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Cover image for State of Markdown Editors 2019

State of Markdown Editors 2019

awwsmm profile image Andrew (he/him) ・4 min read

Update:

We have a winner! Alissa McGee suggested Joplin, which:

  • is 100% completely free (but feel free to donate)
  • works on all platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android
  • synchronises notes across your devices*
  • has a split markdown preview / editing layout
  • provides standard notebooks and tags features
  • has language-specific syntax highlighting in code blocks
  • supports mass-exporting of notes to multiple formats (markdown, JSON, etc.)

* by connecting to Dropbox, OneDrive, Nextcloud, WebDAV, or others

I guess I have a new markdown editor! Thanks, Alissa!


I've started to grow a bit weary of my current markdown editor, Simplenote. While it's fully cross-platform (Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS) and auto-syncs your notes, it's markdown rendering can be a bit ugly and finnicky. So I decided to look for a new markdown editor.

Requirements:

  • must be cross platform (at minimum: Windows, macOS, Android)
  • ideally free
  • ideally has a preview pane which updates instantly

I've looked through lots of pages of recommended markdown editors and here are most available markdown editors as of March 2019:

Cost and Cross-Platform Availability

Standalone (App) Editors:

Editor Platforms Cost
Abricotine Windows, Linux, macOS free
Bear macOS, iOS $14.99/year
Byword macOS, iOS $10.99
Caret Windows, Linux, macOS $29
Focused macOS $19.99
Ghostwriter Windows, Linux, macOS free
Haroopad Windows, Linux, macOS free
Inkdrop Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android $49.90/year
iA Writer Windows, macOS, iOS, Android free - $28.99††
MacDown macOS free
Mark Text Windows, Linux, macOS free
MarkMyWords Linux free
Markdown Monster Windows $39
MarkdownPad Windows $14.95
Markdownify Windows, Linux, macOS free
Mindforger Windows, Linux, macOS free
Mou macOS** (beta) free
NeoVim Windows, Linux, macOS free
PileMd Windows, Linux, macOS free
Quiver macOS, iOS $9.99
ReText Linux, macOS free
Remarkable Windows, Linux free
Simplenote Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android free
Texts Windows, macOS $19
Typora Windows, Linux, macOS (beta) free*
UberWriter Linux free
Ulysses macOS, iOS $39.99/year
WriteApp Windows, Linux, macOS $24.95
WriteMonkey Windows free
Zettlr Windows, Linux, macOS free

* macOS version is free during beta testing
** 10.7 through 10.11
free during beta, will be $30 with v1.0
†† free on Android, $8.99 on iOS, $19.99 on Windows, $28.99 on macOS
experimental / beta

Note that lots of IDEs / code editors have support for markdown, as well, including Atom, VS Code, Brackets, and more.

In-Browser Editors:

In-browser editors, by default, work on all platforms because they run in a web browser. Here are some common browser-based markdown editors:

Editor Platforms Cost
Dillinger all free
JBT Editor all free
Minimalist Online Markdown Editor all free
StackEdit all free
Write Kit all free

Which one is right for me?

When I say "me", I mean me personally. I need an editor that works on Android, macOS, and Windows, at minimum. That kills most of the options above. What I'm left with is:

Editor Platforms Cost
Inkdrop Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android $49.90/year
iA Writer Windows, macOS, iOS, Android free - $28.99††
Simplenote Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android free
StackEdit all free

I've removed most of the in-browser options, as well, because they don't offer some features I really need (saving and syncing notes automatically). This doesn't leave much to work with.

Inkdrop is almost $50 per year, though they offer a 60% discount to students and educators (which I would avail of). Still, this would cost over $50 by my third year of use and would only continue to rise in price after that.

iA Writer charges for each platform you want to install it on, so it could end up costing me almost $50, though that is for a lifetime installation. The markdown editing works pretty well in it, though I don't like that you have to put an empty line before the beginning of a list.

Simplenote is my current editor. The markdown formatting has a few ugly bugs which cause lists to be spaced weird or not detected. This was the reason I was looking for a new editor in the first place.

StackEdit seems fine but also a bit of work (I need to connect it to a Dropbox account or something similar to sync my notes). I can't be asked to do this on each machine I'm working on. I might as well just edit my notes directly from Dropbox.

Woe is me

So I'm right back to where I started. Recently, I began playing around with Boostnote, which is a beautiful editor that used to be available for Android, though they've recalled this support. It is still available for all desktop platforms.

I guess I'm stuck with either Simplenote or Boostnote if I don't want to shell out $50 for a markdown editor. There may be hope for Boostnote, though, as it's currently under very active development. Maybe they'll re-open the Android version soon...

Posted on by:

awwsmm profile

Andrew (he/him)

@awwsmm

Got a Ph.D. looking for dark matter, but not finding any. Now I code full-time. Je parle un peu français. dogs > cats

Discussion

markdown guide
 
 

I also started on this journey of finding that perfect markdown editor and ended up with Notion. Obviously markdown editor search will hardly bring notion in result set because its much more than that. But you can use it as markdown editor. It also takes a while to get used to. My biggest problem was I totally forgot I was looking for a markdown editor and just got lost in trying all the goodies of Notion. Again that's me and one may still don't like it as an editor.

 

Someone else mentioned that, but it doesn't have a markdown interpreter / renderer (as far as I can tell).

 

Notion renders markdown as you type. Markdown and render view are not independent, if that's what you mean. I use Notion daily for personal use and for work and, so far, it is the best tool I have ever encountered for the job. Notion is not just a markdown editor, but a fully-fledged markdown compliant wiki to create knowledge bases, for instance. Offline support is lacking though.

There are other markdown editors with a split editing / preview pane, which I think I prefer. It makes it easier to copy and paste the markdown to another editor (or to Dev.To).

I understand. You can export markdown from Notion though. 😉

 

Don't forget VSCODE with extension Markdown preview Enhanced:

(marketplace.visualstudio.com/items...)

Works pretty well, and you don't have to leave your editor

Dang misread the Android support!

 

Yeah there are a ton of cross-desktop options, but Android support is usually the sticking point for me.

 

On android, Writer+ was one of the best experiences I had

Only available on Android, though :/

Indeed. Since I only use Android, I don't know a lot about the iOS landscape

 

Thanks for doing the research on these and organizing them here.

Have you tried VS Code? I find it to be pretty much all I need from a markdown editor these days.

More curiously, it would be interesting to hear what folks think of as the key parts needed for a good markdown editor.

 

I use VS Code on the desktop, but it doesn't run on Android :/

That's something I need in a markdown editor

 

true! I only asked because I saw other tools that are not on all of the platforms you mentioned, but did not see Code.

Curious if VS Code would be desired to run on Android by lots of people.

It would certainly be life changing if VSCode could run on iPads so maybe the same would apply to Android ecosystem 🤷‍♂️

I agree - I use my ipad pro a lot and would love to run vscode on it. maybe access files in the cloud for npm. just brainstorming - and making wishes :)

 

For Mac, I've also used Falcon and Quiver. I know Quiver has an iOS app, and I think both save as just .md files so you can sync across apps with Dropbox or your cloud offering of choice.

Honestly, though, I'm out of good recommendations anymore for an all in one Markdown editor, so I just use a private Github/Gitlab repo and use the web editor since that lets you preview the .md output.

 

This is a great post. I too use Simplenote as my primary application for notes. Though I've been using it for years, there's lots to be desired, mainly more features which is against it's "simple" paradigm. The main element that's keeping me with the platform is that it's cross-platform and its ability to sync across those multiple devices.

The only similar replacement I found was Standard Notes, but the editor itself isn't all that great. It's also got great privacy and encryption. It has syncing and cross-platform support, but the desktop and mobile applications are finicky.

 

The only thing I want out of Simplenote is less-ugly rendering. Other than that, it's perfect.

 

I faced the same dilemma a few years ago when Evernote Web just wasn't cutting it any more for me, and I used Typora for a while, but in the end I switched to notion, and honestly I've never looked back.

Of course, notion isn't markdown, but it has all its features (and more) and the app itself looks really nice. Plus it supports importing from Markdown and Evernote.

 

Markdown is a must for me. Between posting on Dev.To, posting notes for my team to GitLab, and my (upcoming) personal blog, I use markdown constantly.

 

Pretty unfortunate as someone who has to commute an hour to work and back each day on the NYC subway, I was going to look into this soon. Why? So I could write on the subway :).

I'd rather not have to spend $50 bucks to do so but thanks to your post I saved some time looking myself.

Thank you!

 

I use Atom a bit for markdown too, but have found that it also has rendering issues. One more is R and RStudio. I know they are industry specific but they sure make some very cooool markdown docs, html or pdfs. ;)))

 

Would it be possible for you to provide a five-month update on Joplin? Starting to take notes in it myself, seems fine, but validation from thoughtful longer-term users like you is nice before a lot of my notes are in it.

 

Of course! I'm still using it and for the most part, I still like it. There are some small issues with scrolling when editing markdown with a live preview, but other than that, I've found it extremely useful. It works flawlessly across my Mac, my Android phone, and my Windows work PC. If there are conflicts, Joplin keeps both copies of the file so you don't lose anything. And they're good about updating. Maybe once every week or two, they put out a new version.

After a few months of use, I still strongly recommend it for anyone who needs multi-platform support.

 

I've become a fan of the in-browser editor hackmd.io which has a decent editor, live preview, auto-save/sync, collaboration, and a TON of extensions to markdown.

 

Oooooh. This one looks pretty good.

 

Are your notes available offline, though?

 

If your markdown files are in a repo on github you can try prose.io as it supports markdown. You can then edit on all platforms in a browser. prose.io/

Just to say, I haven’t used it for a while so not sure of the current features.

 

They're not, so unfortunately this won't work for me. Maybe it'd be useful for someone else, though!

 
 

Android-only. But it might be a great option for someone else!

 

I use Typora / Zettlr on Desktop, Markor on Android and sync everything with Nextcloud / Foldersync (Android).

So it's a folder-based organisation but with Zettlr on the desktop you also have tags.

Every app lets you insert images as well.

 

After using Joplin for several days, I have to say I am not impressed.

  1. One little thing that I found very annoying was its lack of 'save' and 'save as' common features. This is now a standard convention of software like it or not and for Joplin to NOT have this, well, got messy.
  2. It cannot act as a simple markdown editor, despite its Great set of icon buttons. Import and Export seem antiquated by today's point and click file editors.
  3. It added too much extraneous junk, files and folders all over the place.
  4. I guess I wanted a very simple editor...
 

I embarked on a similar journey a few months back. I ended up discovering notion.so and I have been loving it! It's more of psudeo markdown, but I highly recommend it!

 

Can you give an example? It looks WYSIWYG from the web page...

 

I would encourage signing in and experimenting yourself! What I meant is that it has a ton of non standard markdown features, but it really is awesome! For example, embedded tables with tags and sorting.

 

From what I can tell, isn't StackEdit the closest to what you actually want?
I mean, sync-ing to Dropbox/Google Drive/Github/Gitlab/etc is basically the same as doing a login would be on any other platform, and it does have quite a few interesting integrations for exporting/publishing

 

Maybe I'll take a second look...

 

Joplin is so awesome, thank @Alissa McGee and OP @andrew a lot!

It took me a century to find the best MD editor that allows user sync across platforms and finally I got it,

 

I'm still using it since I wrote this post and the single thing I don't like about it is that it can be a bit jumpy with long markdown documents in split-screen mode. Other than that, it's beautiful.

I'm glad you like it!

 

A small thing I don't like is the UI in desktop kind of messy with too many things: menu bars, name-bar, sidebar.

But after all, it's the best choice we can get right now, and I'm happy with it.

Once more time, thanks for your awesome post.

 

Great read. I have been looking over markdown stuff over the last week or so. This is a timely read. Thanks!

 

I'm interested to hear what you think of Typora if you've tried it. I realize it doesn't sync, but it's definitely become my favorite on Windows.

 

Looks promising! Once they get an Android version, I'll test it out!

 
 

Have you tried Joplin, if it hasn't already been mentioned?

 

Nobody's mentioned Joplin yet! But I've downloaded it on my Mac and it looks very promising! Thanks for suggesting it!

 

Dillinger saves and syncs notes automatically once you tie it into dropbox or something. I'm a fan of dillinger especially the nice pdf export for printing.

 

Might I suggest adding screenshots to show the differences of each product that you reviewed, so we see see the markdown in action.

 

You ought to check out Mdyna.dev ;)

 
 
 

QOwnNotes really ought to be in the list

Syncs with Nextcloud/Owncloud note app if wanted

qownnotes.org/