How to Collaborate with Markdown in Google Docs and Google Drive

451176 How to Collaborate with Markdown in Google Docs and Google Drive

Markdown is a lightweight markup language that allows you to format text using simple syntax. It’s designed to be easy to read, write, and convert to HTML.

While Google Docs doesn’t natively support Markdown, you can enable basic Markdown formatting in Docs to quickly style your text. You can also use addons to convert Google Docs to Markdown for further collaboration.

Here’s how to leverage Markdown to collaborate on documents in Google Drive:

Enable Markdown Formatting in Google Docs

To enable Markdown formatting in Google Docs:

  1. Open a document in Google Docs
  2. Go to Tools > Preferences
  3. Check the box for Automatically detect Markdown and click OK

Once enabled, Google Docs will automatically convert certain Markdown syntax as you type, such as:

  • *italics* to italics
  • **bold** to bold
  • ~~strikethrough~~ to strikethrough
  • [link text]( to link text

You can also create headers using the # sign, such as:

# H1 Header
## H2 Header 
### H3 Header

However, keep in mind Google Docs’ Markdown support is limited. For example, features like tables, images, and fenced code blocks are not supported.

Convert Google Docs to Markdown Using Addons

To unlock more Markdown functionality from Google Docs, use the Docs to Markdown addon.

This addon allows you to convert an existing Google Doc into Markdown text that you can copy out.

To use it:

  1. Install the Docs to Markdown addon
  2. Open the Google Doc you want to convert
  3. Select Add-ons > Docs to Markdown from the toolbar
  4. The Markdown version will appear in the sidebar
  5. Copy and paste the Markdown text as needed

The addon tries to convert all the formatting in your document. For example, it will transform:

  • Headings into Markdown headers
  • Lists into Markdown bullet points
  • Text formatting like italics and bold
  • Links into [text](url) Markdown format

This makes it easy to go from the WYSIWYG editor of Google Docs into a plain Markdown text document for further collaboration and version control.

Collaborate on Markdown Using Google Drive

Once your document is converted to Markdown text, you can leverage Google Drive for easier multi-user collaboration in a few ways:

1. Use the Markdown File Directly

Store your .md Markdown file directly in Google Drive.

While Drive can’t render the Markdown visually, the plain text format makes it easy for multiple people to edit collaboratively.

Use the revision history and comments in Drive to track changes and give feedback on the document.

2. Sync with External Apps

Sync your Google Drive Markdown documents with external apps designed specifically for Markdown collaboration:

  • HackMD offers real-time collaborative Markdown editing with preview, comments, and version history.
  • integrates Google Drive and Markdown visually, allowing folder management and document creation.
  • Trackdown uploads Markdown files from Drive to Google Docs for WYSIWYG collaboration, then pulls changes back into the source Markdown.

3. Version Control with Git

For developers, use Git version control with your Drive Markdown files.

Services like Drive on allow you to commit changes, branch, merge, and manage file revisions with Git and GitHub while still integrating with Google Drive for storage and sharing.

This unlocks robust version control for documents authored in Markdown.

Benefits of Markdown Collaboration

Collaborating on Markdown documents with Google Drive combines the power of:

  • Simple Markdown syntax for readable formatting
  • Google Docs for real-time visual editing
  • Google Drive for cloud storage, sharing, and comments
  • External apps that enhance Markdown collaboration
  • Version control systems like Git for managing file revisions

Some key benefits include:

  • Markdown is lightweight and portable, making it easy to author content once and publish anywhere.
  • Changes to Markdown documents are trackable through version history and comments.
  • Markdown collaboration enables division of roles between writers, editors, developers, etc.
  • Working with Markdown text eliminates issues with incompatible file formats or loss of formatting.
  • Storing Markdown documents in Drive allows access anywhere through the web, mobile apps, and file sync.

By leveraging Google Drive and complementary tools, Markdown documents can be powerfully collaborated on by individuals and teams.


Here are some key takeaways about collaborating with Markdown and Google Drive:

  • Enable basic Markdown formatting right in Google Docs.
  • Convert Google Docs to Markdown using addons like Docs to Markdown.
  • Store Markdown files directly in Drive and collaborate via comments.
  • Integrate Drive Markdown with specialized third-party apps.
  • Manage Markdown document history and revisions with version control systems.
  • Markdown collaboration in Drive brings simplicity, portability, and flexibility.

With some strategic setup, Google’s tools can adapt Markdown documents into collaborative environments. This allows you to write with Markdown’s lean syntax while enabling other systems to bring real-time editing, comments, version history, and visual previews.

The result is a streamlined way to author Markdown content at scale with multiple contributors. Whether you’re technical or non-technical, Google Drive plus Markdown offers solutions to fit your docs and team.

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