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About ghostwriter

ghostwriter is a Windows and Linux text editor for Markdown, which is a plain text markup format created by John Gruber. For more information about Markdown, please visit John Gruber’s website at ghostwriter provides a relaxing, distraction-free writing environment, whether your masterpiece be that next blog post, your school paper, or your NaNoWriMo novel. For a tour of its features, please visit the ghostwriter project page.


You can view screenshots of the application at ghostwriter's project page.



On Windows, you can either download the setup.exe and go through the setup wizard (recommended), or you can run the portable version (advanced users). To install via the setup wizard, download ghostwriter-setup.exe to a location of your choice, double click on its icon to run, and follow the installation steps. Note that you must have administrator rights to install.

The portable version is a zip file which you can unzip to any location on your computer. Within the zip file is a simple folder containing the ghostwriter.exe file. Double click on this file to run the program. The dictionaries subfolder contains your Hunspell dictionaries. The data subfolder contains the location of your personal dictionaries, themes, and application settings. The portable version is an excellent alternative for when you do not have administrative rights to install the application. You can take it anywhere on a thumb drive and run it--at school, a friend's house, etc.


If you are running Ubuntu or one of its derivatives (Linux Mint, Xubuntu, etc.), simply add the wereturtle Launchpad PPA to your system. Open a terminal, and enter the following:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:wereturtle/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update

You can now install the ghostwriter package. Please consult the Launchpad guide, Installing software from a PPA, for further details.

Also, be on the lookout for ghostwriter making its debut in the Debian and Ubuntu repositories in the future. In the meantime, if you are a repository maintainer of any Linux distribution, I would appreciate your help in getting ghostwriter packaged.

Fedora and openSUSE users can visit – The Fedora releases are Community Packages.

Finally, you may follow the build instructions below to install on Linux with the latest source code.

Note to Unity Users: If you are running Ubuntu with the Unity desktop environment, you should be aware of a bug with how Qt 5 application menus are displayed in the global menu. Please see this bug in Launchpad. At the moment, the shortcuts (such as Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, etc.) in ghostwriter's menus are not available within Unity. This is true of other Qt 5 applications. A common workaround is to remove the appmenu-qt5 package. To do so, open a terminal window, and type the following:

sudo apt-get remove appmenu-qt5

This will fix the issue for all your Qt 5 applications, including ghostwriter. However, it also places the menus for the application into the application's window, rather than into the global menu.

GNU/Linux Help: For further help with troubleshooting issues for Qt5 applications, including ghostwriter, please see the GNU/Linux Troubleshooting for Q5 Applications topic in the community wiki.

MacOS - Testers needed.

You can download an application bundle for MacOS and copy it under /Applications (for all the users) or $HOME/Applications (for the current user). That application should work on osx 10.10+, but was tested only on macOS 10.13. Please remember that this build is experimental and you'll find some bugs. Please report those on the issue tracker.


A package exist for FreeBSD, so just type:

sudo pkg install ghostwriter


If you wish to build from the source code, you will need Qt 5, available from if you are on Windows, or in your Linux distribution's repository. If you are on MacOS you will need Qt5.5 from brew.

This documentation assumes you already have the source code unzipped in a folder.


Open a DOS terminal window, and enter the following commands:

> cd <your_ghostwriter_folder_location>
> qmake

The next command depends on whether you have chosen to use Qt with MinGW or with Microsoft's compiler. If you are using MinGW, enter the following:

> mingw32-make

If you are using Microsoft's tools, enter the following:

> nmake release

Unless you have built ghostwriter as a standalone executable statically linked to your own build of Qt's source code, you will need to copy the necessary Qt (and MinGW) .dll files to the same location as ghostwriter.exe so that the executable can find the required libraries.


Before proceeding, ensure that you have the necessary packages installed for Qt 5.

For Debian or Ubuntu distributions:

$ sudo apt install g++ qt5-default qtbase5-dev libqt5svg5-dev qtmultimedia5-dev qtwebengine5-dev libhunspell-dev pkg-config libqt5concurrent5 qttools5-dev-tools

For fedora:

$ sudo dnf install qt-devel qt5-qtbase-devel qt5-qtsvg-devel qt5-qtmultimedia-devel qt5-qtwebengine-devel hunspell-devel

For other Linux flavors, the list will be similar; qmake will tell you if you are missing anything.

Next, open a terminal window, and enter the following commands:

$ cd <your_ghostwriter_folder_location>
$ qmake
$ make
# make install

The last command will install ghostwriter on your machine. If you need to install the application in an alternative location to /usr/local, enter the following command in lieu of the second command above, passing in the desired value for PREFIX:

$ qmake PREFIX=<your_install_path_here>

For example, to install under /opt, you would enter:

$ qmake PREFIX=/opt

Note: If you see blank areas where there should be icons, then you are missing the Qt dependency for the SVG images. On Debian and Ubuntu, this is libqt5svg5. Other Linux distributions may vary on the exact package name.


  1. You need either XCode or XCode command line tools to install and run brew and to build ghostwriter and other Qt applications.
  • You can install XCode from Mac App Store
  • You can install XCode command line tools from your terminal typing xcode-select --install
  1. Install homebrew. In a terminal:
/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"
  1. Install Qt5 from brew.
$ brew install qt5

Note: if you installed XCode command line tools qt will fail building the application with an error like Project ERROR: Could not resolve SDK Path for 'macosx' Error while parsing file <>. Giving up.. Please follow the instructions to build Qt applications without installing XCode

  1. run brew link
brew link qt5 --force

Note: This command allows you to use qmake from the CLI. You'll need it for the final step.

  1. Clone this repository and build ghostwriter:
git clone
cd ghostwriter

Make sure you're cloned the repo, not just downloaded the src tarball.

  1. If you want ghostwriter in your applications folder, from the repo root do:
$ sudo cp -R ./build/release/ /Applications
  1. To use ghostwriter from the command line, do:
$ sudo ln -s /Applications/ /usr/local/bin



  • Git (git or git-lite)

Install the dependencies

sudo pkg inst hunspell en-hunspell pkgconf qt5-svg qt5-multimedia \
qt5-webengine qt5-concurrent qt5-buildtools qt5-qmake qt5-linguist

You will also need to install QtWebEngine

Get the sources

git clone


cd ghostwriter
sudo make install

Command Line Usage

For terminal users, ghostwriter can be run from the command line. In your terminal window, simply type the following:

$ ghostwriter

where is the path to your Markdown text file.

Portable Mode

You can download the Windows Portable version of ghostwriter, or make your own on any OS. Just as with FocusWriter, simply create a folder named data in the same folder as the ghostwriter.exe or ghostwriter executable file (depending on the OS). The application will now use settings and themes in this folder. If you need to migrate existing themes you created while running in non-portable mode, simply copy them from the relevant folder below:

  • Windows: C:\Users\<your_user_name>\AppData\Roaming\ghostwriter\themes
  • Linux: /home/<your_user_name>/.config/ghostwriter/themes
  • MacOS: ~/Library/Application Support/ghostwriter/themes

Note: The MacOS settings location needs to be confirmed. A full sample application path would also be helpful (instead of listing ~/). If you are a hobbyist MacOS developer and if you can confirm where ghostwriter stores it's settings, please put in a pull request with your revisions to this README file.


José Geraldo Gouvêa has generously provided a GitHub theme repository for ghostwriter here. You may download new themes here, or create your own and put in a pull request to add a new theme to the repository.


ghostwriter has a community wiki here. You can read up on help topics or contribute your own.


Please submit any bugs you find through GitHub with a detailed description on how to replicate the problem. New translations are also welcome. However, please note that new feature requests are no longer being accepted. Please read the contributing guide for further details on how you can contribute to the project.


  • ghostwriter added into the various Linux distribution repositories (Debian, Fedora, etc.). Help wanted!
  • A fully-tested MacOS port. Help wanted!
  • Translation of ghostwriter into other languages via Qt Linguist. Help wanted!
  • A new Windows build maintainer Help wanted!


The source code for ghostwriter is licensed under the GNU General Public License Version 3. However, various icons and third-party FOSS code (i.e., Hunspell and Sundown) have different licenses compatible with GPLv3. Please read the COPYING files in the respective folders for the different licenses.

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