Is the Mac a quality machine used by discriminating professionals? Yes. iPad, too? Yes. Many of us make a good living on the Mac, yours truly included. In fact, I slave over a hot keyboard more than anyone I know (true confession: the keyboard isn’t actually hot).
That means I own my share and then some of various and sundry Mac writing tools and I’ve tried them all in my search for the perfect word processor and perfect writing system (they’re not the same). Here’s one I use and it keeps getting better.
Notes, Novels, Or Blogs
The app is called Ulysses. It’s not just a text editor, not a mere word processor, something of a writing system, but more of an elegant writing environment that works everywhere your Apple logo devices are. Here are the basic problems I have with most Mac writing tools. Feature Creep, meet Learning Curve. What I want to do is write, not try to figure out how to write or how to use a complicated writing tool.
See? Familiar. Sidebar of library and projects. Details, then the main writing area.
Ulysses is something of a change from whatever you’ve used in the past. It’s familiar, thanks to word processing roots, but it’s more expansive as you would expect a writing environment to be, thanks to extra tools professional writers can use while creating and managing longer creations and publications.
It all starts with plain text. That makes it a breeze to get started writing and not be encumbered by a learning curve to figure out how to format or combine various elements and components. There’s also Markdown if you want to control formatting a different way. I disdain Markdown.
Ulysses has the standard three pane interface that has become popular in recent years. Edit multiple sheets as a single sheet. Navigate everywhere using just the keyboard (I find point and click to be disturbing to my writing process; like a hiccup).
What sets Ulysses apart from other writing tools is the multi-faceted approach. The left Sidebar is totally Mac-like and familiar (similar to Photos or iTunes). All of your documents are stored in the Library.
- Distraction free interface (if that’s your thing)
- Simple text editor (with markup)
- Editor themes (because color is important)
- Keyboard navigation (because you want to be a power writer)
- Typewriter mode (because some of us are old and quaint)
- Traditional word processor tools (because we just can’t let go)
- Single Library (everything just gets saved; the way God intended)
- Hierarchical groups (because OCD is prevalent among writers)
- iCloud sync (because Ulysses runs on iPhone and iPad, and multiple Macs)
- WordPress publishing (a few hundred million writers use WordPress; me, too)
Select a document and all the elements appear in appropriate order. Distraction free writing is just a click away. You can drop in links, lists, footnotes, quotes, comments, annotations (Yes!). And, Mac-like again, drop in images, photos, even videos.
Ulysses gives you multiple writing modes, too, including pure, paged, dark or light (or multiple color schemes). And, of course, text can be exported to all the popular formats– PDF, Word, RTF, TXT, Markdown, and even HTML.
Versions support is included as well as Fullscreen, distraction free writing. And, yes, there’s spelling and grammar, dictionary access, audio speech, and a whole lot more. The Ulysses Feature Table comparison is one of the best I’ve ever seen, and there’s a built-in Dark Mode to support macOS Mojave, an improved Preview mode for images, and statistics for Goal Writing History and an option for Daily Goals. The iOS version, which comes as part of the subscription package, may be the best I’ve ever used on a mobile device (other than my MacBook), and deserving of all the five and four star reviews.
As elegantly designed writing environments go, the new Ulysses is very good and worth a try so it comes with try-before-you-subscribe. Ulysses is not Scrivener and the whole environment or system is not the same, which makes it worthwhile to try both on Mac, iPad, or iPhone.