BBEdit is a very cool, extremely useful text editor available only for Macintosh. It is produced by Bare Bones Software, which offers a "lite" version for free download at The "Lite" version is quite worth having, as it is much more powerful than SimpleText. For instance, it can process files up to 2GB in size, and it can handle DOS and Unix files with ease. The current version, 6.5, is compatible with MacOS X and MacOS 9.x.

BBEdit is not a word processor: you won't be able to change the font of your text or change its layout, etc. BBEdit is designed as a good environment for writing HTML and program code. The closest Windows analog to this program is HomeSite, but BBEdit offers features (such as being able to split your document viewscreen, which makes comparing/moving code very easy) that make it my absolute favorite HTML editor.

Using BBEdit's Batch Replace For Easy File Editing

If you need to make the same change to many HTML files, BBEdit gives you an easy way to do so: batch find and replace.

First, select Search:Find, or hit Apple-F.

You will be presented with a dialog box like the one on the next page. If you want to do a regular Find/Replace in the document you've got open -- say, to replace curved quotes with straight quotes -- all you'd have to do is put a curved quote (“) in the "Search For" field and a straight quote (") in the "Replace With" field and then click "Replace All."

But what if you want to make a change across many files? For instance, if you have several text documents to plug into HTML templates, but you're tired of cutting and pasting every last paragraph. You want to quickly put in the correct HTML paragraph tags and worry about the rest of the tags later. But how can you do this?

First, put all the files you want into a separate folder. Then, start BBEdit. Go to Find as before, and put \r in the "Search For" field (this will search for hard returns; \r is the universal escape code for a hard return). Then, in the "Replace With" field, put </p>\r<p> ... this will replace all hard returns in the documents with an end paragraph mark followed by a hard return and then a beginning paragraph mark.

Next, you want to set BBEdit to find and replace in all the files in your folder. To do this, select the boxes labeled "Multi-File Search" and "Batch Find" near the bottom of the screen. Then, select the folder you've put your files in. When you click on "Replace All", BBEdit will replace all the hard returns in all the documents in the folder you've selected.

Pretty cool, eh? The program offers far more than batch file handling; it offers tools to clean up bad HTML, a web-safe color palette, tools for debugging HTML, CSS tools, etc. Furthermore, Bare Bones offers some truly excellent documentation, support, and plug-ins libraries on their website.