Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mac: Alternatives to notepad++ on Mac OS X

For long time I have been working on windows platform sine first time I have touched the computer. Over the time I become in the development environment. After becoming team leader and then Systems Architect, I have reached to the point that I have a certain applications which I familiar with and know all of its features; one of the most interesting nifty notepad applications is Notepad++.

The default Notepad editor comes in very handy to quickly note down some important notes. However, the lack of potential features is realized when you are forced into the situation where you’ve to compare two text files or edit HTML document for instance. In such situations Notepad++ is a more than adequate alternative to native Notepad app.

Notepad++ is an open source project and is completely written in C++ language. Not only does it provide simple text editing option but also wide range of native add-ins and third-party plugins to make it the best Notepad alternative on Windows PC. It has a large swathe of features that makes it a developer's favorite alternative. It includes multi tab document support, easy comparison, syntax highlighting, syntax folding, document map, auto completion, macros support and many others, But how about such functionality on Mac? Is there any Notepad++ for Mac?

Recently (from 4 years) I worked on Linux and Mac, but I admired with Mac and decided to buy a Mac pro laptop, and for sure I searches for the same applications I used to use before on windows, sometimes you find and other you didn't, therefore you should get alternatives.

Since Notepad++ is not available on Mac, I will cover some of the worthy alternatives of Notepad++ for Mac.

  • TextWrangler
    TextWrangler is a powerful and richly featured tool for composing, modifying, and transforming text stored in plain-text files. and in my opinion it is a great alternative Text Editing and Manipulating, Programming, OS Platform Integration and Other Useful Features it has like Notepad++ and even more.

    The following are some of its features but not limited to those, there are more.

    Features of TextWrangler

    • Powerful single and multi-file search & replace
    • Flexible ‘grep’ style pattern-based search and replace based on PCRE (Perl-Compatible Regular Expression)
    • Sort Lines and Process Duplicate Lines commands offer grep pattern support for sorting, extracting, and handling text
    • Find Differences to compare two versions of a text file and merge the differences
    • Support for rectangular text selections
    • Built-in text transformations: Zap Gremlins, Change Case, Entab/Detab, and more
    • Open and save files in a variety of character sets, including Unicode (UTF-8 and UTF-16) files
    • Supports editing of multi-byte and Unicode text
    • Live Search for incremental, in-window searches
    • Open and save files in Mac, Unix, and Windows line-ending formats
    • Integrated support for Mac OS X’s spelling service
    • Hard or soft wrap text however you prefer
    • Quoted text rewrapper
    • Multiple Undo
    • Multiple Clipboards
    • Splittable editing windows
    • Auto-Indent

  • jEdit
    jEdit is written in Java, so it virtually runs on any OS out there including Mac OS. There are already few paid text editors or advanced editors available on Mac, but unlike other jEdit is a free open source project. This is the best alternative available on Mac.

    Features of jEdit
    • Built on Java
    • Unlimited undos/ redos
    • Syntax highlighting for more than 200 languages
    • Auto indent
    • Plugin repository with more than 200 plugins
    • Word wrap
    • Kill ring
    • Open any number of files simultaneously
    • File system browser
    • and more

  • Editra
    Editra, an open source program build using wxWidgets supports major platform like Windows, Mac and Linux. It supports over 60 programming language and has all the features users crave to have in their favorite editor. The project is in early stage of development so you may encounter few hiccups during your journey. Editra is visually appealing editor which comes with icons themes and loads of plugins.

    Editra could be the next big thing in code and text editor segment. Here are some of the features of Editra.

    Editra Features
    • Supports over 60 programming language
    • Syntax highlighting
    • Code folding
    • Auto completion
    • Auto indent
    • Drag and drop feature
    • Export to HTML/LaTeX/ RTF and other formats
    • File history
    • Multilingual interface
    • Undo/ Redo
    • Tabbed windows
    • Plugins supports
    • and more

In my opinion it is arguably the best Notepad++ alternative on Mac. The community is extremely supportive and active.


  1. Mohamed,
    I'm so glad I found this post. I believe I have a very similar situation to you. I have been working on windows for 4 years with Notepad++, Filezilla, and Firefox for web development. I have come to love Notepad++ but I am tired of my computer's short shelf life and bad behavior. I want to buy a Mac so bad just to try it.
    Since you were in a similar situation, I have to ask... Are you happy you went with a Mac? Is it better for you? And if I'm in a very similar situation (because I think I am) do you think I'd be very happy trying a Mac and trying jEdit? Also, what about TextMate? Doesn't that come with mac? And do you like it? Thanks for this post.

    1. Dear Matt,

      I was planing to buy my Mac to learn Unix, specially Mac Unix, and I am an Apple fan, but I decided to learn and by Mac after many experiment on my installed one on virtual machine, specially in development of Java.

      I have found a ported NotePad++ version but working with Editra is similar somehow to notepad++.

      And there is a great app that make windows applications works on parallel as if you are on the mac running the same program, application is "Parallel 5 for mac only"

  2. That is one of my plans as well, to learn UNIX on a Mac. But more importantly, I just want a computer that works solidly and consistently. My PC's always seem to be fast out of the gate and deteriorate quickly.

    Please, let me know: do you love your Mac? Since we seem to have so much in common, if you tell me you are very happy with your decision to buy a Mac, I think I'm going to probably buy one. I have been gun-shy for about 3 years and have come close to buying one but haven't done it.

    1. I was so convenience to buy it, last year when I was in San Francisco speaking at the JavaOne 2012 conference, but when I was at Apple store I have tried it for three days to take the final decision, coz I was comparing the last edition with the final one which have all solid architecture and retina display for the price and performance. I admire with it from its performance as the Mac OS X on Mac machine is totally different from the virtual machine one that I have before.

      They are engineered to work together and it deserve to spend money to buy.

  3. What about TextWrangler? I actually like it better than Notepad++, although it's not open source; only free as in beer.

    1. I have downloaded it, and it is a great alternative to Notepad++ on Mac.

      Thanks Nathan M