Top 8 Best IDE Apps for Apple macOS (2022 Free Edition)

Here is a comprehensive list of the 8 best IDE applications you can install on your new M1/M2 powered Macbook Air/Pro.


8 Best IDE Apps for Apple macOS to Download

As you know, an IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment, it holds the whole package of helping you edit, compile and package code, all under one roof. Whether you are new to programming or an experienced developer you shall be spending a lot of time with these apps! In this article, you will see the best IDE apps for Apple macOS that are compatible with the new M1 and M2 chips. These can be used to code C++, Python, Java and Swift programming languages!

Think of an IDE as a Photoshop tool to write code

We have compiled for you 8 free choices of IDE apps you can download on your Mac. These can be used on any model including Macbook Pro and Macbook Air.

8 Best Free IDE for Mac – Top Apps to Code Java, C++, Python (Compatible with M1/M2)

The below IDEs can be used for various purposes including iOS App development, software development, web development and scripting.

Ninja-IDE – Not your average IDE

This is the first option on the list which has been designed to build Python applications.

It shall provide you with all the basic tools that will simplify the development of python software as well as handle different kinds of situations all due to its extensibility.

Ninja IDE Features summarised:

  1. It is light in weight.
  2. Performs different functions: handling files, find in files code locator, go to line, tabs, automatic indentation, editor zoom and many more.
  3. Provides support to Linux, Windows and FreeBSD.
  4. Comes with static and PEP 8 error highlighting.
  5. Provides tips to migrate code therefrom python version 2 to 3.
  6. Carries embedded python console.
  7. Configurable user interface.
  8. Code auto-completion.
  9. Use more than one editor at the same time.

Download Ninja-IDE for Mac

Xcode – A perfect built-in choice

This is an in-build IDE. Though it is not present there by default you can get it from Apple all for free via Terminal or from Apple’s site.

When compared with Visual Studio Community it is a bit more limited as it has more of a singular purpose. It can be used to develop applications for products of Apple but no applications at large. Therefore, to put the long story short it only provides support to languages that are able to compile into applications for different apple devices.

It enlists all major languages which are used to build applications like Apple’s native language, Swift and AppleScript. It is an exception to Visual Studio Code if you intend to build an application, especially for Apple devices. Do consider this as your go-to option as it is a solid IDE.

Download Xcode for Mac

CLion – Code C and C++ apps

CLion IDE for Mac

If you want to build applications in C and C++ then this needs to be your top choice. It specializes in only these two languages thus allowing it to implement useful features that other IDEs don’t carry.

It is not that easy on the pocket and costs around $89 per year. This means it is great to get only if you are a professional. If it’s your hobby then it is best you stick to free applications like Xcode and Visual Studio even if you plan to write in C or C++.

CLion features to know:

  1. Ensures code quality.
  2. Automated refactoring and integration with Cmake build system.

With these and many other features, developers can build, debug and compile applications easily. The closest alternative would be Turbo C++ but as it’s not in development anymore CLion is a better choice.

PhpStorm – PHP done smart

This is another popular option on the list which can be used to develop sites and web applications. If you are looking for a Ruby alternate then this is your call.

It has been packed with unique frameworks, relies on front-end technologies and has many needs specific to it as a result of being used for the development of the web.

These are the needs which make it one of the best. It is what incorporates it into a single interface thus making it a streamlined app to develop PHP applications and sites.

The best thing is that it provides support to many languages such as HTML5, CSS, Sass, Less, Stylus, CoffeeScript, TypeScript, Emmet and JavaScript. It provides support to each modern framework of PHP and carries different features such as refactoring, unit testing and debugging.

Yet again, this is again not too easy on the pocket and costs around $89 per year but you can give it a try for free for 1 month to check to see if it suits you or not. You can pay per month as well which costs around $19.90.

Note: This is again available with a trial period but you may get the full version with a student subscription.

Download PhpStorm for Mac

ALSO SEE: 16 PyCharm Keyboard Shortcut Commands for macOS.

AppCode – iOS and macOS development IDE

Best IDE for Mac with M1 Chip

AppCode is our 5th best option on the list for developers of Mac and has a lot of similarities with Xcode and CLion. The best thing about this one is that it is used to write iOS, macOS and Android applications.

However, this is again not easy on the pocket and costs $89 per year. It gives different discounts to its customers and brings the price down to $54 per year. We would suggest that this again needs to be used by professionals.

It supports different languages like C, C++, Swift and Objective-C which are all best to create standalone applications. Among many features, one is refactoring code and providing support to different version controllers. Another one is real-time error checking, which means it shall look for missing brackets, semi-colons and other syntax errors which are common.

To put a long story short it is a great yet solid application to write in these languages and best to compile languages into mobile and Mac applications.

Note: It is free for 30-day trial usage.

Download AppCcode for Mac

Brackets – Open-source web development

It has a beautiful yet simple interface with many features such as syntax highlighting, broad language support, Git and GitHub integration, and open-source. To make it more personalized extensions can be downloaded.

Now, what makes it different is it is geared toward web development. It has many features which are built-in and add-ons.

It is all that makes it a great and unique option to develop sites.

Download Brackets IDE for Mac

Espresso – A web editor 

Espresso free IDE for Macbook Air

It has been designed primarily to fulfill all developer needs just like brackets, but there lies some difference as it is more focused on the front-end of web development than the back-end. This one in particular is more friendly on Macbook Air due to low system resource consumption.

It is rich in features and helps to outline, visualize, and tweak the visual and aesthetic aspects of your site. With this, you are able to write down back-end code too but what makes it stand out of the list are its front-end features.

It costs around $99 and comes with a free trial too.

Download Espresso for Mac

ALSO SEE: How To Install NumPy on Macs with M1 and M2 Chip.

TextMate – The Notepad for Macs

TextMate Free Code Editor

The best thing about TextMate is that it comes in free and is open-source.

This is your final great choice on the list which has a lot of the best features but is less is popularity. It has been designed similar to Mac so if you like the uniform look of most of the macOS applications then this is your call.

Among many features, one best is the implementation of macros which if you don’t know is an automated routine. While writing a code a lot of busy work is there thus making it perfect for automation.

If you get this you shall have a lot of time even if you make some errors. You shall be able to view the clipboard history, and snippets, choose different carets at the same time and have access to many other features which shall make it an efficient option for the programmer.

Download TextMate for Mac

Conclusion: So, which is the best IDE for your Mac?

In final words, the choice for choosing the best IDE app for your Mac depends on the programming language. This is why our 8 choices above can code in C++, C, PHP, Python and Java along with having support for the latest M1/M2 chips. You can always extend features and support by installing IDE extensions that can bring in more functionality.


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