I just recently switched from Windows and I must say that as much as I'm satisfied with the whole OS, I'm disappointed by the text editors so far (I've tried TextMate and BBEdit). So I figured I would check specifically into open source editors.

I'm currently checking out MacVim, but are there any other good, maintained text editors for OS X?

closed as not constructive by Mark, Nathan Greenstein Jan 15 '12 at 16:45

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  • You do realize that most of what makes TextMate great in the eyes of its users is, in fact, open source? – Daniel Beck Jan 14 '12 at 12:03
  • I do, but they are things specifically in TextMate's core functionality (key bindings, project management, for example) that I don't like and that I've been unable to adapt to my workflow, even with plugins. – julien_c Jan 14 '12 at 12:08
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    Welcome to Ask Different! "Better", "best", and "good" will be different for everybody. We can't tell you what application to use only based on the criteria "better than x" or "the best" or "good." Please ask again with specific requirements for the app (detailed feature set, where you want it to be strong, etc). Please take a look at the FAQs for more info. Thanks. – Nathan Greenstein Jan 15 '12 at 16:44
  • @NathanGreenstein Thanks. Would "Is there an open source text editor for Mac OS X Lion that's actively in development and has a nice Lion-like UI" work? Unfortunately, I think the answer is no :( – julien_c Jan 16 '12 at 14:07
  • @julien_c That's a good start, but see if you can think of a few more 'killer features' that you want to see. – Nathan Greenstein Jan 16 '12 at 16:10

There is Aquamacs that is a version of Emacs that has been customised to be more OSX like.

Apple supplies the source for TextEdit as an example with Xcode.


emacs for osx is by far my favorite.

But it depends a lot on what you edit. Netbeans and eclipse are both IDEs but have nice support for many kinds of files. Maybe also LibreOffice is worth checking out.



TextWrangler is the “little brother” to BBEdit, leading professional HTML and text editor for the Macintosh.

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    It is not open source just for no cost – Mark Jan 14 '12 at 12:34
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    I like to use the explanations: "free as in beer" and "free as in speech". – gentmatt Jan 14 '12 at 12:49
  • and would behave like BBedit which the OP said he did not want – Mark Jan 14 '12 at 12:49
  • @gentmail and I have no idea what they mean - I do understand what GNU is doing I just do not understand that tagline – Mark Jan 14 '12 at 12:50
  • Yeah, the open source part is important to me (if I'm going to live 10 hours a day in my text editor I want to be able to improve little things myself if I need to). – julien_c Jan 14 '12 at 18:07

One of my favorite is a free one (where you can also donate for a fuller version) and it is also a beautifully designed/ distraction free editor: OmmWriter.

However the best thing possible if you are looking for something with the most functionality and the best compatibility cross-platform would be NeoOffice.



It's not as functional as the version for Linux, but it is open source. Also, it tends to crash a lot in lion...

enter image description here


Smultron 3.5.1

This is the latest version of smultron which is open source. This version does not work on Lion!

The newer version of smultron is sold via the App Store and proprietary. Smultron 4 does work in lion.

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