At its core, a text editor does what it says on the tin: But wait, you say, I already have a way to edit text on my Mac.
However, what separates these tools from a text editor, and what makes a text editor so compelling to a lot of people, is that a text editor removes almost every distraction between you and the text. There are no formatting toolbars, no adjusting the margins — just you and your code or words. Few topics start such heated debates as what makes a good text editor.
1. Sublime Text 3
The problem with declaring any one editor better than another is that every editor we mention today is seemingly infinitely customizable. You can tweak, bolt on, or remove any array of features until any of the following applications fit your workflow perfectly. Additionally, once someone has spent more than a few months using a specific text editor, the muscle memory for certain actions or keyboard shortcuts becomes so second-nature that switching to any other editor can be as difficult and foreign as switching to a new operating system.
That said, a good text editor has to have enough features to be adaptable to your workflow, but not so many that it steers itself toward any one usage. Editing text encompasses a wide range of activities. How do you design an app that will potentially be used by both programmer and screenwriter? Every text editor we look at in this review has design tradeoffs, but at the end of the day, we feel Atom balances modern functionality and interface design in a way that makes it the best starting point for almost any type of user.
I eventually graduated to a giant Dell desktop and later to my first MacBook, but the writing never stopped. Throughout high school, I realized that I enjoyed writing for computers as much as I did for people, and I went to college to later graduate with degrees in both English and computer science. During the day, I work for a software company where my role is a blend of design writing for people and programming writing for computers.
We recognize there are different text editors for different types of work. But neither Ulysses or Byword are built with developers and web designers in mind. Atom is an open-source, cross-platform text editor developed by GitHub, a company that helps other companies host and collaborate on software projects. Find Out More…. Atom makes it easy to navigate and switch between any of the files you currently have open.
As you type, Atom begins filtering down your open files to only the ones that have names matching your keywords. Multiline editing works by letting you quickly select any instances of the word your cursor is currently in. Atom recently launched a feature named Teletype that allows you to share documents with other Atom users via a unique link that allows you to open and edit the document together in real time, a la Google Docs.
This is incredibly powerful and useful for peer reviews, pair programming, and other collaborative exercises, and also skips the step of needing to fire up a teleconference bridge to debug an annoying logic problem or review comments on an article. As I mentioned earlier, all of the text editors in this review are extremely customizable.
You can make any of them do just about anything. The interface for these options is simple enough, but a far cry from how macOS would present similar preferences.
A Collection of the Best Text Editors in 2018
For every checkbox or setting you can change, Atom includes a small bit of copy that explains — in relatively human terms — what that setting will do. More experienced users will appreciate the ability to make these changes, and more novice users are never forced to stare at an intimidating list of oddly-named text files. Packages are small, often community-created, contained bits of functionality that you can add to Atom. There are packages for everything from new themes, to syntax support for obscure programming and markup languages. You can even remove some of the packages that Atom comes preinstalled with.
Want to export the current document to Medium? Need a quick way to translate the current text into another language? No problem. Back in the sidebar, you can click Install to see some current featured packages or themes, as well as a search bar to find new ones. Atom, being open source, has an advantage here compared to other options like Sublime Text or BBEdit.
Even if GitHub were to stop actively developing Atom, the open source nature of the app would probably allow it to live on through collaboration of its users and other contributors. In that sense, Atom is about as future-proof as an app can be. Atom is cross-platform, which means that you can download the app for macOS, Windows, or Linux.
For someone with one computer, this availability might not seem like an important feature, but for anyone who bounces between a few different operating systems, being able to have your tool go with you is invaluable. These apps are then compiled into native containers for macOS, Windows, or Linux.
10 Best Text Editors For Mac
From a development perspective, being able to write once and deploy everywhere is a huge time saver. Because Electron applications are essentially web applications inside a native container, opening an app like Atom is similar to running a small, contained instance of Google Chrome in a separate window.
Without going into the technical details, Electron apps are often criticized for being memory hungry and worse in performance than a truly-native application. For Atom, this means that its performance when opening large text files or handling giant folder directories with many files can lead to UI hiccups or lag.
Atom is a relatively new released in an open-source editor that works for Mac, Windows and Linux. Atom even comes with a built-in tool for creating your own plugins. Like Atom, Visual Studio Code is still relatively new also released in however has been successful in gaining quite a bit of traction since then.
It is built to run cross-platform, has an extensive plugin ecosystem, and comes with a few welcoming features to make life easier including:. VSCode has also shown to be faster than other popular text editors such as Atom.
The Best Mac Text Editors to Use in
Brackets was made with web developers in mind. Consequently, there are versions of Brackets for Linux, Windows and Mac. Plugins provide additional support for things like W3C validation and Python tools. It allows you to open documents in tabs so that you can edit multiple files without having to open and close them. You can also control all the tabs simultaneously to compare documents for differences, search for text and replace text. There are also plenty of plugins you can download to set up auto-save features, merge text from multiple documents and much more.
TextMate is a great text editor exclusively for Mac users. You can code in any programming language, but TextMate also comes with a special tool specifically for building Xcode projects. Even in , developers are still producing new scripts and updates. Vim works on all major platforms. Check out our Vim commands cheatsheet for a complete overview of the Vim commands you need to know.
In addition to tabbed browsing, Komodo Edit offers numerous UI options to make editing as convenient as possible. For example, Focus Mode hides all other open windows so that you can concentrate on coding. Alternatively, you can choose to view folders on the side of the editor.
An underrated but much-appreciated feature is the button that lets you return to your previous cursor location. If you need more advanced functionality like debugging, unit testing and code refactoring, check out. Sublime Text was built from the ground up with a Python API for developers who work with code all day long. Not only is Sublime Text cross-platform, but it utilizes the native functionalities of each OS to optimize speed and ease-of-use. Sublime can be downloaded for evaluation for free however continued use requires the purchase of a license.
Notable premium features include a code cleaner and HTML validation. There is a free version with fewer features, but you can try the full program for free for 21 days.