The best free Mac WYSIWYG HTML editor I can find is ...

Mac HTML editor FAQ: What is the best free Mac WYSIWYG HTML editor?

As I continue my quest to find a great, simple, and free Mac HTML WYSIWYG editor ... well, I still can't find anything that blows me away. But I will give you my take on the best free Mac WYSIWYG HTML editor I can find right now.

My ideal free Mac WYSIWYG HTML editor (the criteria)

The ground rules for my best free Mac WYSIWYG HTML editor are the same as they were the last time I did this search: I just want to find a great free Mac HTML editor I can use to create articles for my websites. I don't need to create an entire website, I just need a Mac HTML editor where I can write one blog page at a time. 

That one wish led to these basic features I want in a free Mac WYSIWYG HTML editor:

  • A true Mac WYSIWYG HTML editor. I don't want to see any HTML markup. I can use TextMate, vi, or other Mac text editors for any finishing touches I need.
  • I'm not interested in graphics with my free Mac HTML editor. I just want to use a simple subset of tags, including P, A, CODE, EM, PRE, H1-H4, UL, and OL, with an occasional bold, underline, or table.
  • Carriage returns should create paragraphs (not break tags).
  • I can create tables and lists by clicking a button just before I need to create them.
  • Integrated spell-checking.
  • Basic copy, paste, search, and undo functionality.
  • Native Mac keystroke support.

Second, here is a short list of "nice to have" free Mac WYSIWYG HTML editor features:

 

 

  • Let me switch between WYSIWYG and HTML views and edit content in either view.
  • Let me edit more than one document at a time. (This violates my "own wish" above, but I occasionally do work on more than one article at a time.)
  • Some sort of type-ahead, auto-complete editor magic.
  • Let me change the Mac HTML editor fonts and colors, and remember those as preferences.
  • Same thing with window sizes and locations.

The best free Mac WYSIWYG HTML editor is ...

UPDATE: I've changed my mind -- "flip-flopped" in political terms -- and I've switched to using SeaMonkey. Amaya probably generates cleaner code, but SeaMonkey is a much better overall experience. I'll update this article when I have more time, but I just wanted to share that as of January 6, 2010, I think SeaMonkey is the best free Mac HTML editor I can find.

(It's now June 14, 2010, and I'm still happy with SeaMonkey.)

I'm very surprised, but the best free Mac WYSIWYG HTML editor I can find is the W3C Amaya editor. It's still not at all ideal, but I give it the following points:

  • It is a WYSIWYG HTML editor.
  • Carriage returns do create paragraphs.
  • Paragraphs, H1-H4, UL, and OL tags work fine. I haven't tried all the others yet.
  • Creating hyperlinks works.
  • It generates very clean HTML.
  • Basic copy, paste, search, and undo functionality.
  • You can switch back and forth between the WYSIWYG and source code views (technically two window panes with a divider between them), and edit in either view.

Unfortunately it still comes with some "cons" to go with those "pros":

  • It does not have native Mac keystroke support. It feels like one of those apps that runs on the Mac but isn't a native app.
  • It does not have dynamic spell checking.
  • I can't figure out how to make text underline or italics without going to the source code view. (Maybe the old HTML tags are not in the new XHTML specs?)
  • It feels clunky, and definitely needs some "user experience" love.
  • Besides being clunky, it's also a little slow.

Given all those pro's and con's, Amaya is the best free Mac WYSIWYG HTML editor I can find right now, and in fact, this blog post is being created with Amaya.

Other free Mac WYSIWYG HTML editors I looked at

I'm not going to write much about these other Mac HTML editors, because they were all disappointing in different ways, but for this review I also looked at:

  • Mozilla SeaMonkey
  • NVU
  • Kompozer

Okay, I will say one thing about these tools: As a programmer, I don't like the HTML they generate. I think they're all built from the same core engine (Kompozer is definitely supposed to be a bug fix of NVU), and they generate BR tags instead of P tags in many (wrong) places, and also create non-breaking space code ( ) at seemingly random intervals.

So, even though Amaya still has some issues, it's not too bad to use, and it does create clean HTML.

Follow-up note, January 4, 2010: I have tried using SeaMonkey again for the last few days, and I have worked through the BR tag issue. To fix the problem, when you begin editing a new document, if you manually switch the editor to "Paragraph" mode, SeaMonkey will properly create closing paragraph tags instead of BR tags.

(This "Best Free Mac WYSIWYG HTML Editor" article was last updated on January 4, 2010.)