The search for the right Mac Markdown editor is like a quest for the Holy Grail. There are many options, but finding the ideal fit is a challenge.

It got to the point where I had to do an audit of the options that exist on my computer, and consider which one might be best for my needs.

The list I came up with is, in potential order of preference:

  • MultiMarkdown Composer (currently free version)
    • This offers live preview with synchronised scrolling, works with the file system directly and is designed specifically for Markdown writing. The downside is the editing environment just feels slightly off’. I do like the keyboard commands and the way it pastes in links.
    • $23.00 upgrade.
  • BBEdit (with Keyboard Maestro BBEdit Markdown additions) (currently free version)
    • Solid as a rock text editor. I’m not a programmer, so many of the features are lost on me. With the Keyboard Maestro additions it can deal with Markdown formatting with keyboard shortcuts elegantly.
    • No typewriter mode.
    • Doesn’t carry forward markdown lists, as I’m finding writing this post.
    • Has built-in git support.
    • $75.14
  • The Archive
    • A fork of nvAlt, this is an app I use for my zettelkasten notes, and other bits and pieces. The markdown editing is okay, but it doesn’t play well with links on the clipboard.
  • Drafts
    • Where text starts.
    • Also where text stays in a database which is not great for easy git management.
  • DEVONthink
    • The new version 3 has much better Markdown support, but it’s still rudimentary when it comes to editing. Limited keyboard support makes this better for looking at Markdown than writing in it.
    • I’m going to buy the new version anyway.
  • NotePlan
    • I’m using this for my daily notes.
    • While it has a section for generic notes, I’m not going to incorporate this into a wider writing workflow.
  • Byword
    • It’s really old, and while it still works, it’s starting to show its age.
    • I don’t like the way I need to switch views to preview the markdown.
  • Ulysses
    • Uses a custom variant of Markdown (Markdown XL) by default.
    • Keeps everything in it’s own library so not great for git management.
    • Every time I try to use this app for general Markdown editing I end up getting frustrated.
  • Curio Good for project-based Markdown notes, but not good for file-based writing and editing.
  • Notebooks (requires Dropbox)
    • The Notebooks editor is quite nice. Unfortunately, I’m in the process of ditching Dropbox, and it uses Dropbox as its fundamental sync engine, so it’s a non-starter.

A special mention:

  • iA Writer
    • I don’t have iA Writer on my Mac, but I do have it on iOS where it frustrates me by not having TextExpander integration.
    • feedback indicates that it is great on the Mac, though, so let’s add this as a strong contender.
    • $50.00

Picking a Winner

I thought I would end up choosing BBEdit. That’s why I typed this post in the app. But in usage, I think the winner might be MultiMarkdown Composer.