This article is from the Macintosh application software FAQ, by Elliotte Harold firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Available shareware and freeware text editors that can handle more
than 32K of text include PlainText, McSink, Tex-Edit Plus, BBEdit Lite,
Edit II (with grep style searching), Alpha (particularly nice for
working with TeX files), and vim (for fans of vi). The feature
sets of these editors overlap somewhat but are not identical. Since
all are available via anonymous FTP, there's no reason not to try them
all and find the one you like best. See
I use Rich Siegel's BBEdit Lite for the FAQ because it can word
wrap to a specific number of characters and indent lines with spaces.
(You didn't think I did all this nice formatting by hand, did you?)
It's also a very nice programmer's editor. BBEdit has an extensive
interface for adding custom externals written in Think C so if you
need a feature that's not built-in you can add it. Some others
may also miss a macro language that's easier to use than writing
code externals in C which brings us to my second choice.
Alpha ($30 shareware) is a text editor that includes a full
featured implementation of the tcl scripting language and extensive
search and replace capabilities. Emacs users will feel at home
with this powerful program. It's System 7 dependent.
The other feature conspicuously absent from BBEdit Lite is
soft word wrapping. Many people who need this prefer PlainText,
a freeware editor from that can also handle linefeed and smart
quote conversion as well as a lot of the other annoyances of
Edit II has a grep style multi-file search and replace that's
incredibly useful when your boss tells you he wants to change
the format of the copyright notice in 250 HTML files spread out
over thirteen nested folders.
vim is vi-workalike for the Mac. I don't know why you'd want
to use a twenty-year old modal editor on the Mac, but if you
do you can.
Tom Bender's Tex-Edit Plus straddles the line between a text editor
and a word processor. Unlike the other editors profiled here
Tex-Edit Plus includes extensive support for styled text on the
level of SimpleText as well as support for text beyond SimpleText's
Parmet has ported Emac version 18 to the Mac. See
McSink, $45 shareware, is the original Mac text editor. It became the
commercial Vantage, and the shareware version is showing its age, but
it still mostly works. However unlike most of the other editors
here, it still works with System 6. And it has all the basic
features you're likely to need.