I need a very lightweight text editor that will do plain text and hopefully JavaScript syntax highlighting.

The most important thing is that I can avoid any kind of installation, I'd like to run it from a USB stick if possible (I'm not a Mac user, so I don't know if this can be done). If I can't run it from a USB stick, I'd like instructions on how to add/remove it from the USB stick as well as the suggestion itself.

2 Answers 2


First: generally speaking (which is to say, in a majority of cases), applications in OS X are just files with a .app extension*. You can move app files wherever you want, and double click on one to launch it. "Installing" an application usually consists of moving the .app file to the "Applications" folder that's preinstalled on any Mac, but you don't have to move it there. You can place the application wherever you want. I, for example, have all of my games in a special "Games" folder that's separate from "Applications". There is also nothing stopping me from moving an app to an external drive and running it from there.

The point I'm trying to make here is that just about any Mac application can be run from a USB stick. Just drag the .app file to the USB stick to "install" it, and delete it when you're done.

As to a specific recommendation: Check out Sublime Text. It's what I personally use, and it's free (with occasional nags encouraging you to donate). It also does all of the syntax highlighting you'd want for editing Javascript. And while this should apply to the vast majority of Mac applications, I can personally attest that it works fine when run off of an external drive.

Edit: Rereading this answer two years later, there's one caveat I forgot to mention—most Mac applications will save user data to your home folder (and specifically your Library folder) regardless of where they are run. So while almost any Mac application (including Sublime Text) can be "run" from a USB stick, preferences and other user data will still be local to the machine.

*Which are, in turn, actually folders with more files inside of them, but OS X treats them as single files, so let's just pretend they are for simplicity's sake.

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    ". . . however a license must be purchased for continued use." - That isn't quite free. . . Jan 18, 2016 at 17:27
  • I'll accept anyway though, because this is enough info to find what I'm looking for. Jan 18, 2016 at 17:28
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    It works indefinitely without a license. A screen will pop up once every so often telling you that the program isn't registered, but this sounds much more annoying than it is, as it doesn't come up very often. Jan 18, 2016 at 22:38
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    The ethical-ness of doing that is questionable though. Jan 18, 2016 at 22:41

CudaText is the editor which fits. It is open source, free, it has syntax highlight for JavaScript too (and much more).

OSX version don't need installer too, so place .app file to USB stick.


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