45

I am looking for a Markdown viewer for Windows. It should:

run locally on Windows- be a normal program, not a browser addon, webapp or anything else that requires usage of browser.

Preferable:

  • simple and lightweight
  • open source

Viewer as in "view formatted content", Markdown as in CommonMark.

5
  • 4
    I'm not aware of stand-alone viewers – but you can take a look at some related questions like Free Markdown editor for Windows with tabs, live-view, tables. If you're already using Notepad++ for text editing, there are some Markdown plugins available for that as well.
    – Izzy
    Dec 2, 2019 at 8:01
  • 3
    Does the "requires usage of browser" allow or prohibit apps that use technologies that use a browser to render content, like Electron (upon which for example Atom or Visual Studio Code was built)
    – SztupY
    Dec 3, 2019 at 21:58
  • @SztupY: Let's assume it means "usable offline".
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Dec 5, 2019 at 7:51
  • 1
    The answers in this question are alarming: none of the answers mention the completeness and correctness of the Markdown viewers being suggested at all.
    – Voile
    Dec 6, 2019 at 1:38
  • @Voile That's a good point. I went ahead and added that in my answer. Dec 6, 2019 at 10:26

14 Answers 14

31

If you work a lot with Notepad++ (GPLv2), you can install the MarkdownViewerPlusPlus plugin (MIT License):

https://raw.githubusercontent.com/nea/MarkdownViewerPlusPlus/master/MarkdownViewerPlusPlus/Resources/MarkdownViewerPlusPlus.png

(According to the Github page, this plugin works for 32 and 64 bits)


Alternativelly, you can use the NppMarkdownPanel plugin (MIT License):

https://raw.githubusercontent.com/mohzy83/NppMarkdownPanel/master/help/npp-preview.png

(According to the Github page, this plugin also works for 32 and 64 bits)


Both options can be installed from the plugin manager:

Notepad++ Plugin Manager

(Screenshot taken on Linux running Wine, not on Windows XP)

Both plugins use Markdig (BSD 2-Clause "Simplified" License) which is compatible with up to the CommonMark 0.28 spec.
Both plugins use older versions of this library, and this information will change in the future, and may support newer CommonMark specs.

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    Tried both. MarkdownPanel is slightly better and can show images but zoom on high DPI displays is very bad. Ultimately, I just ended up using VS Code. May 27, 2020 at 11:20
  • 1
    Thanks for answer, and +1 because I am using NPP a lot. However, those plugins are useless for me, because they don't update the preview dynamically. That is, I want the preview to be updated every time I begin a new paragraph in the source. But with those plugins, to get the current source code rendered, I had to close the preview and to re-open it (NppMarkdownPanel) or had to hit "Refresh" in the preview window (MarkdownViewer++). Maybe there are shortcuts to do that in both cases, but I couldn't them it quickly, and I was not motivated to lose time with fooling around until I do.
    – Binarus
    Feb 10 at 14:04
  • @Binarus Sadly, those plugins seem to haven't been updated in 3+ years. You probably may want to look at other alternatives. Possibly the VSCode or VSCodium option. It is quite a bit bulky, and does way much more than Notepad++, which can be both good and bad at times. You can use Typora as well. Feb 11 at 12:53
  • @IsmaelMiguel Thanks; I've come to a similar conclusion. I now use VS Code with the "Markdown Preview Enhanced" plugin, and I am quite happy with it as far as it concerns the preview. It even scrolls the preview together with the source code, and it reliably updates the preview in real-time while I type in the source (without saving the source). However, the PDF export was still bad, so I additionally got the "Markdown PDF" plugin and finally have a system which halfway fits my needs. If I need something perfect, I'll return back to LaTeX (which I've used a lot in former times).
    – Binarus
    Feb 11 at 14:45
  • @Binarus At least you have something that works for yourself, and that's what matters. Don't forget to upvote this answer: softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/a/71017 as it is the one that talks about VSCode. Feb 11 at 17:26
30

Its not really simple and lightweight, but

You can use Visual Studio Code, it has a Markdown preview built-in. This way you can view the source and the rendered preview side-by-side.

To display images in-line (at this time) you need to install an extension, Markdown Preview Enhanced by Yiyi Wang.

"Markdown Preview Enhanced is an extension that provides you with many useful functionalities such as automatic scroll sync, math typesetting, mermaid, PlantUML, pandoc, PDF export, code chunk, presentation writer, etc."

The VSCode developers have been improving the builtin Markdown support over the years. Maybe the above-mentioned extension is no longer needed. There are other community extensions for markdown.

If the license of VSCode is not right for you, consider VSCodium. "VSCodium is a community-driven, freely-licensed binary distribution of Microsoft’s editor VSCode"

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    Using Visual Studio Code as a markdown viewer is like using a towercrane as a jackhammer. Yes, can bring your wall down. But is it really necessary to put that much force behind it? And it isn't even complete without an extension?
    – Mast
    Dec 4, 2019 at 18:02
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    @Mast Respectfully disagree. Parsing markdown is very easy. Rendering markdown is exceptionally complicated. Even though you skip past many of the layout issues of html/css, you still have a pretty significant subset of html rendering, including lists and list icons, fonts and maybe parsing/colors for code blocks, the entirety of unicode, and maybe things like image loading and math formulas depending on what flavor of markdown you're looking at. By the time you're done, you'll have finished a non-trivial chunk of the work required to implement a browser from scratch. Dec 4, 2019 at 19:58
  • @knb: Please mention the license, thanks! Also, there is an answer about Atom so I suggest removing the last line. Thanks! :-)
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Dec 6, 2019 at 7:19
  • 1
    VSC is the only one of those recommendations mentioned, all tested, and using the "Markdown Preview Enhanced". VS in this sense is lightweight and fast and suppports both sync scrolling and outlining. And VS is not a dead project, yet. despite to the MS license, which seems not to be Open Source this is my vote.
    – Max
    May 12, 2021 at 19:54
  • Indeed, VSC with "Markdown Preview Enhanced" is the only free solution that worked as expected for me, at least as far as it concern the source code and preview handling, so +1. However, the PDF export was still unusable for me (didn't try Prince, though, because it requires the installation of further software outside of VSC). But installing the "Markdown PDF" plugin in addition improved things a lot. VSC + Markdown Preview Enhanced + Markdown PDF is finally usable for me.
    – Binarus
    Feb 12 at 9:21
21

I use Typora free (commercial license, not open source) markdown editor for Windows/Mac/Linux because it works very fast. The latest version of Typora is currently a beta version and it's free software, but Typora may cost something in the future.

Typora can capture rich content directly from word processors and webpages, convert it directly into markdown text via copy/paste, and it preserves the original formatting too. Typora can capture in this way formatted lists, headings, formatted text, hyperlinks, and images.

Typora will give you a seamless experience as both a reader and a writer. It removes the preview window, mode switcher, syntax symbols of markdown source code, and all other unnecessary distractions, and replaces them with a real live preview feature to help you concentrate on the content itself. source

formatted table in Typora
editiing a table in live preview mode

To get Typora usable in editor mode in Windows and macOS, you must create a file "base.user.css" in your themes folder (e.g. AppData\Roaming\Typora\themes ... ) with a CSS content according to support.typora.io/Width-of-Writing-Area.

Example CSS:

#write {
  max-width: 1800px; /*adjust writing area position*/
}

#typora-source .CodeMirror-lines {
  max-width: auto; /*or 1000px*/
  line-height:1.2em;
}

Mark Text free markdown editor for Windows/Mac/Linux is better than Typora at accurately capturing everything on a webpage and Typora has a more user-friendly editor, so I use both applications. I use Mark Text as a webpage grabber, and then I copy/paste the markdown text I captured into Typora and use Typora to edit it.

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    however, to get Typora usable in editor mode, you must create a file "base.user.css" in your themes folder (e.g. AppData\Roaming\Typora\themes ... ) with a css content #write { max-width: 1800px; /*adjust writing area position*/ padding-left: 30px; } #typora-source .CodeMirror-lines { /* max-width: auto; */ max-width: 1800px; /*or 1000px*/ /* line-height:1.2em; /* */ } according to support.typora.io/Width-of-Writing-Area
    – Max
    May 12, 2021 at 20:12
10

Returning to this two years later, I definitely no longer recommend MarkdownPad. I use Visual Studio Code, same as the currently top-rated answer.


I use MarkdownPad. It's free for most use cases, but there is a pro version for "power" users.

enter image description here

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    Misses the "open source" requirement, but otherwise looks pretty good.
    – Mark
    Dec 3, 2019 at 0:55
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    @Mark the OP said open source was "preferable." Dec 3, 2019 at 4:16
  • Which is why I'm just noting it, and not downvoting or flagging as "not an answer". (It's also why I'm not upvoting, either.)
    – Mark
    Dec 3, 2019 at 6:20
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    Be aware that MarkdownPad is essentially abandonware, hasn't been updated in years, and does not work on Windows 10.
    – undo
    Dec 3, 2019 at 11:32
  • @rahuldottech that's odd; I'm using it on Windows 10. The download button doesn't explicitly say "for Windows 10" but I haven't had issues. Dec 3, 2019 at 14:30
6

CuteMarkEd is a free and open source markdown editor. It fits all listed requirements:

  • Simple and lightweight: Download the zip file extract and finished (no Installation required, Zip file is currently 37 MByte)
  • It's open source (Github)
  • You can view the formatted content.

enter image description here

1
4

I like using one program for everything. I use SublimeText, which is free for evaluation just like WinRar, for almost any text editing purposes and there's almost always a plugin for a certain type of file. The plugins are also mostly open source so you can edit them to your liking.

After re-reading the question, I've found what I used to use for this purpose:

Here's a screenshot:

MarkdownLivePreview

0
3

I would recommend Atom editor. You will need to install Markdown Preview but a big advantage is that there is large amount of additional plugins for handling markdown. The preview is opened via Ctrl + Shift + M.

enter image description here

Atom is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

0
3

I mainly use other softwares on linux for my markdowns, but when I need to edit them in windows I use ghostwriter. It may lack some advanced features (e.g. external themes/fonts support), but it is a great editor.
Below you can see an example of the live HTML preview enter image description here

0
2

Personally, I quite like Haroopad. It is pretty simple, but also pretty quick. It updates visualization as I go and synchronizes scrolling source -> view. Which is pretty much what I need.

http://pad.haroopress.com

Haroopad Screenshot

3
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    Any screenshot? :-)
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Dec 6, 2019 at 7:22
  • Haroopad hasn't received updates for a long time and it has some nasty bugs, one of them not being able to double click a MD file for opening it (trust me, I have set Haroopad as the app to open it). I was a long time user of Haroopad, but switched to Typora (and will likely switch again, when Typora goes commercial). Dec 25, 2019 at 22:46
  • Haroopad, yes there are some issues, like the dark editor background, the quirky text search (ctrl+f), and the inability to click on links in the renderer (using v0.13.1 on Win 10). However, I was able to set haroopad as default program for .md files. Double-Clicking on .md files in file explorer does open the file in haroopad okay. May 17, 2021 at 9:02
1

You could try Markdown Monster from West Wind.

Free, source on GitHub.

1
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    Please edit your answer to add a screenshot and license, thanks! :-)
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Dec 6, 2019 at 7:23
1

There is also Mark Text. It's under MIT License. But I don't know if it falls into the anything else that requires usage of browser category!

Windows screenshot

0
1

I can advertise a tool that I wrote in my spare time.

It is not exactly light weight, since it is based on the Electron framework (like VS Code and many others). But it is very simple, because it is just a Markdown viewer and not an editor and it is open source. It has a Windows installer that assigns your *.md files with this tool, i.e. you just double click a Markdown file and a window displaying the rendered content opens.

https://github.com/c3er/mdview/releases

Screenshot of Markdown Viewer

4
  • I think this is the closest to answering the question, as it is not something attached to an editor. However, the startup delay makes this less functional for me than the PowerToys preview (which is very fast). Aug 24, 2021 at 0:41
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    @RandyCragun Did you try to add the installation path to your virus scanner's exclusion list as mentioned in the README? I also observed a startup delay that wasn't always there and I isolated it to the virus scanner (Windows Defender in my case). Aug 25, 2021 at 13:54
  • I did not because I am nervous about my lack of understanding of the risks involved Sep 21, 2021 at 20:20
  • 1
    That's understandable. I'll add an comment, when my tool is better trusted by virus scanners etc. (preferably without me paying a fee to some trust authority). Oct 8, 2021 at 11:45
1

The best open source way is to install Powertoys, a project by Microsoft.

All you need is to install Powertoys and then a tab will appear in the Windows File Explorer view, where you can select a preview pane of any file in Windows.

Currently in Windows 10 - md , txt, img, video preview img, c and some other prog langs can be viewed without opening the file

Preview paneScreenshot of preview pane of Powertoys in File Explorer

Detailed paneScreenshot of detailed pane of Powertoys in File Explorer

2
  • I really wish this viewer could be split from Explorer. Opening the Explorer preview panel opens it within the existing Explorer window, so I have to resize the window to appropriately see the content. Otherwise, it is one of my favorite new (to me) tools, and it has caused me to write far more notes in Markdown than I did before. Better yet, Windows could make the window size expand when there is a new panel shown, but I don’t think that will happen. Aug 24, 2021 at 0:33
  • Sorry that I didn't see your comment earlier @Randy Cragun. If what you want is a separate window from the explorer because you have to resize it to see clearly, then I would recommand you to try to install an extension for markdown on the code editor you work in. In my opinion it is way easier to work with if you want to preview every time you write something. It could be used as a single windows or a seperate one as you wish.
    – Jo_L
    Sep 5, 2021 at 16:23
0

Calibre (https://calibre-ebook.com/) includes a free-standing ebook viewer that handles MD files fine. It's open source (Python).

I have it installed as the default MD file viewer so double-clicking in file explorer opens and displays the file in a minimalist window.

Of course it comes with the ebook editor/manager, which you may not want. Otherwise it exactly fits your requirements.

2
  • The recommendation is not a markdown viewer, it's an ebook viewer.
    – Alejandro
    Nov 11, 2021 at 19:53
  • The reommendation is for a program that renders many formats including markdown, epub & pdf. It interprets plain text files as markdown and registers itself with Windows as able to process files with an md extension. I've made it my default for md files, as I said, for much the same reasons as the OP gave.
    – AndyK
    Nov 13, 2021 at 10:09

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