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The Best Markdown Editors for iOS

By Adrian Try
Web
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Markdown is a fast and efficient way to write for the Web. It uses easy-to-read markup and plain text files. It comes with a low learning curve, no lock-in, and fits well with the simplicity of iOS and iPadOS.

The syntax was created by John Gruber in 2004 and offers a number of benefits to writers and bloggers. To use it, you just need a plain-text editor, but an app designed for writing in Markdown offers significant benefits. These may include syntax highlighting, a preview pane, export and publishing features, a document library, and distraction-free writing.

There are plenty of Markdown editors for macOS, Windows, and Linux. There’s just as much variety on Apple’s mobile platforms.

Let’s explore your options.

7 File-based Markdown Editors

Here are seven applications that let you work with one Markdown file at a time.

1. Byword

  • Cost: $5.99
  • Other Platforms: macOS

Markdown app for writing in plain text efficiently.

Byword strikes a good balance between functionality and simplicity. It’s a minimalistic app that offers just enough features that they don’t become a distraction. Subtle syntax highlighting is offered, as are keyboard shortcuts and autocomplete.

It’s attractive, inexpensive, and frictionless. It’s popular with those who value simplicity when writing.

Scrrenshot of Byword

2. iA Writer

  • Cost: $29.99
  • Other Platforms: macOS, Windows, Android

Get focused. iA Writer offers a unique writing experience that lets you concentrate and clarify your message.

iA Writer is a distraction-free Markdown editor that places the focus on your content. It offers more features than Byword, and a little less simplicity.

Focus mode fades surrounding lines of text to emphasize what you’re typing. A light gray background, monospaced font, and blue cursor are used.

Unlike Byword, iA Writer supports images, tables, and content blocks. A number of popular cloud storage solutions are supported.

Screenshot of iA Writer

3. Drafts 5

  • Cost: free download, subscription from $2.99/month
  • Other Platforms: macOS

Where text starts.

Drafts 5 is the ultimate capture tool: an inbox for text and Markdown content that can be routed to other apps through powerful actions. Each entry can be tagged, flagged, and archived as needed.

Basic Markdown syntax highlighting is offered, as is a preview pane. It’s a highly customizable way to compose in Markdown.

Screenshot of Drafts 5

4. Editorial

  • Cost: $4.99
  • Other Platforms: n/a

Desktop-class plain text productivity on iOS.

Editorial is a powerful text editor for iOS that offers excellent Markdown support. It also supports Fountain, a markup language for screenwriters, and TaskPaper’s format for plain text to-do lists.

Like Drafts, it’s highly configurable and offers strong automation features. Document templates, workflow automation, smart snippets, and Python scripting let you make the app your own. Basic syntax highlighting is available, and you can preview your document by swiping to the left.

Screenshot of Editorial

5. Taio

  • Cost: free download, Pro from $1.49/month
  • Other Platforms: n/a

Text all in One.

Taio is another Markdown editor that lets you create powerful workflows. Its Actions let you access both the clipboard and editor to expand what the app is capable of. It also offers full support for the expanded syntax of both CommonMark and GitHub Flavored Markdown.

The app supports multiple tabs, templates, diagrams, app integrations, and iCloud sync. A macOS version is in the works.

Screenshot of Taio

6. GTW

  • Cost: $5.99
  • Other Platforms: n/a

Markdown and plain text editor for iOS.

GTW (Gogo’s Type Writer) is a text and Markdown editor that’s optimized for speed. It supports local files as well as Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, FTP, and SFTP/SSH.

It offers syntax highlighting, a Markdown preview pane, snippets, themes, and the ability to open entire folders from the Files app. Search and replace supports Regex and you can edit files directly on your server.

Screenshot of GTW

7. Coming Soon: Whiskey

  • Cost: Pricing has not been announced
  • Other Platforms: macOS

A modern Markdown app from Nothing Magical for Mac and iOS.

Whiskey is under active development and a beta version is available for macOS. Its interface is minimal and it looks promising. I’m keeping my eye on it.

7 Library-based Markdown Editors

Here are seven applications that manage an entire library of Markdown files that are stored either in the file system or a database.

1. Ulysses

  • Cost: free download, subscription from $9.99/month
  • Other Platforms: macOS

The ultimate writing app for Mac, iPad, and iPhone.

Ulysses is a full-featured Markdown app for writers. Its minimal interface removes distractions and helps you focus on the task of writing. Useful tools such as word count and writing goals are there when you need them.

All your documents are stored in a single database and can be exported in a wide range of formats. You can also publish directly to WordPress, Medium, Ghost, and Micro.blog.

Screenshot of Ulysses

2. Bear

  • Cost: free download, subscription from $1.49/month
  • Other Platforms: macOS

Bear is a beautiful, flexible writing app for crafting notes and prose.

Bear is a Markdown-based note-taking app and writing environment. By default it uses non-standard markup, but a Markdown compatibility mode is available.

Like Ulysses, it stores all of your notes in a single database, eliminates distractions, and helps you focus on what you’re writing. Tags are added by using hashtags within the document, and you’re shown a rich preview of your formatting as you type.

Screenshot of Bear

3. MWeb

  • Cost: free download, $8.99 in-app purchase
  • Other Platforms: macOS

Pro Markdown writing, note taking and static blog generator App.

MWeb is a tab-based Markdown editor that uses GitHub Flavored Markdown. You can export your documents, generate a static blog, or publish directly to WordPress, Metaweblog, Blogger, Medium, Tumblr, and Evernote.

Syntax highlighting and a live preview are offered, and images can be added via drag and drop. The document library supports categories and tags, and external Markdown documents can be accessed.

Screenshot of MWeb

4. Joplin

  • Cost: free and open-source (MIT License)
  • Other Platforms: macOS, Windows, Linux, Android

An open-source note taking and to-do application with synchronization capabilities.

Joplin is an open-source note-taking and to-do list application. It’s an alternative to Evernote and can import your Evernote library.

Notes are in Markdown format and can be synchronized between your devices with end-to-end encryption via a number of popular cloud services.

Screenshot of Joplin

5. 1Writer

  • Cost: $4.99
  • Other Platforms: n/a

Powerful, beautiful Markdown editor for iOS

1Writer is an affordable alternative to Ulysses. It combines basic Markdown editing with distraction-free writing and researching tools.

Inline Markdown preview and word count are offered, and you can optionally protect your notes with a passcode or Face/Touch ID. You can create powerful custom actions using a URL scheme or JavaScript.

Screenshot of 1Writer

6. Inkdrop

  • Cost: free download, subscription from $4.16/month
  • Other Platforms: macOS, Windows, Linux, Android

Organizing your Markdown notes made simple.

Inkdrop is a full-featured GitHub Flavored Markdown library that’s synced between your devices and comes with 10 GB of online storage. It’s a strong alternative to Ulysses for non-writers.

It’s a good fit for developers. Line numbers are displayed, Vim, Emacs and Sublime Text key bindings are supported, and math notation, flowcharts and sequence diagrams can be created.

Screenshot of Inkdrop

7. Coming Soon: Obsidian

  • Cost: Free with additional paid services
  • Other Platforms: macOS, Windows, Linux

A second brain, for you, forever.

Obsidian is a powerful knowledge base that works on top of a local folder of plain text Markdown files. Links and backlinks allow you to create a frictionless network of connections.

Learn more in my detailed guide to Obsidian. The iOS version is currently in private beta and I’ve heard that it works well.

So, What Is the Best Markdown Editor for You?

The iOS Markdown ecosystem is rich and varied. With so many apps available, which is the right one for you? That depends on your priorities, and what you’ll be using the app for.

Here are some recommendations:

  • If you’re looking for a quality text editor with strong Markdown support, consider Editorial.
  • If automation and custom workflows are your thing, consider Drafts 5, Editorial, Taio, or 1Writer.
  • If you want to edit Markdown files on your server, GTW is a good choice.
  • If you want to create a personal knowledge base using Markdown, consider Bear, Joplin, and Obsidian.
  • If you’re a writer or blogger looking for a full-featured writing environment, choose Ulysses, Bear, or 1Writer.
  • If you want the ability to publish directly to your blog, consider Ulysses or MWeb.
  • If you prefer an inexpensive, lightweight editor, Byword and iA Writer are excellent options.
  • These apps also run on macOS: Byword, iA Writer, Drafts 5, Ulysses, Bear, MWeb, Joplin, and Inkdrop.
  • These apps also run on Windows: iA Writer, Joplin, and Inkdrop.

Adrian Try is an Aussie writer, musician, cyclist, and tech geek.

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