If you’ve ever written an article in Microsoft Word and tried moving the text into a CMS, you have probably spent a lot of time scouring for untidy formatting and obstructions that result from this cross-platform conversion.
So, we figured it was time to introduce you to the magic of Markdown editors, and why you should be using them right now.
When it comes to formatting, most people will use the built-in editor of their content management system to create headings, italicize the text, and build lists.
Fair enough, but guess what? You don’t need to rely on a complicated toolbar or apply text formatting. You can use a Markdown editor instead.
In this post, we’ll give you a detailed explanation of what a Markdown editor is, and then provide you with an ultimate list of the best Markdown editors.
The end goal is to equip you with a minimalist writing tool that allows you to pen down your thoughts, and then export them to a CMS like WordPress without stressing too much about their appearance.
Let’s get started.
What Is a Markdown Editor?
A Markdown editor is an intuitive and lightweight text-to-HTML conversion tool for web content writers.
You can use it to format lists, headers, and for emphasis, as well as to incorporate links and images.
The idea is to produce web content that is as easy to read as plain text.
Markdown editors have existed since the turn of the decade but only became popular after John Gruber of Daring Fireball introduced Markdown back in 2004.
After getting frustrated having to write long, laborious HTML codes to format his content, he worked with the late computer programmer Aaron Swartz to create a plain text formatting syntax that would quickly and easily translate content into HTML. That’s how Markdown was born.
The language uses an easy-to-learn syntax to accomplish the same goal that HTML does. However, it’s simpler than hypertext markup, and you don’t need to worry about closing or opening text.
To make a piece of text web-ready, Markdown uses characters and symbols you’re already familiar with. So, if you know how to make an emoticon or create a hashtag, you can leverage Markdown.
Today, Markdown comes packaged in tools that don’t require you to memorize the syntax outright, so even someone with no HTML experience can use a Markdown editor to create content for the web.
Advantages of Using Markdown Editors
Aside from speeding up the formatting process, markdown editors offer the following benefits:
1. You can collaborate
If you are writing on Microsoft Word and require the input of other people, you’ll need to send the document to them and then have them send it back to you so that you can merge the changes.
With a collaborative Markdown editor, this is quite straightforward as multiple users can work on the same document in real-time.
2. You can export in multiple formats
Markdown is much easier to compose than HTML. With that said, you might still want to export the content in the HTML format.
The best Markdown editor will make it easy to write your content and quickly export it to PDF, web pages, or Rich Text Format.
3. You can work on any platform
Since there are dozens of really good Markdown editors for all platforms (Linux, Mac, Windows, web, etc.), you can pretty much write and edit text from any device and location.
This can bring a massive difference in your productivity. If you have a cloud-based folder for storing copies of your work, switching devices should become effortless, with no distortion in your workflow or user experience.
Best Markdown Editors to Install
Thanks to the rise of the Markdown language, every major platform has a decent range of Markdown editors. Below, we’ll break down some of the absolute best (platform-wise) as well as highlight their unique features. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at your options.
Best Markdown Editors for Mac
Here are some of the best Markdown editors for Mac users:
Byword is a minimal text editor with complete Markdown support, including subtle syntax highlighting, easy keyboard shortcuts, tables, cross-references and even footnotes.
Its “Format” menu includes options for paragraph indent, quote level, lists, and more, so you don’t have to memorize the syntax for these styles.
Another notable feature is the “Typewriter Mode” that keeps the line you’re writing at the center of your Mac’s display, while “Line and Paragraph Focus” dim all content other than the existing paragraph, letting you focus in a distraction-free environment.
When it comes to publishing, you can post your content to Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, Medium, and even Evernote from the tool. Documents can be exported to PDFs, Rich Text Format, and Word documents.
Ulysses is a full-featured Mac OSX Markdown editor with uniquely streamlined features that cover the whole writing process. With a few characters, you mark vital passages, comments, or headlines. Even links, footnotes, and images are inserted with ease using Ulysses’ Plain Text Enhanced function.
In addition, you’ll find several other features waiting unobtrusively in the tool’s background.
There’s a “Typewriter Mode” that keeps your focus on the sentence in front. There’s also a character and word counter, accessible through a small icon on Ulysses’ taskbar. You can even create word count goals and link them to deadlines that keep you on track.
Ulysses also has a powerful publishing function that’s quite simple to use. You can post your work directly to Medium and WordPress, either as a draft or a published blog post. And it’ll also let you export the final document to a whole array of other handy formats, including HTML, DOCX, Text Bundle, Rich Text Format, Plain Text, and ePub.
Price: 14-day free trial, $4.99/month, or $39.99/year
MacDown is a robust tool that offers syntax highlighting, live preview, and a minimalistic appearance that makes it easy to apply Markdown formatting.
The editor’s author, Tzu-Ping Chun, released MacDown after announcing that one of his favorite MarkDown editors, Mou, was shutting down its development. Chun started from the ground up, dedicating weekends to put together his own solution, and MacDown was the result.
Despite its simple design, MacDown is fully featured with highly customizable language rendering, auto-completion, and lots of Markdown syntax. Plus, exporting to HTML or PDF delivers consistently good results.
Best Markdown Editors for Windows
You can install and use the following Markdown tools directly on your Windows device without having to configure anything beforehand.
Caret is a simplistic editor with an emphasis on productivity and a clean UI. Its editor is set up to help you with fences, HTML, lists, emphasis, and more. The tool also has the capability to complete code, emoji, HTML, and file paths.
The tool’s sidebar shows a folder’s data, with your work in progress listed at the top edge of Caret. You can use it to jump to a specific document, activate typewriter mode, or activate the dark mode to work during the night.
Also, working on Caret can be a great way to learn Markdown, as the syntax is always on display, but there’s also an option to activate a preview pane if you prefer. Moreover, you can export documents to PDF and HTML.
Price: Free trial, $29
ghostwriter gives you a distraction-free environment for writing captivating content, including a clean interface and a full-screen option.
You can preview your work in HTML, use the “Focus Mode” to narrow your attention to a single paragraph, and even create your own custom style sheet to preview how your content will appear on the internet.
The tool also has a built-in processor that enables you to export documents to HTML. Alternatively, you can export to Word, PDF, ODT, and other formats by installing a document converter like Pandoc.
ghostwriter has built-in dark and light themes that deliver an aesthetic user experience out of the gate. And if that wasn’t enough, it lets you build your own! With support for background visuals, you can create the environment you prefer for your writing.
Typora is one of the fastest and most versatile Markdown editors in existence. It doesn’t have separate tabs or windows to display how the syntax is rendered and to view plain text. You can start typing straight away and apply formatting from the integrated menu bar.
The tool is ideal for writing content for the web, but that’s not all it’s capable of. If you need an easy way to write research papers for work, Typora also supports the insertion of graphs, tables, and mathematical formats.
Documents are saved in the default Markdown format (.md), but you can import and export to several different formats using Typora. Supported file export formats include DOCX, Rich Text Format, OPL, OpenOffice, PDF, Epub, LaTex, HTML, and more.
Best Markdown Editors for Linux
If your computer or smartphone is running Linux, you can use one of the following Markdown editors.
The software also provides you with a range of styling options, so you can configure it to your writing preferences as well as various keyboard shortcuts to speed up your work. Additional Markdown features include subscripts, abbreviations, footnotes, and other similar elements.
Besides all that, Remarkable can convert links into hypertext and displays a live preview for inserted visuals. You can also toggle the fullscreen mode, customize the preview using CSS, and export your documents to HTML and PDF.
Haroopad is an open source processor that supports the creation of web-friendly text. You can use it to author various types of content, including reports, presentations, slides, blogs, and more.
Its standout features include fenced code syntax highlighting, viewer and editor font size control using shortcuts, flowchart drawing, and styling based on CSS. The last software update also added some new functionality to Haroopad, such as the ability to display the number of tasks due in the app badge.
The tool will let you import files from YouTube, Pastebin, Twitter, and many other resources, and export them to HTML or PDF. Moreover, you can use your work as an email directly from Haroopad or post to Evernote or Tumblr.
UberWriter is one of the best open-source Markdown editors and packaged with several features that make writing web-friendly text a hassle-free experience. The UI is centered, and the word length in a row is restricted to increase the content’s visibility. Also, you’d find that there are no buttons or menu bars to keep the writing distraction free.
At the bottom of its layout, UberWriter displays the character and word count at the right, and its three screen modes on the left. The first of these – Focus – enables users to zoom in on the sentence where the cursor is placed. Fullscreen takes the toolbars away from your view, and Preview showcases the content after it’s been converted to Markdown language.
Other nifty features include spell check and inline preview, which enable you to see links, images, footnotes, and other elements by clicking on them.
Finally, UberWriter lets you export documents in all the popular file formats, including PDF, ODT, and HTML. Rich Text Format, OpenDocument XML, MediaWiki markup, and DOCX support is also included.
Best Online Markdown Editors
If you’re looking for a convenient way to turn plain text into HTML, an online Markdown editor might be the most appropriate option. Below are some of the best web-based tools for creating Markdown files.
HackMD is a collaborative Markdown editor that lets you and your teammates write and edit content from any internet-enabled device. You can use the panels in the editor’s toolbar to add links, headings, quotes, and other types of formatting.
The tool’s menu bar consists of several Markdown shortcuts, and it’s also compatible with legacy editors like Emacs and Sublime.
To use the editor, you just need to sign in with Google, Facebook, or another platform that HackMD’s login page supports. After that, you can write Markdown code, and even create notes that can later be assigned to others for collaboration. People can join as registered users or guests to work on these notes with you.
In terms of exporting your content, HackMD lets you save files in Gist, Dropbox, and Google Drive. You can also download the content directly on your computer in ODF (beta), HTML, Raw HTML, or Markdown language.
This is another powerful online Markdown editor that features a visual toolbar for different kinds of formatting, including lists, emphasis, and bold. Whatever you write is automatically converted into Markdown in the left panel of the tool. In the right panel, you can preview what the text will appear like when it’s posted on the web.
A notable trait of StackEdit is its ability to save the documents you make to your web browser. The next time you use it, your work will be present and accessible in a tiny panel situated on the left hand of the dashboard.
What’s more, you can connect it to Dropbox or Google Drive to save your work in the cloud. To import a document, StackEdit allows you to provide a URL or your PC’s hard drive.
Dillinger had to make our list of the best Markdown editors. It’s a simple and modern tool that converts your Markdown content to HTML and vice versa. All you have to do is compose your text or place your document in the left panel, and choose the format you want for the final document.
You also get several export/import options, all of which can be accessed from the navigation at the top of the screen. With these features, it is simple to export your work to Google Drive, Dropbox, Medium, and Github, as well as convert files into .md, PDF, or HTML.
In addition, Dillinger provides you with a distraction-free mode that removes everything except the Markdown sentence from your view, so you can focus on producing high-quality content for your web properties.
Summary: The Best Markdown Editors You Can Use Right Now
So, there you have it – the top Markdown editors for every platform you could possibly use for your writing.
While most people will write in a text editor, it’s hard to ignore the appeal of a dedicated Markdown tool. You can easily convert your writing into web-friendly content, you can see a live preview of your work, and you can save your documents in various formats.
Let’s take a quick look back at the Markdown editors that best suit your needs:
What’s your take on using Markdown editors instead of the built-in editor of a CMS? Let us know in the comments section below.