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Friday 5: Ulysses is my favorite iOS writing app [Video]

Ulysses is a writing app that I use each and every day on my iPad Pro; I even use it on iPhone to make quick edits or changes to in-progress work. I’ve briefly covered Ulysses on Friday 5 in the past, but tonight I’d like to dig deeper and discuss some of the features that make it my go-to iOS (and macOS) writing app.

iCloud Sync

Thanks to Ulysses’ iCloud sync, I can start a composition on my iPhone 7, and easily pick up where I left off when I return to the office. And being able to always have document changes seamlessly follow me from the Mac to iPad Pro is instrumental to my writing workflow.

With iCloud Sync, as long as your iOS device is logged into your iCloud account, it just works. It’s probably the number one reason why I decided to make Ulysses my writing app of choice.

Video walkthrough

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Markdown support

Being able to compose articles using Markdown is a must for any modern writing app that I’m willing to use. Markdown features lightweight markup syntax that’s easily readable, portable, and exportable using Ulysses’ built in tools. I can export Markdown text directly to HTML for posting on a blog, or export as a PDF for archival purposes. I can even export to an ePUB or Word document if the need ever arises.

iPad Pro keyboard shortcuts

The creators of Ulysses have been great about supporting keyboard shortcuts on the iPad Pro, as evident by the large number of available shortcuts that change based on context. Keyboard shortcuts allow users to quickly browse through a group of sheets, add Markdown formatting to an in-progress post, search the contents of a post, and much, much, more. And if you don’t happen to have access to an external keyboard? There are plenty of built-in software shortcuts as well.

Organizational structure

Ulysses is easily adaptable to virtually any type of writing style. You can create a group to house multiple sheets related to a single project, and rearrange those sheets in a logical order. You can also export multiple sheets as a single composition, a great feature for long-form content.

I enjoy being able to rename groups, assign groups with easily-identifiable glyph characters, and select multiple sheets inside those groups for gathering meta data, moving, or exporting. And the whole organizational structure can be easily traversed with swipe gestures, or via keyboard shortcuts.

TextExpander support

I regularly use TextExpander to automatically expand snippets of text on my Mac, and it’s one of the features that makes Ulysses on iOS feel so complete as a writing app. I’ve compiled many snippets over the years for entering commonly-used text, and for quickly posting special characters like →, ⌘, ⌥, and ⇧. Having auto-expanding snippets while writing in Ulysses is a big time saver.


Of course, there are lots of other features that Ulysses has hidden under the hood — WordPress integration quickly comes to mind, as well as DropBox syncing, external file access, attachments, and additional handy tools that make this a well-rounded writing companion.

At $24.99 on the App Store, Ulysses isn’t cheap, but it’s a universal purchase that works on the iPhone and iPad. I understand that not everyone will need a writing app of this caliber, but if you write on a regular basis, and you’re looking to simplify your workflow, it’s a solid choice. Keep in mind that there’s also a Mac version of Ulysses, which can sync with the iOS version via iCloud.

What’s your go-to writing app on iOS? How do you think it compares with Ulysses? Sound off in the comment section below with your thoughts and opinions.

Be sure to have a look at last week’s Friday 5 app of the week, Ferrite Recording Studio.

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Avatar for Jeff Benjamin Jeff Benjamin

Jeff produces videos, walkthroughs, how-tos, written tutorials and reviews. He takes pride in being able to explain things in a simple, clear and concise manner.