I am slowly beginning to fear the worst with Textmate and the impending release of Lion and how stable Textmate might be on it.

So my question is, are there any Textmate alternatives out there that supports the completion feature (Esc key autocompleting) in the same way that Textmate does?

It must be as similar as possible to textmate implementation ideally.


  1. It can autocomplete various language keywords, based on existing language
  2. It can autocomplete nearby words.
  3. It doesn't generate a dropdown showing options, you should just keep pressing the key to cycle through the options.
  • 3
    Haha, question about text editor → one comment about Emacs, one comment about Vim. Seriously though. Now that we mentioned Emacs and Vim, can we leave religion out move on?
    – fnurl
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 10:43
  • 2
    Why would TextMate stop being stable in Lion? Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 21:20
  • 1
    Textmate was released when Tiger was the dominant operating system. Almost 5-6 years ago. There seems to be a lot of changes with how applications can behave in Lion. It might remain how its always been, but this was just an exercise in looking for alternatives.
    – navitronic
    Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 5:23
  • The should just add a few features such as full screen support and it will be fine.
    – Nils
    Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 11:40

7 Answers 7


The Cocoa build of Emacs 23 is very good and has a ton of extensions and virtually limitless scope for customisation.

The learning curve can be a bit steep, but it's well worth the investment in time once you get over the initial hump.

If you are comfortable with TextMate, the Terminal and these sorts of things, you will be fine, http://emacswiki.org is a great resource.

  • 1
    Also for a more OSX feel look at Aquamacs <aquamacs.org>
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 14:52
  • I should also recommend zsh instead of bash as your default terminal shell, you get M-x style commanding in zsh (and a lot of other nice usability features) - especially when you use oh-my-zsh (consider it a starter kit for zsh)
    – ocodo
    Commented Apr 10, 2011 at 0:08
  • 1
    I hate Emacs, it's an outdated dinosaur program. That's one of the reasons why I use a Mac. I could also have Emacs on a Linux box.
    – Nils
    Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 11:38

Sublime Text 2 is proceeding nicely. Reminds me a lot of Textmate

Overview: http://www.sublimetext.com/blog/articles/sublime-text-2-public-alpha

Download for ver. 2: http://www.sublimetext.com/2

  • 1
    Wow, I did not know they were developing a version for OS X! Going to try it out now. Thanks!
    – fnurl
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 19:37
  • Do you know if this supports some kind of completion key?
    – navitronic
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 4:30
  • @navitronic ctrl+space It does generate a dropdown, though (which you can cycle with the shortcut). Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 16:01

My guess is that TextMate will be updated for Lion so you should be just fine. Textmate has paying customers that expect to be able to use in on the latest version of OS X, and I don't see why the developers would risk losing customers by not updating their software.

I would even go so far as to say that the update to Lion might be an ideal time for them to release TextMate 2.0. Admittedly, the release was named in 2009's top ten vaporware by Wired, but then again, so was Starcraft II. Let's cross our fingers because let's face it, TextMate is simply the best.

  • Losing customers is no problem when you have no new products to ship, all updates are free.
    – ocodo
    Commented Apr 10, 2011 at 0:15

Another recommendation for Sublime Text 2 (its in beta, but already more stable for me than Textmate ever was to have switched over to full-time).

It has a similar auto-complete behaviour to Textmate that you mentioned you needed, triggered by the tab key by default. However, it doesn't cycle through the different matches with this key - it actually just selects the best match. As pointed out by koiyu above, if you hit ctrl-space it will open the auto-complete drop-down with all the matches that you can choose from.

More info on its completion behaviour can be found here

Other notable features if you are interested:

  • Sublime Text is highly configurable. Everything from the default key-mappings mentioned for the auto-complete behaviour above, down to the colour of the tabs in the interface can be easily changed by modifying the JSON-format configuration files. A lot of things don't have a pretty GUI at the moment but it was easy enough for me to get in there and tweak everything I could possibly want -- ST is a tweaker's dream.

  • Textmate-compatibility. As an ex-Textmate user, I love that ST is compatible with Textmate snippets, language files and colour schemes. I couldn't find a CMake bundle in Sublime Text by default, so I just copied across the language file from the CMake bundle from Textmate and it worked perfectly.

It's definitely one to watch as development has been rapid.

  • I can't up vote (yet) but HUGE thank you for the recommendation for sublime..so far, the closest to a valid replacement to the aging Textmate….big plus to how many of the shortcuts are Textmate-like and the awesome distraction-free mode.. Now all it needs is SVN support and maybe remote server projects (that would be a bonus over TextMate)…I might just pay for this one when it goes out of beta!
    – TechieGurl
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 15:33

One option is Smultron, which is available from the MacApp Store for 4,99. It offers exactly what you need (really good autocompletion). You find more information on it in the first comment on this post. There is also a free fork of it named Fraise. I didn't try Fraise yet, but it seems to be as good as Smultron.

Another option you have is Vim. But getting to Vim is not easy. If you are coming from TextMate I would recommend MacVim in combination with Janus. It is developed by Ex-TextMate guys that came to Vim and they did a really good job to provide some functionality that TextMate Users love. The Janus Page is btw. a good starting point for a Vim Transition.

  • as of 2011, Smultron is back in active development. While it is kind of a bargain at $4.99 it still costs 4.99 more than Fraise—which I've been using for a while and has the feature set I missed from Notepad++. Features I missed were different from @navitronic's needs, though. Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 11:01
  • Oh, that is really nice! I'm new here, so I can't add three links to my posts - but I will relegate to your comment.
    – moonglum
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 11:09
  • I've always heard good things about Smultron and forgot to mention it. Never heard of Fraise, thanks for bringing this.
    – cregox
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 0:03

TextMate is probably the most awesome mac text editor, so I'm not sure you'll be able to find a better one. It's tagged at around $50 so, if you take that into consideration, there might be another one up to the challange - but I haven't tried it: BBedit costs $39 until October 2011, when it goes up to $49.

Here are two editors I find quite amazing as well:

I trust if none of those 3 satisfy your needs, you're in tough luck. But there are more alternatives.


Vim seems to fit your requirements: http://code.google.com/p/macvim/

  • See this: http://vim.wikia.com/wiki/VimTip91 for dictionary completions
  • Ctrl-N autocompletes with the words in the files currently open
  • It does not generate a drop down menu, but you can add it as an option if you change your mind.

In addition to that it has macros support, syntax highlighting and many extensions.

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