I am total new to site management, but I am on a mac. I wanted to put up another vote for TextWrangler. It is free and it has built in FTP to upload your code to your server.
For my FTP client I use Cyber Duck. It works great and is free (the developer asks for a donation).
Anyway, back to trying to understand the ins and outs of .htaccess files – he says pulling his hair out.