I am looking for a simple console text editor for OS X to run in a terminal. I have used “Joe” for many years, and it’s very good, but I am looking for one that is simpler.

In particular I would prefer one that uses copy & paste like modern text editors, and allows you to select text with the shift-arrow keys.

Windows has the built-in editor called “Edit”. Something like that would be nice.

  • What do you mean by "console editor"? If you mean an editor that runs in a terminal window, you can always use Emacs. The one bundled with OS X is old but still usable, you can download a newer version from "emacsforosx.com". (However, Emcas might not land in the "simple" section, though.) Oct 13, 2015 at 6:18
  • @Lindydancer I’ve edit the question accordingly. It’s to run in a termminal.
    – Manngo
    Oct 13, 2015 at 6:26
  • The requirement to run in Terminal pretty much excludes any modern conventions like selecting with the shift-arrow keys or interacting with the system clipboard.
    – tripleee
    Oct 13, 2015 at 7:23

1 Answer 1


There are a bunch of editors running in Terminal already installed by default. Some of them come with quite a learning curve though...

  • nano rather easy to use, onscreen help, limited functionality
  • emacs takes some time to get used to, start with the tutorial (type Ctrl-h t)
  • vi/vim takes some time to get used to as well, especially because it's a modal editor, start with the help document (type :help)

And of course there is also Textedit.app. Doesn't run in Terminal but is quite a versatile editor to get started.

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