Windows Apps For Markdown Writers
I’ve already covered Markdown for Mac, but now it’s the turn of Windows. What Markdown-enabled text delights await us?
And if you don’t know what Markdown is, or why you should care, check out my writer’s introduction to Markdown.
Quick note – it’s all editors this week. I couldn’t find much in the way of preview-only tools, and there was certainly no clear “winner” on the platform that all other apps integrate with (unlike with Marked for Mac).
- Price: Free, or $14.95 (for Pro version)
- Where to get it: At the MarkdownPad site
- Good for: General Markdwon writing, especially if you’re concerned about how it will look.
MarkdownPad is a typical Markdown editor. It offers a two-pane view – you write in Markdown on the left and the right pane shows a preview (rendered in HTML). The preview happens in real time too.
In addition, it has some syntax highlighting in your writing pane (so for example, headers appear in red).
One thing I did appreciate – the writing pane is tabbed, giving easy access to several documents should you have more than one open at once.
It also has a “distraction free mode” which puts the app in full-screen and removes the top bar. To be honest, there is hardly any difference from just putting the program in full-screen. Your toolbar and information bar (at the bottom) are still there, being all distracting.
There are a lot of customisation options though, so you should get it to a state you’re comfortable with. If you’re a web developer and know a bit of CSS, you can customise the preview to your liking too.
Along the way you’ll probably be interrupted by popups, as the paid-for extra features aren’t hidden from the menus. Instead of the expected option, you’ll get a message telling you to upgrade.
These extras include support for extensions to the Markdown syntax, like being able to create tables in Markdown. It also removes some restrictions (apparently there is a limit to the number of documents you can have open in the free version, which seems a rather cynical, arbitrary restriction, but there you go).
I guess this is the Windows equivalent of Mou, although it’s presentation makes it feel like a poor man’s Mou (sorry).
- Price: Free, extra plugins with a donation
- Where to get it: The Writemonkey site
- Good for: Distraction-free writing, including longer works (especially with plugins)
Writemonkey is a minimalist text editor that supports Markdown. Now this is distraction-free. There is no menu-bar – everything is accessed from the right-click menu or keyboard shortcuts (I approve – changing between mouse and keyboard wastes time you know!)
And this menu is quite the treasure trove. There are plenty of nice little features in here. Let me list a few:
- “Segment Focus”, a “segment” being a portion of your document. Put your cursor on a header or a list item and you can clear the screen of everything else while you work on just that. It doesn’t work quite like FoldingText’s folding feature and I found it a little unintuitive.
- Lookups. highlight a portion of text and look it up on a variety of services (such as Wikipedia for example).
There are also some progress features – a word count sits in the bottom right and I believe you can set a total so you can see your progress as a percentage of this.
Speaking of the bottom “bar”, it’s entirely configurable so you can customise your at-a-glance information.
In fact, there are a wealth of useful options in the preferences so I recommend going through each section.
There is also a “repository” feature – basically an area separate from your writing area that you can nip to at any time to dump quick notes. Writemonkey is full of neat little features like this that convince me the developer really understands writers.
I like this one, and even though I rarely write on my PC these days, I’ll be installing this next time I do.
Some cash gets you access to a few plugins including a cork board viewer and pomodoro timer. Nice.
- Price: Free!
- Where to get it: At the ResophNotes site.
- Good for: Quick note-taking
Now we come to notetaker and lifehacker favourite (for Windows anyway) ResophNotes.
This feels very much in the vein of nvALT, which I covered in my Markdown for Mac post. There is an emphasis on quick note-taking, and they approach things in a very similar way.
It’s a split-pane view, with your note list on the left and your writing space on the right. A search bar sits atop the notes list and typing in it will search through the notes you have or create a new note if there’s no match.
As for Markdown support, a button allows you to show a preview of your work as HTML. The default styling of the previewer is very plain, but as always, a bit of web know-how can get it looking how you want.
Just like nvALT, a global hot-key will get you to your notes from anywhere.
The same approach has been taken with files too – there is one folder for your notes to enable the quick-searching feature. You may like that or hate it.
It also syncs with Simplenote, which is an online note-taking tool designed to keep your notes synced across devices.
It’s not quite as elegant or good-looking as its Mac equivalent, but it’s still good for gatehring quick thoughts.
It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t include the following:
- Scrivener gets another mention, becuase it’s on Windows as well as Mac. Imagine my delight when I realised my favourite writing tool also included support for Markdown! Just write in Markdown and use the appropriate compile options.
- Notepad, because it’s just text! Yes, if it’s simplicity you want, you could do worse than just writing in plain text, in your native plain text editor.
And that’s your lot. Like most productivity applications, there’s far fewer of them on Windows than Mac. Still, a lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same in the world of Windows recently. Who knows, maybe the new focus on more “appy” apps will bring a flood of productivity tools to the platform.
I’ve got one more round of Markdown-related goodness for you, but until then…
Over to you:
In the mean time if I’ve missed something great I’d really like to know about it. Sound off in the comments.