I'm looking for an extremely lightweight text editor that opens almost instantly and uses very little memory on OSX.

I have TextWrangler and Sublime Text, but both of those editors take more than 10 seconds to open. They're great when I want to work on a serious project, but often I want to write or open a small text file while working on a non-programming task. For these, I want to be able to open a text editor within a split-second, write my file, and close the editor again shortly thereafter.

Moreover, Sublime Text, in particular, can slow down my computer when I have several other resource-intensive apps open, such as Chrome and Eclipse.

I want a text editor that won't slow my computer down any more, even when I'm already running a lot of large programs on it.

I want a text editor that shows me my text in black on white as soon as I open the app.

To recap:

  • very fast
  • lightweight
  • low memory

No need for extra features such as syntax highlighting, I'm not going to use it for programming.


5 Answers 5


You can use TextEdit. It is included with all OSX editions, and works perfectly:

  • just edits text
  • opens instantly (it does for me)
  • low memory consumption
  • lightweight
  • shows text in black on white as soon as you open the app
  • free (it's included ;p)

To save, by default as plain text files, check the following links:

  • 1
    Have a look at this article for a few tips on how to make TextEdit even better. May 7, 2015 at 11:37
  • 1
    And "this article" link now 404s, but it is in the Wayback Machine. Still helpful in 2021!
    – Dɑvïd
    Jan 8, 2021 at 10:17

This is an old question, and the accepted answer is still a good one. But there are more options now.

Among these is CotEditor, which meets OP's requirements (all of them!) but also exceeds them for users who would like to personalize their editing environment just a little more than TextEdit allows for.


That's the editor as set up according to OP's wishes, but it does cater for use of themes and lexers — but still loads very, very fast (on my 2015 MacBook, anyway).


I've recently started using "Brackets" on Mac OS, and find it suits my specific needs & usecase well; it takes ~ 5-7 seconds to open on Mac OS 10.12.6 (Sierra) on an old 2011 MBP, 2.5 GHz i7, 16gb RAM.

On a newer machine...


Use Nano/Pico from the terminal. Opens in less than a second and you can use it remotely through SSH.


There is a new editor for OSX which is much different than everything out there. Feather is a "vim-like" editor that can open files instantly with constant memory consumption. You can basically open any file with ~ 10-20MB of memory consumption. Also it comes with some nice features, definitely recommended.

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