Home > Articles > Home & Office Computing > Mac OS X

Like this article? We recommend

Text Editors

In this category are the applications that can edit text in a flat ASCII format, provide some syntax highlighting, and handle the basic concepts around a project. Therefore, word processors and text edit need not apply.


TextMate is the current gem of development on OS X. With a very feature-rich macro/scripting system, TextMate has quickly become a favorite of many developers. For Java development, it is capable of compiling individual Java files as well as kicking off Ant build scripts. TextMate includes many pre-installed "bundles" that allow you to display the Java API, expand conditional statements, wrap selections with try/catch blocks, inject logging statements, and a whole host of other features with either a key command or tab trigger. In addition, the developer community around TextMate is very rich, and there are many free bundles to further expand on the included Java bundle.

Unfortunately, TextMate does have some rather annoying issues that can make it frustrating to use. One of the most obvious issues is its poor undo support. If you type a line of code and then press the Undo key command, the entire line is not removed as one would expect. TextMate will instead remove just the last character typed. This makes Undo equal to just pressing the Backspace key. Fortunately, this behavior does not carry over to macro expansion or code injection, but for everyday work it can be quite frustrating.

Another major issue is its poor support for large files and large sets of files. Opening up a very large text file (such as a server log file) in TextMate has a high risk of crashing the application. Likewise, using the excellent built-in regular expression search on a large number of files will have a similar result.

Coming in at €39, TextMate is tied as the second most expensive "text editor" in the list. TextMate is a native application for OS X and therefore runs very quickly on both of the test machines. If you enjoy emacs, then it is a fair bet you will enjoy the macro system in TextMate.


Bare Bones has been around for a very long time. For the longest time, they produced the best text editor available for the Macintosh and had virtually no competitors. Given that, both TextWrangler (their free offering) and BBEdit (the very much not free offering) are extremely mature products. They both offer a high level of customization, a deep set of plug-ins for multiple languages, and high scriptability.

Unfortunately, there are a few negatives. First is the price of BBEdit. At $125, it is the most expensive of the text editors listed in this review. Unless you can find a specific feature in BBEdit that cannot be accomplished in either TextWrangler or in one of the other editors reviewed, it is very hard to justify that price.

The second issue that both BBEdit and TextWrangler suffer from is that they feel dated. The UI has not been kept up to date with OS X, and they are starting to feel more and more like an OS 9 application that needs to be put out to pasture. While some may scoff at the idea that a text editor should look pretty and current, it is a factor when that application is being used all day and sticks out rather badly compared to the rest of the operating system.

Other than those negatives, both of these applications are a strong offering. They are native applications, so are very quick even on the ancient Powerbook. Neither application tries to get in your way while you are coding but they will also not offer much assistance to your Java development.


While SubEthaEdit technically falls into this category, it has some fairly large deficiencies when it comes to Java development when compared against the former two editors. While in the latest release it does have the ability to kick off a build in XCode, it does not have any way to build a Java ant file. In addition, while it does have scripting support similar to XCode, it lacks any formal macro language.

Having said that, it is a fantastic collaboration tool. If you are on a team and either working on the same piece of code or doing a code review, then SubEthaEdit is hard to beat. With the ability to share a document (now securely with the latest version) either on a local network or over the Internet, the collaboration abilities of this editor are simply unmatched.

SubEthaEdit is a native application for OS X and runs very quickly on both machines used in this review. Like the other editors in this category, it does not get in your way while coding but will also do very little to assist your Java-specific needs. SubEthaEdit is also priced at €39.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020