Overwhelmingly, the reason I turn to my computer instead of using my phone with an external keyboard and the reason I gave up using an iPad is to be able to use BBEdit. Is there a reasonably full-featured text editor for iOS so that reshaping a chunk of text, whether it is code or data or my grocery list doesn't make me boot my MacBook Pro?

Critical features:

  • Great PCRE (Perl-Compatible Regular Expression) search and replace (with long history) (and keyboard shortcuts equivalent to bbedit's ⌘F and ⌘G)
  • The ability to write and easily apply Perl (language negotiable, but that's my default) text filters – even better if I can bind keyboard shortcuts to user-written filters
  • Syntax highlighting for a variety of useful languages and ability to define others
  • Pressing return gives next line with same tab indentation
  • Easy indent/outdent lines or blocks (like ⌘[, ⌘])
  • Great visualization of balanced brackets, parens, etc.
  • Great folding (on brackets, parens, etc., AND manually)
  • Ability to turn on and off soft wrapped text
  • save and load from ftp server
  • Preview HTML in Safari (or a WebView within the app)
  • I voted to leave open because it its clear and concise as to what you’re looking for in a software rec. But (personal question), for iPhone/iPad? I can barely keep autocorrect from driving me up a wall! I wish i knew how folks developed on an iDevice! ;-)
    – Allan
    May 3, 2020 at 18:07
  • @Allan I don't, but being able to edit text files remotely without going crazy sure seems like a great use case for an iPad, and for the life of me I can't figure out why when there are so many great text editors for Mac there still isn't a great one for iOS.
    – Daniel
    May 3, 2020 at 18:11
  • 2
    Define "great text editor" :-) Yes, I know you just did but what you described is a code editor for developers. There are great text editors on iOS but their main audience is people writing texts in Markdown (even Editorial, despite Python etc.)
    – nohillside
    May 3, 2020 at 19:27
  • More often than not my use case is reshaping various forms of text with metadata, not code per se. Taking exam questions and massaging them to fit a learning management system's input expectations. Taking text from a website (or that I write), escaping entities, and putting it into a CSV database. Etc. I'm not really a programmer, except the occasional JavaScript and Perl to accomplish my own tasks.
    – Daniel
    May 3, 2020 at 19:30

1 Answer 1


The iOS Text Editor roundup is an interactive table with about 70 current text editors for iPad and/or iPhone. You may click on the features you desire at the top of the table and only the editors that have your selected features will be displayed. The table also lists the cost of each editor. If you don't see the feature you're looking for, download a free editor from your list and give it a try.

  • thanks! I'm familiar with that table, but while it doesn't include in its columns most of the features I'm looking for (PCRE search/replace, filters, indentation preservation, etc)
    – Daniel
    May 3, 2020 at 17:47
  • but its a starting point. you can start with regular search and replace feature to narrow the 70 down to 20. maybe then another feature will narrow it down either further. btw, what is PRCE search and replace.
    – Natsfan
    May 3, 2020 at 17:51
  • 1
    Perl Compatible Regular Expression
    – Daniel
    May 3, 2020 at 17:53
  • I do not see one app on that list that supports all the critical features presented in the OP. May 3, 2020 at 17:57
  • 1
    the amount of effort put into an app is probably proportional to its cost. Many of these editors are 3-4 dollars or less. Many people refuse to pay $20 or more for an iPhone app.
    – Natsfan
    May 3, 2020 at 18:30

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