If you use TextEdit on Mac for your simple word processing and quick plain text editing needs like a Notepad equivalent from the Windows world, you’ll likely appreciate that the latest versions of Mac OS support tabbed windows in TextEdit. This can dramatically reduce window clutter in the TextEdit app, just like tabs work elsewhere.
You may have noticed that tabs in TextEdit aren’t visible by default, so you’ll want to enable this little feature with a quick settings adjustment.
How to Show and Use TextEdit Tabs
- Open TextEdit as usual on the Mac
- Pull down the “View” menu and choose “Show Tab Bar”
- Click on the [+] plus button to create a new tab
- Optionally, merge all existing TextEdit windows into tabs by going to the ‘Window’ menu and choosing “Merge All Windows”
Why tabs are hidden by default in TextEdit isn’t entirely clear, but unlike in Safari where you can open a new tab with a keyboard shortcut, that isn’t (currently) an option in the MacOS TextEdit app.
You’ll need a modern version of Mac OS Sierra or later to have this feature, older versions of Mac OS do not have tabbed support in TextEdit.
Not everyone uses TextEdit but it’s an under appreciated app on the Mac. I personally use TextEdit all the time for quickly glancing at simple text documents, as a plain text viewer, basic word processing where the complete Pages functionality is not necessary, quick and dirty outlining, as a quick and simple HTML source viewer, and much more. For more full fledged word processing and text editing needs, I’ll rely on Pages app, Microsoft Word, and BBEdit or TextWrangler, but if you give TextEdit a try you might be surprised how fully featured it is for such a small lightweight application.