Google Doc now supports Markdowns

Google Doc now supports Markdowns

Google is adding support for Markdown to Google Docs on the web, allowing you to format your document using text rather than keyboard shortcuts. In a blog post announcing the feature , Google claims it is doing this via its autocorrect feature, so it will automatically format the text for you after you type it in Markdown format. For example, if you type “# Google Docs is getting more support for Markdown”, it will automatically convert to a level one header.

Google says Docs already supported some automatic Markdown fixes for bulleted and numbered lists and checkboxes. However, it’s adding much broader support – you can now use Markdown to add headings, bold text, and italics (or do both ), strikethrough (although it’s done using a – on both sides of your content, rather than the traditional ~) and links. This is a far from implementation complete with Markdown but at least it covers most of what I personally use the language for.

Screenshot of the Google Docs preferences pane, with the option "Automatically detect Markdown" selected.

A new option has appeared!

To activate the feature, go to Tools> Preferences and check the “Automatically detect Markdown” box. If you don’t see it, it may not yet be implemented for your account – Google says it may take “more than 15 days” for the feature to appear for everyone (personally, I had to try three different Google accounts before I found one who had it).

If you’re used to writing Markdown in other applications, implementing Google Docs will likely take some getting used to (even ignoring the seemingly non-standard strikethrough syntax and absent options). Instead of showing you your marks in plain text, it uses them to automatically apply formatting and then deletes them. It’s different from the way most other text editors display Markdown by default – you’ll usually still be able to see the marks, with the editor also adding some type of formatting to give you an idea of ​​what it will look like. when you post.

A screenshot of how Google Docs, IA Writer, TextEdit.app, and Obsidian handle Markdown text display.

A look at the various ways you can view Markdown: clockwise from top left: without marks in Google Docs, with marks and formatting in iA Writer, showing marks for the line being edited and formatted everywhere in Obsidian, and with signs and no formatting in TextEdit.

Whether or not you like this approach is probably personal preference. Google’s implementation probably won’t appeal to people who use Markdown to gain complete control of their text (without having to worry about HTML’s annoying closing tags). But for anyone who just wants the ability to use Markdown as a formatting shortcut and doesn’t mind tinkering with plain text, Google’s way might be relatively accessible, instead of selecting text and pressing Command / Control + L to enter. a link, you can just type some brackets and brackets.

(It’s also probably worth noting that this implementation is much friendlier for when you’re sharing a document with a colleague who doesn’t know what Markdown is.)

Google says the feature is off by default, probably a good choice, as it’s easy to imagine that many people get confused if typing a hash in front of something automatically changes to a header, and that it’s coming to “Google Customer Workspace, as well as previous G Suite Basic and Business customers ”, along with their personal accounts. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time to start a campaign to get Google to add a Vim mode to Docs, since it’s getting in the habit of adding fun nerdy features.

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