How to Customize Your Writing Environment in Ulysses for iPad

Are you a first-line-indenter? Would you choose an unpretentious font like Menlo, or something fancier? Do you prefer writing on a bright white background over light grey or midnight black? Neither one of these options will fit all writer’s preferences. That’s why Ulysses for iPad allows to customize your writing environment. You’ll find the following settings when tapping the gear icon in the upper right corner. Here is an overview.

Ulysses for iPad, fresh from the App Store
Fresh from the App Store: Ulysses for iPad. You can customize it to your liking.

Font

Ulysses’ default font ist Menlo, but you can change it to any system font. Alternatively, you can add a custom font just by opening an OTF or TTF file in Ulysses. I’ve tried that with Brandon here, the font we use on our website.

Ulysses for iPad Settings

Layout

Does the default layout setting 64@1.6 sound mysterious to you? Well, just tap, and you’ll see, it’s not: 64 refers to the number of characters shown per line, 1.6 is the line height. Good to know: A smaller line width will result in a larger text size. Further layout options include paragraph spacing and first line indent.

Landscape vs. Portrait
Landscape vs. portrait: The number of characters per line remains the same, while text is displayed smaller in portrait mode.

Theme

Themes are used to define the colors of the editor. Ulysses for iPad ships with a couple of built-in themes, the default theme is called iOS. For the time being, building your own theme is only possible with Ulysses for Mac, but you can download themes from our Ulysses Style Exchange. There are currently over 60 customer-created themes available – we’re sure you’ll find something you like. If you own Ulysses for Mac and have iCloud enabled, your themes will get synced, so you can use them right away on every connected device.

Themes
A theme for every taste: Lucid, New Wave 85, Cursor Console and Redeye (from left to right)

Dark Mode

If you prefer to write with a light font on a dark background, Dark Mode is for you. This will automatically use the dark version of your current theme – every theme features a light and a dark version – but also switch the whole interface, including sidebars.

Dark Theme, Dark Sidebars

Shortcuts for Your Handbag Typewriter

We believe Ulysses arms your iPad for getting some serious writing done — even more so when used in combination with an external keyboard.

That way, there is more room on the display for your text, and you can operate large parts of the app with a number of functional keyboard shortcuts. If you are a user of Ulysses for Mac, you should be familiar with many of them. For everyone else we’ve prepared a handy cheat sheet. You can print it, put it in your purse and carry it around until you know them by heart, if you will.

Ulysses for iPad Shortcuts

Update: If you don’t have a purse, you can also save this list directly in Ulysses, using this Ulysses sheet brought to you by Marc Weidenbaum. (Thanks!)

Rich Text Beauty Queen

A couple of weeks ago we asked you to join our small competition and share a Rich Text style on the Ulysses Style exchange. Thanks for your good-looking submissions — it was a tough choice! We proudly present the hottest new styles, crowned by The Soulmen jury.

The Winner Is… Fake Fountain

No nifty makeup, but fake Fountain markup is what makes the winner style so charming, according to the jury. Working in the glamorous film industry, Fake Fountain acts as a mimic of standard screenplays and scripts. To enjoy its benefits, authors will have to adapt Ulysses’ markup flavor to screenwriting needs. In her blog, creator Jennifer Mack describes in detail how to do it. We’ve tried it, and we think the result is quiet impressive. Bravo!

Of Timeless Beauty: Simple Novel

Devoted to its own concept of classic elegance, Simple Novel doesn’t care about the latest fashion. Featuring the old-established Baskerville font and equipped with an explicative description, the jury found it to be an excellent choice for manuscript submissions.

Focus on the Inner Values: Document Review

Far from being shallow, Document Review puts emphasis on being useful for its purpose. It provides double-spaced lines, extra-room for handwritten comments as well as visible markup deletions and annotations. The jury’s verdict: First class for text revision!

You can meet these (and many other) belles of the export on our Ulysses Style Exchange. Thanks to all participants of our contest!

Check for Updates: New Versions Available Now!

Thanks for all the fantastic feedback you provided for Ulysses 2.0! It was essential for detecting a whole bunch of minor bugs and improvement opportunities. The new Ulysses versions for Mac and iPad are available now.

Most notable change: Paged Mode is back! In case you’ve never heard about it: It’s a view option for the editor which is reminiscent of a real sheet of paper. It had been part of a former version of Ulysses for Mac, and it turned out that there was an impressive base of fans who could not do without Paged Mode. They’re having a point: Especially when working full screen on larger monitors, some may find the light mode too light and the dark mode too dark to please the eye.

Paged mode is back
Paged mode is back

So if you haven’t updated yet, head over to the stores and get the latest Ulysses for Mac and/or Ulysses for iPad!

And why don’t you just refresh your rating while you’re there? As you are probably aware, only the ratings for the latest version are displayed in the store overviews. If you are a happy Ulysses user and haven’t rated it yet, please consider doing it now, having in mind that it really helps. Thanks!

Handling References with Ulysses for Mac

When writing a thesis or scientific paper, authors often need to keep track of references to cite other works. While it might be fine to handle those manually at first, things can get complicated with a larger number of references. Dedicated reference managers can help here, because they simplify the tasks of finding, storing and citing references. Most of these tools integrate quite well with Ulysses for Mac. In the following tutorial, we’ll use Papers as a reference manager. Other managers such as Sente, Bookends or EndNote should work just fine as well.

The Reference Manager Papers 3
The Reference Manager Papers 3

Read …

Starring Today: Your Most Precious Writings

What is new in the latest version of Ulysses for Mac? With a short series of blog posts, we’ll bring you up to date. After posts about the revamped Quick Export panel and the new Open Files, today’s your opportunity to learn all you need to know about Favorites in Ulysses 2.0.

Even before the latest update you were able to mark your most precious writings as Favorites. But with Ulysses 2.0, they’re finally displayed where they actually belong: in the prominent topmost part of your library, right next to your latest edits.

You don’t see any Favorites in your library? That’s because there are none yet – the section will not be displayed until you favored your first sheet. Right-click it in the sheet list and select “Add to Favorites” from the context menu to do just that. Its new status will be indicated by a little star icon in the sheet list. Once the Favorites section has appeared in your library, you can also drag your sheets there to add them.

To get to your most beloved sheets from wherever you are in Ulysses, you can always hit the shortcut ⌘5 (command-5). This will instantly bring up Favorites and gets you back to the last selected sheet.

Favorites can be edited right there, but remain stored in their original group. To work on a favorite in its original context, open its context menu (right click) and select “Reveal in Group”.

True love knows no bounds – you can mark sheets stored in all library sections as Favorites, no matter if it is iCloud, On My Mac, Daedalus or External Folders. You can sort your favored sheets manually, by date, or by title within every subsection. Merging sheets is also available. You can even select some or all your favorites at a time and export them, say, as an ebook.

If you own Ulysses for iPad, your iCloud Favorites will sync. To favor a sheet on the iPad, switch focus to the sheet list, swipe to left and tap “More > Add to Favorites”.

You can have as many favorites as you want: Unlike human relations they do not require your attention, and they’re also not jealous. And if, for whatever reason, a sheet lost your affection, don’t hesitate to remove it from Favorites via its context menu – it won’t make waves, but will instead calmly retire into the group where it came from.

Can Background Chatter Help You Focus? – Coffitivity

There are dozens of little tools aimed at authors and writers, promising to help them focus or even write better texts. How are they supposed to work, and can writers actually benefit? Rebekka is investigating and will occasionally blog here about her findings.

Who needs Coffitivity? If you’ve got the privilege to sit here, you probably don’t.
Who needs Coffitivity? If you’ve got the privilege to sit here, you probably don’t.

1. “Morning Murmur”

James Joyce is said to have written parts of his novel “Ulysses” in a coffee shop in Triest, Italy. He and many other great 19th/20th century writers spent considerable time in literary cafés and bars. Did they just want to escape their shabby rooms to be warm and comfortable, or was it because the chatter and laughter was helpful for their creativity and focus? Coffitivity is built on the belief that the latter can work. There’s no café within reach? With Coffitivity, you can still have its soundtrack.

I started with “Morning Murmur”, which sounds like a bunch of college students chatting and babbling about all sorts of things, but of course you won’t understand what they say exactly. Just one thing is striking: No one is laughing loudly, no one is getting upset, no one is noisily directing his mate to the table back in the corner. Whatever is their secret, they sound by all means pleasingly relaxed.

2. “Lunchtime Chatter”

On the Coffitivity website there are 3 free coffeeshop sounds you can listen to. In my opinion, the differences between them are negligible. It would be interesting to compare with the listed premium sounds, at least their names – “Paris Paradise”, “Brazil Bistro” and “Texas Teahouse” – sound promising. To unlock these, you have to sign up with Facebook and… I don’t know, because it doesn’t work. The button “Go Premium” is leading nowhere. For the time being I’ll have to take my chances with the college students.

3. “University Undertones”

At first I did not expect Coffitivity to work well for me, because I’ve always preferred a rather quiet surrounding for writing. Actually I feel quite on the right place for that in an office with developers. They mostly type and make a nerdy joke every now and then.

But I was surprised: I did find the background murmur beneficial for my concentration. On Coffitivity’s website they’re citing from a peer-reviewed study of the University of Chicago: “A moderate level of ambient noise is conducive to creative cognition.” To add my piece of evidence: Yes, I was able to seal off and work more focused. This worked well for around two hours, then I felt I needed some rest. But even this may rather be a question of taste. While I would neither spend entire days in coffeeshops, some writers did – and wrote some of the most renowned works of literature.

So here’s the bottom line: Background chatter can actually boost your concentration! Go to your local coffeeshop and get a hot latte on top – or just listen to Coffitivity.

Available online on coffitivity.com. You can also download the free Coffitivity iOS app.

Open Files: A Simpler Way to Edit Text Files With Ulysses

What is new in the latest version of Ulysses for Mac? With a short series of blog posts, we’ll bring you up to date. A couple of days ago we glanced at the revamped Quick Export panel. In this post's focus: the new Open Files, handy for editing text files stored anywhere on your disk.

You may be familiar with External Folders, formerly known as External Sources. They allow to embed entire folders into your library in order to edit and organize contained text files with Ulysses. This works nicely, but it can be too much of a good thing. Occasionally you'll just want to edit a text file stored anywhere on your disk with the writing software of your choice, period. That’s what Open Files are for.

To open a .txt or .md file with Ulysses, right-click it in Finder and select “Open With > Ulysses” in the context menu. The file will open at the top of your library in a new subsection called “Open Files” . This section is only displayed when there actually are files open for editing.

If you do this a lot, you can save a few clicks setting Ulysses as the default application for editing text and/or Markdown files. This is easy: Just right-click on a file in Finder and choose “Get Info”. In the “Open With” section select Ulysses, click the “Change All” button and confirm. From now on you can double-click any file of that type to open it with Ulysses – no matter if it is stored in a folder on your disk or sent to you via email or iMessages.

If you edit an open file, all your changes will get saved back to it, and the original file remains fully compatible with other text editors. Because of this, you won’t be able to use keywords or goals, and images must be linked and can’t be included directly in the file. However, you can still use the full power of Ulysses’ Quick Export to output text in various formats. Statistics are at your disposal, too.

Open File and Export
You can use Quick Export with Open Files, too

You can also drag open files into other sections of Ulysses’ library. This will create a copy while the original file will get preserved on its spot.

If you’re done editing an open file, right-click it and select Close in the context menu.

Quick Export 2.0 – 5 Things You Should Know

What is new in the latest version of Ulysses for Mac? With a short series of blog posts, we’ll bring you up to date. Our start: the new Quick Export panel and how to make the most of it.

At a glance: the new Quick Export panel
At a glance: the new Quick Export panel

1. You can export to Text, HTML, ePub, PDF and RTF. Move your mouse over the format popup button top left to switch between them. Alternatively, you can use the up and down arrow keys to change the export format.

Switch Export Format

2. In the center of the panel you can specify the export settings, depending on the previously selected format: Plain Text or Markdown? HTML code snippet or full page? A4 or US Letter? Optimization for Word or for TextEdit? For ePub, you can add a title, an author and a cover image.

Here you can also select an export style for the formatting details (not available for Text export).

3. Now it is time to choose one of the available export actions represented by the icons top right:

PreviewPreview to see what your exported document is going to look like

Copy to ClipboardCopy to clipboard

Save toSave to, to open Finder and save to a location of your choice

Open InOpen in, lists all available applications for further processing of your output

Send toSend your output as mail or iMessage, share via Airdrop, print

4. The large button at the bottom executes a default export action (you can also simply press Return). You should set this button to the action you use most (for example “Copy to clipboard” in HTML export). Right click on an icon to set the respective action as default, or switch actions with the tab key .

Set Default Action

5. Have you seen the tiny page icon on the default button? Use it to drag and drop your file to a Finder window, on your desktop, into an email, etc.

Drag and Drop File

Now you should be set. Happy exporting!