Before people waited in line for the newest smartphone, they anticipated the next version of Office and iWork, but today Microsoft Word and Apple Pages updates are rare. When updates do occur, they barely register with the public. The reason for this isn’t that surprising: many of the bells and whistles were added long ago.
Here are some of the reason you may wish to ditch your word processing program once and for all.
It’s a Writing Tool, Plain and Simple
Writing can be a frustratingly slow process, even more so when you’re distracted by setup tasks associated with word processing programs like font, size, and menu selection. Writing software removes these obstacles and encourages immersion within the text. In doing so, productivity can rise.
Programs such as Ulysses use simple text and only text. To get started all you need to do is, wait for it, begin writing. Specifically, this program uses Markup, which is a dynamic web-ready language that’s quick to learn. Better still, it translates easily into HTML, so it’s perfect for bloggers, authors, journalists, and students.
Forget the Folders
Microsoft Word and Apple Pages save documents via a folder system. There is nothing inherently wrong with this approach, except that it makes finding your documents more difficult over time. If you don’t really need such a high degree of organisation and grouping, there is an easier way.
Ulysses takes a different approach. Here, all of your documents are kept in the same location and easily accessible from one screen. Still want to use folders, at least to a degree? You can add external folders so that your links to your documents are easy to find. You can also group your documents according to project or subject, and go even further by adding subgroups.
Access Your Files Across Multiple Devices
As any writer knows, inspiration often hits when you least expect it. This fact of life is why it’s essential to have access to your files on multiple devices. An important selling point for both Microsoft Word and Apple Pages is the ability to use your documents on Mac, PC, and iOS, and sync them when you can.
Ulysses also offers simple synchronization. In this case, it uses Apple’s iCloud system, allowing you to begin writing on one device, and finishing it on another. You don’t need to pay for an Office 365 subscription, you just need to make sure you have spare space on iCloud for a few text files.
Beyond the Writing
Once your copy is complete, you might need to convert it to another format. We’ve already noted that Ulysses documents are exportable to HTML. You can also transform your texts into PDFs, Word documents, and eBooks. Better still, the program does an excellent job at previewing your document using these formats before you hit the export button.
To preview your document, go to File > Preview, and then select the design you’d like to see from the middle of the screen.
What Else Can Ulysses Do?
There are some other tools found in Ulysses worth highlighting. These include the ability to create different themes, the use of typewriting scrolling, and more.
By default, Ulysses features a black text on a white background theme. You can also reverse this using the software’s dark mode and dark theme. The former turns the menu location on the left side of the screen black while the latter changes the color of your current document. When used together, your entire workspace becomes white on black. These tools are great to have during late-night writing sessions, or in situations where your environment is dark and you don’t want to strain your eyes.
For further customization, Ulysses offers a theme editor, where you can choose from handpicked color palettes. You can also download user-generated themes from the Ulysses Style Exchange.
With Typewriter Scrolling, whatever you are typing remains in the center, top, or bottom of the screen, depending on your preference. It’s just another way that Ulysses helps you have a customized writing experience, and it might even keep you more focused on the task at hand.
Finally, a word about backing up your data in Ulysses for Mac. You get Time Machine-like versioning directly in the application, and previous revisions are just a few clicks away under File > Browse all versions …
You can also view backups without activating Time Machine under File > Browse Backups… With this tool, text from every backup is available without restoring. Copy the text to add it to your current document.
Ulysses isn’t the only writing application for Mac and at $45, it’s not exactly cheap. Here’s a brief look at some notable alternatives.
Flowstate — Are You Committed?
If you’ve ever done speed dating, you know that time is your enemy. If you leave the person in front of you unimpressed once the clock winds down, you’ll probably never see them again. Flowstate uses a similar approach. In this case, however, the longer you stick around, the better the outcome.
With Flowstate, you must write for a set period of time without stopping. If you do not, your words will fade away, unsaved. This process is all about pushing you to create, not edit. Once your time is over, you can save your document as you would with other programs. You can set your Flowstate to various intervals including 5, 10, 15, 30, 60, 90, 120, and 180 minutes.
Scrivener — For Large-Scale Projects
Scrivener is a word processing program and outliner tool designed for authors, researchers and scriptwriters. It offers templates for screenplays, fiction, and non-fiction manuscripts. It also features a management system for documents, notes, and metadata.
Focused — Because Text Should Look Beautiful
Finally, there is Focused, a Mac-only solution that calls itself the “Zen based Markdown Editor.” Like Ulysses, Focused wants to make your writing time free of clutter and distractions.
Do you want to relax while you work? The Zen Mode heightens your focus with a choice of eight soundtracks. You heard right, soundtracks.
It’s All About Concentration
Are your writing assignments becoming too much of a chore? It might be the time to take a look at Ulysses. The Mac version is available for $44.99 in the Mac App Store, while the universal iOS app costs $24.99 in the App Store.
What do you use to get your writing done?
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