a text editor that places a premium on getting the fundamentals right, in contrast to other modern text editors which emphasize providing a pretty interface packed with a ton of features and functionalities. And it excels at that task. However, the editor offers a wealth of plugins that can be used to tailor it to your specific coding needs, and more are being produced all the time.
Because Vim does not have a graphical user interface, all of your work must be done on a command line or terminal window. In addition, Vim is a modal editor, so it may take some time to become proficient with all of its modes. However, once you master Vim, you’ll find that it greatly enhances your productivity. And it’s quite unlikely that you’ll ever return to using a more traditional text editor.
Get Vim Here
The Emacs text editor is another well-liked Mac app. Many developers favor it as their go-to language. Its competition is Vim, and supporters of both text editors are not bashful about claiming theirs is the best.
Emacs, like Vim, allows for customisation, but its configuration options are more complex and flexible. There are more than ten thousand commands available, and the UI makes it easy to combine them into macros that automate routine activities.
Like Vim, Emacs has a learning curve when it comes to ease of use. However, the features included make it a promising text editor for programmers who seek a setting in which they can perform and control virtually every step of their development process. To quickly run down what Emacs offers, it includes a text editor, a project planner, an email client, a news reader, a package manager, an IRC client, and much more.
Get Emacs here.
Tools for Editing and Writing Text and Code
The aforementioned text editors give Mac users more options when creating and editing text. Given that you are reading this, it’s safe to assume that you intend to use them for code development, in which case you may make the most of them by taking advantage of their capabilities tailored to that task.