How to customize TextEdit on Mac for maximum efficiency

TextEdit HTML File

With the built-in TextEdit app on your Mac, you can write HTML files, edit plain text documents, and even annotate images. If you don’t want to scour the App Store or shell out money for a text editor, then TextEdit on Mac is the perfect tool.

So if you use TextEdit a little or even a lot, you might as well take a few minutes to customize it to work best for you. We’ll guide you through the options to make TextEdit efficient for your tasks.

Open a new document in TextEdit

You can open TextEdit from your Applications folder or using Spotlight and click New Document.

Click TextEdit > Preferences from the menu bar and get ready to customize the app.

Adjust the settings for creating new documents

At the top of the Preferences window, click New Document. These settings will apply to all new documents you create in the app as well as the app window itself.

TextEdit Preferences New Document

Format: Pick from rich or plain text as your default. If you want the text your typing to wrap within the page margins you set, check Wrap to page.

Window Size: You can set the width and height for the TextEdit window. This is a great way to ensure the app opens in the size you want each time.

Font: Pick both the plain text and rich text font styles and sizes you want to use. This lets you pick your favorite fonts for each.

Properties: For rich text files, you can apply the Author, Organization, and Copyright properties. Depending on the type of documents you’re creating in TextEdit, these might be essential to you.

Options: You have a variety of additional settings to enable or disable in TextEdit. You can have the app check spelling as you type or automatically correct it, show the ruler at the top (note below), and use smart quotes and dashes in rich text documents.

Note: If you want to set the margins, tabs, indents, and paragraph alignment for rich text documents, you’ll need to display and use the Ruler.

Take a few moments to adjust all of these settings so that you get the best experience possible when creating new documents in TextEdit.

Adjust the settings for opening and saving documents

At the top of the Preferences window, click Open and Save. These settings will apply to files you open and save with TextEdit.

TextEdit Preferences Open and Save

When Opening a file: Check the boxes for how you want to display HTML and RTF files when you open them. For instance, if you’re going to edit an HTML file, then you probably want to check the box to display it as code rather than formatted text.

When Saving a File: This is a simple checkbox for always using the TXT file extension when saving files.

Plain Text File Encoding: Click each drop-down box and select a method for opening plain text documents. You can likely leave this to Automatic unless you need to open or save files in a different language.

HTML Saving Options: For writing HTML in TextEdit, you’ll want to check these settings for the best ones for you.

Document type: Pick an HTML or XHTML option.

Styling: Pick from embedded, inline, or no CSS.

Encoding: Choose from the same options you have for the Plain Text Encoding above.

Preserve white space: Check or uncheck this box per your preference.

Other TextEdit tips

  • On both tabs in the Preferences window, you have a Restore All Defaults button at the bottom. So if you ever want to revert to the original, default settings, just click that button.
  • Even if you adjust the above settings for New Documents or Open and Save, you can still make some changes on the fly for your current document from the menu bar.

For example, the Format menu lets you switch between plain and rich text for your document, show the ruler, and use the Wrap to page option.

  • You can change the font style and size from the default for a current rich text document using the toolbar at the top.
TextEdit Rich Text Toolbar

Wrapping it up

Whether you’re preparing to use TextEdit on Mac for the first time or have been using it with its default settings, these options can help you work more efficiently and effectively with the app.

Do you have any tips for TextEdit that you’d like to share? Or maybe you prefer a different text editor for your Mac? Let us know your thoughts below!