Writing has become easier than ever before thanks to the advent of word processors and spell-checkers, but they are not ideal for all users. Many people are not satisfied with how the standard word processor/text editor works and are looking for ways to become more productive. That’s where Markdown comes in. If you are a fan of the Markdown syntax and are looking for a great Markdown editor for Windows, here are some useful ones you can consider
The nature of Markdown means it’s easy to find Windows software with a particular focus on it. MarkdownPad is one of the most popular options, with its interface split across your edits and the effect they are having on the text displayed in real-time. The free version has very lenient restrictions, with no pressure to buy, though buyers of the “Pro” version are able to add an unlimited number of stylesheets, which may be tempting for various reasons.
Texts, despite its rather forgettable name, is something of a hardcore option, with its own description being a “Markdown word processor”. Unlike MarkdownPad, its free form exists only as a 30 day trial, a taster, so to speak, with the sole goal being to encourage you to buy the full version. While both accomplish the goal of allowing you to write Markdown-formatted text, Texts lacks the live interface and focuses more on options for modifying what has been written.
WriteMonkey, our cream of the crop in zenware writing software, also includes support for Markdown, as well as a few functions that allow the user to gain a better impression of their work, including frequently-used words that may be substituted with others. Similarly to MarkdownPad, WriteMonkey adopts the approach of unlimited free use with restrictions. Again, the limitations are not immediately obvious; many users should be able to survive just fine with the free version, making the paid version more of a hat-tip to the developer than an absolute necessity.
While all three options above are distributed via the Internet directly, there exists a further variety via the Store, meaning they can only be used in Windows 8/8.1. At the time of writing, searching “Markdown” in the Store yields 22 different results. Here are some of the notable ones:
MarkPad was the first Modern UI app we approached, with its no-nonsense split pane and highly appropriate typography for its desktop environment. MarkPad is not as flexible as may be expected, though: no alternative themes could be selected, and the font could not be changed even if you would prefer to work with a monospaced typeface.
A similar complaint was levelled at Downwrite – the font could not be changed at all; problematic considering that the default monospace font is much, much larger than you may be used to. However, both offer the ability to toggle the panes between exclusively text, and text with preview.
MDown shares some similarities with MarkPad; the Segoe typography being the most obvious example, though the more “fixed” appearance of the text window proved unique, as did the large file name in the upper left and the choice of templates upon start-up.
TrimWord proved extremely interesting: Of the Modern UI apps mentioned so far, it was the first to allow the use of formatting shortcuts such as “Ctrl + B” to make bold text. As with its competitors, TrimWord allowed the preview window to be hidden, focusing more on the text. Unlike its competitors, TrimWord also allowed the user to show only the preview pane, hiding the formatted writing entirely. From there, it was a cinch to choose one of the various themes available by default, or buy more themes. While we doubt the majority of readers would consider buying a theme, it is an interesting business model since TrimWord is otherwise entirely free.
WriteRT was the final choice of our Modern UI selections and comes in as one of the two apps that must be purchased, with only a seven-day trial to tempt you. WriteRT does some things very differently though; when not writing, the “page” on which text appears is displayed on top of a contrasting background with other functions. When you begin writing, this fades out to create the impression of an endless running page, and when you choose to preview this pops in from the right. Even so, keyboard shortcuts had no effect in WriteRT. We personally found the app hard to vouch for, particularly when compared with some of its highly polished, free competitors.
While MarkdownPad for the normal Windows desktop features a preview pane, it is not absolutely vital as the program does not display in full-screen. The Modern UI apps available on the Store, however, do mean that it makes sense for them to display a preview pane. Despite this, MarkdownPad proves the best at scrolling the two sections in sync with each other: no other program offered the ability to load only the immediately relevant sections, alleviating the issue of long texts entirely. In our testing MarkdownPad only visibly lagged down when a document reached around 20,000 words; the 6,500+ words used in our testing proved no issue.
Based on overall featureset, performance, and value-for-money where applicable, our top three choices for Windows can only be: MarkdownPad, TrimWord and Texts. While Texts isn’t free, it offers so many features as to justify its own pricetag, while MarkdownPad rules the roost in almost every other category. If you’d rather write in the Modern UI there simply is no substitute for TrimWord; the program simply outshines its present rivals.