The Best Markdown Editor for Linux

Using Markdown syntax is my preferred way of writing. I use it to create content for the Web and to jot down simple notes. It’s a simple, minimalistic method of writing formatted text that works well and doesn’t lock you into a proprietary system. That sits well with the Linux philosophy.

And it’s catching on. Since John Gruber created it in 2004, it has become increasingly used online and in apps of various types. It’s worth learning. You’ll find the syntax on Gruber’s Daring Fireball blog and our free printable Markdown cheat sheet.

There are plenty of Markdown editors for Mac and Windows. What’s available for Linux? I’ll list your main FOSS and non-FOSS options below and make some recommendations at the end.

Let’s get into it.

13 Text Editors with Markdown Support

You can use your favorite Linux text editor to write Markdown. You might find that it has native support for Markdown, or that a Markdown extension or plugin is available. Here are some examples:

  1. Vim has the vim-markdown and vim-instant-markdown plugins that feature syntax highlighting and folding.
  2. GNU Emacs has a Markdown Mode for Emacs package that includes shortcut keys and syntax highlighting.
  3. Spacemacs has a Markdown layer to add Markdown support.
  4. Bluefish includes syntax highlighting for Markdown files.
  5. Eclipse has the Markdown Text Editor plugin which includes a document outline, folded sections, preview, export to HTML, task tags, word wrap, and paragraph formatting.
  6. Gedit includes syntax highlighting for Markdown files.
  7. Geany offers the Markdown plugin with preview and syntax highlighting.
  8. Kate, the KDE text editor, supports Markdown syntax highlighting.
  9. Atom supports Markdown out of the box, with features like syntax highlighting and preview. This functionality can be expanded by several community-generated packages, including Markdown-Writer, Markdown-Scroll-Sync, and Markdown-Format.
  10. Notepad++ allows you to add Markdown support using the MarkdownViewer++ plugin.
  11. Sublime Text 3 (not FOSS) can be turned into a full-featured Markdown editor. We show you how here.
  12. Visual Studio Code (not FOSS) offers a number of Markdown extensions. These allow you to preview and compile Markdown files and offer an outline view that folds headers.
  13. VSCodium is an open source version of Visual Studio Code without the telemetry and tracking.

10 File-based Markdown Editors

Many Markdown editors work like text editors and IDEs, allowing you to write or edit individual files. These provide additional useful features you won’t find in most text editors, including:

  • syntax highlighting and a preview pane
  • keyboard shortcuts
  • export/convert Markdown into HTML, PDF, ODT and more
  • a distraction-free writing environment
  • word count, document statistics, and spell check
  • advanced formatting, including tables and mathematical expressions.

1. Apostrophe

Apostrophe is a distraction-free Markdown editor with an elegant and minimalistic interface. It’s a fork of UberWriter by the original developers, an app that was inspired by iA Writer.

  • License: GPLv3
  • Toolkit: GTK+
  • Last updated: 2021
  • Other platforms: n/a

A distraction free Markdown editor for GNU/Linux made with GTK+

How to install: The official website includes instructions on how to build Apostrophe using GNOME Builder, Git, and Flatpak.

Apostrophe Markdown editor screenshot

2. Mark Text

Mark Text is a simple and elegant Markdown editor written to meet the author’s own writing needs and is based on the Electron Framework. Extensions support math expressions (KaTeX), front matter, and emojis, and you can export to HTML and PDF files. Various light and dark themes are available.

  • License: MIT
  • Framework: Electron
  • Last updated: 2021
  • Other platforms: macOS, Windows

Next generation Markdown editor. A simple and elegant open-source Markdown editor that’s focused on speed and usability.

How to install: The app’s Linux Installation Instructions page outlines how to install Mark Text via an AppImage, Flatpak, and Tarball.

Mark Text Markdown editor screenshot

3. ReText

ReText is a more powerful tool and able to edit both Markdown and reStructuredText. Multiple files can be opened in tabs, you can view rendered Markdown in a preview pane, and tags and symbols are available from the icon bar.

  • License: GPL
  • Language: Python
  • Last updated: 2021
  • Other platforms: n/a

Simple but powerful editor for Markdown and reStructuredText.

It includes syntax highlighting and a synchronized preview pane, and MathJax and Python-Markdown are supported. There’s a table editing mode, and PDF, ODT, and HTML export.

How to install: ReText is included in the Debian and Ubuntu software repositories and requires that Python 3.6 or later be first installed. Full instructions are found on the official website.

Retext Markdown editor screenshot

4. Ghostwriter

Ghostwriter has a range of distraction-free features, including full-screen mode, a clean interface, and a dark theme. Focus Mode highlights the text around the cursor and fades the rest, and Hemingway Mode disables the backspace and delete keys, forcing you to write rather than edit.

  • License: GPLv3
  • Toolkit: QT
  • Last updated: 2021
  • Other platforms: Windows

A distraction-free Markdown editor for Windows and Linux. Stylish. Open source. Free.

Other features include built-in themes, live preview, and drag-and-drop images. There’s also an Outline HUD that gives you an overview of your document, and plenty of statistics, including word count. You can export your document to HTML and a variety of other formats.

How to install: You’ll find instructions on how to install GhostWriter on Ubuntu and its derivatives, Fedora, and OpenSUSE on GitHub.

Ghostwriter Markdown editor screenshot

5. Marker

Marker is a basic Markdown editor with syntax highlighting and a preview pane. It includes support for KaTeX and MathJax math notation, Mermaid diagrams, and Charter graphs.

  • License: GPLv3
  • Toolkit: GTK+
  • Last updated: 2021
  • Other platforms: n/a

Marker is a Markdown editor for Linux made with GTK+-3.0

How to install: You’ll find packages for Fedora, Flathub, and Arch Linux on GitHub along with a list of dependencies.

Marker Markdown editor screenshot

6. KeenWrite

KeenWrite is a highly technical Markdown editor written in Java. It offers user-defined interpolated strings, auto-complete variable names, and real-time spell check. Diagrams can include variables and TeX math equations can be created. Documents can be opened in tabs and a document outline can be opened in a separate pane.

  • License: BSD
  • Framework: Java
  • Last updated: 2021
  • Other platforms: Windows

Java-based desktop text editor with live preview, string interpolation, and formulas

Note: KeenWrite is based on the no-longer maintained Markdown-Writer-FX.

How to install: KeenWrite is a Java app, and instructions for installing it on Linux are available on the official website.

KeenWrite Markdown editor screenshot

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