When comparing StackEdit vs MacDown, the Slant community recommends StackEdit for most people. In the question“What are the best Markdown editors for OS X?” StackEdit is ranked 3rd while MacDown is ranked 5th. The most important reason people chose StackEdit is:
StackEdit works within your browser. You need internet access to connect to the website, but once it's loaded, the site does not require an internet connection - you will be able to edit and save files locally. Additionally, you can use [Fluid](http://fluidapp.com) to turn it into a native desktop application.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Works online and offline
StackEdit works within your browser. You need internet access to connect to the website, but once it's loaded, the site does not require an internet connection - you will be able to edit and save files locally. Additionally, you can use Fluid to turn it into a native desktop application.
Pro No need to install additional software
StackEdit works directly from the browser, there's no need to install additional software as long as you have a web browser installed on your computer.
Pro Real-time preview
The preview shows in a collapsible pane on the right hand side.
Pro Instant publishing
StackEdit allows pushing a document directly to a list of publishing or file storage platforms or any SSH server.
Pro Supports various Markdown flavors
Supports standard Markdown and Markdown Extra.
Pro Multiple export options
Can export to .txt, .html and .pdf.
Pro Syncs via Dropbox and Drive
Files can be synchronized through Dropbox and Drive.
Pro Simple workflow
It is very easy to toggle between the preview and the editing windows. The black makes it a very focused writing environment. Of course it's possible to change that if needed.
Pro Great when in full-screen
Pro Free and open source
MacDown is a free and open source editor influenced by Mou. It's released under the MIT license.
Pro Real-time split-screen preview
MacDown's main view is split into two panels. The user types on the left and the Markdown is rendered on the fly in the right panel. This helps users to better understand the way they are formatting their document.
Pro Markdown previews can be customized with CSS
You can use a CSS file to customize the rendered output and the file preview you are working on will display the rendered Markdown with the custom CSS styling on top.
Pro Supports syntax highlighting in fenced code blocks
MacDown has syntax highlighting support for various languages when writing code in fenced code blocks.
Pro Support for GFM
Pro Ideal for day-to-day programmers' work and MarkDown novices alike
Using MacDown for the notorious README.md use case gets you going without reading any manual or requiring any configuration values. Think of it as a sort of TextEdit for MarkDown files. Thus its shortcomings - neither powerful nor versatile - turn out to be a PRO for novices trying to jump on the MarkDown bandwagon. Open its help and you'll immediately find yourself editing the MacDown's MarkDown help file, a MarkDown primer with some MacDown menus and configuration added.
Pro Linking between pages
Unlike a few other editors, MacDown lets you link between markdown pages.
Pro Good auto-completion
MacDown has a good built-in auto-completion engine for Markdown symbols.
Con Saves files in browser's local storage
Local storage is limited and if the browser crashes the text can be lost.
Con Cannot be accessed while being offline
Even though the editor itself works offline, you need internet access to open the website and the editor.
Con Lacks a good integrated spell checker
Uses the built-in browser spell checker which may not be as good as spell checkers other editors have. Depending on the browser, of course.
Con Publishing to GitHub requires giving write access to repos
In order to publish documents to GitHub, StackEdit requires writing access to your repos, something which many people may not be comfortable with.
Con Not very versatile
MacDown is not very powerful or versatile. It's not customizable or extendable. This is what makes it so simple, but it's not for people who want more from their tools.
Con Frequently fails to update the display and/or flat out hangs
Must often restart MacDown.
Con The Markdown preview is rather heavy on the CPU
The Markdown preview needs a lot of resources to keep rendering on-the-fly after each keystroke. A single keystroke in the editor panel may trigger up to 5 seconds of max-CPU usage.