Writing in Markdown with Typora

by: Scott Nesbitt | 12 March 2020

I’ve been writing with Markdown for several years. And when I write with it, I use a text editor — mainly Emacs with its Markdown mode.

I’ve also tried a number of dedicated Markdown editors. Some were good, and some not so. In the end, I always went back to using a text editor. A text editor works for all of my needs (Markdown and otherwise), even though I’m not a techie or a power user.

Sometime in the last 18 months or so, Steven Ovadia (who you might remember from this interview) mentioned a dedicated Markdown editor called Typora. Knowing that Steven has good judgement when it comes to things like this, and to prove he’s a bad influence on me, I decided to give Typora a try.

It didn’t disappoint. So let’s take a quick look at Typora, shall we?

Getting Going

You can download Typora for Linux, MacOS, and Windows. Once you’ve done the download, install Typora.

When you fire it up, you get a blank canvas.

Typora after you start it up

Start typing. When you add markup, you’ll notice that Typora switches to a WYSIWYG view of your document.

A document in Typora

That’s the default behaviour. If you click in, say, a link or a formatted bit of text, you’ll see the Markdown formatting.

Editing Markdown in Typora's WYSIWYG mode

Typora also has a code view. Click the </> button on the bottom left of the window to switch to that view.

Editing Markdown in Typora's code view

Importing and Exporting

While Typora’s native format is Markdown, you can pull file in other formats into the application, and save your Markdown files in a number of formats.

To import, select Import from the File menu. Search for the file to import. You can select a format — including LaTeX, reStructuredText, org-mode, EPUB, and Textile — from the All Supported Formats list to narrow things down.

Typora converts the file to Markdown, and does a pretty good job.

An org-mode file imported into Typora

The example above is an org-mode file that I imported into Typora. I also tried importing a few LaTeX documents, as well as a couple of EPUB files. The conversions were quick and accurate.

You can export a file to even more formats including PDF, Word, ODT (the format used by open source word processors like LibreOffice), EPUB, HTML, and LaTeX. Again, the export is smooth and accurate. Here’s an example of a Markdown file output to ODT:

A document converted to ODT

Final Thoughts

Usually, when I test drive software I give it a couple of weeks. I wound up using Typora for several months. Why? It grew on me the more I used it.

Typora has several solid features, along with a couple of minor annoyances. That’s said, it’s probably the best dedicated Markdown editor I’ve used.