Type Different: Text Editors for the Mac

Everyone who uses a Mac types words; sometimes in an email app, other times on Facebook, and often in a word processor. You may write in the ubiquitous Microsoft Word, or in Apple’s Pages, which is provided free on your Mac. You may even use a different word processor–there are several options available.

You may recall that Microsoft announced the end of support for Office 2011, and if you don’t use the app often, you may not want to pay a monthly subscription fee for Office 365. And Pages may be too complex for what you write. While it’s easy to use, it has a lot of features that can get in the way if you just want to write something simple.

Many people have shifted to using text editors to write on their Macs. These are apps that generally don’t offer any formatting, just plain text. They free you from the hassle of styles and fonts and let you focus on what you write. Instead of working around a complex app that wants to do more than you need, a text editor lets you focus on writing text.

In this article, you’ll learn why you might want to use a text editor for the Mac, and I’ll even recommend some favorite apps for you to try.

Read the rest of the article on the Mac Security Blog.

MarsEdit 4, the Ultimate Blogging Tool

Red Sweater Software has just released MarsEdit 4, the ultimate blogging tool. I’ve been using MarsEdit since the previous version was released, back in 2010. (Yes, it’s been seven years since there was a major update…) Just about everything I write for this site – and other blogs I manage – is written in MarsEdit.

It’s got great features for blogging. You can set any font you want in the editor, and use your own blog’s theme for previews. You can write with your HTML code visible, or you can use a rich text editor. It works great with WordPress – which is what I use for blogs – handling some of the unique features, such as post formats, featured images, and more. It can download and store a full archive of your blogs, so you always have the text of your articles handy. And it makes adding images to your articles easy, letting you choose the alignment, size, and even handling retina images correctly.

In addition, the great Safari extension lets you select text from an article on a website and open a new post in MarsEdit; that’s how I create posts here where I quote an article.

I’ve been using MarsEdit 4 for nearly a year, in alpha and beta versions, and it’s the best tool available for blogging on the Mac.

MarsEdit 4 costs $50, with a half-price upgrade available for users of MarsEdit 3. If you blog, you should be using MarsEdit. Get it now from Red Sweater Software, or from the Mac App Store.

BBEdit Turns 12

The venerable text editor BBEdit, which has been a staple for many Mac users for 25 years, had just reached version 12. This major update, the first in three years, ensures compatibility with macOS High Sierra, and adds some interesting features, such as the ability to cut, copy, and remove text in columns (delimited by tabs, commas, etc.), a Canonize feature, to perform massive text replacements from a word list, and new display options, including an improved dark theme, something the kids like. (My aging eyes don’t work well with dark themes.)

BBEdit is the tool I use whenever I work on code, or large text files. It’s a powerful text editor that doesn’t suck. If you use it regularly, update now; if not, you should try it out. It costs $50, with upgrades for $30 or $40 depending on how long you’ve owned a previous version.

Get BBEdit.

iA Writer 5: From Raw to Cooked to Sushi — iA

“Technology evolves from raw, to complex, to simple. From the fist, to the hand axe, to the hammer. From carts, to the Model T, to self-driving cars. From switchboard-operated phones to digital phones to smartphones. From SMS to Facebook to Messenger. From the crude to the cooked to Sushi. After seven years of development, where on this trajectory is iA Writer?”

iA Writer is my text editor of choice on the Mac. I use it for most of my writing. (I also use Scrivener, MarsEdit, and Nisus Writer Pro, which are each used for specific types of projects.) They’ve gone from simple to complex back to simple, and it remains the easiest text editor for writing (i.e., not for working with code), and one of the most attractive to use.

In this article, the people at Information Architects discuss their design philosophy, and how important it is to keep things simple. There’s a constant give and take between simplicity and features that users want, but Information Architects has managed to keep their app one of the clearest, easiest to use text editors for Mac.

Source: iA Writer 5: From Raw to Cooked to Sushi — iA

Bare Bones to Retire TextWrangler, Offer Free Basic Features in BBEdit

Bare Bones, the maker of the great text editors BBEdit and TextWrangler, is planning to retire the free TextWrangler, and make BBEdit free for basic features.

… last July, we released BBEdit 11.6. You can use this version unlicensed, forever, for free. Without a license, BBEdit now includes all of the features that TextWrangler offers, plus quite a few others. That’s right. You no longer have to pick between them.

If this sounds like TextWrangler will eventually be sunsetted, you’re right; it will. While the next version of macOS hasn’t even been announced yet, when it ships, TextWrangler won’t be updated for it–but BBEdit will. You could keep using TextWrangler, but why?

Try BBEdit out for 30 days, after which you can still use its text editing capabilities for as long as you’d like. If later you decide you need one of the exclusive features or one of the authoring tools, you can buy a license from directly within BBEdit.

It makes sense. They don’t need to maintain two separate apps when one can provide both the basic, free functionality, and the more powerful features with the purchase of a license. If you need a powerful text editor, get BBEdit.

App Review: iA Writer 3, a Text Editor for Focused Writing

When Information Architects released their Mac app iA Writer nearly five years ago, it was one of the first distraction-free text editors. When I did a round-up of text editors in 2014, iA Writer was my top choice because of its simplicity.

Information Architects later released Writer Pro, an app that I found confusing, and that I felt contained some needless features. The company has now backtracked, returning the app to its minimalist origins, with iA Writer 3 (Mac App Store link), which restores the simplicity of the original app while retaining some of the additional features of Writer Pro.

Read the rest of the article on Macworld.

App Review: Ulysses for iPad, a Markdown Text Editor and Document Manager

Last year, I reviewed Ulysses III for OS X, explaining that it “is much more than just a Markdown editor […] as it includes a good number of organizational features.” Since then, The Soulmen, the app’s developer, has updated the OS X app to version 2, and introduced an iPad app. The $20 Ulysses for iPad attempts to reproduce the OS X experience–interface and features–on an iPad, and does so quite well.

I prefer using apps that have both iOS and OS X versions: I find it makes my computing experience smoother if I shift between devices. If you feel that way, you know that the iOS version of your favorite app can’t be an exact copy of the OS X version, but you want it to be as close as possible. The Soulmen previously released an iPhone app called Daedalus Touch, which offers some compatibility with Ulysses, but does so in a confusing manner. Ulysses for iPad, however, is nearly a mirror image of the OS X app, allowing you to smoothly switch from one to the other.

Read the rest of the review on Macworld.

What Are the Best “Focused-Writing” Apps for OS X?

I wrote an article a while ago about The Tools I Use: Writing and Text Apps, discussing the different apps that are part of my writing toolbox.

In my latest Macworld article, I look at several “focused-writing” apps for OS X. “These apps, increasingly popular of late, allow you to write in a focused environment, export your writings to various formats, possibly apply basic styling, and let you print your work.”

I have tested many of these over the years, and, while my choices may not match yours, it’s worth looking at what’s available. I picked several that I like a lot, and it’s safe to say that there’s no shortage of excellent apps in this category for OS X.