When it comes to writing on a Mac these days, you’re no longer limited to Microsoft Word or even Apple’s Pages. Programs like Simplenote, Scrivener, and now the newest version of Ulysses III ($44.99) make writing more manageable and cleaner with only the most essential tools you need to write, edit, and share documents.
The completely redesigned Ulysses III was released about six months ago, and recently it got a version 1.1 update to include some of the missing features (such as Typerwriter scrolling) in the original version, plus lots of additional functions like exporting documents to ePub and auto-continuation of ordered and unordered lists.
After you download and launch Ulysses, it will ask if you want to sync your documents to iCloud so they can be shared to your other Macs and to the Daedalus Touch text editor for iOS devices. It will also ask if you prefer using asterisks or underscores for Markdown tags. If you don’t know what that is, you can read about Markdown here.
When Ulysses opens up, you will instantly see some of its unique advantages, namely the side panels for managing all your documents locally and across devices. You can hide the side panels and focus on just the editor, but able to manage your documents in folders is really helpful in Ulysses.
With Ulysses, you can type a document that goes on from page-to-page, as in traditional text editors, or if you’re working on a longer writing project (like a research paper or novel) you should create a group of what the developer calls “Sheets” (File > New Group) to organize different parts or chapters of a writing project. Just like Scrivener, this approach enables you to jump around to different parts of your project. You can also switch sheets around as you work.
In the screenshot above, the title of the document is First Steps which consists of four sections or sheets and you can also differentiate your groups by assigning them a unique icon. By default your groups and sheets are saved locally on your Mac. If you want to share them across your devices, you should create your project in the iCloud section.
If you need to, you can “glue” all the sheets together and read them as one document or use the built-in preview to see how the document will look in printed form.
Writing In Ulysses
You write in Ulysses just as you would in any text editor. The latest update of Ulysses got Typewriter scrolling added back in it so that when you enter full screen mode, the text scrolls up as you type, keeping the point where you type near the center of your desktop and not at the bottom where you have to look down to type.
You actually have options for you how you want to position the typing view: near the top, center, or bottom. Naturally you can always scroll back up to see what you’ve already typed. This feature can also be used in the editor when not in full screen.
Ulysses can also help you keep track of the number of words, paragraphs and sentences you have typed. It even provides a readability score for how long it might take the average reader to read what you’re writing.
Writing In Markdown
In terms of formatting text, Ulysses makes use of the popularly growing Markdown language. Ulysses supports Markdown so much that it includes a side panel of Markdown and MultiMarkdown tags, meaning you can select text and apply the markdown where needed.
You can view the final result of your marked up documents using the built-in Preview (File > Preview), which can be kept open and updated as you type. You can also add images to your documents, but they only show up in Preview or when you export your documents.
What’s useful about writing in Markdown is that it’s cleaner than using HTML and it is supported in nearly all modern text editors, including Word, and Markdown documents can be exported to PDF and applications like Evernote.
When you’re ready to export your documents, Ulysses has you covered. You can export in plain text, Markdown to PDF, another text editor, RTF, HTML, the clipboard and to ePub.
Clean and Powerful
Ulysses has been around for quite some time, but the redesigned and rebuilt Ulysses III has a finer, cleaner design and user interface. It takes users in the same direction that advanced Mac and iOS text editors are going, with support for Markdown and MultiMarkdown.
Download: Ulysses ($44.99)
Let us know what you think of Ulysses and what other features you would like to see added.
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