I recently received a Mac (running OS X) and I was wondering if there was a Notepad++ equivalent for it. When I used a Windows computer I always liked using Notepad++ for my programming. Is there anything like Notepad++ but for Mac?

I am looking for a simple, free and fast text editor that is has good programming features such as highlighting errors, colour-coding keywords and variable names differently, et cetera. This might be picky so I won't mind if it's not an exact copy of what I request.

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    Not everyone knows what Notepad++ is beyond being a text editor, and there are more than likely features of it you specifically need and others you don't care about, so without being more specific about your requirements this question could potentially be answered with ANY Mac text editor. Please edit your post and add a specific list of features that you require to help us help you find what you are looking for. Apr 9, 2014 at 0:11
  • Much better already :) What languages must be supported for error-highlighting, keyword-colors, etc? Would it be sufficient if you can manually add support for a language not covered?
    – Izzy
    Jul 26, 2015 at 22:28
  • Hi, jedit.org is a suitable text editor which has somewhat similar look and feel and functionality of notepad++. jEdit has many plugins to extend its functionality if needed Nov 18, 2019 at 10:28

4 Answers 4


A good text editor you could use is Sublime Text. It's technically free (since the only non-benefit from using the trial version is you get occasionally nagged about buying the full product), and it can do all of the things you'd want from a text editor:

simple, free and fast text editor

Sublime Text can be customized as much as you want using the Plugin Manager available for it, so if you want to keep it as simple as possible you can. It's also kinda-sorta-technically free as mentioned before, and it's very fast.

Sublime is fast!

highlighting errors

Using some excellent linting plugins you can install fairly easily using the Plugin Manager, you can have errors highlighted as you type, or whenever you save, among some other options.

colour-coding keywords and variables differently

(I'm assuming you mean syntax highlighting)

Sublime Text can do syntax highlighting fairly well. Here are some examples:

Java highlighting

C++ Highlighting

Sublime Text also has build systems and useful keyboard shortcuts and commands which can speed things up quite a lot. Most notably of these features is the command palette, a "center for commands" where you can execute most of the editor's functions by just searching.

Another text editor you could use is TextMate, Sublime Text's "spiritual predecessor." While I don't know the ins-and-outs of TextEdit, since I am a Windows user, it seems like a good Mac-only alternative if you don't want to use Sublime Text.

And if you really want to be able to dedicate yourself to a text editor, you can try Vim and/or Emacs. Be warned though, since these editors aren't very simple to use and require a long-term commitment to use.

  • Be nice if you can include a review of how each option matches the list of requirements. Apr 9, 2014 at 5:51
  • TextMate is now Open Source, but Sublime Text has far outshone it. Apr 9, 2014 at 9:22
  • @NickWilde: Just take a look at sublimetext.com - the animation shows nice features. Apr 9, 2014 at 11:36
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    @NickWilde I thought so. I was tempted to add the animation into the answer, but one the one hand that would be too much as it is not my answer and on the other hand it seems not to be simple animation. Let's see what n_pe does with these suggestions. Apr 9, 2014 at 15:57
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    @NickWilde I've tried to improve the answer by adding some screenshots and elaborating on each point
    – dcao
    Apr 10, 2014 at 6:07

Sublime Text

Sublime is probably the best text editor I've ever used. Let's see how that fits into your needs:


Yes? Maybe? Can take some time to learn all keyboard shortcuts and be extremely productive with it, but totally worth it.




Yes. It's pretty damn fast.

programming features

Sublime has some of the best programming features. It has packages for every language highlighting, and almost anything you'd want to do.

Give it a go, you won't regret it.

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    Sublime Text is not free. Version 3 is free until it comes out of beta. Version 2 is (pretty persistent) nagware, instead. Apr 9, 2014 at 9:21
  • @MartijnPieters Although you can pay for it, you don't have to. And the alert message that pops up and remembers you every 15th time you save something that you should probably buy sublime can simply put away with hitting 'Esc'. I've tested Sublime this way about 3 months. Apr 9, 2014 at 11:39
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    Just because it works doesn't make it legal. The line is blurry (continued use is a vague term) but if you no longer are evaluating, the product is not supposed to be free. Everyone will have to make up their own mind how far they'd push the boundary on this one, but as an answer on this Q&A you cannot simply state that it is free. Apr 9, 2014 at 11:50

Emacs is a pretty popular text editor for both Windows and Macs. It's been around for a long time and has a large following. It also allows you to add on features like Notepad++ does.

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    emacs has been around for a long time, and needs to die. Use vim.
    – KGo
    Apr 9, 2014 at 2:42
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    @KaranGoel: oblig: vim has been around for a long time, and needs to die. Use emacs. Apr 9, 2014 at 9:24
  • @KaranGoel: (for the record, I am in the VI camp myself, but that was too good to pass up). Apr 9, 2014 at 9:24
  • @KaranGoel and MartinPieters: emacs and vim have bin arount for a long time, and need to die. Use Sublime Text. Apr 9, 2014 at 11:41
  • @everyone everything eventually dies, don't sweat it Apr 9, 2014 at 12:45

The best free text editor on the Mac is TextWrangler.

It doesn't highlight inline errors, but for basic HTML, programming, config files etc., it's fine.

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    Nice that your editor doesn't do inline errors :-) (you probably wanted to write that it doesn't highlight them) Apr 9, 2014 at 11:42

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