A computer’s operating system and programming languages or frameworks dictate some of the requirements of a code editor. But before we get to discussing the various OS and free code editors for mac, let’s take a look at what makes an editor good in general. The features that define an editor as good, regardless of OS or language, are:
1) Fast editing speed 2) Intuitive UI 3) Short learning curve 4) Free
We’ve interviewed some developers for their picks on what they believe to be the best editors out there. Here are our top 12 code editors for Mac (based on these considerations):
- Sublime Text
- Visual Studio Code
- Netbeans IDE
- Eclipse PDT
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Best Free Code Editors For Mac
Atom is a text editor by GitHub. The one thing that sets Atom apart from other text editors is its extremely small memory footprint. This allows Atom to be the ideal choice for desktop OS X and Linux users who don’t want to be burdened by large file sizes as a result of large code-size files.
Atom also makes use of multiple CPU cores and is optimized for multicore CPUs. atom is built with web technologies so it can be used in any environment. It’s pretty and free, so why not?
Atom is a free, open source text editor developed by GitHub available for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux operating systems. It comes with support for many languages like CoffeeScript, CSS3, ERB, Haml, Jade. Less. Sass.
Sublime Text is one of the most widely used text editors amongst developers. Although it’s not open source, Sublime Text is a feature-rich and efficient code editor, especially when compared to its competition. The highlighting and auto completion features are top notch as well as the functionality it provides for working with Git repositories.
Visual Studio Code
It also comes with multiple color themes that can be upgraded for more customization options. Features such as snippets and snippets explorer allow developers to save small bits of code commonly used in their applications or websites.
Visual Studio Code can work across multiple operating systems including Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows, and includes support for Git repositories so it has the ability to edit projects stored on Github or other hosted Git repositories.
Notepad++ is a free, open source editor that has support for multiple languages. The editor is easy to use and has a simple UI that’s great for beginners. Its biggest selling point though is its speed. Notepad++ comes with syntax highlighting and autocompletion capabilities so it’s perfect for quick edits and fixes.
- It is free, open source and works on Windows, Mac and Linux (yes, even in the terminal).
- It doesn’t require any setup or installation.
- It’s lightweight.
- The interface is simple and doesn’t clutter your view of the code.
- You can use it to work with XML files as well as HTML files that have both inline CSS stylesheet and external stylesheets (a rare feature in text editors).
- It comes with a basic set of features that are useful enough for everyday programming tasks. Its spell checker isn’t intrusive at all when you’re coding.
It is slow if you use large projects with it (say 500+ files).
Netbeans IDE is a free, open source code editor similar to Eclipse. Users of Netbeans IDE will find that it’s a great choice for Java development. Although it’s not as popular as IDEs like Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, and NetBeans Platform, it does have its own set of advantages.
- It is free (which also means it is open source).
- You can use it to edit any type of file (it has support for HTML and XML files).
- It comes with some basic debugging and unit testing capabilities.
- It also comes with support for version control systems like Git so you can edit projects directly in Git repositories hosted on Github or other hosting providers.
- Netbeans IDE is a popular IDE among students and educators.
- If you’re looking for an affordable IDE to get started with Java development, Netbeans might just be the thing for you.
- It has a steep learning curve which makes it a bad choice for beginners.
- It’s not particularly fast.
A very powerful editor, with many useful things like a multi-language spell-checker, auto-completion, code coloring, syntax highlighting (which is off by default for configuration files), support for a huge number of file formats, and file comparison.
- It comes with an auto-completion feature which helps you focus more on the task at hand and prevents you from getting lost in doing things the wrong way.
- It is lightweight.
- Its syntax highlighting is very powerful.
- It’s cross platform, so it can be used on Windows, Linux, Mac and in the terminal (as well as iOS)
It has a steep learning curve.
A free and open source code editor for mac and Unix-like systems that supports many different file formats including XHTML, XML, and plain text files with SQL syntax highlighting.
It has a simple user interface that allows users to work in multiple folders at once (something unusual for a text editor).
- It is flexible and powerful. It comes with syntax highlighting and support for a number of file formats including XML, SQL and CSS.
- It has an auto-completion feature that makes it easier for users to work with long lines of code or even create their own shortcuts.
- It is hard to use for people new to editing text on Unix-like systems.
An IDE is a software application designed to help software developers write computer programs. It is an integrated development environment, which typically includes a text editor, compiler, debugger, and linker components.
- It is open source and can be used on any platform and in the terminal.
- It has a light of features which makes it a good choice as an IDE for beginners and professional developers alike.
- It doesn’t come with auto-completion or code coloring, so users are forced to use external tools to get the most out of Eclipse.
Light-weight text editor with a minimalistic UI, but requires knowledge of the command line and can’t be used by those new to command line usage.
It is a feature-packed text editor. It is designed to be simple and easy to use, but it still has lots of features, including syntax highlighting and code folding.
- It is very lightweight so that it doesn’t fill up your whole screen which makes it perfect for users who want a nice looking text editor while they are programming.
- You can use different themes in Kate so that you can change the appearance of the UI according to your tastes.
Kate comes with a steep learning curve so it’s not suitable for beginners.
The program is a very powerful IDE, with an easy-to-use GUI.
It unfortunately has not been made open source for Linux or Mac users, although the source code for the program is freely available.
Users of Mac OS X will find the program particularly useful.
- It has an auto-completion feature that makes it easier for users to work with long lines of code or create their own shortcuts.
- It comes with debugging and unit testing tools so you can easily pinpoint issues in your code and correct them.
- It has support for version control systems like Git so if you’re using git to store your projects, you can manage them directly from Xcode’s interface.
It is only available for Mac OS users.
There are many choices when it comes to choosing code editors for mac, and the list above shows only some of the more popular ones.
A word of warning before you choose a text editor: Don’t chose a bloated IDE that comes with every feature under the sun.
The point of using an IDE is to keep your attention focused on the code you’re writing; so therefore do not chose one with a very complicated UI or lots of options for things you don’t need or won’t use.
Let your programmer instincts guide you and choose whichever text editor feels right to you.
There are some better editors that were mentioned above, but the ones chosen above are more popular. If you don’t like any of them make sure to check out more resources online.