TextWrangler: a Simple Mac Text Editor on Steroids

One of the oldest applications ever created for computers is the text editor. It has evolved so much since its first incarnation, and there are a lot of alternatives available today. One of the best text editors for Mac is TextWrangler.

TextWrangler is not as feature-rich as full word processors. It’s light, and it handles plain and simple text without all the formatting bells and whistles. Sometimes you don’t need those extra loads. But there are several advantages of TextWrangler compared to other plain-text editors.

1. Code Color Highlighter

Not everybody is a coder, but many people today do blogs. And blogging needs light code editing once in a while. Have you tried to do that using a conventional text editor or word processor? If you have, then you know how painful the process is.

TextWrangler -mte- 01 - plain text

TextWrangler gives different colors to the different part of the codes, makes them stand out against plain text and other different codes. You don’t have to struggle to find which is which and can do faster editing.

TextWrangler -mte- 01b - Color coded

Sometimes TextWrangler identifies your text as plain text only and treats it so. To have codes in different colors, you have to tell TextWrangler that they are codes and not plain text by choosing the text type from the bottom bar option. TextWrangler will do the rest.

For easier reading don’t forget to wrap the text using the Text Display – Soft Wrap menu.

2. Structure, Hierarchy, and Jump to Sections

TextWrangler recognizes file structure and hierarchy. You can select the symbol from the navigation bar to jump quickly to the sections that you want.

TextWrangler -mte- Structure

For a simple text with different headers (h1, h2, etc.), you can quickly find the section that you want. But for more complicated files like “style.css,” for example, to be able to jump to a different section to do the editing is very helpful.

3. Multiple Files Container

Different from most text editors, TextWrangler can be a (text) file container and open many of them at once. You can create and work with as many text files as you want and switch between them. You can open a folder, and all of the editable files inside it will show up in the sidebar.

TextWrangler -mte- Open Folder and Files

You can even open the files from a remote location, for example files on your web server, as long as you have the FTP account info ready.

TextWrangler -mte- Open Remote Files

This feature is especially useful if you are working on a project with many files as websites, WordPress themes, or plugins.

4. Powerful Search and Replace

If you only need one reason to choose TextWrangler, it would be its powerful search and replace capability.

While the search and replace feature is common in many applications, TextWrangler can do it for multiple files at once. For example, you are editing your company’s website with 1000 pages, and you want to change the company’s address on those pages. To do it one by one is out of the question. TextWrangler allows you to search for the company’s old address in those thousand pages and replace them all with the new address.

To do a standard search and replace, you use the “Search -> Find” menu (Command + F), but to do a search and replace for multiple files, you can use the “Search -> Multi-File Search” menu (Command + Shift + F).

TextWrangler -mte- Multi-File Search

5. Open File by Name

Especially if you are working on a project with many files, sometimes you wI’ll want to be able to open files with similar names. You can tell TextWrangler to do so using the “File -> Open File by Name” menu (Command + D). For example, you want to work on CSS files on your theme, HTML files only, or scenes with Mr. X from your murder-mystery novel.

TextWrangler -mte- Open File by Name

There is much more that TextWrangler offers that is not mentioned here, but these five are what I find most useful. What is your favorite TextWrangler features? Share them using the comment below.

Image Credit: Joe Buckingham

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