All purpose text editor for the mac?
January 30, 2005 8:48 PM   Subscribe

All purpose text editor for the mac?

I know there's a lot of info on here already about mac software. However, I can't seem to quite find an answer to this question.

I'd very familiar with windows options, but I may be using a mac very soon. What text program would be best for writing simple letters, a little html for a homepage visited by all 3 of my family members, keeping a few lists, etc.

A little bit of everything. I'm guessing bbedit and it's price tag is a little over kill. Any suggestions?
posted by Dennis Murphy to Computers & Internet (20 answers total)
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:53 PM on January 30, 2005

You aren't asking for much. Just about any text editor will do.

OS X comes with a perfectly usable simple text editor (TextEdit). Think of it as similar to WordPad.

Or use the free offshoot of BBEdit, TextWrangler. Or emacs or vi/vim on the command line. Or SubEthaEdit. Or several others.
posted by xil at 8:54 PM on January 30, 2005

jEdit, maybe has more than what you need, but if you are considering bbedit then it may be what you are looking for.
posted by quam at 9:02 PM on January 30, 2005

Thanks everyone. I'm going to use textedit first, and I'm aware of textwragler and SubEthaEdit (I've used jedit on windows).

I guess I was curious if anyone found one to be better than the other. And rethinking the question you're probably right xil, with what I need it for anything would probably do, but I'm only going to be on it for a month or so. I was hoping to knock out the trial period.

I'll probably try textwrangler and subethaedit and make a decision. They both look nice.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 9:08 PM on January 30, 2005

I like Smultron, but I'm not a power user or anything.

Take a look at text.editor.addicts.txt, an article from Nov. 2004 on O'Reilly's MacDevCenter for a good rundown of the options open to you.

Textedit sucks for HTML--I believe it will only save in RTF...[checking]...actually RTF or Word format. Yuck.
posted by bevedog at 9:18 PM on January 30, 2005

TextEdit'll only save WYSIWYG HTML as RTF, but you can set it to ignore HTML tags and read the files as plain text.
posted by Utilitaritron at 9:40 PM on January 30, 2005

Textedit saves in plain text just fine. Under preferences, one needs to select the "Plain text" attribute for a new document. This is not hugely obvious. It's the text editor I use for similar tasks.
posted by stet at 9:44 PM on January 30, 2005

TextEdit is plenty adequate for these modest needs. It does write to either plain text or RTF format, and reads more formats including .doc (Word).

BBEdit is excellent, but you're right that it's overkill for what you're describing. In addition to the ones xil mentioned, there's skEdit ($20 shareware).
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:52 PM on January 30, 2005

I was going to ask a related question that maybe I can tack onto this one? I need to read a lot of plain text on OS X. Is there an app geared for the reader? (e.g. customizable fonts, screen background, page-like format?)
posted by vacapinta at 10:25 PM on January 30, 2005

I swear by BBEdit, really i do.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 10:54 PM on January 30, 2005

Thanks everyone. I really do appreciate it. I also found two threads in ask metafilter that I missed in previous searches.

And I'm sure bbedit is great, but the price and learning curve are just out of my league for my needs.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 11:25 PM on January 30, 2005

OpenOffice is free open-source "office productivity software" for *nix that runs on the Mac. It has a good, basic WYSIWYG editor. It has an MS-Office-compatible word-processing component, an MS-Excel-compatible spreadsheet component, etc., etc. And it's FREE. And if you install Start OpenOffice, you can start it from the dock.

Also, remember that TextEdit isn't the only text editor that comes with OS X—open Terminal and type "vi". Hit return. Voilá.
posted by bricoleur at 1:59 AM on January 31, 2005

I swear by BBEdit, really i do.

I do also, and TextWrangler is the freebie version of BBEdit which, for what I need [html tagging, writing stylesheets, writing letters] does all the same stuff. It's also a little easier to learn. You can mess with font colors and sizes but I don't know if it does a page-like format thing like you're looking for vacapinta.
posted by jessamyn at 3:46 AM on January 31, 2005

vacapinta, you need Tofu
posted by bonaldi at 5:53 AM on January 31, 2005

In addition to vi, there's also vim, emacs, and I think as part of a default install (or perhaps via fink) even pico.

PS: (PowerBookFilter ahoy) speedbumped PowerBooks announced today! Woo-hoo!
posted by kimota at 5:54 AM on January 31, 2005

even pico

I take perverse pride in using pico sometimes at work, where it annoys the UNIX sysadmin that I'm cool enough to use the command line, yet not cool enough to use vi.
posted by mkultra at 6:42 AM on January 31, 2005

MacVim is nice, but probably a bit heavy duty for your needs.

SubEthaEdit is primarily touted as a multiplayer text editor, but the single-player experience is not bad at all, and it does do handy stuff like syntax coloring. This is what I have been using for generic text work lately, just for a change of pace.

I've heard good things about Smultron, but not yet tried it.

BBEdit has many fans, but I'm not among them. The look & feel is just subtly wrong somehow. I suppose if you're used to it from the Bad Old Macintosh Days, you'll like the current versions.
posted by majick at 7:03 AM on January 31, 2005

I've love something like TextMate, if it could only work with vi keybindings. I've used vi so long that I can't really function well in any editor that doesn't use the same keybindings.
posted by mrbill at 10:12 AM on January 31, 2005

Tex-Edit is the one. As simple or as complex as you want it to be.
posted by TiredStarling at 10:51 AM on January 31, 2005

vacapinta, you need Tofu
posted by bonaldi at 5:53 AM PST on January 31

Thanks bonaldi! That is, indeed, exactly what i needed,
posted by vacapinta at 1:22 PM on January 31, 2005

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