Paper markdown editor

Just came across this app today and I’m a little surprised it hasn’t gotten more love around these parts.

The small touches and attention to detail remind me a lot of Jesse Grosjean’s work at Hog Bay, but Paper has (fortunately) been actively supported for nearly a decade at this point.

Some caveats:

  • It does seem to lack some of the export features that apps like iA Writer (e.g., publishing to the web) or Ulysses (e.g., custom style sheets for print publishing) offer.
  • The lack of in-app file management also seems like a double-edged sword (there is an option to move ‘chapters’ around according to headings, though, not unlike sheets in Ulysses).
  • No support for choosing or customizing Markdown syntax (again, a double-edged sword—Ulysses offers some of what it does by significantly altering or outright disregarding commonly accepted syntax, whereas Paper’s stripped-down version is light on features but won’t cause hiccups in other editors).

Still, this is probably the nicest feeling markdown editor I’ve used in a long time, and a lot of that seems the result of the project having been built from the ground up in Objective C. The developer’s website includes a fulsome story about how Paper has been built, that includes this anecdote:

A similar but even stricter approach applies to UI components. Paper uses only native UI elements from AppKit and UIKit since they have the lowest maintenance overhead: auto-updated by Apple, adjustable to various traits, backward compatible, and guaranteed to work on every device. Not to mention that to the average user, it is the most familiar UI — from the way it works to the bounciness of animations.

Not sure whether or how Paper is going to fit into my workflow, but I’m tempted to at least use it as my main writing environment before moving things over to Ulysses for structural edits and publishing.

I’m a big fan of how candidly the creator is about the development process, and Paper is also a model example of how apps can be paywalled. Everything functional is available for free, with cosmetic options being soft-locked behind an unlimited trial that occasionally prompts users to subscribe/purchase. Highly recommend checking it out, if only for curiosity’s sake.


That is a nice looking app, but it is expensive at $100 per year for the features that most people would want.


Wow this is one expensive app.

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Interesting, it seems to be considerably more expensive for the US market. My prices are $10/mo, $70/yr, or $130 lifetime. All CAD, so it works out to about 1/4 the price on the American store.

I was considering iA Writer as my point of comparison—iA’s Mac and iOS/iPad apps are both $70, so altogether slightly more expensive than the lifetime purchase for Paper.

edit: just to be clear, the app is completely useable, feature complete across platforms, in perpetuity, for free. It’s expensive if you want to change the fonts and colours without getting occasional popups. You can still use all the Pro features and just dismiss the prompt. Alternatively, you can disable both the prompt and the Pro features, but in any case it’s a much more flexible model than I’ve seen in other apps.

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I’m eager to take a look at this app because I love Markdown editors but am not familiar with this one. So far, the possible rationale for a hundred dollar price point is lost on me.

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I’m wondering what exactly is the USP.

Typora (which costs $15) opens to a blank page with no UI. The $10 iWriter Pro (on the app store) looks like it does the same.

I probably won’t try it - at $100 that’s a lot more than I would expect to pay for a minimalist editor.

So far, the possible rationale for a hundred dollar price point is lost on me.

I guess the tradeoff is anyone can use it for free or pay $100 to eliminate occasional pops, vs only those who pay $30 or $50 or whatever can use it. This may make it available to more users.

Looks like an alternative to Byword, my fave standalone Markdown editor, but the free tier is more generous.

This guy is an amazing developer. He is able to write clearly about his own development process when many programmers I’ve known are very poor at documentation of any kind. Especially interesting is his thought process and approach to pricing. He also tells a delightful tale of his use of user feedback and his responses to it. Before I even downloaded the Paper app, I wanted to use it.

At first glance, the app is almost a dead ringer for Byword, an app that created the perfect minimal Markdown editor and then retired to only making bug fixes and keeping up with macOS changes. The Paper app has taken Markdown editing further but has not gone too far.

Unfortunately, I am in love with the Markdown editor in the NotePlan app which, along with BBEdit, are the only two plain text editors that I use these days. Byword, and more recently Typora, are fantastic Markdown editors that have not been able to gain or keep any traction with me. And I am afraid that it will be the same with the Paper app.


I believe there is a niche for simple and intuitive Markdown editors against the heavyweights. While I’ve settled into Obsidian/DEVON for linked documents, backlinking and so on, the need to quickly edit a simple .md file persists.

That’s how I started, but my needs have evolved.

These days NotePlan is where I start all my writing, for which I use Markdown syntax, including inline or linked tables and JPEG images. My Daily Note as well as any notes that I search, modify, and refer to frequently, stay in NotePlan. Notes that become static documents eventually end up filed away in my EagleFiler everything bucket.

BBEdit, with its Markdown syntax coloring turned on, along with a few Keyboard Maestro macros, makes a great plain text web clipping system for me. I also use it to handle the large annual rollup document where I append a copy of yesterday’s Daily Note from NotePlan after I have reviewed it.

Please do share those KM macros. This sounds like an interesting concept.

I’m not recommending these macros for anyone but me. I don’t know that they will appeal to anyone else or even work on another machine, but here goes.

This is a Keyboard Maestro conflict palette.

Screenshot 2024-03-21 at 6.12.20 PM

F10+c: Attempts to scrape the currently displayed Safari page and put its URL and selected text (with images) on the Clipboard.

F10+d: Same as above but attempts to create a new BBEdit plain text document containing the link and selected text.

F10+m: Grabs the Markdown formatted URL of the current Safari page.

F10+u: Grabs just the URL of the current Safari page.

Sometimes I find that a selection from a website pastes better into the Typora app than into BBEdit. (Typora can save images, too. BBEdit just saves text.) Sometimes I print a web page as PDF directly to the EagleFiler app and simply add the URL and my own title. Not all web pages react the same to being scraped. In addition, I run the Stop The Madness extension for the Safari web browser which helps even out behavior across websites.

Dropbox - My web clipper Macros.kmmacros (The kmmacros filetype will say it is unsupported on Dropbox but you can still download a copy of the file.)


This all sounds very nice. Thank you for the contribution and explanation.

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Developer of Paper here. :wave:t2:

One of the users shared this thread in the feedback chat, and I figured I’d jump into the discussion.

As I mentioned in the linked article, I always experiment with pricing. This latest experiment is the most expensive yet. I am trying to find the limits. There is a big chance the experiment will fail and I will revert to smaller prices.

So far I can say that there are people who will pay $30/month and $100/year for Paper. And to me - these people are out of their minds! But if they see the value in what I’ve created, I would rather convince one person to pay 30 than 6 people to pay 5. It’s much easier.

What people often forget when they start comparing ultra-niche apps like Paper with the mainstream is that Paper is not 10 or 20 smaller than them. It’s more like 10000 smaller. The power dynamic between market leaders and the long tail is astronomical. So if they can make significant income on $1-10 lifetime, for Paper it makes much more sense to find a few super-fans who will pay 10x more. Believe me, I’ve tried all price points and pricing models. Lowering prices does not give you anything, because what matters is distribution - being on people’s minds, in the media articles, in video reviews, and search results. And yes, lower prices do increase word of mouth, but not enough to make a difference if you are a small, unknown developer from Eastern Europe that nobody will even know or care about.

Besides, for most mainstream users, features are what determines the value of an app. Hard, analytical facts of this vs that. But Paper is not like that. It plays in the field of emotions, feelings, and inspiration. You cannot use these qualities in a comparison in a review article, or convey them to a friend. They are personal. And I can say that over the years a lot of people have reached out to me saying that Paper is exactly what they were looking for after trying everything on the market. A few days ago someone wrote: “If Paper were to ever become unavailable, I’d probably spend quite some time crying.”. I don’t know what these people see in my app, but, for a ridiculously small % of the market, Paper sparks the right emotions, and makes their writing experience better. I want to serve those people.

And yes, as already mentioned in this thread, Paper has a pretty usable free version, unlike many competitors. The paid features come with the most “trialable”, zero-friction model on the market. I want to give as many users as possible the chance to experience the full version, so they can evaluate if it is right for them.

And yes again, I try various price points for various countries, with differences sometimes reaching 10x. I am always amazed by the purchasing power of the US.