Summary: Ulysses claims to be 'the ultimate writing app for Mac, iPad and iPhone'. Is it really the best in class? It's an app designed to help writers do their job without distraction, with all the tools and features they need to take their project from concept to published work, whether it's a blog post, training manual, or book. It's not a word processor with a host of unnecessary features, nor a simple text editor. Ulysses is a complete writing environment. The app is available for both macOS and iOS, and the document library syncs effectively between all of your devices. You could start your writing on your Mac, add a few thoughts on your iPhone as they occur to you, and edit your text on your iPad.
The app allows you to work anywhere, anytime as long as you live within the Apple ecosystem. We'll list some Windows alternatives near the end of our review. If you're a Mac user, you already have Pages and Notes. You may have even installed Microsoft Word.
So why would you need another app to type your thoughts? Because they're not the best tools for the job. None of those apps have considered the entire writing process, and how to help you through it. My name is Adrian, and writing has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. At first, I used pen and paper, but I've been typing my words on computers since 1988. Writing has been my main occupation since 2009, and I've used a number of apps along the way. They include online services like Google Docs, text editors like Sublime Text and Atom, and note-taking apps like Evernote and Zim Desktop.
Some have been good for collaboration, others come with useful plugins and search features, while others let write for the web directly in HTML. I bought Ulysses with my own money on the day it was released, way back in 2013.
Since then I've used it to write 320,000 words, and although I've looked, haven't found anything that suits me better. It might suit you too, but we'll also cover a few alternatives in case it doesn't meet your preferences or needs. What Is Ulysses? Ulysses is a complete writing environment for Mac, iPad, and iPhone.
It's designed to make writing as pleasant as possible, and provide all of the tools a writer may need. It's a clean, intuitive workspace for your writing that includes these main benefits:.
a distraction-free environment,. the statistics and tools you'll need to be productive,. a library where you can organize and arrange your content,. search tools to help you find documents and information,. a versatile export function so you can publish your work. Is Ulysses Free?
No, Ulysses is not free, but a of the app is available on Mac App Store. To continue using it after the trial period you need to subscribe for $4.99/month or $39.99/year.
One subscription gives you access to the app on all of your Macs and iDevices. The move to a subscription model last year was somewhat controversial. Some people are philosophically opposed to subscriptions, while others are concerned about subscription fatigue. Because subscriptions are ongoing costs, it doesn't take too many until you reach your financial limit.
I would personally prefer to pay for the app outright, and did so several times, for the Mac then iOS versions of the app. But I'm not absolutely opposed to paying subscriptions, but only do so for apps I can't do without. So I didn't subscribe to Ulysses right away. The previous version of the app that I paid for was still working, and the new version didn't offer any additional features. In the ten months since then, I've continued to use Ulysses while evaluating the alternatives.
I concluded that Ulysses was still the best app for me, and have watched the company continue to improve it. So I subscribed. In Australia, a subscription costs AU$54.99/year, which is only a little over a dollar a week.
That's a small price to pay for a quality tool that enables me to make a living and is a tax deduction. For me, the price is totally justified. Is Ulysses for Windows?
No, Ulysses is only available for Mac and iOS. There is no Windows version available, and the company has not announced any plans to create one, though they've hinted a few times that they may consider it one day. There is an app called 'Ulysses' for Windows, but it's a shameless rip-off. Don't use it. Those who purchased it that they feel they were misled.
If you learn best by watching videos, ' ($29) is a set of easy video tutorials by Shawn Blanc of The Sweet Setup to help you quickly learn Ulysses. Finally, ScreenCastsOnline has a two-part video tutorial on Ulysses. It was created back in 2016 but is still quite relevant. You can watch for free.
Ulysses App: What's In It For You? Ulysses is all about writing productively, and I'll list its features in the following five sections.
In each subsection, I'll explore what the app offers and then share my personal take. Write Without Distraction Ulysses has a clean, modern interface designed to keep you comfortable and focused during long writing sessions.
When I first started to use the app, I did a lot of A/B testing with other editors, where I switched apps every half hour or so while writing. I consistently found Ulysses the most pleasant environment to write in. Five years later my opinion hasn't changed. Once I start typing, I prefer to keep my fingers on the keyboard as much as possible. Ulysses allows this by using a modified (and customizable) version of for formatting and supporting a wide range of for just about everything you do in the app. If you prefer using a mouse, Ulysses makes that easy too. Once I am working in the writing view of the app, I can show or hide additional panes by swiping left or right with two fingers (or just one finger on iOS).
Besides typing just text, I can add comments by typing%% (for full paragraph comments) or (for inline comments), and even create sticky notes that pop up just by surrounding the text in curly brackets. If I forget some Markdown syntax, it's all available in drop-down menus. For technical writing, Ulysses provides code blocks with syntax highlighting. The highlighting is preserved on export, as shown in this image from a.
Keywords are basically tags, and we'll talk more about them later in the review. I find goals very useful. While a word count lets you see how many words you have typed, a goal specifies how many words you are aiming for, and gives immediate feedback on your progress. I set word goals for each section of this review, and you'll notice in the image above that the sections where I've reached that goal are marked with green circles. The sections I'm still working on have a circle segment that indicates my progress. Too many words and the circle turns red. Goals are highly configurable, and as of the current version (Ulysses 13), deadlines (time-based goals) can also be defined, and the app will tell you how many words you need to write each day to meet the deadline.
The screenshot below will give you an indication of some of the options. Organize & Arrange Your Content Ulysses provides a single library for all your texts that is synced via iCloud onto all of your Macs and iDevices.
Additional folders from your hard drive can also be added to Ulysses, including Dropbox folders. It's flexible and works well. It's also pain-free.
Everything is saved automatically and backed up automatically. And full version history is retained. Rather than dealing with documents, Ulysses uses 'sheets'. A long writing project can be made up of a number of sheets.
That allows you to work on one piece of the puzzle at a time, and easily rearrange your content by dragging a sheet to a new position. This review, for example, is made up of seven sheets, each with its own word count goal.
Sheets can be reordered as you like, and don't have to be sorted alphabetically or by date. When you've finished writing, just select all of the sheets and then export. The library is made up of hierarchical, collapsible groups (like folders), so you can organize your writing into different containers, and hide the detail you don't need to see right now. You can also create filters, which are essentially smart folders, and we'll look at those more closely in the next section. Finally, you can mark sheets as 'Favorites', which are collected in one place near the top of your library, and also add keywords to sheets and groups.
Keywords are essentially tags, and another way to organize your writing. They are not automatically displayed in your library but can be used in filters, as we'll demonstrate below. Search for Documents & Information Once you build up a significant body of work, search becomes important.
Ulysses takes search seriously. It integrates well with Spotlight, and provides a slew of other search features, including Filters, Quick Open, library searches, and find (and replace) within the current sheet. I love Quick Open, and use it all the time. Just press command-O and start typing.
A list of matching sheets is displayed, and pressing Enter or double-clicking takes you straight there. It's a convenient way to navigate your library. Export & Publish Your Work Completing a writing assignment is never the end of the job.
There's often an editorial process, and then your piece needs to be published. And today there's a lot of ways to publish content!
Ulysses has an excellent publishing feature that's quite easy to use. It will let you publish directly to WordPress and Medium, either as a published post or as a draft. It will let you export to Microsoft Word so your proofreaders and editors can work on your document with track changes enabled. And it will allow you to export to a whole range of other useful formats, including PDF, HTML, ePub, Markdown, and RTF. Reasons Behind My Reviews and Ratings Effectiveness: 5 Stars. Ulysses includes everything an Apple user needs to write: brainstorming and research, writing and editing, keeping track of word count goals and deadlines, and publishing.
Each of these jobs is done effectively and economically. No effort is wasted, and whether you prefer to keep your hands on the keyboard or use a mouse, the app lets you work the way that suits you best. Price: 4 Stars. Ulysses is a premium product for professional writers and doesn't come at a bargain basement price. I feel that the price is justified for serious writers, and I'm not alone, but those looking for an inexpensive, casual tool should look elsewhere. The decision to charge a subscription was a controversial one, and if that's a problem for you, we'll list some alternatives below.
Ease of Use: 5 Stars. Ulysses is so easy to use that it's hard to believe there's so much power under the hood.
The app is easy to get started with, and you can learn additional features as you need them. There are often multiple ways to achieve the same function, and the app can adapt to your preferences. For example, you can bold text using Markdown formatting, clicking an icon, and also the familiar control-B. Support: 5 Stars. In five years I've never had the need to contact Ulysses support.
The app is reliable, and the provided is helpful. The team seems very responsive and proactive on Twitter, and imagine they would be the same way for any support issues. You can contact support via email or an. Alternatives to Ulysses Ulysses is a high-quality but somewhat expensive writing app for Apple users only, so it won't suit everyone. Fortunately, it's not your only option. We recently published a roundup of the, and here we'll list the best alternatives, including options for Windows users.
Scrivener: ($44.99) is Ulysses biggest competitor, and superior in some ways, including its awesome ability to collect and organize reference information. It is available for Mac, iOS, and Windows, and is purchased up-front rather than as a subscription. IA Writer: ($29.99) is a simpler app, but also comes with a price that's easier to swallow. It's a basic writing tool without all of the bells and whistles that Ulysses and Scrivener offer, and is available for Mac, iOS, and Windows.
($10.99) is similar but is not available for Windows. Bear Writer: ($1.49/month) has a number of similarities to Ulysses. It's a subscription-based app, has a gorgeous, Markdown-based interface, and is not available for Windows.
At its heart, it is a note-taking app but is capable of so much more. Conclusion Writing is a multi-faceted process that includes brainstorming, research, writing, revision, editing, and publishing. Ulysses has all the features to take you from beginning to end and does so in a way that is pleasurable and focused. Personally, over the last five years, I've found the app to be an effective writing tool, and it has become my favorite. It helps me to stay focused on my writing tasks better than other apps, and I've come to appreciate and rely on the combination of a minimal interface, the use of Markdown, the ability to use a number of sheets to rearrange an article, and excellent library and publishing features. It's not the only option out there, and if you use Windows, avoid subscriptions, or despise Markdown, one of the other apps will suit you better. But if you're a serious Mac-based writer after an effective tool, give it a go.
I recommend it.
So, you want to write? And you’re looking for different tools to make your writing easier, better organized or adopted for a new publishing format? I’ve published nearly 300 blogs and articles over the last several years, and, while the tools aren’t as important as the time, attention and process your put into writing, I’ve come to like and get pleasure out of certain writing software. These are the tools that put me into writing zen. Whether you are working on the next great American novel, creating a work report, penning a poem, or just striving to get a shareable blog post published, here are my favorite tools for writing for writers. My Core Writing Tools These are the true workhorse tools for my writing: Ulysses, Evernote and Bookends.
Ulysses: Plain Text Editor for Writers of All Types Solves: Minimalist Markdown Text Editor with a Clean Interface and Export Option for eBooks When I started writing more in long-form, I need a tool that could better handle this without being too complicated or cluttered. A lot of my writer friends use Scrivener, which is a powerful tool for writers, but after trying Scrivener in the past and more recently, I prefer Ulysses on Mac. Ulysses is a plain text editor that let’s you write in markdown.
Markdown is my preferred input format over text-rich editors like Word. You end up with much cleaner text, and you can then export to the target format and style it accordingly.
Ulysses has some nice additions that make it easy to add links, code snippets, footnotes and bibliographic references. Mainly Ulysses provides a super clean organizational structure and a clutter-free UI. Shortcuts make it easy to show the sidebars when organizing or hide them when focused on writing. You organize your sheets with groups. Free templates resumes. There are a number of nice subtle additions like word counts and goals, which can be applied to the group as whole or subsections.
The circle fills up as you reach your target word count. Ulyssses is built for Mac, and it also has a nice iOS app too.
Your writings are stored and synced in iCloud. So, it’s a seamless experience working on a draft on the computer and then working on it on your phone or iPad. Ulysses lets you export your manuscript in multiple formats like pdf, Docx (for Word), ePub (for ebooks), and html (for web). You can also export it in markdown or plain text too. The ebook export option looks good by default, but it’s also easy to create your own template and override the default styles. While Ulysses can work great for all kinds of writings and I may later shift more of my shorter form writings like blogs and articles to the tool, for now Ulysses is where I do my longer writing work for books.
Ulysses doesn’t provide as powerful of a research and organization tool as Scrivener, but it’s overall experience and faster performance makes it my favorite tool dedicated to writing. Evernote: Writer’s Grab Bag and Draft Journal Solves: Digital Storage for Everything, and Draft Journal from Ideas and Drafts to Publication. Is My Digital Memory, and, if I had to pick a single productivity tool, this would probably be the one. Evernote basically handles and stores everything I want to collect and remember. The most powerful yet underutilized feature in Evernote is tagging.
If you want to push or adapt Evernote to do something special, most likely tags can make it happen. I’ve written about Evernote a lot, in particular how I’ve used,. Evernote with thoughtful usage of tags is the primary way I keep my mind organized and my digital life searchable. For writing purposes, Evernote is the general storage of all my ideas, journals, notes, drafts, quotes, and more. It’s where I plan and do research. It’s where first drafts start for me, where second drafts are perfected, and often where I finish certain pieces of writing too.
For creative writing in Evernote, here’s my setup: I have Notebook dedicated to writings called “Writings (In Process, Drafts, Ideas).” This is where drafts and ideas go. It’s pretty raw stuff, but anything worth a sentence or two ends up there. I do my best to tag these notes with one or two key tags, so, I can’t find something via search, I can locate it through tags. To better organize my writing process and workflow, I use a few specific tags.
My primary ones are: draft-idea, draft-working, draft-working-focus, draft-publishable, and Blog-Published. These five tags cover my workflow process from idea stage to draft stage to publishing. Depending on how you want to draft, write and publish, you can setup an appropriate tagging convention for your needs.
Bookends: Solves: Find and Store Research References, Generate a Formatted Bibliography is an example of reference management software. It’s primary users are academics and researchers, who need to collect and organize their research and to create properly formatted bibliographic information for their publications. There are a number of options in this software category like Papers and Zotero, and plenty of fans of each. After surveying a few tools, I elected to use Bookends as my reference and bibliography manager. Historically all my primary research, articles and notes has gone into Evernote, and this remains the case today. Evernote can gets a bit cluttered, and it isn’t targeted for the standard of academic papers and research.
So, since I’ve began doing and writing more formal research articles and books, I dump all my references, books, articles and internet citations into Bookends. It’s a bit tedious getting started (especially if it’s been over a decade since you left graduate school), and you’ve forgotten how to create a work cited page. Fortunately, Bookends provides default fields so you know what to collect on each article or book. It also has a few nice automation tools. For example, you can import complete book references from Amazon and article and journal citations from Google Scholar, pubMed, or several other academic databases. This can really speed up setting up your initial database of citations. Once you have added your references, Bookends makes it easy to then export a properly formatted bibliography or works cited.
Simply select the articles you are using and then export it. Bookends provides nearly a dozen standard formats by default, and it’s easy to create or adapt your own.
Additionally, Bookends integrates with any number of text editors and tools, so you can create smart references. This makes adding references inside the text you are writing easy. Basically you copy the reference out of Bookends and then paste it as special tag into your text editor. Finally, when you need to render the completed manuscript, the text you wrote is combined with the references you’ve added from Bookends to generate the final text.
Currently I use Bookends with Ulysses to handle references and citations in a book I’m writing. This setup provides another kind of digital memory and significantly improves my productivity too. Later on, I won’t need to retrieve and rewrite all the target references, since Bookends and Ulysses are already in sync.
Bookends might not be a tool for all types of writing, but if you do academic and research style writing, a reference manager is a must-have. My Design Tools for Writing I also dabble in a bit of design work. Design considerations go a bit beyond this post, but since I typically create graphics for everything I publish, it’s worth mentioning the tools I use to make it happen. While they are “old school,” I still primarily use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for creating graphics and editing photos for my writings.
By combining stock graphics, illustrations, and photos, I primarily use Photoshop for my design work. It’s a great tool for editing or creating blog post images and book covers. Looking back, I’m definitely glad I invested a couple months of study time to become proficient in basic design with Photoshop. These basic designs mean that I can create decent looking images for my needs, and I‘ve saved a lot of time and money too. Supplemental Tracking and Productive Tools for Writers While not critical for how and what I write, here are a few more tools that help me to track my writing, to stay productive and organized while writing, and to improve and automate my writing workflow.
Tracking My Word Count with Word Counter for Mac I’m a bit of an obsessive tracker, and I use a lot of tracking tools. For tracking my writing, I use. It’s a tool that keeps track of my daily word count in different applications. It might be a vanity metric, but I enjoy seeing my previous day’s word count and looking up today’s word count too. As a writer, it’s good to know that I managed to write some words each and every day, and as a dabbler in data science and data visualization, it’s a cool data point to explore.
TextWrangler: Free Plain Text and Coding Editor is a free plain text editor. You can use it for coding, but in my case, I use it for finalizing and publishing my blog drafts. Most of my writings start in Evernote and then get published using.
I use TextWrangler for creating the final markdown file for my blog publications. While there are some really great markdown and text editors out there like Caret, Ii you don’t want to pay for a text editor, TextWranger is one I would recommend you use. Alfred: Mac Automation Tool is a powerful Mac automation tool. If you work on a Mac, you should be using Alfred.
Alfred provides a faster way to do various things, like simplifying Web Searches and opening specific documents or applications. There are hundreds of add-on workflows that you integrate different tools and services with Alfred. I describe Alfred as way of bringing command line productivity to the forefront of how you work on Mac. For writing purposes, I use Alfred to make synonyms lookups seamless, query stock images for designs, and to query my daily word counts from Word Counter without opening up another app. (I do this with a custom python script I’ve created). When I’m struggling get going or need a way to simple do a session, I also use Alfred as a simple pomodoro timer.
For example, if I want to write for 25 or 35 minutes, before taking a break or walk, it’s a few keystrokes to start a timer like this. My Key Productivity Tools: Streaks, Todoist, Toggl, and Google Calendar I believe most work gets done, because we simply show up and do the work.
Writing is not really an act of inspiration or waiting for the muses; it’s an act of sitting down and doing it. The best writers have built up the habit of “showing up and writing,” and they do it consistently. I strive for the same mindset as a writer, and I use a number of techniques and processes to make sure I stick to my habits of writing. I use Streaks app to track the habit itself. I use Google Calendar to schedule dedicated blocks of time in my calendar for writing. I use Todoist to collect all the various writing tasks I need to do to complete a project.
I also assign those tasks to a certain date and time so it’s also scheduled to do. Finally, I use Toggl to time track my writing sessions and work as a whole. All combined these tools ensure I’ve committed time to writing and help me keep track of how and how much I write. The most important thing though is that I commit to writing and carve out time to do it. “Magically,” when I do, words get written, blog posts get published, and chapters in my book advance.
Conclusion: Find Your Tools, But Commit to a Schedule and Focus on the Process “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft I’m passionate about writing. While I’ve managed to complete over 300 blogs and articles over the last couple years, I’m still growing as a writer. There are days when the writing goes well, and others where I struggle. Fortunately, I’ve committed to writing as a lifetime activity, and I look at each day as opportunity to show up and put in the time in my craft as a writer.
In this post, we looked at several of my favorite tools for writing. Specifically my two favorites are Ulysses and Evernote. I’ve done a lot of great writing with just those two tools. Beyond those, I use a number of organizational tools that help me stay productive and organized as a writer. For example, I really like my current reference manager, Bookends, and my word count tracker, Word Counter for Mac.
They aren’t indispensable, but they sure do improve how I like to write. Additionally I’m a huge fan of Alfred, and a few workflows make web searches and thesaurus look-ups more seamless. To help me manage my time and writing, I use a number of productivity tools. I believe it’s critical to leverage what you like to manage your time, tasks and calendar.
For me, I use Google Calendar to schedule weekly blocks of time for writing, I create tasks in Todoist for writing, planning and design work, and I use Toggl to keep track of my weekly writing time. These are provide consistent reinforce to my habit of writing. In the end, I encourage you to find your tools as a writer, but don’t procrastinate too much on tools at the expense of avoiding the act of writing. Ultimately what matters most is committing to writing. The best writers have managed to create even before we had computers.
Their secret: showing up and writing. So, focusing on the process and keep writing. Good luck and happy writing! Posted by Mark Koester Apr 20 th, 2018,.
Handling References With Ulysses For Macbeth
He previously ran Regional Development for Techstars and UP Global in Greater China. He is passionate about open source technologies and entrepreneurship. He is originally from Omaha, Nebraska, United States, and has been living abroad for over a decade, including significant time in, and Southeast Asia.
Ulysses Mac App
He is rather nomadic but likely these days to be found somewhere in China or Asia diving, writing, running, and building stuff.