I've been a fervent user of Textmate for many a year, and I hope to continue to be one. However, the versions feature of OSX seems like a great and easy to use idea.

I'm mostly doing HTML, CSS and PHP, and I am a solo developer. Admittedly, I probably haven't spent enough time trying to work it in, but I've never managed to fit SVN or git into my workflow. However, I recognise their potential usefulness.

So, are there any lightweight text editors suitable for web designers/developers that work with Versions?

Useful features would include:

  • Syntax highlighting
  • A project view/sidebar
  • Auto-indent
  • 4
    Xcode has it's own version control system built in (git), and it's really simple to use
    – user6124
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 10:32
  • That's a neat idea - I never even thought of using Xcode for web development. Does anyone have experience of this? Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 13:58
  • see macmad.org/blog/2010/07/apples-free-html-editor-xcode
    – user6124
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 14:13
  • 1
    Good question but I would also look at source code control e.g. git as that gives a greater ability to find released versions of your code etc
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Jul 26, 2011 at 11:49
  • 2
    Yes, I'm sure that'll come along in TextMate 2. Which is probably out soon. Right? Commented Jul 28, 2011 at 16:34

8 Answers 8


TexShop, the Latex editor, now supports Lion versions. It is not a general Text Editor but can be used as such and supports many of the features you requested.


  • ...and it was made by my dear friend Dick Koch, a great guy who's been in the Macintosh development game since 1984 and has won a few Apple design awards along the way.
    – Richard
    Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 23:39
  • Yes - he has done great work with this. :-)
    – dan8394
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 11:05

Aptana is geared towards web development (html, javascript, css, php, ...) . It's based on Eclipse, which has build-in automatic version history, so I guess Aptana has it too.

Using the version feature (to either replace or compare the current version) is as easy as right-clicking a file (see image)

enter image description here


  • It's free
  • has syntax highlighting, sidebar, auto-indent and many more.
  • cross-platform (should you ever switch)

Possible cons:

  • Probably not using Lion's versioning
  • Not exactly lightweight
  • Really targeted for web development, so less of a general text editor.


Really promising upcoming editor with super slick look, impressive features and a TextMate-like bundle system.

Lion features (enabled in preferences):

  • Full screen
  • Versions
  • Autosave

Currently in public alpha.


TextEdit comes with Lion so it should incorporate Versions, if you use TextEdit make sure you save with the correct file format (Especially if you want to open the files on windows)

  • Thanks for the answer Samantha, and you're technically correct. However, I should've been more specific - I'm looking for an editor that supports code highlighting, auto-indenting, and other basic features that web designers and programmers need. I'll update the question to add more clarity. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 13:55

The only one I'm aware of right now is Smultron on the Mac App Store. Here's the developers page about the app http://www.peterborgapps.com/smultron/

  • I had actually bought this in a fit of excitement/mild nostalgia, but unfortunately it's severely crippled in the new version. Opening multiple files displays them all in separate windows. There's a tab bar of sorts, but it's useless if you're working on a project that takes more than 1 or 2 documents. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 17:29
  • That's a pity you don't like the interface, since you've bought it though it might be good to let the developer know what you'd like changed and maybe you'll see an improvement in an update. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 17:40
  • Huh, good timing. I'd asked him a while ago and he just responded. He said: "There is a chance. We'll just have to wait and see..." But I want it now! It's a good little editor, especially for the price, but for now it can't be recommended. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 18:14


NeoOffice 3.2.1 Beta adds Apple's new Versions, Full-Screen mode, and Resume features for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion users

Whilst text editing is within the feature set of NeoOffice, I don't know whether it's ideal for web development.

I do regularly use NeoOffice for editing HTML, but do not imagine that it's compliant with any particular set of standards relating to HTML or HTML5.

  • I have used NeoOffice for almost eight years. It is free but donations are appreciated. I make a small new donation with each major new version. Right now the 3.2.1 beta is only available to those who have donated a certain amount of money in the last 12 months. 3.2.1 will be available without a donation a couple of months after the full 3.2.1 version is released. Read the details here: neooffice.org/neojava/en/…
    – user9290
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 0:52

Taco HTML Edit is designed to simplify the process of creating attractive web sites that render correctly in various browsers.
Taco HTML Edit includes tag wizards, which generate HTML markup for you.
Taco HTML Edit also helps find errors in your HTML markup, and it can even check spelling in your documents. For those people who use PHP scripts in their development, Taco HTML Edit includes tools for PHP management.

OS X Lion Features
For OS X Lion users, Taco HTML Edit has support for Autosave, Resume, Versions, and Full Screen.


I strongly recommend avoiding opening any kind of markup in TextEdit (programming languages might be okay, though it's still a lousy tool for the job). It tries to display .html files as rich text, which implicitly turns the document into an RTF (silent conversion). If you then try to convert it to plain text, hoping it'll let you see the markup, you'll be disappointed to discover it just converts the RTF into plain text. At that point, if you decide to 'undo' that, the .rtf file will now silently replace your original .html file, which is now permanently destroyed. Hope you have a backup in Time Machine or elsewhere, because you're not getting it back through the built-in versioning system. (At least, this is how it works in Mountain Lion (10.8.1). I'm decribing the exact scenario I just went through when trying to use TextEdit to see older versions of a document, since BBEdit doesn't support Lion / Mountain Lion's versioning system.)

There is actually a setting that makes TextEdit usable for viewing HTML documents. In the preferences, under "Open and Save", make sure "Display HTML files as HTML code instead of formatted text" is checked. Once you've done that, the issue I just described won't occur. The problem is that it's off by default, which is why I feel it's safer to just avoid TextEdit altogether.

  • Thanks for explaining why TextEdit isn't the tool for the job. Having to think too hard about versions and having formats changed from under you and unintended consequences are no fun when managing code. A light touch is preferred especially when code control and SCM are in play in most development environments that merit a dedicated editor.
    – bmike
    Commented Aug 28, 2012 at 22:22

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