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Learning Unix for Mac OS X, Second Edition by Dave Taylor, Brian Jepson

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Creating and Editing Files

One easy way to create a file is with a Unix feature called input/output redirection , as Chapter 5 explains. This sends the output of a program directly to a file, to make a new file or add to an existing one.

You’ll usually create and edit a plain-text file with a text editor program. Text editors are somewhat different than word processors.

Text Editors and Word Processors

A text editor lets you add, change, and rearrange text easily. Three popular Unix editors included with Mac OS X are vi (pronounced “vee-eye”), Pico (“pea-co”), and Emacs (“e-max”).

You should choose an editor you’re comfortable with. vi is probably the best choice because almost all Unix systems have it, but Emacs is also widely available. If you’ll be doing simple editing only, Pico is a great choice. Although Pico is much less powerful than Emacs or vi, it’s a lot easier to learn. For this book, however, we’ll focus on the rudiments of vi since it’s the most widely available Unix editor, and there’s a version of vi included with Mac OS X.

None of these plain text editors has the same features as popular word-processing software within the graphical face of Mac OS X, but vi and Emacs are sophisticated, extremely flexible editors for all kinds of plain-text files: programs, email messages, and so on.

Tip

Of course, you can opt to use an Aqua-based text editor such as BBEdit or TextEdit with good results too, if you’d rather just sidestep editing while within the Terminal application. ...

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