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Basically I want a text editor that is:

  1. Simple in visual design and uncluttered (like Byword)
  2. Powerful and extensible like emacs (with hooks, etc, so I can customize it to my needs). When I say "extensible", I mean the more the better. I don't have a particular hook/extension in mind, but basically the closer to emacs the better. (I think of emacs as being the pinnacle of extensibility.)

I know there's Aquamacs (which meets 2), but Aquamacs looks really ugly and not at all appealing (so doesn't meet 1).

Please make answers detailed! Explain why the text editor you are recommending fits this question. In what ways is it extensible? What nice UI touches does it have?
The goal here isn't to build a list of text editors; it's to compile information about exactly how various text editors are both well-designed and extensible.

  • I'd say the editor being powerful is much more important than looking good, because more power means it can do more things for you, more things can be automated. – Tom Aug 2 '12 at 6:27
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    With Aquamacs/emacs icon bar turned off what is not simple and uncluttered? – user151019 Aug 2 '12 at 23:28
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This might be too obvious, but what about setting up a Terminal window with a font and color scheme you find attractive (some are suggested, but you can customize to your heart's content)

enter image description here

and then run… emacs.

It clearly meets your second criterion (it, by definition, has all the power of emacs), and as for the first, here's a comparison:

enter image description here enter image description here

They look pretty similar. Choose a different font for the Terminal window if you want a better match. The biggest distinction is that Byword allows fonts that are not monospaced, but emacs insists on monospaced fonts.

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My personal favourite is textmate, there are loads of websites out there that detail how to easily customize it, and it's actually very easy. You can download themes and install snippets for code editing in a variety of different languages and the interface is clean and beautiful.

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Sublime Text 2 is actually pretty damn good!

  • Please add detail to this answer or it will be deleted. What are some nice UI touches that ST2 has and in what ways is it extensible? – Nathan Greenstein Aug 2 '12 at 15:04
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In the App Store, you can search for "Text Wrangler": it's the free version of BBEdit.

  • Please add detail to this answer or it will be deleted. What are some nice UI touches that TW has and in what ways is it extensible? – Nathan Greenstein Aug 2 '12 at 15:05
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Chocolat clearly wins on the native UI front. It works a bit like Sublime Text 2 but blends in more beautifully in OS X.

And it has a neat way of adding extras, called Truffles. Most of the extras come directly from github and can be listed and installed with a nice window:

Chocolat Truffles

You have to see if it's still powerful enough for your needs depending on what exactly you want a text editor to extend with.

  • Please add detail to this answer or it will be deleted. What are some nice UI touches that Chocolat has and in what ways is it extensible? – Nathan Greenstein Aug 2 '12 at 15:05

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