The Journey to Markdown: On the Mac

Yesterday I dipped my toe into Markdown’s waters. Today I jump right in.
Since my primary (all right, let’s face it – only) computing devices are made by Apple, it goes without saying that most of my Markdown writing will be done in Mac OS X. With my trusty – and speedy – 11” MacBook Air at my command, I’m about to put apps that deliver the goods in Markdown a shot at being my “main writing thing” for online work. While there are plenty of them out there, the ones that stand out amongst the pack in my eyes are Byword and nvALT.


I’ve been playing with Byword for awhile now and I am very impressed. Unlike nvALT, however, it costs money. But it is well worth the epxense for all that it has to offer.

Byword lets you write in an unobtrusive environment, is elegantly crafted and handles Markdown like a champ. Since I wrote yesterday’s post in Byword (as I have this one), I’ll let my previous remarks do the talking. Let’s just say that Byword rests in my Dock now and may very well be the text editor of choice going forward, beating out the next Markdown contender.


This application has been part of my workflow for several months, and it is going to be tough to unseat. But with Writing Kit making a case as my iPad writing app and ByWord gaining traction, nvALT may be my backup app going forward.

What I really like about nvALT that Byword doesn’t have is a tagging feature that allows for quick searching. The searching that nvALT has built in is a big asset, and the fact it is free, syncs across platforms and doesn’t cost anything is an even bigger asset.

I’m not passing on nvALT by any means…but the allure of Byword and its attractive user interface makes nvALT less of a slam dunk now.

ia Writer

Honestly, I had no idea this app handled Markdown until I did a little research of my own. By virtue of it being removed from my writing app selections during a recent decluttering, it didn’t even get a chance to be tested. ia Writer was simply a victim of the numbers game. Its number was up before it even got called into action.


I’ve yet to give Macchiato a go despite it being mentioned as a contender by the likes of Patrick Rhone, mainly because the price has scared me off. With no trial version at the ready and a steep $19.99 price tag, it costs more than Byword and doesn’t offer me anything that is significantly more appealing. If you don’t already have Byword or ia Writer and want to get into an app that looks like a writing app but can work with whatever Markdown syntax you throw at it, you may want to check it out.


These apps (the former is a creation of nvALT’s Brett Terpstra) haven’t been part of my arsenal yet, either. I could see how Marked and MarkdownNote may fit into my workflow at a later date, but since I’m so new to Markdown I haven’t really given previewing apps such as these much thought. With productivity and task management software I tend to work heavily on the “tasks components” and then move on to projects and more advanced features once I’ve got the foundation firmly in hand. I am treating my journey to Markdown similarly, with nailing down the basics before I pick up the heavier hammers.1

The Mac environment seems tailor-made for Markdown, espeically with the amount of apps that can do it so well. I suppose the fact that third party development on the platform has always been much higher than on other operating systems, and perhaps that has somethnig to do with Markdown apps on the Mac being as plentiful – and as good – as they are. At this part of the journey I would have to say that I’m glad I went with the writing apps I’ve got, and am chomping at the bit to move ahead even further down the road. Only two days in and I’m a firm believer that Markdown is for me.

The next question is whether or not it is for me on all of my devices.

Next up: The Journey to Markdown – On the iPad

1 I’d love to hear about your impressions with other apps that can level up (or wind up levelling down) the Markdown experience in the comments.