Ulysses is, in a word, incredible.
Great, but what is it?
Ulysses is a text editor for Mac that gives you everything and nothing, depending on your needs. When you want to write you can push everything else out of the way and focus on writing. Such a mode is not unique to Ulysses. The power and functionality that is combined with such a mode, however, is.
When I want to do more than write, Ulysses’ true power comes to the forefront in its UI and file system, the navigation of which, is genius. (You know that when you start to talk about an application’s navigation as ‘genius’ that you’ve entered into rare air.) Ulysses gives you the ability to create new, and access old, files in Dropbox, iCloud, and on your local disk. Meaning that in one program I have access to all my documents, regardless of where they are stored. (The convenience of which cannot be understated.)
The ease of access I have from one singular place is so natural, and simple that I cannot fathom why it is so rare. It makes so much sense: create one app that can read and write on multiple directories, that is also simple and enjoyable to use.
I’ve been around the block
I’ve used many writing applications for the Mac in the past: iA Writer, iA Writer Pro, Scrivener, and Byword among the headliners. Each of them had their perks: iA Writer had a great focus mode and a unique aesthetic that made it seem visceral and compelling. iA Writer Pro added to this with its ‘workflow’ progression. Scrivener was crazy powerful, if not overdone and Byword is the likable younger brother of Ulysses; it even has an iPhone app (which Ulysses does not), but it lacks the power and precision that Ulysses offers.
I still use Byword on my iOS devices, and I access its contents on Ulysses because I sync my Byword documents using Dropbox, but it serves as my Evernote replacement. It is a note repository that I can access from anywhere.
The access to Dropbox in Ulysses also allows me to use Editorial on my iOS devices when I’m out and about, and access that content later when I’m at my Mac. Editorial is by far the best text editor for iOS, nothing else comes close. I feel the same way about Ulysses for the Mac and because of Ulysses’ ability to access my text documents in the Editorial folder of my Dropbox account I can use both in harmony. This is what I’ve been looking for!! I’ve tested and waited and tried new apps and waited some more and finally I have 2 apps that offer unique capabilities and power that also work together. This is what a user's experience should be.
Ease of use
Ulysses is immediately easy to use. There are introductory files that walk you through the entire app, from the simple to the complex. There is extensive support for Markdown and hot keys as well, which help keep your hands on the keyboard…where they belong. Ulysses even auto-saves your drafts for you, so you can forget about Command-S as a hot key to remember.
There are hot keys for hiding the navigation bars, for going fullscreen, and for formatting with Markdown as well. This makes both, navigating your document library, and focusing on your task at hand literally a keyboard click away; it’s brilliant!
Did I mention that Ulysses will export your text documents in a number of file types as well?
You can export your drafts in Plain Text, HTML, ePub, PDF, and DOCX formats. Each of these formats can be previewed before exportation and Ulysses also has customizable themes that can alter the aesthetic of the exported content.
I love this app
In one app you get a powerful yet simple text editor along with a world-class file manager. Ulysses gives you the power to work when, where and how you want in an elegant package. If you write at all and you’re looking for an app that was built to help you do so with more joy and less friction, please look at Ulysses.
I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect writing application for years. I’ve spent time and money, investing in other solutions, only to be left wanting. Why did I buy Scrivener? Who knows, maybe I’ll write a novel in it someday. All I know is that Ulysses is the writing application I’ve been looking for this whole time!!