capsule review

TextWrangler 2.0

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Writers, coders, and geeks may salivate over good text editors, but others might wonder why one would need anything more than TextEdit, which comes with Mac OS X. Let’s put it this way: If TextEdit were a dinner knife, Bare Bones Software’s TextWrangler 2.0 would be a set of chef’s knives, complete with a Benihana chef to do your bidding. TextWrangler 2.0 slices, dices, and reformats text to suit your needs, regardless of document size or quantity.

Interface and Power

TextWrangler 2.0’s text-handling operations are swift and precise. The Text menu holds an array of time-saving commands: Change Case, Sort Lines, Add/Remove Line Numbers, Process Duplicate Lines, and a host of others. Like Bare Bones’ flagship program BBEdit, TextWrangler uses the powerful Regular Expression syntax to find and replace text. Replace actions can now run on multiple files or folders via the new Sources Drawer. This version of TextWrangler also runs BBEdit’s Text Factory tasks, which collapse a series of operations into a single click.

Similar to BBEdit 8, TextWrangler now opens multiple documents in the same window. Instead of using browser-style tabs, however, documents are listed by name in the Documents Drawer. The new Navigation Bar lets you switch between documents via the Previous and Next buttons or the pop-up menu.

TextWrangler now highlights the line containing the insertion point, a handy addition when working with long documents. OS X’s built-in spelling-check service is now available, but it only checks and underlines misspellings when you invoke it manually.


This version of TextWrangler is a boon to coders and system administrators. It gives you direct integration with the Unix scripting environments of Perl, Python, and shell scripts. This version has improved syntax coloring for a plethora of structured languages and file formats. The program also now sports a powerful AppleScript dictionary.

The command line edit utility enables TextWrangler to be a first-class Unix text editor. When you invoke edit in the Terminal, it launches the graphical TextWrangler. You can then edit the text files at hand with TextWrangler, and save them with whatever Unix ownership privileges are necessary.

Macworld's Buying Advice

TextWrangler 2.0 is a text editor for anyone who has to handle large volumes of text—clerical tasks, code writing, or Web site maintenance. It doesn’t share BBEdit’s advanced authoring and code management tools, but you can’t argue with the price.

[ Andrew T. Laurence is a network administrator, Mac geek and freelance writer. His Web site provides reviews and analysis of the Mac mini. ]

Slice and dice your text into well-formatted bits with the Text menu.The Disk Browser gives you unfettered access to the file system, including those files and folders that Apple hides from the Finder.
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