It might seem surprising that Notepad++ is by far the most popular and trusted source-code editor on the Windows operating system. The program’s features are quite limited at best and the overall look too simplistic compared to some runner-ups. What it does have going for it though is a free distribution on an open-source license, which lets anyone build plugins and extensions as they see fit.
Turns out that’s exactly what more than 30 million developers who use Notepad++ on a regular basis are looking for. This simple text editor developed by Don Ho in 2003 has become the rockstar of the open-source movement in just a few short years. So naturally, if you’ve recently switched from Windows to macOS, you might be wondering how to download Notepad++ for Mac as well.
Is There Notepad++ For Mac?
Unfortunately, the exact native Notepad++ Mac alternative doesn’t exist. And there are a few good reasons for it. Notepad++ is a non-commercial open-source project that was originally built by just one developer for the Windows operating system. That’s why it extensively leverages the Win32 API, and trying to port the software to macOS would require substantial investments in rewriting the whole codebase.
But worry not! There are ways you can still use Notepad++ Mac version with a few workarounds, by either running an emulator or a virtual machine. Additionally, you can always choose one of numerous outstanding Mac HTML editors that run natively and truly utilize all the possibilities of macOS.
Run NotePad for Mac with an emulator
One of the possible ways to run an actual Notepad app in macOS is using an emulator program, which essentially creates a compatibility layer between Windows and Mac, and thus able to load virtually any Windows-based software within its interface right on your Mac.
Sounds complicated because, in fact, it is. But by using one of the emulator apps, such as Wine, you can quickly install and enjoy Notepad++ or any other Windows program you miss. Here’s how to do that:
Download the Wine package from its official website and unzip the archive
Open up Terminal and type winecfg to create a C drive where Notepad for Mac will live
Download Notepad++ from its GitHub repository and put it in the newly created C drive
Back in the Terminal, navigate to the C drive directory and install the .exe file by typing wine [file name]
To launch Notepad after the installation is complete, just type wine [file name] in the Terminal once more
Done! Now you can run the Notepad++ you’re so used to, with all of its features, right on your Mac. As good as it is, the solution is not ideal — mostly because you’re essentially running an app within an app, which introduces twice as many bugs to the whole stack. There is, however, another option of using Notepad++ for Mac, and that’s setting up a virtual machine to basically run Windows on your Mac altogether.
Use Notepad for Mac with a virtual machine
If using Notepad++ for Mac with minimum bugs and maximum stability is a priority, then installing a virtual machine might seem like an attractive option. A virtual machine would basically run a full-scale Windows environment within your Mac, letting you install and use any Windows-only software without limits.
Out of all available virtual machine offerings, VMware Fusion has a long-standing reputation of being both robust and (relatively) easy to use. Here’s how to get it to install Windows on your Mac:
Make sure you have an official ISO copy (and license keys) of the Windows version of your choice
Download and install VMware Fusion
When prompted, drag and drop the Windows ISO file onto the Installation Method window
Check the Use Easy Install option
Fill out your license credentials for Windows
Save your new virtual machine
Your Windows environment window should now be active!
After you set up your virtual machine, use it to download and run Notepad++ like you’ve used to. Overall, using VM software is a more stable solution than working through an emulator and it does accomplish what you’re after. But it would be fair to say that it does come with a few downsides as well:
Having to purchase and update both Windows and VMware Fusion
Dealing with less than ideal integration of Windows in Mac, which can seem frustrating if you’re used to perfect native speed and reliability
A better and simpler approach to the Notepad++ problem, that also lets you avoid emulators and virtual machines, would be finding a great Notepad++ Mac substitute, of which there are lots. A true Mac-first code editor would leverage everything you love about Notepad with native compatibility and even allow for some great new features.
What’s the best Notepad++ Mac alternative?
It goes without saying that using Mac with software that was specifically made for macOS is an unbeatable experience. And when it comes to source code editors for Mac, CodeRunner instantly stands out.
CodeRunner is a multi-language programming editor ready to take on any software engineering task you can through at it, from writing code in one of the supported 25 languages to swift debugging. Some good reasons to switch Notepad++ for CodeRunner include:
IDE-level code completion for most languages, which significantly speeds up the software development process
Instant breakpoints that make debugging, one of the most tedious steps in any development project, part of a single integrated workflow
Documentation support for all languages right from the app to minimize distractions and save time
CodeRunner is an intuitive, fast, and versatile general-purpose programming editor that could become the Notepad++ Mac alternative you were looking for. It’s suitable for beginners and professional developers alike.
However, if your development work is mostly focused on the web, then choosing a more specialized Mac HTML editor could serve you better.
What’s the best HTML editor for Mac?
Without a doubt, you could use CodeRunner for basically every kind of a development project. But if you mostly find yourself developing for the web, it’s worth looking into trying out a designated web editor, which is designed to address problems specific to web development.
Espresso does just that — helps you design, code, build, and publish websites with ease. Unlike CodeRunner, its feature set is more specific to and heavily influenced by the needs of the web:
Live browser preview and CSS styling, so you can update your web project in real time without republishing, reloading, or even saving
Built-in server infrastructure to allow for the flexibility of dynamic content on static websites
Custom templates for any web component you frequently reuse
Using a Mac HTML editor for web projects not only makes development faster and less buggy, it organizes the whole workflow in a way that significantly increases your productivity.
Whether you choose a general-purpose or web-specific Notepad++ Mac alternative, you can accelerate your development process even more by using an efficient code-expanding app.
How to write code faster with expanders
In any development project there are hundreds and even thousands of instances when you’re essentially writing the same thing over and over again. The good news is there is no need to repeat yourself anymore if you employ dynamic snippets.
TeaCode is a native Mac app that lets you write code much faster by specifying abbreviations which turn into full snippets. There are over 80 expanders for Swift, PHP, Objective-C, and HTML already built in, and you can create your own easily as well.
The real benefit here is that you can use TeaCode right inside apps like Espresso and CodeRunner, supercharging them with extra productivity. This is one of the things that would be impossible to do in Notepad for Mac.
Give up your old routines
While all of us get attached to the software we use over time, following certain workflows and patterns, there is a point when it simply becomes counterproductive.
Sure, you can keep using Notepad++ for Mac with the workarounds described above. But if there was ever a time to switch code editors, it would definitely be when you decided to jump into a new operating system. As a developer you know that nothing can compare with the functionality and experience of the native app. So embrace the change and make a leap to using more productive software.
Best of all, CodeRunner, Espresso, and TeaCode are all available to you on a free trial through Setapp. Setapp is a platform for mostly Mac-exclusive apps and utilities (over 120 and counting) that are designed to improve your Mac experience in nearly any situation. Upgrade your dev toolkit with the best macOS has to offer.