Text editors are not word processors. If you use the former, you know. If you need the latter, check out Bean (it’s the best word processor value on the planet). Text editors are specialized apps for programmers, system administrators, and anyone who mucks around with code.
This one may be the best value ever in a Mac text editor.
Wangling Text For Free
One of my first ever Mac text editors was TextWrangler (from back in the last century), a free little brother to the famous BBEdit text editor.
Back in the day, money was tight, BBEdit was expensive, so going the lite route made plenty of sense.
In one long sentence, this is what you get with TextWrangler. For free.
TextWrangler was created by Mac coders for Mac coders who need plenty of built-in tools to manipulate text, search text, edit text for various program languages, and it comes with scripting support for OS X, AppleScript, as well as FTP and SFTP connectivity and open and save.
That’s a technical mouthful but doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of TextWrangler’s functionality. The latest version brings Lion full screen capability, window edge resizing, and it automatically remembers contents of documents that haven’t been saved.
There are new layouts for editing and browsing. Syntax color schemes are easily switched. Finding an opening documents is simpler.
The biggest visible change comes in the Preferences, which makes customizing TextWrangler easier and more personal.
The Application preferences give you options to handle documents. Editing and Editor Defaults are less complicated and give you basic window size and wrap options along with fonts and characters.
Default settings can be returned with a click.
Menus and Shortcuts are simple to setup. Even printing controls are built-in to Preferences.
The ability to change color schemes is a big plus. Schemes can be saved for General settings, source code by language, and general markup.
Text encodings? Probably more than you’ll ever need. Text Files settings include typical line breaks and backup options.
One issue I don’t care for, but isn’t unique to TextWrangler is the file type hijacking that occurs. Once you use TextWrangler for a specific file type, say PHP, it automatically changes your Mac so TextWrangler becomes the default app for that file type.
I’d prefer a friendlier option, but TextWrangler isn’t alone in hijacking file types.
Overall, this is a highly evolved, better than general purpose text editor good for programmers, web site developers, Unix administrators, or anyone who works with code and needs clean text with powerful, useful tools.
Why is TextWrangler free? Honestly, the business model escapes me. This is a mature, feature-laden app that could easily command a price tag, but it’s free. And it’s available on the Mac App Store so updates are automatic.
If this image of open windows with code and settings bothers you, you probably don’t need a text editor (back to the magic of Bean).
At last count there were over 800 reviews of TextWrangler on the Mac App Store, and the rating average was still five stars.