For mat ing support
What each app can do beyond plain text
Distraction-free writing is about content, not layout, and so formatting niceties are rare. Only WriteRoom and Byword support anything beyond plain text, and only WriteRoom’s rich text support is of interest, helping you quickly craft lists and tables.
Mostly, Markdown is the preferred means of structuring documents. Ommwriter and WriteRoom lack Markdown tools and previews, but every other app excels in some way: Byword’s speed in enabling you to tap a bracket to surround a selection when adding links; iA Writer’s great two-up preview and three alternate styles; Focused’s great-looking preview; and the smart pop-up assistant for links and images, which appears in Ulysses.
We found Byword nudged ahead in terms of preview accuracy and adherence to the Markdown spec, but Ulysses is the best app for that crossover of writer and geek. Beyond Markdown, it supports Markdown XL, Minimark, and Textile’d. You can even define your own Markdown system, should you feel the need.
iA Writer’s two-up layout is a boon for previewing Markdown as you write.