Brian W. Davidson

sharing things I enjoy

Ulysses is the best writing app for Mac and iOS. It is a gorgeous, minimal, markdown writing environment that does just about everything perfectly. I write everything in Ulysses except academic papers and classroom assessments.

First, the app is beautiful. I’m not, however, going to post a bunch of pictures because their website does a fine job showing off the app’s aesthetics.

If you appreciate distraction-free writing environments, in Ulysses command + 3 is your keyboard shortcut. Other files within the same folder can be seen along side your current writing space with command + 2, and command + 1 shows a full view of your folders, files, and current writing space. These easy to remember keyboard shortcuts make navigation a breeze.

If you don’t yet use markdown, check out Renshaw’s post. Markdown is a simple way to write in lightweight text files and still quickly and easily format your text with headings, bold, italic, hyperlinks, and all the rest.

Finally, the Ulysses folks kill it with iCloud sync. Not every app has a dependable iCloud sync in place (ahem, GoodNotes. Still love ya. – Brian), but Ulysses does. I’ve never had a file show up on one of my devices with conflicts. I write on my iPad and MacBook, edit or occasionally write on my iPhone, and everything just stays in sync. If you open Ulysses and your files still need to sync, there is a little down arrow that shows right beside the file name. You wait about 5 seconds or less, the arrow disappears, and you are good to go.

My only complaint with Ulysses is that they do not support inline images. You can add images to files, but the images show up as a hyperlink and look like this: (img). That’s because the idea is that you are going to use Ulysses to write things and then export those things to PDFs or HTML or rich text or something else. Adding support for inline images would make the app so much better for journaling. I have a folder for each month of the year, and each day is an h2. I usually want to drop in a picture each day, and it would be nice to be able to scroll through my month and see each day’s picture without exporting or previewing the files in another format. I’ve expressed this wish to Ulysses, and they’ve heard me so my fingers are crossed.

I love Ulysses because it is a writing app that ideally blends beauty, function, and simplicity — 5 stars and highly recommended. It is worth every penny.