Use an advanced text editor on your Mac, free of charge. TextWrangler comes complete with code highlighting for most major languages and a whole lot more – and it’s free. If you even occasionally edit any kind of code – even just HTML – this is worth having around.
This is not a word processor – it offers no styling options whatsoever. This is a free text editor, meaning it handles only plain text . But TextEdit this is not. Text Wrangler provides a number of advanced options, many of which are useful for those who need to occasionally edit code.
If you’re a programmer you probably already have a favorite text editor. You know all about the advanced features they offer, and know exactly how to use them. Most people, however, don’t – and many are still using Microsoft Word to do things a text editor might be better suited for.
But if you’re quickly trying to edit a website built in HTML, a text editor will work better – the code coloring will help you learn what the code is doing. If you’re trying to figure out how to make a few changes to a WordPress template, a text editor is probably better. And if you’re trying to make quick changes to multiple text files simultaneously, a text editor is certainly better. There are times when you simply don’t want formatting, and you do want a program that’s aware code exists.
Learning To Wrangle
I’m not a coder, but I do write all of my articles in HTML because it saves me time while submitting them (also because I’m a freak, but mostly the time saving thing). TextWrangler helps with this because of its built-in highlighting:
With this I can see what is and isn’t inside a given tag at a glance, making it far less likely for me to mess everything up by not closing one properly. This is by no means just for HTML, however – a wide variety of programming languages are supported.
As with most coder-oriented text editors, you’ll see the line numbers on the left.
It’s worth noting that you can use this free text editor to open an entire folder, as opposed to a single file. Do this and you’ll see the complete list of editable files in that folder on the left, in a panel:
Simply click a document to switch from one to another.
Many programs offer find and replace, that supremely useful way to quickly edit the entirety of a document by replacing one word with another. TextWrangler takes this a step further, however, allowing you to find and replace text over not just one but many different documents in one fell swoop. Just click “Command”, “Shift” and “F” to get started:
Once the search is done, you can easily replace every instance of a certain phrase with any other phrase – useful if you’re editing a larger project.
Of course, these aren’t the only tricks TextWrangler offers. You can use the software to compare any two text documents, useful if you’re trying to figure out the difference between them. The default Mac spell checker is supported. Undo and Redo are unlimited. And you can save your finished files in a variety of formats – critical if you’re collaborating with a non-Mac user.
I can’t speak to some of the programming-specific features, so why not check out the TextWrangler tour provided by the designers. It outlines more than I can here.
We’ve outlined more than a few text editors here at MakeUseOf, so let’s go over them just to make sure you’re familar with your options.
Are you looking for another alternative free text editor for Mac? Check out Tincta, a slick new Mac editor, or any of these 3 text editors for OS X. You’ll be glad you did. Windows users should look into Notepad++, which has many users.
Gedit, the default text editor for many Linux distros, is actually pretty freaking great. Sublime Text is cross platform and great for code editors, if you want something that works the same on every system. And if you just want to write in a distraction-free environment, I highly recommend FocusWriter
Bottom line – if you’re a professional developer that edits code constantly, TextWrangler might not be for you. But if you’re one of those people who only occasionally needs to edit a bit of code, or likes having access to as many features as possible, you should probably at least look into BBEdit. Bare Bones, the company that makes both programs, considers BBEdit to be the full version of TextWrangler.
What’s your favorite Mac text editor? Let me know below, or just make fun of my lack of programming knowledge. I can handle it.