June 16, 2024

A Complete Guide to the Best Text Editors for Mac

Did you know that in 1965, one study speculated the creation of 700 programming languages? The paper was from none other than the computer science genius Peter Landin.

Fast forward to modern times, and only about a third of Landin’s projected number came out. Today’s computer science experts say that there are only over 250 programming languages.

However, one thing has been consistent over the years: the use of text editors for programming.

Now that you want to become a programmer yourself, you may be wondering what the best text editors for Mac are.

Lucky you, as that’s exactly what we’ll divulge in this guide. Read on to discover some of the best text editors for Mac, some of which are free!

The Native TextEdit

All new Macs come with a simple but feature-rich text editor called “TextEdit.” As a pre-installed program, it’s a 100% genuine, Apple-developed text editor.

Some experts say that you can use TextEdit for about 80% to 90% of the activities you need a word processor for. Most importantly, it’s one of the free text editors guaranteed to be free for life on Macs. 

What TextEdit Can Do

TextEdit allows you to open and edit plain and rich text documents, even those made in other apps. It can display Microsoft Word and OpenOffice files and renders them editable. Plus, you can save these documents in a different format once you’re done editing them.

The native Mac text editor also enables you to write and edit HTML codes. When you open an HTML document, you can have TextEdit display it in coding language. From here, you can edit the codes as you need to, without the need for additional software.

TextEdit also lets you “mark up” images, which means you can write, draw, or add multimedia to a document. You can even have your Mac read your documents aloud using this app!

What TextEdit Can’t Do

Unlike advanced text editors, TextEdit has limited sharing and collaborative features. While it does let you add or mark up images and multimedia, it lacks the ability to create graphs and tables. It’s a great tool for basic text editing and processing, but you need a more robust app for advanced tasks.

Apple Pages

The “Pages” word processor is part of Apple’s native iWork productivity suite. Before 2013, however, the full iWork platform used to have a retail price of $79. In October 2013, Apple decided to offer it for free to all iOS owners.

Since then, the Pages word processing tool has become a pre-installed app in all new Macs. If you have an older Apple computer that came out before the free release, you can download Pages for free.

What Pages Can Do

As a word processor, you can do pretty much anything on Pages that you can do with Microsoft Word. It lets you create, edit, and format new text- and media-based documents. You can choose from over 70 Apple-designed templates, but you can always start with a fresh canvas.

As a robust word processing tool, Pages also checks your spelling and grammar. It also features a thesaurus that lets you look up words via the shortcut menu.

The tables, charts, and shapes you can’t create in TextEdit are all doable in Pages. You can also insert links and even add a sketch with an iPhone synced to your Mac. Moreover, you can do edits offline, all of which automatically get updated once you go online.

Apple Pages is also collaborative, letting you work on the same document with others. You simply have to invite your collaborators by clicking the “Collaborate” button.

What Pages Can’t Do

While robust, Pages can’t export documents into HTML formats for Web page use. However, you can export files to plain text, ePub, and even PDF.

Apple Pages also doesn’t come with a built-in mail merge function. However, you can use AppleScript to create a custom script to perform mail merges with Pages.

Another Pages limitation is it’s very basic Find & Replace functionality. This lets you search and change words, phrases, characters, and numbers in a document. However, you can’t do the same for special characters and styles.

Sublime Text 3

Sublime Text 3 is a text editor that runs a Python application programming interface (API). It delivers native support for many programming and markup languages. It’s also customizable with plug-ins and many other add-on functions.

What Sublime Text 3 Can Do

If you need a text editor with supreme “find and replace” features, Sublime Text 3 is a great option. Its “Goto Anything” functionality lets you jump straight to any text, line, or symbol. Yes, even those special characters that Pages can’t locate for you.

Moreover, Sublime Text 3 does a great job when it comes to syntax highlighting and folding. It features “Split Layouts,” which gives you a way to arrange files in multiple split screens. It also boasts a tab-switching functionality, so you can navigate and jump from one tab to another.

Any Drawback at All?

Considering how robust Sublime Text 3 is, you need to prepare to shell out at least $80 for it. That’s the starting price for personal use, while it’s $65 a seat per year for the first 10 seats for businesses. So, if you need 5 seats for 12 months, your total bill will come up to $325 a year.

CodeRunner Text Editor and IDE

If you’re looking for a Notepad++ Mac alternative, CodeRunner is an awesome way to go. It’s one of the best text editors for Mac because its design is explicitly for Macs. So, if Notepad++ is exclusive on Windows, CodeRunner is a direct substitute for Macs.

What CodeRunner Can Do

CodeRunner provides out-of-the-box support for 25 programming languages. Some of these include AppleScript, HTML, Java, JavaScript, Objective-C, Python, and PHP. You can also configure it to run other languages by simply keying in their terminal command.

As an integrated development environment (IDE), CodeRunner has an incredible IDE code completion. For example, it enables completions quickly by using intelligent typed text matching. It also makes locating the right completion a breeze with its search algorithm.

Support is also available for breakpoints, debugging, themes, and automatic indentation. It also has a file and symbol navigator that competes with that of Sublime Text 3. Plus, CodeRunner’s intuitive interface makes it a great starting point for beginners.

What’s Not to Like?

Like Sublime Text 3, CodeRunner isn’t free on Mac, with a starting price of $19.99 per personal license. A site license is available for $12.99 per computer, but the minimum is for five computers. This is still cheaper than Sublime, but it does have fewer features than the pricier text editor.

Try These Text Editors for Mac Today

There you have it, your ultimate guide on some of the best text editors for Mac. It’s a smart idea to try out TextEdit and Pages first, seeing as these are free (and likely already on your computer). If you find them lacking, then consider going for the paid Sublime or CodeRunner.

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