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BBEdit icon
BBEdit screenshot
BBEdit editing its own Wikipedia article
Developer(s) Bare Bones Software
Initial release 1991; 24 years ago (1991)
Stable release 11.1[1] / April 29, 2015 (2015-04-29)
Operating system Mac OS X
Type Text editor
License Proprietary

BBEdit is a proprietary text editor made by Bare Bones Software, originally developed for Macintosh System Software 6, and supporting Mac OS X.[2]


The first version of BBEdit was created as a "bare bones" text editor to serve as a "proof of concept"; the intention was to demonstrate the programming capabilities of an experimental version of Pascal for the Macintosh. The original prototypes of BBEdit used the TextEdit control available in versions of Mac OS of the time. The TextEdit control could not load files larger than 32 KB. The Macintosh Pascal project was ultimately terminated, but the demonstration program was reworked to use the THINK Technologies "PE" text editing engine used for THINK C, which was much faster and could read larger files. BBEdit and its derivatives were the first freestanding text editor to use the "PE" editing engine, and the only one still being developed.

In 1994, taking advantage of BBEdit's then-novel plugin support, third party developers started writing plug-ins to easily create and format HTML code. In fact, the developers at Bare Bones Software first learned of the existence of HTML through users inquiring about these plug-ins. Barebones later bought the rights to the plugin code from their author and included them as part of the standard BBEdit package. The tools were included as an optional palette in version 4, and were progressively more integrated, gaining their own menu in version 5.0. BBEdit's plugin support was removed in version 9.6, in favor of the expanded selection of scripting languages available for Mac OS X.

BBEdit was available at no charge upon its initial release in 1991, but was commercialized in May 1993 with the release of version 2.5.[1]

At the same time, Bare Bones Software also made a less-featured version of BBEdit 2.5 called BBEdit Lite available at no cost. BBEdit Lite lacked plugin support, scriptability, syntax coloring and other features then deemed as mainly for advanced users. Bare Bones Software discontinued BBEdit Lite at version 6.1 and replaced it with TextWrangler, which was available for a fee, although significantly less than BBEdit. In 2005, TextWrangler 2.0 was released as freeware and subsequent versions continue to be distributed as such.[3]

BBEdit was one of the first applications to be made available for Mac OS X, as a Carbon app. On OS X BBEdit takes advantage of the operating system's Unix underpinnings by integrating scripts written in Python, Perl, or other common Unix scripting languages, as well as adding features such as shell worksheets that provide a screen editor interface to command line functionality similar to MPW Worksheets and Emacs shell buffers.

BBEdit's creator code R*ch refers to Rich Siegel, one of Bare Bones Software's founders and the original author of BBEdit.


BBEdit is designed for use by software developers and web designers.[2] It has native support for many programming languages and custom modules can be created by users to support any language. BBEdit is not a word processor, meaning it does not have text formatting or page layout features.

The application contains multi-file text searching capabilities including support for Perl-compatible regular expressions. BBEdit allows previewing and built-in validation of HTML markup and also provides prototypes for most HTML constructs that can be entered into a dialog box. It also includes FTP and SFTP tools and integrates with code management systems. BBEdit shows differences between file versions and allows for the merging of changes. Support for version control, including CVS, Perforce, and Subversion is built in.[2]

A number of applications and developer tools provide direct support for using BBEdit as a third-party source code editor.

BBEdit supports the Open Scripting Architecture and can be scripted and recorded using AppleScript and other languages, as well as having the ability to execute AppleScripts itself.[4]

Language support[edit]

BBEdit supports syntax highlighting for a wide variety of popular computer languages. As of version 10.1, these include: ANSI C, C++, CSS, Fortran 95, HTML, Java, JavaScript, JSP, Lasso, Object Pascal, Objective-C, Objective-C++, Perl, PHP, Python, Rez, Ruby, Setext, SQL (including Transact-SQL, PL/SQL, MySQL, and PostgreSQL), Tcl, TeX, UNIX shell scripts, XML, and YAML. BBEdit's SDK allows users to develop additional language modules.[5]

Freeware versions[edit]

BBEdit Lite[edit]

BBEdit Lite is a freeware stripped-down version of BBEdit.[6][7] BBEdit Lite had many of the same features as BBEdit such as regular expressions, a plug-in architecture and the same text editing engine, but no programming and web-oriented tools such as syntax highlighting, command line shell, HTML tools or FTP support.


Developer(s) Bare Bones Software
Stable release 5.0.1 / November 4, 2015 (2015-11-04)
Operating system OS X
Type Text editor
License Proprietary

In 2003 Bare Bones introduced the commercial text editor TextWrangler, an enhanced version of BBEdit Lite,[7][8] which ceased further development. Later TextWrangler 2.0 was made available free of charge;[9] it remains available, but will only run under Mac OS Classic, not OS X.

Like BBEdit, TextWrangler does not have formatting and style options—it is purely a plain text editor. It has features common to most programming text editors, such as syntax highlighting for various programming languages, a find and replace function with regular expression support, spell check, and data comparison. TextWrangler also includes scripting support using AppleScript, Python, Perl, shell scripts, and BBEdit's native Text Factories. It supports text reformatting, and can read and save files in encodings including various Unicode encodings, ASCII, Latin-1 and Latin-9.


  1. ^ Bare Bones Software (2015). "BBEdit 11.1 Release Notes". Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  2. ^ a b c Bare Bones Software (2008). "Bare Bones Software - BBEdit 9". Archived from the original on 20 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Bare Bones Software. "BBEdit’s Other Useful Features". Archived from the original on 4 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-03. 
  5. ^ Bare Bones Software. "BBEdit’s Display Features". Archived from the original on 19 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-03. 
  6. ^ MacTech July 1993 Newsbits,
  7. ^ a b Bare Bones Company History,
  8. ^ MacWorld, BBEdit, February 2003.
  9. ^ BareBones TextWrangler FAQ

External links[edit]