MacMost Now 256: Using the Text Editors Hidden in Terminal

There are four text editors you can use from the Terminal: Pico, Nano, Vi and Emacs. Each can be used to quickly edit text files. Learn how to access them and what makes them different.

Comments: 7 Responses to “MacMost Now 256: Using the Text Editors Hidden in Terminal”

    15 years ago

    I follow and like your 'macmost-video's' for quite some time now. Still trying to figure out what your businessmodel looks like. Anyway ... i was suprised about your video on text editors. Not so long ago I was a Windows user (never again) and just when I am more than happy with all the convenience the Mac offers you suggest we use terminal text editors which resemble my old DOS edlin commandline and early Wordstar programs. Why would you? Why would anyone want to use that when there are so many modern programs ...?

    (English is not my native language so please forgive any mistakes)

    Jean (the Netherlands)

      15 years ago

      I don't suggest you use them at all. There are many different types of Mac users looking to use many different things. I've been asked for more Terminal videos, so I came up with this one. Not all of the videos will be for everyone. It sounds like you, like most people, won't really need this particular tip. But isn't it interesting to know what is there?

    15 years ago

    Thank you for your reply.
    OK you are correct you don't literally suggest to use them ....
    Then again bringing this subject - editors with tons of information because they are around for decades - is still about quite obsolete programs ..... and why would anyone ...
    OK OK, there might be some back-to-basics-people who would enjoy an ancient experience ....

    Anyhow, I'm honoured you'd take the time for a response. I'll keep enjoying your video's because in general they are very helpful for switchers like me. (I'm on OSX for 1,5 years now)


    15 years ago

    Gary and Jean,

    I'd like to weight in.

    I liked and appreciate the "Using the Text Editors Hidden in Terminal" post. I rarely use emacs and the terminal window in general.

    But, when I do, I can do things that are difficult or impossible in MicroSoft office, to my knowledge.

    For example, in emacs, I can quickly construct a macro that's difficult or impossible to express in TextEdit or Word. There's also "regular expression" and stream capability to find/replace in emacs and elsewhere from the command line. (grep, sort, wc, sed with pipes makes it trivial to assemble scripts for complex, but one-time tasks.)

    There are other goodies buried in emacs on the Mac, by the way, including Eliza, Adventure, and other "games."

    For programmers, emacs understands and color-codes syntax and keywords. I don't believe that's in TextEdit or Word.

    Here's one more example. Last week, I needed a word occurrence count for a PDF document. I am not aware of that being elsewhere in the Mac. So, I Google-searched for a terminal command-line and found what became this:

    % pbpaste | perl ./jwords | sort -fd | uniq -c | sort -rfd | head -n 20

    (perl ./jwords acccomplishes a "deroff" task of converting a text stream into individual words on separate lines.)

    When run on the above text, the command line produces this list of word counts:
    8 in
    8 I
    8 and
    6 a
    5 the
    5 emacs
    4 to
    4 or
    2 thats
    2 that
    2 TextEdit

    So, Gary, keep those great posts coming!


    15 years ago

    I am a new commer to Mac os x system, i have been a pc user for decades. Out of curiousity i bought a mac in other learn its amazing features. I thinkg i am liking it. Your tutorials have helped me a lot in navigating arround without much difficulties.

    Hi Gary, i have a question to ask. I am learning to play a guitar with aid of garrage Band. I donwloaded some learning lessons online, after a while some of the lessons no longer audoi sound. I have tried to re-download the same lessons, i am unable to. Can you please give me a suggestion ?


      15 years ago

      I'm not sure what the problem could be. Does other audio coming from GarageBand make any sound? In GarageBand preferences, under Audio/MIDI, is the Audio Output set OK? Check you system volume and also your speakers, of course, as well.

    Dave P
    11 years ago

    Most recent == best???
    OTC, I thought it was a Great video, Gary. It was just what I was looking for.

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