BBEdit 13: A Professional HTML/Text Editor for Mac

Utility •  Feb.8, 2020

bbedit review

The new MacBook Pro 16-inch is out, and it is a favorite among programmers — thanks to its new Magic keyboard, which is so much better than its predecessor, the Butterfly keyboard. A more user-friendly keyboard means more fun for programmers. Now that the keyboard is sorted, you would want a suitable software to work on. On that note, how many of you remember a software that is about three decades old? Yes, we are talking about BBEdit.

BBEdit 13 is a professional HTML and text editor application that makes text editing way more intuitive, fun, and less challenging.

In this BBEdit 13 review for Mac, we will talk about what the software is all about and how it can help you with your wordsmithing and coding skills.

What’s BBEdit

BBEdit is a professional HTML and text editor for macOS built by Bare Bones Software. It is an award-winning product that has been finely crafted to cater to software developers, writers, and web authors. It provides numerous tools for searching, modifying porose, textual data, and source code.

It was initially released in April 1992, which means that the app is 27 years old.

BBEdit was free upon its initial release in 1992. However, it was commercialized with the release of version 2.5 in 1993. At the same time, Bare Bones Software released a different, less-featured version called BBEdit Lite, which was available for free, but lacked features such as syntax coloring, scriptability, and plugin support.

We have come a long way since 1992, and the latest BBEdit 13, which was released in October 2019, has tons of new features that can just be the thing that writers and coders have been looking for.

Uses for BBEdit

There are several uses of BBEdit. With BBEdit, you can preview and validate HTML markup as it provides prototypes for several HTML constructs that can be entered into the program. If you are someone who works a lot with web servers, then you can also use it as an FTP and SFTP tool as BBEdit has a powerful integration of these tools with the code management systems.

If you are working with two different files at the same time, then BBEdit could be your go-to option as it shows you the difference between file versions and makes merging changes much easier. There’s also and added support for version control, which includes compatibility with Subversion, Perforce, and Git.

For third-party source coders, there are numerous applications and developer tools that provide great support for BBEdit.

The app also supports Open Scripting Architecture which can be recorded and scripted using AppleScript and several other languages. Besides, you can execute AppleScripts from right inside the app.

BBEdit 13, our favorite new updates and features

Before we start with the new features of BBEdit 13, it would help if we had a look at what BBEdit 12 was all about and how it is better than its predecessor BBEdit 12, which was launched in late 2017 and was the first to run on a 64-bit architecture, which allowed it to process larger files more effectively and efficiently.

The subsequent updates to the version added support for the new Swift Coding language by Apple, shortcuts for menu commands, and a Lorem Ipsum dummy text generator.

Now, the new BBEdit 13 update has much more to offer — it has been updated with over 100 new features.

bbedit dark mode

To start with, it fully adapts to the dark mode, and switching between light to dark mode is quite easy with a simple click. You also have the option to customize specific elements of the processor to the color of your choice, even apply lighter elements of the interface while dimming the general appearance.

There’s so much on the customization front!

Besides the dark theme, BBEdit 13 has a lot of new features, and here we’ll be highlighting our favorite of the lot.

New line bar and gutter

As soon as you launch BBEdit 13, the first that you are probably going to notice is a new nine number bar and gutter. No, it’s not peripheral to the editor — it’s fully integrated. Now, this comes with a couple of significant changes: the current line is highlighted, and the numbers are shown using the same size and font as the editor. If the default doesn’t match your taste, you can even try different sizes.

A larger interface

What’s better than a larger, clearer interface to work on?

BBEdit 13 update comes with a large interface and editor’s status bar. Even though the older size just worked fine, the newer one just makes it even better. It’s just a bit more comfortable to read.

Other items in the interface such as the pop-up menus also increase in size when you choose the large interface appearance option — yes, it does help for the weary eyes.

A more powerful search option with improved Grep

The search feature can very well be accessed with the Find window; however, that’s not quite it. There are options for Multi-File Search and Live Search as well.

Those who have used BBEdit know that Grep forms the soul of it. However, unless you are someone who is a pro with codes, learning to use Grep can be a tedious experience. This has changed with BBEdit 13.

bbedi13 pattern

Now, Pattern Playground, a new search menu command, helps you get familiar with Grep patterns before you apply them. You can add and manage entries, or browse from a history which contains previous items that you might have used. The introduction of this feature reduces the time taken and the errors committed while performing this operation.

There’s also a Cheat Sheet for Grep — a shortcut menu with over 40 common patterns so that you can quickly insert them in your query.

There’s more — once you enter a search pattern into the Find window, you’ll see that the potential matches that are highlighted in the target document window, which lets you have a basic preview of the Find All and Replace All operation.

The search option has had a comprehensive overall, and you will notice this as you get more familiar with the app.

You can access the BBEdit 13 release notes for more details on the updates.

Editing text or HTML

BBEdit makes for an excellent writing and coding experience. We realised that it was a program that we could use on a daily feature, for tasks as simple as writing. However, it is with web designing and programing that BBEdit shows most of its features.

The most notable feature — Grep Search — helped us bring together a couple of scripts from Unix Shell filters and Apple Scripts. And that’s a great time saver! The app is really lite, even the download size is small, so we didn’t have to worry about clogging our disk space.

It felt fast and responsive — an app that we could use while handling big data, such as massive HEX files without any hassle, or without our Mac slowing down. It’s highly dependable, and it put negligible strain to our computer’s resources. We realised that it worked smoothly, even with multiple tabs opened on a memory consuming app such as Google Chrome.

One of the best parts of using the app was that we could work around with multiple shortcuts — just fire them so that the whole process of time consumed with hovering the mouse was reduced to a minimum.

We realized that BBEdit worked really well with its default settings — we didn’t have to tweak around a lot. However, under the Preferences menu, we could tweak how most of the functions and elements such as appearance, keyboard, language, printing, colors, and encoding work.

We even used BBEdit for playing around with the WordPress custom CSS codes for adding functionalities to the website, and trust us, it was much easier working on BBEdit than the default CSS editor of WordPress.

The task was to customize multiple theme files, so we had to preview the differences between them, copy codes, and such.

Since BBEdit has support for multi-window programming, this task became much less challenging.

Most of the features of BBEdit 13 can be accessed from the menu bar. There are features around copying as well, which helped us retain several elements and styles of our codes. You get two options while copying a text — Copy as Styled Text, and Copy as Styled HTML. This way, we could retain the format and play around it a bit — it’s great for copying and pasting codes. No hassle of losing on the formatting!

bbedit13 edit

The option to enter text using speech and dictation. While this feature may not work out well during coding, you can surely use it well with texts.

There’s also a text option in the edit menu, through which we could modify edit options, such as using typographer quotes, auto-expand tabs, and soft-wrap texts. There’s also an option to adjust text width and change display option, adding or removing line numbers, gutter, navigation bar, page guide, tab stops, and invisibles.

We did manage to mess up some default settings while playing around with them, and then we realised that we can switch things to default by clicking on the Normalize Options. It’s excellent for beginners who are still trying to figure out BBEdit 13 and don’t want to mess up the settings.

There’s another handy feature which helped us transform a large group of texts. The Apply Text Transform feature made it easier to play around with several text presets and apply them to lines. This feature saved a lot of time. We could use it to add or remove line numbers, canonize, change case, change line ending, change text coding, convert to ASCII, detab, and much more.

The list of presets is long, and it’s going to transform the way you want your text to be formatted. This was one of the features that we really enjoyed in the new BBEdit 13.

We were trying to use some quotes inside the program as well, and we found out that there’s also an option around quotes — we could Educate and straighten them. We could also change how lines apply to the editor by playing around with hard wrap and line breaks. The, there’s also an option to add or remove line numbers, sort them, process duplicates, and canonize them. We could also increase or decrease quote levels.

While working with BBEdit, we realised that our program had a lot of white spaces. Well, with BBEdit, we could get rid of them as well — this was done under the Strip Trailing Whitespace under the Text option.

bbedit13 preferences

Going to the markup menu, we got the option to play around with the markups and encoding. We could change the document type, character set, and CSS for a more customized experience while editing. There’s also an option to modify head elements, block elements, lists, tables, forms, inline, phrase elements, font style elements, and frame.

Yes, there’s not a single element of your editor that we could not modify using BBEdit 13. The fact that we could access all of these options from the menu bar with dedicated shortcuts just made the entire process super convenient and efficient.

We also had some rough notes to take while using the app — a room for making mistakes, you know. The handy Scratchpad under the Window menu turned out to be a great option to keep a tab on the codes that we wanted to use in your main program. What else, we could also arrange, cascade and cycle through windows for added productivity.

While editing with BBEdit 13, we realized that we could save a lot of time with the advanced editing and formatting tools that use a lot of automation. And yes, if you can just memorize those handy or even note them down in your Scratchpad, then you can increase your productivity manifolds.

Top tips for BBEdit

BBEdit is one of the most feature-rich text editors for Mac, and over the years, many features have been added to it. Here, we will look at some of the top tips for BBEdit that can help you work up your productivity.

Find differences: BBEdit has a Find Differences command where you can compare two files or even the contents in two different folders. BBEdit will allow you to review them and merge changes. You can access it by clicking on the Find Differences command under the Search menu.

Command-line tool: BBEdit has a command-line tool which you can access to open files from the command line, or even accept the inputs that are piped from other Unix commands. However, this feature works as a plugin, and you have to install it. You can install the command line tool in BBEdit by going to the BBEdit menu and clicking on Install Command Line Tools.

Instant Projects: You can start projects instantly by dropping a folder on BBEdit’s Dock icon. The new project will open based on that folder. Then, you can edit or open new files in that very project, and even search through their contents.

Named symbol: When you press on Command-Control-J, a window opens where you can enter any symbol. The program then jumps immediately to that symbol. Then, you can navigate to other elements of the program, such as markers and functions by clicking on the Go menu.

Text completion: Under the Editing preference, you can click on Show text completions to control how the app presents text completions. It can either do it automatically once to pause typing or do it on your demand — when you press the F5 button.

Pricing: how much does BBEdit cost?

BBEdit 13’s paid version comes at $49.99. Users who have access to previous paid versions can upgrade to BBEdit 13 for $29.99 — $39.99 for the last version, and $40 for the older versions.

bbedit pricing

Users who have downloaded the app from the Mac App Store won’t have to pay for the update as the premium features on the Mac App Store comes with a subscription of $40 per year, or $4 per month. Once you are on either of these plans, you can access all the BBEdit updates forever.

If you want to check out BBEdit 13 features before buying it, then you can do so by just downloading the app, You can use a free 30-day evaluation period, so there’s no haste to make the purchase.

Wrapping up

If you are someone who works with texts a lot, then your Mac apps arsenal will never entirely be complete without BBEdit 13. With all the features that the new update provides, you are going to have so much fun with coding and programming, and even writing or comparing text files for that matter.

The number 13 is regarded as an evil omen, but we can assure you that BBEdit 13 proves otherwise — it’s your ultimate stop to all your coding, formatting, and editing needs.

* Readers like you help support TheSweetBits. When you buy something through the links in this article, we may get a small commission at no extra charge to you.