When comparing nvALT vs MacDown, the Slant community recommends MacDown for most people. In the question“What are the best Markdown editors for OS X?” MacDown is ranked 4th while nvALT is ranked 15th. The most important reason people chose MacDown is:
MacDown is a free and open source editor influenced by [Mou](http://25.io/mou/). It's released under the MIT license.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Powerful search syntax
nvALT has a simple text box at the top (similar to that of a web browser) and when you start typing inside it, nvALT immediately displays a drop-down box of all the notes that contain the text you are searching for. The more you type, the more the search is narrowed down.
Pro Powerful note-taking features
nvALT is not only used for simple text editing but also as a powerful tool for taking notes, TODOs, phone numbers and every other piece of information that can be stored in a plain-text file.
This is because nvALT is not designed only as a tool to write text, but also as a powerful search and organize tool for plain-text files.
Pro MultiMarkdown 3 support
Has built-in support for MultiMarkdown 3.
Pro Right to Left support
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 Good auto-completion
MacDown has a good built-in auto-completion engine for Markdown symbols.
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 Tool bar with most used markdown shortcuts
This is especially useful for Markdown novices
Con Not very powerful as far as text editing goes
nvALT's strength is its search feature. It has some basic text-editing features such as cut, paste, find-and-replace and so on. But it doesn't have any advanced text manipulation features available in other editors.
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.