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Instant Markdown previews from VIm!
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Want to instantly preview finnicky markdown files, but don't want to leave your favorite editor, or have to do it in some crappy browser textarea? vim-instant-markdown is your friend! When you open a markdown file in vim, a browser window will open which shows the compiled markdown in real-time, and closes once you close the file in vim.

As a bonus, github-flavored-markdown is supported, and styles used while previewing are the same as those github uses!



You first need to have node.js with npm installed.

  • [sudo] npm -g install instant-markdown-d
  • If you're on Linux, the xdg-utils package needs to be installed (is installed by default on Ubuntu).
  • Copy the after/ftplugin/markdown/instant-markdown.vim file from this repo into your ~/.vim/after/ftplugin/markdown/ (creating directories as necessary), or follow your vim package manager's instructions.
  • Ensure you have the line filetype plugin on in your .vimrc
  • Open a markdown file in vim and enjoy!



By default, vim-instant-markdown will update the display in realtime. If that taxes your system too much, you can specify

let g:instant_markdown_slow = 1

before loading the plugin (for example place that in your ~/.vimrc). This will cause vim-instant-markdown to only refresh on the following events:

  • No keys have been pressed for a while
  • A while after you leave insert mode
  • You save the file being edited


By default, vim-instant-markdown will automatically launch the preview window when you open a markdown file. If you want to manually control this behavior, you can specify

let g:instant_markdown_autostart = 0

in your .vimrc. You can then manually trigger preview via the command :InstantMarkdownPreview. This command is only available inside markdown buffers and when the autostart option is turned off.

Supported Platforms

OSX and Unix/Linuxes*.

*: One annoyance in Linux is that there's no way to reliably open a browser page in the background, so you'll likely have to manually refocus your vim session everytime you open a Markdown file. If you have ideas on how to address this I'd love to know!


Why don't my <bla>.md files trigger this plugin?

By default, vim (7.3 and above) only recognizes files ending with .markdown, .mdown, and as markdown files. If you want <anything>.md to be recognized, I recommend installing one of many markdown plugins available, such as this one.

It's not working!

  • Make sure instant-markdown-d was installed as a global module (e.g. using npm -g install)
  • If you're on OSX and are using zsh, try to add set shell=bash\ -i in your .vimrc to set interactive bash as the default vim shell. (See this issue)


If you're curious, the code for the mini-server component for this plugin can be found at A plugin can easily be written for any editor to interface with the server to get the same functionality found here.

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