May 18, 2024

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Google Docs gets Markdown support for titles, formatting, and more

Looks like Google is in the process of buying a nascent audio

Google is adding Markdown support to Google Docs on the web, allowing you to format your document using text shortcuts instead of keyboard shortcuts. at A blog post announcing the featureGoogle says it does this with its own 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 Markdown support” it will be automatically converted to a first level title.

Google says Docs has already supported some Markdown autocorrect for bulleted and numbered lists and checkboxes. It does add much broader support, though – you can now use Markdown to add bold and italic titles and text (or do both), strikethrough (although it’s done with – on either side of your content, rather than the traditional ~), and links. This is far from Full implementation of Markdown processbut at least it covers most of what I personally use the language for.

A new option 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 be rolling up for your account yet – Google says it can take “more than 15 days” for the feature to appear to everyone (personally, I’ve had to try three different Google accounts before I found one that had it).

If you’re used to writing in Markdown in other apps, Google Docs’ implementation will probably take some getting used to (even ignoring non-standard strikethrough and absent options). Instead of showing your tags in plain text, it uses them to automatically apply the formatting and then discards them. This is different from how most other text editors display Markdown by default – normally, you’ll still be able to see the tags, with the editor also adding some kind of formatting to give you an idea of ​​what it will look like when you publish.

Screenshot showing how Google Docs, IA Writer, and Obsidian handle Markdown text display.

A look at the different ways you can view Markdown – clockwise from top left: unmarked in Google Docs, with tags and formatting in iA Writer, showing tags for font being edited and formatted elsewhere in Obsidian, with tags and no formatting in TextEdit.

Whether you like this approach or not is probably a personal preference. Google’s app probably won’t appeal much to people who use Markdown to take full control of their text (without having to bother with annoying HTML closing tags). But for anyone who just wants the ability to use Markdown as a formatting shortcut, and doesn’t care about fiddling with plain text, Google’s method can be relatively accessible – instead of selecting text and pressing Command/Control+L to insert a link, you can just type in a few parentheses and brackets.

(It’s also worth noting that this implementation is much friendlier when sharing a document with a co-worker who doesn’t know what Markdown is.)

Google says that the feature is disabled by default — perhaps a good option, because it’s easy to imagine a lot of people getting confused if they typed a pound sign in front of something that you’ve automatically converted to a header — and that it comes to “Google Workspace clients, as well as G Suite Basic and G clients.” Old Suite Business”, along with personal accounts. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time to start a campaign to get Google to add Vim mode to Docs, since it’s used to adding fun nerdy features.

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