The Best Free Text Editors for MAC

August 20, 2016
text editors

In today’s tech savvy world, having a text-editing program isn’t just luxury, but a necessity to keep ahead. From note keeping, and information filing, to programing and coding, an editor is a vital tool for any computer user. Most systems come with a basic text editing program already installed, allowing users to edit text in rich text format, some come with advanced text editing tools, like MS Word and the ever popular Pages that cater to writers more then programing. Often times these programs fall flat when trying to code a program or app on Mac OS X.

In this article we’re referring to text editors that make it easier and are more productive at coding, particularly for Mac OS X. Several text editors are realizing their untapped potential and adding tools such as code compilers to help those who code. With this list you’ll be able to start programing and have a more organized code in no time flat.

Here are the Best Text Editors for Mac

BracketsBrackets Text Editor

This is an open source text editor maintained by Adobe. It has an “Extract” feature that allows you to grab font, measurements, colors, gradients and more from PSD files and transfer them to a clean CSS, ready for use on the web.

It is one of the most powerful text editors you can get. It has some great features such as:

Inline Editors- this lets you jump between file tabs. It also lets you work code side by side without popups. This will make your editing easier and more efficient.

Live Preview- this is a real time connection to your browser. So you will see the changes as soon as you make them. It makes it easier to see if you have made a mistake and saves you from having to go back later.

Preprocessor Support- Uses QuickEdit and Live Highlight with your LESS and SCSS files making working with them easier than ever.

Free download here for Brackets

BBEdit 11bbedit

The pride and joy of Bare Bones is the BBEdit, the “holy grail of text editors for Mac”. Aimed directly at web developers, and offering features such as searching and manipulation of text, and advanced editing, it’s easy to see why this program is so popular. It allows control over command files, multiple folders and command of text and servers, making it a hub for multiple programs. With the most commanding and impressive support for syntax out of all these programs, it also has color-coding to make keeping track of lines easier. Of course a tool this expansive is also not cheap, which is the main reason they have multiple packages you can pick and choose from to pay for exactly what you need. If you want to know what experienced coders are saying you can go to their testimonials page to hear what other programmers have to say.

You can find it and download it at BBEdit 11

TextWranglerText Wrangler

This text editor comes from Bare Bones, the creators of BBEdit tool for OS X. It is a lightweight version of BBEdit. It is good for basic text editing and manipulation. You will be able to quickly and easily create and modify HTML/XML files and text. This text editor supports both plain-text and Unicode files.

In the tradition of Bare Bones Software, it has high performance, ease of use, a rich feature set and the ability to read its own release notes.

It also boasts extensive FTP and SFTP support. It can open and save text files located on remote FTP an SFTP servers. You can configure key assignments, setting keys for different commands. This will save you a lot of time. TextWrangler is also the closest you can come to Notepad ++ in OS X. And it is worth getting if basic text editing and manipulation are what you are looking for.You can find this editor at

You can find this editor at


TextMate brings Apple’s approach toward operating systems to the world of text editors. This text editor put the power of UNIX command console into an easy to use GUI. This editor is useful for everyone, from avid programmers to amateur code users. Because it is so versatile, it won an Apple Design Award for Best Mac OS X Developer Tool in August 2006. It combines many features like search and replace within a project, auto-indention, column selection, word completion from your current document, dynamic outlines, regular expression support and much more. It also incorporates full Xcode support and allows building of Xcode projects. The use of theme support will also make this editor more visually appealing to you.

There is a rapidly growing community that have created modes for more than a hundred different “modes” including support for all major programming languages, writing prose in structured formats such as LaTeX, Markdown, Textile, etc., blogging, running SQL queries, writing screen plays, doing your budget and much more. This has made TextMate a very sought after program for editing.

You can find this editor at

AtomAtom Text Editor

This is one of the newest text editors and it is already making a good impression with users. It can be used with Mac, Windows and Linux. It is an open sourced editor and is maintained through github. Atom has a huge user submitted package library. It can also help you write code faster with the auto complete feature. It has a file system browser for opening single files, whole projects or multiple projects in one window. You can use multiple panes to split the interface so you can compare and edit code across files. You can use the find and replace tool to find, preview or replace text as you type in a file or across all of your projects. Its key features are a files system browser that we talked about above, fuzzy search, multiple panes for editing, code folding, multi-selection for quick edits, support for TextMate themes, extension Library and much more.

This editor is a desktop application built with HTML, JavaScript, CSS and Node.js integration. It runs on Electron, a framework for building across platform applications using web technologies.

You can find the text editor at


This is the free version of Vim Text Editor. It is somewhat primitive compared to the other tools on the list, but it works very well.

A unique feature of MacVim is that it uses standard OS X keyboard shortcuts. This can make it easier for those of you with less experience using editing software. It also has transparent backgrounds and full screen mode to make coding distraction free. There is Multibyte editing with OS X Input methods and automatic font substitution. It has fully-featured ODB editor support and it supports multiple windows with tabbed editing.

There are a lot of editing software choices out there. These are just a few that are at the top of the list as far as what you get and what you pay for. These are the best free ones that you can find and most of them are the same if not better than the ones you have to pay for. All of these prove that just because something is free, doesn’t mean it won’t work. If you are just starting out or you have been using editors for years, any of these would be a great choice.

Get the free download for Mac from MacVim

CodeRunner 2Code Runner

If you want a no nonsense, this is a hardcore “Strictly coding” program that packs a punch, this is the program for you. A highly flexible, easy-to-use programming editor, CodeRunner 2 is made to work from the first time you open it. It offers the most options to customize your code by fully supporting TextMate themes. More features include bracket matching to help with your SQL, an interactive console, argument execution for input sets, and autocomplete for words, among others. While it’s great for coding, you can’t do any other text editing on it. This one is a paid program, but you get exactly what you pay for. CodeRunner supports IDE-level code completion for most languages, and document snippets. It can also run multi-file projects without any manual setup required. In Codebreaker you can also set up breakpoints and step through code line by line to debug with ease.

You can buy it here at Coderunner 2

Sublime TextSublime Text

With the highest rated interface, Sublime Text is one of the most popular text editors. It can support prose, code and markup, along with having one of the fastest search engines offered. It’s great for plugins and is API compatible. It’s highly customizable and can be changed to suit the needs of all levels of programing. It can also work alongside, and read, Textmate files. Meaning you can use one or both programs on the same project without a loss of data or the need to convert files. The free evaluation period is practically unlimited but limits the features you can use. It also has a great command palette and cross platform abilities, with a download for Windows as well. For free range you can pay for the upgrade and unlock more.

You can find all the downloads collected here at Sublime Text


When you want to code across all your apple devices and all your OS X devices, then Textastic is for you. Available for not just the Mac, but for iPhones and for iPads, this program makes it easy to take programing on the go. With the ability to sync all of the work you’ve done with the cloud, you guarantee that your work won’t get lost or left behind. This allows fluidly moving from any of the devices without loss of progress. With over 80 coding languages and multiple mark-up languages right from the beginning, this program is built to pick up and run with it. With the ability to have multiple tabs, folders in a sidebar, and auto save and versions to make it easier to find and fix problems, this program continues to make great use of the cloud. It is a paid program tho, but with cloud sync and this many features it’s worth it.

You can buy it at the Mac App Store

UltralEditUltra Edit

From the most well know developer-friendly utility makers IDM Computer Solutions comes a program with the ability to edit HTML, PHP, Perl, Python JavaScript and C++. Allowing Colum and block editing, fale and data story, and syntax highlighting for keeping track easily visually, it’s easy to see why this program made the list. With integrated FTP client as well as SSH and telnet support, this program is a gem to use. It does cost money, but with the long list of features and support it’s well worth it to drop the dime for the premium.

You can buy UltraEdit here

If You Have a Suggestion, Let Us Know!

With this long list of gems to use to make powerful code for the Mac, we hope we’ve helped you find a program that will fit your next project and make your coding just a little bit easier. With most of these programs having cross platform ability, it makes it easier to make programs that can be used anywhere. If you know any programs we left off or have any comments about the ones on this list please leave a comment below as we’ll be sure to update our list as needed.

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  • Reply Warren October 22, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    What do you mean by “text editing”? I thought the term applied to software for catching errors in text, such as punctuation, spelling, etc., but it looks like you’re talking about something else.

    • Reply Tyler December 1, 2016 at 7:56 am

      I’m sorry that you’re just now getting a reply, but a text editor is used for coding/programming. It’s like Microsoft Word, but for the use of programmers. It would be useful for making a website or creating a video game, but it would not be useful for something like writing a report.

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