The BBEdit 12 Review

The golden oldie for anyone involved in text editing, HTML and CSS coding and yes, MarkDown, has been upgraded with new and improved features once again. BBEdit 12, the oldest and best all-round text editor on the market has reached its 12th generation. Twelve is a magic number and that’s a good description of this new version too.

There’s a lot new to discover in BBEdit 12. It’s better at a dark colour scheme, with BBEdit now colouring editing and project window chrome to match. The app now also supports Split View and other macOS features but not the tab bar or Touch bar. However, with regards to the tab bar, you can always make the sidebar visible — the sidebar is BBEdit’s own “tab bar”.

For faster search-and-replace in very large files, BBEdit 12 now has a Canonize tool. This allows you to create a text file that contains your search and replace content. With the new Canonize command, you can then go through the entire file and process all changes you want to make in that file. However, the new command doesn’t work on multiple files directly. It can be done, but then you’ll need to set up a Text Factory.

Take a look at this video, which shows how powerful it really can be:

I would have loved to try out the FTP/SFTP capabilities of BBEdit 12, but as I no longer have a FTP server to access, I couldn’t try out that feature. It’s said to be much improved and I did notice a nice Bookmark icon in the setup dialogue.

A real boon is the new Column processing functionality. It works with tab-delimited files and allows you to cut, copy, clear and move around “columns”. That used to be really tedious in previous versions of BBEdit as the app doesn’t support elastic tabs and sometimes you couldn’t make out where one column started and another one ended. Well, you don’t need to worry about it anymore. There’s a menu for it.

Text Extraction with Grep capabilities is an addition to BBEdit 11’s Text Extraction feature. It’s one of the Search/Replace features that allows you to locate and collect search results into a single text document. Extraction can be run on an active document, but also across multiple files and folders. The Grep power becomes obvious when you’re searching for and replacing snippets using Grep patterns. Not only can you search with Grep, but by creating a pattern in the Replace box as well, you can immediately during extraction transform the extracted text.

If you love changing your editing window to your liking — who doesn’t? — the old venerable editor now has a selection of carefully crafted pre-installed colour schemes that you can freely adapt to your own taste as well — and of course, you can save the lot as a new scheme.

The Info popup offers live document statistics and file permissions adjustments, but it will work only on saved files as yours truly quickly found out for himself — which sort of makes sense if you’re not completely moronic.

BBEdit 12 also has new editing commands, including a keyboard-based rectangular selection. It works well, but I for one have no intention of switching to the keyboard. The mouse is my friend.

One new feature that I like, but which isn’t as high-end as the others, is a new command on the Edit menu: “Paste Using Filter”. Under this item are text filters from your “Text Filters” folder. Choosing a filter will process the text on the Clipboard through the selected filter before inserting it in your document, which basically means you can transform the clipboard before it gets pasted — a bit like what Pastebot allows you to do across applications.


Well, BBEdit has come a long way. Version 12 is an all-encompassing version. If you have text in your head and want to put it in whatever text format you wish, you can do it with BBEdit — with version 12, more stylish, more powerful and more flexible. And all that for $49.99.

Even if you have Ulysses, BBEdit is still worth considering because it opens files and can do things you can’t do with anything else. Warmly recommended.

This entry was posted in: macOS
Tagged with: ,


J.D. – Copywriter – Tech. Writer – Editor at Visuals Producer – Contributor at Photoshop User, Studio Daily – Sub-editor at RedShark News