Need Notepad, but on a Mac? No Problem


The Apple corporation has been a steady stream of news headlines for years now, this year saw the introduction of new processors and a new 13 inch MacBook Pro was released. These events naturally dominated headlines and increased the publics’ interest in an already dominant product. For those looking to switch to a MacOS, all the new features can be exciting but daunting. Added to the switch is coming to terms with a whole lot of new applications that replace the functionality of applications they have come to know on their previous machines. One of those is Notepad.

The Venerable Notepad

Notepad was officially released in 1983 and was packaged with the DOS system. To date, it is not only the oldest text editor but the simplest. There are several reasons Notepad has remained a fixture on computers for so many years. For many, the simple text editor’s best feature is the ability to save files as plain text files, or .txt, which is a far smaller and less complex format than .doc or .docx. For many web developers, this makes Notepad the ideal companion for those looking to write sections of HTML or CSS. Notepad can also be used for other programming languages including C#, Java, and PHP, but other more specific code editors are better suited for this purpose.

What about Mac?

Fortunately, Mac computers have a built-in text editor called TextEdit and can be seen as notepad for mac with more useful features. A more accurate description of TextEdit is that it is equivalent to Microsoft’s WordPad but can function as Notepad as well. To function more like Notepad, simply go to the menu and click on “Make Plain Text”. This option can be found in the View menu. If you are struggling to find and open TextEdit, the application can be opened in one of three ways. From the Launchpad app, Spotlight search, or from the Finder app.

Important Considerations

Those used to working with tabs should note that TextEdit has tabs disabled by default. This can easily be changed by going to the View menu, selecting Show Tab Bar, once this is done tabs can be changed incredibly easily by hitting the Command key followed by Tab. Documents can be saved quickly via the short form save box, however, this can be expanded to the long-form box that allows users to create new folders or save to another destination along with saving the document. TextEdit allows users to save files in the above-mentioned plain text file format, .txt, or users can save files in .doc or .docx.

TextEdit also allows users to add symbols and emoticons quickly and easily via the Edit menu, under the Emoji and Symbols section. This is great if you need to add copyright symbols, currency denominators, or Mac-specific symbols used for the keyboard like the command key. Perhaps, TextEdit’s most useful features include the Dictation and Speaking features, with the latter allowing users to get the computer to read out the text written. This can be a handy feature for those doing YouTube videos but don’t yet have a good microphone set up to record their voice.

Dictation is almost the opposite of Speaking, in that the user can dictate notes that are then recorded and written on screen for the user. This is a great feature for creating quick notes and help speed up work output when not forced to type up note after note. The last of TextEdit’s notable features is Make Rich Text mode, which allows users to create files with basic formatting options like font choice, size, and bolding, underlining, or italicizing the text.


For those needing Notepad’s functionality on their Mac, TextEdit is great in that it has more features that make it even more useful than the simple plain text of Notepad. Those looking for a quick application to quickly edit HTML or CSS are also covered by TextEdit. However, the application is not the beginning and end for a lot of users that need a dedicated code editor or developer environment. Here Notepad++ is an option but Mac users need to download an Editor like Wine or virtual machine software to run Notepad++. That being said there are several code editors that can be run natively on Mac without the need of an emulator or virtual machine and definitely worth your time.