How to open, view and edit an .MD file

If you’re looking for an easy way to create and edit plain text technical documentation, then you might consider using the .MD format. Below, we give you an insight into what the .MD format is, covering how the .MD format works, its pros and cons, as well as how to open .MD files and edit them.

What you’ll learn.






What is an .MD file?


An .MD is a file extension built on a lightweight mark-up language, used to create plain-text documents that contain no other elements. .MD files are popular amongst technical writers and web developers to easily format text for the web.


What does .MD stand for?


The .MD extension is sometimes written as .markdown and it stands for Markdown Documentation. Markdown is the mark-up language that .MD files use. It’s easy to read and write, especially when compared to more complex mark-up languages like HTML.

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History of the .MD file.


The Markdown language and its file extension .MD were created in 2004 by John Gruber and Aaron Swartz. They wanted to develop a less complicated way of reading and writing in the plain text format, without heavy formatting instructions and tags. The two creators also implemented the option of converting .MD files into HTML or XHTML. Gruber and Swartz were inspired by the plain text in email and its simple conventions. 



What are .MD files used for?


.MD files are primarily used in programming for various reasons, including:


HTML Documentation Systems


When creating text-only content for the web, many developers prefer to write into .MD files to save time. Then, they convert the files to HTML so they can be displayed on web browsers.


Source Code Version Control


Programmers use .MD files to archive and compare versions of source code. That’s because changes can be identified quicker in a mark-up language rather than a binary format. 


Content Management Systems


.MD files are integrated in some Content Management System platforms due to the simplicity of the mark-up language. From there, web browsers can format, store and display the information. Some Markdown-based Content Management Systems are Markdown CMS, Pico, Kirby, Typemill and Dropplets.


Discover more file types



Pros and cons of .MD files.


Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using .MD files:




  • Open format. .MD files are not exclusive to any single software or manufacturer’s ecosystem. You can open .MD files with any text editor you have and jump between tools. 
  • Simplicity. Markdown language is simple and easy to learn and you can quickly write rich formatted content. .MD files also use a syntax highlight library which makes everything even more straightforward.
  • Fewer distractions. Your workflow won’t be interrupted as you don’t need to click any buttons when creating your .MD document. 




  • No official customer support. As .MD files are free to use across all text editors, there is no official customer support system to help you to get up to speed. You’re free to use it however you want, but if something goes wrong, it’s between you and Internet searches to try and fix what’s wrong.
  • Too many “flavours”. There are many extended versions of Markdown language that aren’t compatible with each other.
  • They’re not standardised. Unlike other mark-up languages, .MD files don’t have a standard format, which means that you might not know how your file will be rendered into a browser. 



How to open an .MD file.


You can open an .MD file using any text editor, like Microsoft Notepad on Windows, TextEdit on Mac, Google Chrome Text on Google OS or Vim on Linux and Mac. You can also use the cross-platform editor GitHub Atom.


Follow these steps to open an .MD file:

  1. Locate the .MD file on your computer.
  2. Right-click it and Press Open on the tab (or double-click it).
  3. Choose the text editor app to open your file with.

How to open .MD file in Acrobat


Unfortunately, Adobe Acrobat hasn't got the capability to edit .MD (Markdown) files directly. Markdown is a text-based formatting language that is used primarily for creating content for the web. Adobe Acrobat is designed for viewing and commenting on PDF documents, not for editing text files.


Once you have made your changes, you can then save the file in PDF format and view it in Adobe Acrobat if you need to.



How to create and edit an .MD file.


You can create and edit an .MD file with any text editor, like the ones mentioned above. However, to unlock its full potential, including previewing and converting it into HTML, you’ll need to use a dedicated Markdown editor. These can be either online or downloadable. You can choose to install a Markdown editor on your computer, free and compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux. When writing in Markdown mark-up language, you have to be aware of the different flavours (or dialects) before picking a suitable editor to work in.


.MD files are mostly created and edited to be eventually converted into HTML. You can easily do that with Adobe RoboHelp.  Use our easy-to-follow guide to learn how to import an .MD file into your project and convert it to HTML.


How do I convert .MD to PDF?


Once you have converted your MD file to HTML, you can easily convert it to PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro from within your web browser. Next, you can use a range of free Adobe Acrobat Online tools to extract, delete and reorder pages before sharing them. 



Learn more about similar file types to .MD



Learn about Rich Text Format, Microsoft’s proprietary’s document file format.



Find out more about one of the most popular word processing file types with our guide.



Dive deeper into the standard mark-up language for websites.



Discover one of the most reliable document file format that is now an open standard.

Looking to edit, convert or share your DOCX


Adobe Acrobat Online has all the tools you need to do more with your documents.




What’s the difference between an .MD and a .DOCX file?


An .MD file is a text-only document, that doesn’t contain any other elements and uses Markdown mark-up language. .DOCX is a text file format that uses WordprocessingML language but can also have themes and various inserted objects from images to audio files and embedded videos. 


What’s the difference between an .MD and a .TXT file?


While both .MD and .txt are plain text files, the latter doesn’t allow text formatting like headings, sub-headings, lists, font style, bold, italics etc. .MD files are created for more sophisticated reasons, such as converting into HTML to be displayed on browsers. The purpose of .TXT files is to be read only.  


Can I view .MD files on my phone?


You can view MD files on your phone either in a simple text editor or by converting your file to a different format. There are a number of native Android and iOS text editors that can help with this. 


What opens MD files?


You can open MD files on a number of simple text editors on Mac, Linux, Google and Windows operating systems including Notepad, Google Chrome Text and Text Edit. However, if you need to edit your files, you might need to use a more specific Markdown editor. 



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