Washington Apple Pi

A Community of Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac Users

The Many Uses of TextEdit

By John Barnes

Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint information

One session of the May 2006 General Meeting “Mac Training Day” was devoted to a discussion of the many uses of TextEdit. While this application looks like the successor to SimpleText, TextEdit is much more flexible and powerful. As an aside, Mac users who have the SimpleText application on their machines should remove it in order to avoid having to launch the Classic environment.

TextEdit has many handy talents, one of which is its ability to open Microsoft Word documents like those attachments you receive in e-mails. It supports both unformatted ASCII text (.txt) and rich text format (.RTF). TextEdit also supports many character attributes (size, style, color, etc). Paragraph styles of the kind found in high-end word processors are also supported, allowing authors considerable richness of expression without being burdened by bloatware. Some Microsoft Word documents do not render properly, in which case the user may need to try AppleWorks or MacLink Plus Deluxe to get the proper look of the Word document.

Since TextEdit is a very lean and simple application, it launches very quickly. One handy use is as a note pad for composing replies to messages on the Pi, forums, the TCS. By working outside of the Web browser and pasting the spell-checked message into the text box, you lessen the risk of being exposed to the "somebody took a nap" message that signals a timeout in the user's session.

When messages from Mac OS X mail are saved they come out as .rtf documents, for which TextEdit is the viewer of choice. It is also interesting to note that Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Mail messages are stored in a very simple format (extension .emlx) that can be read with TextEdit. While it normally does not make much sense to do this, it is comforting to know that a message can be retrieved even if a copy of Mac OS X Mail is not available.

I hope that this little description will encourage our members to try TextEdit and give it more of the respect that it deserves.