In Windows, every text editor I encountered allowed me to drag and drop any file type into it and it opened. Apparently, Mac app developers have a different philosophy because I can't find a simple free text editor for OS X that will do this. TextWrangler came highly recommended but it can't accomplish this simple feat. Can anyone suggest one?

Edit apparently on at least some editors, there is a distinction between drag/drop in the document list area vs. the typing area. In addition to the accepted answer, this is one thing to be aware of. I still don't know why it doesn't work in TextEdit, but this is true for TextWrangler and Smultron.

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    text wranger did it for me. are you sure you have the current version? – davethegr8 Aug 21 '09 at 21:43
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    What do you mean open any file? As in just files that contain text? – Troggy Aug 21 '09 at 21:44
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    Perhaps you can explain what files you cannot open. – EBGreen Aug 21 '09 at 21:46
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    I have files with a weird filetype (.hdl) that are just scripts for a certain program. When I drag/drop the file's icon into the TextWrangler window and let go, it doesn't open and the icon goes wizzing back to where I dragged it from. If I go through the "Open" sequence, the file is greyed out. – Dinah Aug 21 '09 at 21:55
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    @Dinah For future questions, information like that is very useful to the people trying to answer your question. Try and include as much information as possible when asking questions on Superuser. – Troggy Aug 21 '09 at 22:48

For Textwrangler - You just need to drag it to the Documents draw and a blah.hdl file opened perfectly well for me. It even will try to open binary files that way, but may ask you for an encoding to use...

To change it asking what to do you can track down a setting in the Textwrangler Text Files preferences:


Also, works for me perfectly well (renamed a file blah.hdl and dragged) in Textmate. In fact I can drag anything into Textmate and it will "open" it (no snarky-ness intended ;-)


Drag-and-drop works for MacVim. It also works in Aquamacs.

Edit: Dragging-and-dropping a PDF into TextWrangler did not work. Apparently TextWrangler tries to figure out whether or not you should be opening that file in a text editor.

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    It also works in GNU Emacs 23. – Richard Hoskins Aug 21 '09 at 22:59

My vote is for jEdit.

As a bonus it's Java-based, and therefore cross-platform for the times when you are forced to abandon your beloved Mac.


Er, TextEdit. Drag any file onto the Dock icon and it will open it.


Try this: Vim (Vi IMproved) for Mac OS X

Vim is a highly configurable text editor, freely available for many different platforms. For general information, advocacy, and the latest news on Vim in general, visit the Vim Home Page. This site is specifically devoted to Vim on the Macintosh. This page is mainly devoted to binary distributions for Mac OS X.

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    I'm not positive that vim is the best solution for someone that needed to ask this question in the first place. :) – EBGreen Aug 21 '09 at 21:56
  • macvim.org is outdated, see code.google.com/p/macvim – las3rjock Aug 21 '09 at 22:05
  • A link to an out-of-date editor is not really helpful, especially one that is as "specific" as Vim. the OP seems to want something drag-n-drop simple. – The Tentacle Aug 21 '09 at 22:12
  • Just to clarify, my point was that the macvim.org website was outdated, not vim the text editor. vim development for Mac OS X is alive and well at code.google.com/p/macvim – las3rjock Aug 22 '09 at 6:35

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