Mar 30th, 2022

Google Docs on the web now supports Markdown, allowing you to create your document using shortcuts rather than keyboard commands. Google says it’s accomplishing this using its autocorrect tool, which will automatically style the text after you input it in Markdown format, according to a blog post introducing the feature. If you type “# Google Docs is receiving more Markdown support,” for example, it will be turned to a level one heading automatically.

Google Docs already supports some Markdown autocorrections like bulleted and numbered lists, as well as checkboxes. You can use Markdown to add headings, bold and italicize text (or both), strikethrough (albeit it’s done with a – on either side of your content instead of the standard -), and links. That’s not a perfect version of Markdown, but it covers the majority of the things users use it for.

How to turn it on

Go to Tools > Preferences and tick the “Automatically detect Markdown” box to enable the feature. If you don’t see it, it’s possible it hasn’t been rolled out to your account yet; Google warns it might take “more than 15 days” for everyone to see it.

Google says the feature is disabled by default — which is probably a good thing, because it’s easy to imagine a lot of people being confused if typing a pound sign in front of something turned it into a header — and that it’ll be available to “Google Workspace customers, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers,” as well as personal accounts.

Not for everyone

It’s probably a matter of personal taste if you like the this implementation or not. Anyone who are using Markdown to get full control of their content (without having to deal with closing tags) are unlikely to like Google’s implementation. However, if you merely want to use Markdown as a shortcut to formatting and don’t mind fiddling with plaintext, Google’s method may be more user-friendly and approachable. Opening the doors for more nerds to prosper.

Source: Google Blog

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