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How to automatically convert Markdown to HTML

By Matthew Guay · February 25, 2021
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Markdown is easy to learn, fast to write in, and lets you avoid the messy ambiguity of editing rich text. At the same time, you can't exactly send your manager a text document full of asterisks and brackets when you send them a status report. You need to turn that Markdown into formatted text.

There are all sorts of apps that do just that. Here's a roundup of tools for converting Markdown to rich text or any format you can think of.

New to Markdown? Check out our Markdown manual for a crash course on how to format plain text with symbols.

How to export Markdown text online

Export Markdown to the format you want with Dillinger
Dillinger is a quick way to turn Markdown text into standard formatting

All you need to write Markdown is a plain text editor. Notepad or TextEdit would do. As long as you can type text and symbols, you're good.

Turning that text into a formatted document is another story. Windows and macOS don't come with built-in Markdown tools—not yet, anyhow—so you'll need something extra.

The easiest option is a quick web app, and there are a number of great choices:

  • Dillinger (pictured above) is one of the best because it's a full-featured online writing app that also makes it easy to export Markdown. You can write Markdown online in its editor or just paste in your completed text, then preview the formatted version on the right. Copy the formatted text for a quick export—or click the Export as menu to save your document in HTML, PDF, or plain text formats.

  • Markdown Web Dingus is the original online Markdown exporter from Markdown's creator, John Gruber. Paste your Markdown in the main text box and click Convert to get a rich text and HTML version. There's a Markdown reference guide on the right for a quick refresher, too.

  • Try pandoc! is a full-featured converter that works with more than Markdown. Paste your Markdown, HTML, LaTeX, or other formatted text on the left, then convert it to the format you want on the right.

How to export Markdown text on your computer

Export Markdown in iA Writer
Markdown writing apps like iA Writer include tools to export your text, too

Web apps are handy for one-off conversions. If you're writing in Markdown every day, though, you'll want a tool built for the job.

These apps make exporting easier, but they also make writing easier thanks to real-time previews or code highlighting. 

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There are more Markdown apps than we could possibly list, but one of our favorites is Typora, which is currently free and available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. This app is perfect for writers because it only shows the actual Markdown code when it's relevant, showing you formatted text that's easy to read the rest of the time. It can also export your Markdown documents to PDF, Word, HTML, and more. 

Other apps worth checking out include the cross-platform iA Writer and Caret, Byword for Mac, and MarkdownPad for Windows. Or, for long-form writing, apps like Ulysses and Scrivener are great both for organizing your thoughts and for exporting Markdown in multiple formats.

Want a straight conversion tool, without a built-in editor? Marked is the best for Macs since it makes exporting text so simple, with beautiful templates and options to save your documents in PDF, Word, HTML, or other formats. Or, for more powerful converting tools, you can install pandoc on your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer to convert Markdown text into the format you want from the command prompt.

Automatically convert Markdown with Zapier

What if you want to write in Markdown all the time, perhaps from apps that don't support Markdown natively, and you don't want to have to manually export your text every time? We can help. Zapier can watch your favorite app—Evernote, Salesforce, or even your email app—for new Markdown text, and put it to work for you. All you need to do is make a Zap for the job using our Formatter tool to convert the text.

Here's how:

  • Log in to Zapier or create a free account.

  • Click the Make a Zap button to set up a Zap.

  • Connect the app that has your text to Zapier, then add a Formatter Text action to your workflow.

  • Select Convert Markdown to HTML from the Transform menu.

  • Click the + icon beside the Input field, and select your Markdown text from the trigger app that you want Zapier to convert.

The Zap editor

Now that you've got your text formatted in HTML, you can use it any way you want. Add it to WordPress and publish your thoughts as a blog post. Save it to a Dropbox text file, and sync it to your website for a simple flat-file site. Copy it to Gmail and send a formatted email powered by Markdown.

Do more with Zapier Formatter

Want to automate more of your work with text? Check out more ways to use Formatter—along with handy tips for other apps you might already be using:

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Matthew Guay picture

Matthew Guay

Matthew Guay is an editor and writer in Bangkok. When he's not writing, he's likely reading a new book or exploring random streets in a new city. Follow Matthew at @maguay.

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