A good writing software should have a great design that encourages you to be focused and creative. It should also be user-friendly so different types of people with different ages can easily use it. And of course, it would be fantastic if the software includes grammar and style check, as well as many export options.
Luckily, there are some paid writing apps that offer tons of impressive features for serious writers, and one of the best, most popular writing apps is Ulysses, an Apple-only writing app that is designed to bring the best out of you when it comes to writing. But since no writing app is perfect, Ulysses comes with both pros and cons, which will be all covered in today’s unbiased Ulysses review.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right into it!
- What Ulysses Is
- The pros of Ulysses
- The cons of Ulysses
- Whether we think you should use it
Table of contents
- Pros: Where Ulysses App Stands Out
- Cons: Where Ulysses App Falls Short
- The Final Verdict: Is Ulysses App Worth it?
There is actually another tool that I recommend more called Atticus. It's not just a great writing program built for authors, but it's also the best book formatting platform on the market. If you want to know why it's our favorite, check out our comparison of the best writing software on the market, of which Ulysses ranks #6.
What Qualifies Me to Review Ulysses?
This is an excellent question. The bottom line is that I've been in the publishing industry for well over 10 years, and I have a lot of experience working with various writing tools like this one, Scrivener, and a lot of others.
Plus, I've worked with hundreds of authors, many of them well known, and have a decent sense from what they've told me, and what others in my audience have mentioned in surveys, about what book writing tool they like the most.
So with that, let's take a closer look at Ulysses.
Pros: Where Ulysses App Stands Out
Ulysses is a popular writing app among Apple users thanks to its numerous amazing features that increase focus and decrease distraction. Here are the things that I like the most about Ulysses:
1. Clean Writing Environment
If there’s one thing that I hate, it’s too much distraction. Distraction alone can bring the quality of your writing down and even increase the time you need to finish the work. Fortunately, one of the most appealing aspects of Ulysses is its visual appeal, with a relaxing writing environment that encourages you to keep grinding and get as creative as you want.
The UI is sleek and the amount of work it took to come up with such a design is truly shown. Ulysses offers a simple, contemporary UI that is intended to help you have a clear mind while writing. There are several writing apps that you can’t help but focus on its UI while writing your project, which is very annoying and can decrease your ability to stay focused. Moreover, Ulysses enables you to modify almost every feature they offer to ensure you’re working in the perfect environment.
Ulysses helps you focus on the work you’re doing with no distractions owing to its typewriter mode, dark mode, minimal mode and full screen mode. I particularly liked the fullscreen mode that Ulysses offers, which separates you from anything else and enables you to only focus on your project. The dark mode is an absolute life-saver for those who stay up late working on big projects with many words.
The typewriter mode is also another user-friendly feature of Ulysses, which is extremely useful in assisting you to focus only on the portion you’re working on—it highlights the paragraph, sentence, or the line you’re working on. I highly recommend that you use both the typewriter mode and Mark the Current Line at the same time to get a better experience. Fixed Scrolling is another feature offered by Ulysses that makes your life easier, which keeps the line you’re working on fixed (at the bottom, in the middle, or on top of your screen) while scrolling. Additionally, Ulysses enables you to hide and show any extra pane if you think it’s distracting to you—just swipe right or left and you’re all set!
2. Organized Writing Environment
If you’re the type of writer who can’t work unless everything around you is organized, Ulysses may be a great option for you. Filters, for example, is one of Ulysses' game-changing tools that help you keep your work organized. With Filters, you get to make a living folder with your material and filter them the way you wish. You can filter your content on the basis of keywords, creation date, and even editing date. This feature is extremely useful since you get to filter a crazy amount of words and find what you’re looking for quickly.
Additionally, you can use Keywords to make your working environment more organized. Keywords allow you to categorize your work and words regardless of their location. The ability to use Keywords is a plus since it allows you to find the work and words you’re looking for in a matter of seconds. If you’re a novelist, for instance, and working on a novel that contains a big number of locations and characters, you may want to use Keywords to find each scene that features certain locations and characters.
Your Apple device also has something similar to folders called Groups, which enables you to save similar projects in one spot. I highly recommend that you use Groups to organize your work that you write using Ulysses. Groups can also contain subgroups if you want to be extra organized. For instance, a Group that is called ‘Romeo and Juliet’ can include other Draft subgroups, allowing you to edit and finish your project in the form of drafts temporarily until you finish it and save it in the Published subgroup.
3. Backup & Sync
There are also other user-friendly features offered by Ulysses, including backup and sync that protects your work. You’d be happy to hear that the app automatically saves the words you wrote on your device every 12 hours, 7 days, and 6 months, so you can easily restore it in the case of an emergency. You can find any backup you need in your Mac’s Library. The backup feature is essential in writing apps since it can save your precious project from being lost forever. Ulysses includes an automatic backup feature to ensure your work will always be safe. Version history is one of Ulysses' useful features that stores every word you wrote. This feature enables you to restore any word you deleted or changed hours or even days ago without a problem.
4. Quick Export
Ulysses offers many types of files to which you can export your work, including PDF, DOCX, and HTML. After finishing your work, Ulysses' Quick Export tool allows you to quickly export the final project to the most popular types of formats. You can even directly publish it by choosing ‘Publishing’ from Quick Export. Even better, Ulysses allows you to preview your work first before exporting it. The app also allows you to send your work to another person via iMessage or email.
5. It’s Good Value for Money
Ulysses is not the cheapest writing app you can find, as it costs you $49.99 to use it for one year, and $5.99 per month. For example, Mac comes with Pages, and everyone can use Microsoft Word and Google Docs without any costs. Additionally, the cost of ByWord is $10.99, and the cost of iA Writer is $19.99. However, compared to other available apps, Ulysses offers rich writing features that not all writing apps offer. It’s also possible to sign up for a 14-day free trial before subscribing to Ulysses if you want to test the waters first.
But the fact that Ulysses offers some extra features doesn’t mean that it’s affordable to all writers, especially that you can get comparable features without charge from other apps. So it’s understandable why some individuals would be put off by the price of Ulysses.
However, I believe that it’s a reasonable price for an advanced writing app. Plus, as a writer who is serious about writing and want to have the best possible writing experience, you should be aware that the cost of apps like Ulysses is the main reason why they offer extra services, the developers improve the features of their apps using a percentage of their profits in order to keep the app running. Some free apps are no longer available due to lack of funding.
So, subscribing to professional apps like Ulysses is definitely worth it if you believe that it will help you improve your ability to write. Additionally, subscribing to Ulysses is a wise decision if writing is your main job and don’t mind spending $6 each month to increase your productivity.
To sum up, I think Ulysses is worth it, but before rushing to a decision, you should make sure that you really need to use its extra features, and that there’s no other cheaper app that can offer you the features you need, but other than that, Ulysses is good value for money!
Cons: Where Ulysses App Falls Short
While Ulysses has tons of wonderful features that not all writing apps offer, it still has its flaws that can be deal-breakers for some writers. Here are few things that we don’t like about Ulysses:
1. It’s an Apple-Only App
Even though there are many Apple users out there, the number of non-Apple users is fairly big, which prevents a good number of people from using Ulysses. It’s a shame since this app is great and it would be profitable for both the developer and non-Apple users if it wasn’t an Apple-only app. You can find apps that try to mimic Ulysses for Windows, but they’re obviously inferior to the real Ulysses.
You never know, though, maybe the developer of Ulysses will release a version for non-Apple users in the future, especially with the increased demand. So stay tuned!
2. Not Everyone Can Afford it
I already mentioned that the cost of Ulysses is quite reasonable, especially that it offers a lot of cool writing features that free writing apps don’t. But let’s be real, the price can be a bit too high for some writers, which can be another deal-breaker about Ulysses beside its exclusivity to Apple devices.
Again, if you think that Ulysses can improve your ability to write, and that it gives you features you really NEED to complete your work, Ulysses may be worth investing in.
The Final Verdict: Is Ulysses App Worth it?
I do not recommend that you get Ulysses when compared to the many other software out there. In particular, I recommend Atticus as not only the best writing software, but the best formatting software as well. Not only is it priced on a lifetime guarantee so you will never have to pay for updates, but it's available on virtually every platform.
For those who use a Mac, Ulysses could be a good option. However, I don’t think that Ulysses is the only writing app that can provide you with a great writing experience. But I still believe that subscribing to Ulysses is a good investment if you’re an Apple user who are serious about writing and want to enjoy Ulysses’s relaxing IU, as well as its other amazing features like keywords, filters, groups, typewriter mode, dark mode, minimal mode, full screen mode, and much more!
But if that's the case, you'd still need Atticus for formatting eventually anyway. Which is why I recommend Atticus.
Can I use Ulysses without paying?
Yes. Ulysses allows you to sign up for a 14-day free trial before subscribing to the app if you want to give it a try before subscribing.
How can I apply for a Ulysses educational discount?
Both academic staff members and students are eligible for a discount from Ulysses. For price information, you can visit Apple's App Store. The description of Ulysses app includes all of the available options to subscribe. You’ll need a proof of identity to apply for Ulysses student discount. Ulysses also accepts any proof that demonstrates you’re an academic staff member or a student.
What are other alternatives to Ulysses?
As I mentioned before, Ulysses is not the only software that offers a great writing experience. In fact, there are many other alternatives that offer comparable services, including Spaces, Bear, Paper, iA Writer, iWriter Pro, Byword, and Focused.
Can Ulysses check grammar?
Yes. If you want to have a final project that is well-written and free of typos, you can use the built-in style and grammar check of Ulysses. This check does a great job of fixing grammar, punctuation, and spelling. It also shows you how you can improve your style and reduce redundancy. All of these wonderful benefits are available in 20+ different languages.
This built-in check can be accessed through Ulysses’s revision mode, which is solely designed to revise every word you write on Ulysses. You need to activate the check when you first use it, after that, you can simply click on your sheet and let the check do its work. However, if you’re working on multiple sheets, you must activate the check for each one of them separately.
Note: that this check cannot be used unless you have an internet connection.
Can I use Grammarly with Ulysses?
Absolutely! Grammarly allows you to use its Keyboard when you write on Ulysses.
How to change language on Ulysses?
Ulysses is available in more than one language, making it a great writing app for both English and non-English speakers. Here’s what to do if you want to change the language of Ulysses on your Mac:
- Select ‘System Preferences’ after clicking on the Apple icon
- Go to ‘Language & Region’
- Click on Apps
- Click on ‘+’ to add the app to and select your preferred language.
- You’ll have to restart the device to be able to see the change
- Reset the introduction in the Ulysses library
Here’s what to do if you want to change the language of Ulysses on your iPhone or iPad:
- Go to the ‘Settings’
- Choose Ulysses after scrolling through the apps list
You can select the language you want to switch to via the settings of Ulysses. Toggling ‘Reset Introduction’ will ensure that you display the in-app manual in the language you selected.