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TextWrangler review


Even if you never write code, get TextWrangler: one day it will save you from some text-related nightmare on your Mac.

Review Date: 9 Oct 2009

Price when reviewed: Free

Reviewed By: Giles Turnbull

Our Rating 5 stars out of 5

The last time we reviewed TextWrangler (see MacUser, 29 February 2008, p68) we called it 'too good to be true', and that sentiment still applies.

There's so much included inside this impressive text editor that you start to wonder if the free price tag is some sort of ghastly mistake. But it's not, and TextWrangler really is one of those most unexpected of gems: free software that offers more than anyone might reasonably expect of it.

This new release adds numerous refinements and new features. First, text windows in all file browser views (including search results) are now editable. You can browse whole directories of files and edit them in situ, without the need to open additional windows.

Some of the new additions to the application are tiny details, but make life so much easier nonetheless. If, for example, you select some text in an HTML document and drag it into a new empty file, that file will automatically change its source language setting to match, so that the HTML displays properly once you've finished dragging. There are also new contextual New File and New Folder commands in the disk browser, which can come in handy when reorganising large batches of files.

Professional coders and web developers might find TextWrangler too limiting, but then they're far more likely to spend money on its fuller-featured big brother, BBEdit. So who is TextWrangler for, exactly?

The answer is everybody. It's just that many of them don't know it yet. Most people don't need to mess around with HTML or CSS files. They never have to edit a text file on a remote FTP server, or a .plist preferences file buried deep in their user Library folder.

However, when they're required to do one of these things, or any sort of text manipulation job, they will be glad to have TextWrangler installed.

You could think of it as the plain text equivalent of TextEdit, which comes with every Mac. TextEdit is capable of editing plain text files, but TextWrangler is much better. No Mac should be without a copy - just in case.

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