I'm looking for a native OSX desktop application (needs to work offline) in which I can edit plain text documents, and preview how they'll look with markdown formatting applied.

At a minimum, I need it to be able to understand and display all the "official" markdown syntax, but save as straight-up .txt files.


9 Answers 9


Use Mou!

Mou has everything you've asked for.

  • If you have the preview pane open, it will update in close to real-time, though it's a little delayed if you type very quickly.
  • It speaks Markdown.
  • It lets you customize the editor theme and the preview pane.
  • It lets you choose the default file extension for saving (and .txt is included on its list).

Use Mou! Editor UI

  • Do you know if it offers the possibility of extensions? Would be even better if it included Smartypants, of course!
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 9:04
  • Mou is really buggy. Otherwise it's great.
    – Emil Laine
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 2:13
  • Mou is nice, but sadly the lack of support for Github markdown flavour makes it unusable.
    – thomax
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 11:12
  • Unfortunately, Mou seems to be abandonware these days. :(
    – hairboat
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 22:34

The best Markdown editor for any operating system that features a modern browser is StackEdit1.

screenshot of StackEdit

StackEdit features:

  • Works offline - documents are saved in your browser's local storage, and can be opened from and saved to your local filesystem. Once loaded, the app's code is cached by your browser, and will open and work just fine with zero Internet connectivity.
  • Real-time preview
  • Support for standard Markdown
  • Support for Markdown Extra
  • Support for exporting documents as raw Markdown (text), HTML or PDF
  • Support for saving and synchronizing a document with Dropbox or Google Drive
  • Support for publishing a document to Blogger, Dropbox, Gist, GitHub, Google Drive, Tumblr, WordPress or any SSH server.
  • Support for UserCustom extensions to add custom features.

It's fast, full-featured, and fun. And it's open source!

1not affiliated with Stack Exchange, Inc.

  • 3
    Huh. So if he really wanted it to be a standalone app, he could make one with Fluid and it'd be indistinguishable from a desktop app.
    – hairboat
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 21:22
  • 2
    +1. This one ALMOST took the check. I prefer the true native setup of Mou, but I'm gonna use this next time I find myself on someone else's machine with a post to write - pretty awesome. Also, this is a weird place for us all to be talking.
    – Jaydles
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 16:05
  • I really, really want to use this full-time, but I just can't get its login to work in a Fluid app. If anyone else stumbles across this and gets that up and running, I'd love to hear about it.
    – hairboat
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 18:52

There is a new kid on the block.

Github has recently open-sourced their internally developed editor — introducing Atom! As a full featured code editor and lightweight IDE, Atom may seem like a lot of application for writing a few markdown files, but I still think it's worth a shake. Atom may be full featured but it feels super light weight. It is loosely tooled around the Chromium browser as a base for a specialty application, but the implementation is clean, fast and focused.

Getting started with it as a Markdown tool is easy. The very first thing you'll be greeted with when you open the app having done NO configuration1 is a markdown welcome note.

Initial open

From there, a markdown preview pane is two clicks away: Packages » Markdown » Toggle Preview.

Enabling markdown preview

The result is a live preview that renders in nearly real time.

Markdown preview pane

From there, poking around the UI is a very friendly experience. The feature set and ease of discovery and customization are really quite impressive. If you don't already have a loyalty to an editor, this might be worth having around. Personally, I'm still a vimer2.

1 The only thing I have done in this view after installing is scroll to a location in the file tree so you wouldn't see my home directory.

2 This post authored in gvim with the latest dev version of Markdown syntax futures from Tim Pope's repos. Images posted later via SE's inline editor. Later revision brought to you from wasavi.

  • 1
    I've been using Atom (in Ubuntu from WebUpd8 PPA) for a couple weeks. Very impressed, especially with the Md support. It's the only editor of those that I've tried (incl Gedit, JEdit, KKEdit, Leafpad, Scratch, Scribes, Sublime3, TextAdept, and Vim) that correctly handles RTL text mixed with LTR. You can see a comparison if that's of interest: Atom gets it right; TextAdept isn't bad (compared to some) but can't nest the list; Vim nests the list, but can't manage LTR; + the same text previewed.
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 8:45
  • P.s. It would be great if it the Markdown rendering included support for Smartypants, but apparently I'm the only one that thinks so. Oh well... | Of course you can toggle render with CTRL-SHIFT-M as well, but I'm sure you know that already. ;)
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 8:48
  • Do you know of any way to do support collaborative editing with a native app for osx?
    – M.R.
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 19:41
  • Atom also lets.you customize the rendering engine, so you can use pandoc/citeproc, for example, to render markdown with citations pulled from your bibtex library. Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 15:17

Emacs plus a markdown-to-html converter (there are many around, pandoc works well and supports many extensions) meets your absolute requirements.

The preview is not real-time. I've seen that done for LaTeX, but not for Markdown; in principle, the same approach should work, but it would involve a nontrivial amount of coding.

You get the benefit of a good editor. Markdown mode provides syntax highlighting and assistance to invoke external commands.

To view the rendered HTML in Emacs, simply open the HTML file in Emacs's web browser.



Unfortunately Mou doesn't work on macOS Sierra, however there is similar app called MacDown, heavily influenced by Mou. It's open source and free to use, released under MIT License.

MacDown, Markdown editor for macOS

Highlights include:

  • Highly customisable Markdown rendering.
  • Syntax highlighting in fenced code blocks.
  • Sophisticated auto-completion.

Visit the Features page for more details.


You can either download the app directly from the home page, download release from GitHub page, or use Homebrew Cask to install it:

brew cask install macdown

Marked2 is a markdown preview app that works with any text editor and can export in a number of formats.

Basic premise: You open the text file in both your text editor and Marked2. When you save your text file in the editor, you see a preview in Marked2. Edit, save, preview, repeat.

There are themes and other features, see the linked website for more details.

  • 1
    If you combine Marked and Emacs you have IMHO the best combination for Markdown writing.
    – halloleo
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 2:55

Visual Studio Code supports Markdown with a preview pane:

enter image description here

Just click "Open Preview"

enter image description here

Or from the Command Palette: enter image description here

From Ivan's answer on another question:

Visual Studio Code Window

VS Code supports highlighting, live preview, header folding, and other Markdown features (see an official description).

Moreover, there are plenty of markdown plugins that improve productivity: Code Spell Checker, MarkdownLint, Table Formatter, Markdown TOC and other.


Six simple letters: Typora, incredible power and fantastic styles.

It supports drag and drop of images (relative or absolute paths, depends on the settings).

Cross-platform and above all the coolest of all, in my opinion.

One more thing: it's free!


Unfortunately this app is not free anymore and today it costs around $15 + TAX/VAT.

  • 27.11.2021 - and no longer free. Not even "freemium", but a 15-day "free" trial, after which user(s) much purchase a license.
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 11:18

Abricotine takes a very nice approach to this by rendering the Markdown itself directly, including equations:


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.