What is the closest thing to Windows notepad on the Mac?

I'm using Leopard.

  • 1
    I've been looking for this exact same thing for a long time, but no one seems to know any tool like this. I don't need multi-file editing, rich text, HTML or code editing, colors or anything at all. I just want a plain Notepad-like app that will open any file without fuss and show it in any font I choose. There seems to be no such thing.
    – aalaap
    Aug 28, 2011 at 7:27
  • There's always vi Aug 28, 2011 at 16:54

6 Answers 6


TextEdit is included with OS X.

You can change it to Plain Text (Format > Make Plain Text) for non-RTF text editing, or make Plain Text the default (Preferences > Format).

  • TextEdit is even better—it's like Notepad and WordPad combined into one program.
    – hbw
    Jul 25, 2009 at 0:21
  • 15
    Being better than Notepad is a pretty low bar. ;-P
    – deceze
    Jul 25, 2009 at 0:24
  • 4
    One thing I miss is being able to open ANY file inside windows notepad. Like I could take a .gif file if I wanted and see the first 2 chars of that GIF file if I opened it in notepad. In TextEdit it tells me that the file is not a supported type. Jul 25, 2009 at 1:10
  • 1
    I guess I can use commands like more or less to see this but being able to edit it with a GUI is desirable for me for some reason. Jul 25, 2009 at 1:13
  • 5
    To open most files, just add the extension .txt to them. Also, if you need to work closer to the nuts and bolts, you'll want to: 1) Set "TextEdit > Preferences > New Document > Format" to "Plain text" and 2) Set "TextEdit > Preferences > Open and Save > When Opening a File:" to "Ignore rich text commands in HTML files"
    – username
    Jul 25, 2009 at 1:42

If you want simple text editing, use TextEdit.

For code editing, one of the best choices is TextMate.

  • jEdit. Supports Elastic Tabstops, which you all must adopt.
    – Engineer
    Nov 17, 2015 at 20:30
  • For code editing, the best light-weight text editor comes today is Sublime Text. Nov 24, 2017 at 5:44

As already stated, TextEdit is the notepad of OS X (although a more powerful notepad that is). For more advanced stuff, TextMate (already recommended) is very nice. A nice free and famous alternative is Bare Bones's TextWrangler.

You can do pretty much with either.

  • 1
    Unfortunately they have discontinued TextWrangler. BBEdit includes the same features in a free mode.
    – O'Rooney
    Jul 4, 2019 at 22:06

FYI - you can default TextEdit to plain text when it opens:

  • Goto preferences
  • Under Format, click on "Plain Text"


Can't believe it took me this long to figure that out


Editra for Mac is simple, free, open-source, highly configurable. All in all, it's my favorite Windows Notepad replacement for the Mac.


I recommend Textmate, that works out-of-the-box just like notepad, plus you can activate (if you wish) more and more functions.

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