Reconsidering OSX’s Text/Edit

Text/Edit preference pane

NOTE: The first paragraph is a rant about using commercial html editors. Continue to the second paragraph for the meat and potatoes.

As a web designer I prefer to work with a text editor that usually can assist me with the markup (Quanta Plus, BBEdit and the text editor side of Dreamweaver) but I also use plain vanilla text editors as well. I resist becoming dependent on an application like Dreamweaver. In the past I’ve made the mistake of becoming an expert in a specific application rather than understanding the details of what that application was doing. I think web design is a common victim of that evil. Dreamweaver is very powerful, makes complex things easy and from what I can tell is writing pretty good html these days. However, it is proprietary software and you must pay for it. Right now a full version of Dreamweaver is $399. That’s perfectly fine, but if I had $400 to spend, I’d probably buy a ‘newer’ laptop 😉 More importantly, html is available for our uses for free. I like to think of it like a spoken language: It’s a part of our culture, there are different levels of knowledge about it and if you know it well it can be a very powerful tool of communication. No need for a liaison.

Whew, that was a long introduction! Let’s get down to brass tacks:
A lot of people don’t even know what Text/Edit is even though its name is self explanatory. A lot of other people complain about its default rich-text mode and how it saves ‘.rtf’ files. A few others hate that when you open html files it tries to read the html markup and show the appearance of the web page rather than the source (and very poorly at that). Well, this is all true. However it is also true that on the menu bar, under its name, is a link to Text/Edit’s preferences pane (hey, it took me two years to get around to going there). Go there now and apply the following changes:

  • New Document Attributes
    • Check ‘Plain text’
    • For editing html I recommend turning off ‘Wrap to Page’. You can always turn back on via the ‘Format’ menu.
  • Saving
    • Uncheck ‘Append “.txt” extension to plain text files

These changes turn Text/Edit back to a simple text editor that doesn’t interfere with what you are trying to do. Anybody remember SimpleText in OS9? Exactly. Aside from not having html markup assistance capabilities, or even the ability to apply color codes to html markup, Text/Edit works great. Remember that Text/Edit will no longer automatically add an extension to your files. Happy text editing!

2 thoughts on “Reconsidering OSX’s Text/Edit”

Comments are closed.