I love markdown, I much prefer to stay in the editor rather than having to click the GUI for formatting, or learning key combos, which still involves selecting text. So what can you do if you’re also a Markdown lover and you hate not being able to use it in WordPress? Well good news, there are plugins. But which one to use? I’ve tested them all so you don’t have to.
To activate the markdown module in Jetpack, head on over to the Jetpack setting and in the “composing” section, enable “Write posts or pages in plain-text Markdown syntax”.
You can now start using markdown syntax in the editor and it will render it for you. Great.
This is totally workable and a good way to use markdown.
So why not stop there and use Jetpack? Well, a couple of reasons. You won’t get that nice syntax highlighting that a good markdown editor will give you. It’s completely not necessary but improves the experience for me.
And I don’t like that I have to create a Jetpack account to use it. If you’re only after the markdown editor and aren’t interested in the statics then it’s a tad annoying to need to connect to a Jetpack account.
Markdown editor is really really nice. It has the visual markup formatting that makes it feel nicer to use than plain text. It also has a preview that flips the editor to preview mode without needing to preview the page.
The split view mode lets you see the preview live as you type and puts you into a full-screen mode allowing for focused writing. But there is something that unfortunately lets this method down, you can’t switch back to a regular view…
Which means if you are one of many admins, once you have this running you’ll be forcing all the other writers to use Markdown too. You can still use HTML in the editor though which is something. So if you are the sole editor then this is a fantastic option and kudos to the creators. But please add a switch off button!
Another caveat is that this is for posts only. If you need it on pages or other post types you’ll need to put a snippet into your theme functions file ( Use a child theme unless it’s a bespoke theme ).
It’s not overly clear where to turn this on, to start with I thought it wasn’t working. It is on the F.A.Q page, but I forget to go there as it very often only the default text of how to install a plugin.
So to turn it on go to “Settings > Writing” then check something else under “Enable MarkDown for”.
It works fine, but suffers the same flaw as the “Markdown Editor” plugin in that is takes over your editor and doesn’t allow you to switch it off.
This means that if you have any need for the regular editor, say you are using some sort of page builder or a plugin or theme uses an editor button for something, then you would have to go to the settings to turn it off, or temporarily disable the plugin. Which is fine but would get old fast.
As you can see from the above image, it has an always-on preview which is nice but again, the split view of the Markdown editor wins it for me.
This one hasn’t been updated for a year and has a message that it wasn’t being maintained. But I went ahead and installed it anyway to see if it still works. This is the markdown module from Jetpack by its self so has an appeal.
The answer as of writing is yes, it works as the Jetpack module does. But of course, it may not be a great idea to run an unmaintained plugin. Not that ones that are being maintained are being checked for security flaws anyway, that applies to premium themes and plugins.
So use at your discretion…
There is another type of way of doing this, Markdown here for Firefox. It simply converts to and from markdown in any rich text box. So you’ll write your post in Markdown and when you are ready to post, you just click the button for Markdown Here in the toolbar and it will convert it to HTML. You need to be in the visual tab, not the text tab. You won’t get the syntax highlighting but it’s still a good option. Especially if the previous options haven’t hit the spot for you.
My favorite out of the ones I’ve reviewed is definitely the “Markdown Editor” plugin. If the fact it takes over your editor completely is OK, then it’s a great choice.
My second favorite is the “Markdown Here” plugin. It’s useful for elsewhere too and doesn’t make me sign up. It’s not the most enjoyable experience writing markdown in plain text, but then it was what it was made for and does the job