Alternative Text Editers aside Text Edit?

macOS and Mac Apps

I know about Ulysses, and things like the native built in Notes app, but I don't need something quite as suffisticated as Ulysses that does markdown, etc. I just need a real basic text editer. Not even something that stores things like Notes. I just need something that opens basic ascii text txt files, and will also let me write and save txt files. I know you're probably asking, well dang! You may as well just use Text Edit then. What's wrong with it? Trust me, I have reasons.

I'd prefer something either free, or at least something no more than 10 bucks at the absolute most pushing it. It doesn't need to number each line of text, as I'm not using this as a coding editer. If the app isn;'t free, the only thing I then ask is, it not be a subscription based payment. Let me just pay once only and then I'm done.



Submitted by HEXAGON on Thursday, May 20, 2021

TextMate was recommended to me just recently. The editor is quite slim and can be used flawlessly with VoiceOver. It is suitable for plain text as well as for some scripting languages. And it's free.

Submitted by Voracious P. Brain on Friday, May 21, 2021

Well, dang, what *is* wrong with text-edit? It'd be helpful to know your reasons, since it's at least possible they're overcommable. For example, there's a preference to set the default to ASCII rather than rich text, and codings other than UTF-8 can be chosen as well.
But I'm loving the free version of Drafts. Syncs beautifully with Mac and IOS, has nifty scratchpad features like sending the current text to an ongoing cloud "journal" file, etc. Another feature I like is that it flips to a fresh blank draft after a user-configurable amount of time, so that it runs in the background all the time for me and I can always command-tab back to it and paste something or start typing without worrying about opening a file, saving a file, etc. Everything just goes in the "inbox" list of drafts, though you can add tags to drafts with command-t and then filter by that tag. Lots of powerful actions and even scripting are available, but none of it gets in the way of just typing.

Submitted by Greg Wocher on Saturday, May 22, 2021

CotEditor is also free and it is found in the App Store. I like this one because as soon as you open it it is in a blank document ready to type.

Submitted by mr grieves on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

I've been using Sublime Text a bit, but have now hit the brick wall that it doesn't support VoiceOver and it doesn't look like they are interested in fixing it. So I was looking for an alternative, but Sublime does something I've not seen anywhere else. I can open loads of different tabs and start typing. The document name is then taken from the first line of text, until I save it. If I quite Sublime, it remembers all my open documents, even those that have never been saved. I also quite like the open documents view but suspect the more I use VoieOver, the less useful that will be compared to the tab bar. I like it because I can just dump loads of stuff I'm currently working on - random notes I only need for a little while, log files, errors etc.

Does anyone know of any more accessible text editors that do this?

Other than those mentioned above - I also use Visual Studio Code sometimes. I've never quite got on with it but it's VoiceOver support is good, although it's definitely more orientated towards coding. (Also word wrap doesn't work with VoiceOver, which may or may not bother you)

Submitted by mr grieves on Saturday, November 6, 2021

It's funny how personal a text editor is, considering what a simple thing it is really. I've not been able to get on that well with Cot Editor, nor Text Mate, although trying to persist with the latter.

I did try a couple of others that did work with VoiceOver.

Nova - this is pretty expensive, and looks like it's quite extensive and powerful. It wasn't perfect with VO but seemed usable from a quick play. But it costs way too much for my liking.

Textastic - cheap and cheerful. It's quite basic but seemed to work OK. It is also pretty tiny.

Smultron - it's got a bit of a disgusting name, but seems quite promising. It feels like it has a reasonable amount of depth to its features without being overwhelming. Some features like extracting text from images might be useful, although if I can figure out how to use the monterey text extracting thing with VoiceOver then maybe it's not that useful. The one thing I don't like is that it forces me to save files when I quit. (I prefer unsaved files to just be maintained between app starts)

The above 3 have free trials.

I can't say I've taken to anything as much as Sublime Text and Notepad++ for Windows (in the days when I could see well enough to use them)

There is a real shortage of truly great text editors on the mac that are accessible. Very disappointing that Sublime, BBEdit and UltraEdit are all completely unusable with VoiceOver.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Sunday, November 7, 2021

I have a few I use.

For general reading of .doc documents I use byword which is a nice balance of simple with the possibility of digging into markdown and publishing to websites.

Textmate, mentioned here, is what I use for any coding as it doesn't mess about with how it saves files. Some files get saved with extra info in other apps even if you're just using .txt as the extension. It also lets you mess about with saving in different file formats.

Ulysses is what I use for my creative writing. It has, hands down, the best method for proofreading and correcting work. It also makes it very easy, as long as you have some markdown understanding, to create documents for others. A very set it and see. Saying that, it is more complicated than just having a single document, you create sheets which are associated to a group, something similar to subfolders or, in my case, chapters or scenes. This makes moving back and forth through large documents far easier and less daunting. After you've completed the work it is a simple case of exporting it to what ever format you wish, PDF, web page etc.

Ulysses are also very interested in how we use their products, there is also a version for iPhone which, in many ways is easier to use for proofing than on the Mac. It is a subscription, but I think it's worth it in the long run and fits in nicely to my workflow.

As another poster said, these things are personal for personal needs, even for the sighted. Add in accessibility idiosyncrasies and it becomes more so.

Good luck on your hunt.

Submitted by mr grieves on Sunday, November 7, 2021

I emailed the author of Smultron who replied next day with a really friendly and helpful reply. He sounds very interested in accessibility and sounds very approachable.

The sidebar works a little strangely with VoiceOver, in that it doesn't seem to get keyboard focus as far as I can tell. But I'm hoping with a little practice those quirks might work in its favour.

I'm going to play about with it this week and see if I can click with it, but I'd like to support a developer who takes interest in this kind of thing, and £6.99 doesn't seem too expensive.

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