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BBEdit 6.1 for Mac OS X
Pages: 1, 2

Text-handling tools

It's true: There aren't 12 different types of resume templates loaded into BBEdit, and you won't find a know-it-all paper clip tapping at you every time you try something new. But if you can live without these features, there are plenty of professional text-handling tools that enable BBEdit to be used for most of your markup and writing needs. Here are a few I really enjoy:

  • Get Info -- How Mac! You'll find it under the Window heading at the top of the dialogue window. This gives you a quick view of the characters, words, lines, and pages in your document. This comes with both the Lite and Full versions.
  • Check Spelling -- You'll find this under the Text heading at the top of the window. This is included in the Full version only.
  • Find -- The find-and-replace functions in BBEdit are so sophisticated they have their own header at the top of the application window -- titled Search, of course. The Full version includes a more complete implementation than the Lite version.
  • Soft Wrap Text -- Don't let that text run endlessly off the screen -- soft wrap it! This feature comes with both the Lite and Full versions.

You also have a complete font menu, line-break control, printing options, line numbering, and so much more.

HTML markup

Another feature-rich area I want to mention is the Markup drop-down menu in the Full version. These tools can save you time as you prepare your text for web display and are worth the price of the upgrade alone.

Your first option in this drop-down menu is the HTML Tools Palette. This floating palette gives you quick access to just about every HTML tag you'll need for quick markup. For those of you who like to have your Dock always displayed in Mac OS X, go to BBEdit Preferences, choose HTML Palette, and then select Short Button Height. If you don't do this, the palette will drop all the way down into your Dock and drive you crazy.

Another one of my favorite markup functions is under Utilities -- the Make Tags Lowercase option. Because we're an XHTML shop, I constantly have to convert authors' markup tags from uppercase to lowercase. This slick utility coverts all the tags in one swift motion.

And finally, I want to mention BBEdit's compatibility with the Macromedia Dreamweaver and Adobe GoLive text editors. You can, for example, open your BBEdit HTML document in Dreamweaver by selecting Choose Dreamweaver. Also, if you open a GoLive document in BBEdit, then select GoLive Cleaner, BBEdit will remove some of the gnarly code that GoLive generates (such as font tags with no semantic value) and tighten up your entire document. Nice!

Final thoughts

BBEdit 6.1 for Mac OS X is a terrific example of how smooth a properly Carbonized application can run. The look is fantastic, the performance is solid, and the feature set is rich.

Now that BBEdit Lite is available for Mac OS X, you can have a powerful text editor available in your new favorite working environment. If you rely heavily on a text editor for mission-critical projects, however, you'll want to upgrade to the Full version that contains so many useful features it would take me three or four review articles to cover them all.

I've only touched on my personal favorites today. These are the pliers and screwdrivers that have become indispensable members of my publishing toolbox. You will undoubtedly discover other features that are equally important to you. (If you have a feature or two that you really like, post a Talk Back and share with others.)

One last comment that is pure opinion: The companies that have provided us with solid Carbon and Cocoa applications early in the history of Mac OS X deserve special acknowledgement, especially when done well. I've already written about OmniWeb, Graphic Converter, and now BBEDit 6.1. Microsoft has also done a nice job as it continues to improve the Carbon version of IE 5.1. Thanks to the efforts of these developers who were willing to take a risk on this new operating system, we're given the opportunity to explore Mac OS X while accomplishing our daily tasks. As any good Mac user knows, the only way to really learn something new is to use it as part of your daily work.

BBEdit is one of the first apps I open each and every day.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit

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