A Trio of Markdown Editors for the Linux Desktop

25 September, 2023

It’s been a while since I’ve used a dedicated Markdown editor. It’s not that I’ve soured on that type of application, but I’ve found that a fairly simple text editor is more than enough for my needs.

That said, there are more than a few solid Markdown editors for the Linux desktop — I’ve looked at a few over the life of this blog, as you might recall.

It’s time to look at three more. So let’s jump in, shall we?


You can do more with Formiko than edit Markdown files. You can also use it work with files formatted with reStructuredText. For the purposes of this post, I’m only looking at it as a Markdown editor. In that capacity, Formiko does a good job.

The editor itself is quite minimal. Aside from a basic toolbar at the top and a running count of words and characters at the bottom, you get a canvas on which to edit, as shown below:

Editing a Markdown file with Formiko

You can also preview the file that you’re working on or have a split screen — the editing pane on the left and the preview on the right. Here’s an example:

Split code and preview in Formiko

One useful feature of Formiko is the ability to format previews and output with a CSS file of your choosing. Here’s an example of a preview using a CSS file that I cobbled together:

Previewing a file before exporting it from Formiko

If you need to export your file, you can only save it as HTML. If you’re using a custom CSS file Formiko applies that to the resulting HTML file.

Formiko doesn’t have too many options. Aside from being able to use a custom CSS file, you can also change the orientation of the split screen preview (with the editor on top and preview below), as well as the engine with which to preview and export your files. I’d like to be able to be able to change the editor’s font; it’s just a bit too small for my liking.


ThiefMD is one of the more feature-filled Markdown editors I’ve taken for a spin in a while. In addition to Markdown, you can also use ThiefMD to write screenplays using Fountain, a Markdown variant for working with scripts. Even though you can do all that (and more) with it, ThiefMD doesn’t feel heavy.

When you first fire up it up, you’re asked either to open a single file or add a directory:

ThiefMD when you start it up

The first option is obvious — you can work on standalone Markdown files. The second option is for when you have a project like a book. You can use ThiefMD to manage, keep track of, and work on the components of that project. At the time I wrote this post, I didn’t have a bigger project that I was working on, so I only used ThiefMD to edit individual files.

That said, ThiefMD is great for doing that. You get a simple, clean interface that’s a blank canvas for your writing. Here’s an example:

Editing a file with ThiefMD

You can also preview your work side-by-side with the raw text, as shown here:

Split preview mode in ThiefMD

In addition to that, you can select Publishing Preview from the hamburger menu to get an idea of what you’re working on will look like when you export it. Here’s an example:

Previewing a file in ThiefMD before publishing it to LaTeX

You can export your work as HTML, a PDF, an EPUB, a .docx file, a LaTeX file, or as an MHTML file.

What sets ThiefMD apart from Formiko (and many other Markdown editors) is that it’s very configurable. I’m not going to look at all of ThiefMD’s configuration options, but here are some of the highlights. You can:

And quite a bit more.


Marker is a minimal but useful editor for the GNOME desktop. It doesn’t offer much in the way of features, but don’t let that put you off. It’s still very usable and useful.

Start Marker up and you get a split-screen view, like this:

Marker when you first start it

Open a file formatted with Markdown and you get a running preview in addition to the text that you’re editing, as shown below:

Editing a file with Marker

You can turn the preview off if you need to — I do, mainly because I find it a bit distracting and it takes up editing space.

If your documents are of a more techie bent, you can add equations, Mermaid diagrams, and graphs created with a tool called Charter. You can also pop open a window in which you can add hand-drawn diagrams or a signature to your documents.

You’re not stuck with Markdown files, either. You can export your documents in these formats: HTML, PDF, RTF, .odt, .docx, and LaTeX. Aside from the HTML export (more on this in a moment), the results are adequate.

Marker only has a handful of customization options. To get to them, click the stacker menu in the top-right corner of the screen and then click Preferences. Some of those options include:

You can also apply styles to your previews. Marker comes with 18 stylesheets. When you export your documents to HTML, the resulting file uses the stylesheet that you’re currently using for your preview. here’s an example:

Example of HTML exported from Marker

Final Thoughts

Formiko, ThiefMD, and Marker all have their strong points. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use Markdown editor you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Scott Nesbitt