Well, OK, TextMate is a pretty good text editor. I’ve paid for it. I’m sure it has raised the bar for text editing apps, in some areas. But it has a few annoyances which grate against me, time after time. I’ll list my top two annoyances only.

1) Tab and shift-tab to indent / unindent.

Tab should indent, and shift-tab should unindent.  Especially if I have text highlighted already.  Please do not delete my selected text and replace with a tab character!  I realize cmd-[ and cmd-] are available for this feature, but forgive me, I am used to almost all text editors in Windows getting this right.  Even when using TextMate’s chosen key binding, indent and unindent don’t work properly when only a portion of a line is highlighted.

2) Drag and drop a file won’t open in a new tab.

If I drag and drop a file onto the TextMate icon in my dock, TextMate will open the file… in a new window.  Every time.  TextMate does support tabs, just doesn’t make it easy to get a file to open in one!  I know, I will drop the file into the TextMate window that I already have open.  Then for sure TextMate will realize that I want to open this file as a new tab in that window.  Wait, what just happened?  You pasted the entire contents of my dropped file in the middle of the file I already had open?  Really, TextMate?  That’s what you thought I wanted to do?

I found a few people on the internet who agree with me.  Pete, Nick, and Sam.

TextMate is not alone.

For some reason, 90% of all text editors I’ve seen on the Mac can’t get these things right.  For some reason, 90% of text editors I’ve used in Windows get this right.  There is a lot to like in TextMate, but these things (and a few others) are constantly impeding my productivity.

In case you care, here are two text editors I really like in Windows.  ConText, which is lightweight, powerful, and free.  And Sublime Text, which is everything that TextMate is, could be, and should be.  There is no question Sublime Text was inspired by TextMate, it even shares the same syntax coloring theme file format.  Sublime Text is also free… to try.  No time limit or crippled functionality, though.  You can purchase Sublime Text for a similar price as TextMate, except that I felt like it is worth every penny.  I will probably be purchasing VMWare Fusion soon so I can use Sublime Text to edit all my files on my Mac.

Update, July 2011:  Sublime Text is now cross platform, and runs great on OS X!  See my updated post about Sublime Text on OS X.



  1. jdc on Sunday 4, 2010

    FYI, sublime is cross platform now

  2. CCalc on Sunday 4, 2010

    True! I’m loving it.