Use cases of BBEdit

Can you please list the use cases for BBEdit.

Editing code such as HTML, CSS, or a full programming language like Ruby, Python, or JavaScript.

I used to use it almost exclusively for writing long-form documents because it was fast, had powerful search/GREP functionality, and used to be unmatched in the ability to customize the writing environment (fonts, text/background colors). I have some screenshots in these two posts.

Jason Snell of sixcolors.con (and former editor of MACWORLD) has used BBEdit for a couple of decades and has written about it a lot.


I use BBEdit primarily to restructure text flow and to change text content via the powerful RegEx search/replace function.

I once used it exclusively and extensively to develop HTML (preferring “roll your own” to the WYSIWYG HTML editors). Even though this is now a task that I only do infrequently, BBEdit is still always the app that I use.


Some of the things I use the most.

Multi-file search. You can search or edit all the files in a folder or multiple folders, for example, with one find/replace command.

Text Filters. You can create filters or load filters written by other people and apply them to your text. Useful for for,acting data.

Organization. You can create projects, which are collections of files you want to have available or open for working on a project.

UNIX. You can execute UNIX commands, write and run script files in a window, without having to open Terminal.

If I had to write code again, BBEdit would be my app of choice. As far as writing content is concerned, iA Writer meets my needs. Two different tasks. Two different tools.

I played around creating content in BBEdit but found the time I spent messing with preferences could have been better spent actually writing. I don’t generate much content these days and have no need for RegEx. YM will vary. Just stating what has worked for me.

Because Emacs isn’t available?

I kid! It’s a great coding editor. If your job involves writing a lot of code, it’s worth a look.

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I like to write in it sometimes. But my main use for it is when formatting documents someone else has written. Cutting text out of word and into BBEdit and then back into MSWord is sometimes the only way I can strip out some of the nastier invisible formatting that gets stuck in Word documents.

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BBEdit is the best text editor I know with incredible regex support.
I use drafts for short form, and BBEdit for code and long form writing.

side note: If you have Keyboard Maestro you should look at “paste by typing”

This removes all nasty formatting stuff.

(thanks to Dave Hamilton, tip from Mac Geek Gab podcast)

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My #1 use case is quick grabs of information. I often deal with log files, etc. where what I want is all the lines about a certain computer. BBEdit’s “Process lines containing” command lets me hand it a 10,000 line file and in one command get the 10 lines I need, all copied to a new file. You can delete the matched lines also, which is another common problem for me.

This use case occurs a lot because our work has a lot of information kept in almost-spreadsheet-like text files. Databases come and go, but the text files started in the 90s by my four-times-removed predecessor in this job are still readable and full of things I use in my job.

BBEdit is also a good general purpose editor, code editor, HTML editor and a good tool for cleaning up & reformatting text that came from somewhere else.

Thank you! That’s a great tip. :slight_smile:

Why do you ask about BBEdit specifically, @abhishek?

I use BBEdit for almost all writing. it lets you focus on content, then later you can do the formatting someplace else.

I love that it auto saves everything, even if you haven’t even saved the document once.

BBEdit has many tools to manipulate text.

You can create your own scriptable Text Filters. These can do almost anything. (Dr. Drang writes occasionally about using these.) For example, I have a script that will strip out emails from a list of names & email addresses.

Another one is Text Factories. These allow “you to assemble a list of text transformations that will be applied in order” and “can also run AppleScript and Unix scripts against each file, further enhancing the power and flexibility of this feature.”

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Ooh! Interesting!
I’ve been looking for the right set of features to tempt me away from TextMate (that I’ve been using since 2005).

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Although I’m a longtime fan of BBEdit, if you are interested in Text Factories across your Mac, take a look at the Pastebot (from the makers of Tweetbot) multiple clipboard app. It lets you not only create your own filters and make key-command shortcuts for them, but you can also invoke shell scripts as if they were filters. Filters manual here:

I used the dev’s previous iteration of Pastebot for many years (under the name PTH Pasteboard), but it stopped working on earlier macOS versions so I switched to another multiple clipboard app (less advanced in some ways, better for me in others) years before Pastebot emerged - otherwise I’d be using Pastebot now.

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For the 12 years I hand-coded a then-employer’s site (until TPTB went with a CMS), BBEdit was my daily driver. Loved it dearly. These days, though, I manage it on my personal site with the free and only slightly unwieldy Visual Studio Code.