Write markdown without leaving Visual Studio

Dante Gagne

Markdown is a great solution when you want formatted code but don’t want to compromise easy readability. GitHub uses it for readme files, and we use it as our standard for Visual Studio documentation. If you’ve contributed to any open-source repo the odds are high that you’ve authored or edited at least one .md file in that repo somewhere.

We’ve heard feedback from developers asking for a markdown editor in Visual Studio. With the recent preview of Visual Studio 17.5, we’ve brought markdown editing to the IDE! Now, when you have to make changes to markdown files in your project, you can do so without ever leaving Visual Studio.

Visual Studio 2022 showing the markdown editing experience. The markdown preview is open on the right.
The Visual Studio 2022 markdown editing experience.

The markdown editor should already be enabled and available if you’ve updated to the latest 17.5 preview. If you don’t have the new editor, ensure you’re on the latest preview and that you’ve checked the “Markdown language service” preview feature in the Preview Features page of Tools\Options. If you’re using an extension to edit markdown files today, you may need to bring up the context menu on any file with the .md extension in the solution explorer and choose “Open With…”. In the Open With dialog, the “Visual Studio Markdown Editor” is the new, built-in editor. You can use this once or set it as the default as you prefer.

Some benefits the markdown editor in Visual Studio provides include:

  • Semantic coloring in the editor for easy parsing.
  • Adorners like strikethrough and bold are applied right in the editor.
  • A preview window to show what the rendered HTML will look like: Shift+F7 will bring up the preview on the right side of the editor. There’s also a button at the top left of the editor to open and close the preview.

And perhaps best of all is that most standard controls in the Visual Studio editor you’re already familiar with work in the Markdown editor, too. For instance, try Shift+Alt+Down arrow to create multiple carets and quickly make modifications to a bulleted list.

The Visual Studio editor demonstrates how to use multiple carets to prepend multiple lines with a dash to convert a list of elements to a bulleted list in markdown.
Using multiple carets to quickly create a bulleted list.

In addition, Markdown will support the spell checker that will be in an upcoming release of Visual Studio. So stay tuned for an exciting announcement in the new year.

What do you think?

We hope the new Markdown editor in Visual Studio will help you save time! And thank you once again for sharing your feedback. We’d love to know what you think of the markdown experience in Visual Studio. Head over to Developer Community to join in on the conversation with us and let us know what improvements you feel would help make the markdown editor even better. Thank you for being an important part of the Visual Studio family!