Multitasking for Writing Pro-fessionals

An outlook on Ulysses for iPhone and iPad and what you can do with it, part 6

To all you iPad Pro using writers out there: Please forgive the cheesy pun, and instead look forward to the release of Ulysses 2.5! You had to wait for this for quite some time1, but everything is going to be alright in the not too distant future.

iPad Pro

Owners of iPad Pro – or another iPad of the latest generation – will fully benefit from iOS Split View multitasking, that is, they can use two apps side by side. With the forthcoming new version of Ulysses, they will hence be able to, say, research with Safari and jot down their findings in Ulysses at the same time. Go through a PDF document in Ulysses’ preview, and double-check the referenced links. Watch a Shakespeare play while writing an essay about it. Up to you.

iPad Pro Split View

Side note: Writers with iPad Air or iPad mini 2 or later can still rely on Slide Over multitasking. Granted Slide Over is not as cool as Split View, but it is still quite cool compared to no multitasking at all, isn’t it?

Let’s also take a quick look at what button row will look like on the Pro:

iPad Pro Button Row

Actually, we shouldn’t call it button row on iPad any more. This term referred to the customized Ulysses button row we invented when Ulysses for iPad was first released. Now there are customized Ulysses shortcut buttons that align right and left of the system’s text predictions (given you have them enabled). But hey, what’s in a name? The matter was, and still is, to improve the long form writing experience on mobile devices. Search, statistics, undo, redo, copy/paste reside on the left hand side, while quick access to markup tags, text actions and special character reside on the right hand side – it’s all there.

We’re so looking forward to Ulysses 2.5, and we believe that you, professional or hobbyist, have good reason to do the same.

  1. Yes, it took us longer than expected. But I can testify that I have never ever caught anyone playing Counter-Strike around here. ↩︎

“A Routine Makes a Huge Difference in Being Productive”

David Chartier has been a tech fan since highschool – and so he made explaining tech his profession. In our interview David chats about writing, the tools and techniques that keep him productive, and his Ulysses workflow.

David Chartier

Please tell us something about you and what you are working on.

I’m a tech writer, content strategist, and consultant. I work with app makers to help them talk about their products and to customers, and I’m building a consulting business as well. I started in the tech industry as a writer for publications like Macworld and Ars Technica, and I currently have a column in MacLife magazine called The Shift. I also run my own website, Finer Things in Tech.

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Great for Editing on Small Screens: Ulysses’ Revised Button Row on iPhone

An outlook on forthcoming Ulysses for iPhone and what you can do with it, part 5

While composing these previews I have been realizing that many writing-related tasks are actually well suited for the road – if only you own the right tool. Take later stage text editing and proofreading as examples. Both activities involve a lot of reading, possibly more reading than writing. If the editing part works pain-free – why should you tie up yourself to your desk?

So, reading your Ulysses texts on iPhone will be most pleasant (that is, very pleasant) in full screen mode. Should you find something that needs revision, just tap to make the keyboard – and thus Ulysses’ button row – appear, and edit away.

The button row was first designed to equip the iPad’s virtual keyboard for long-form writing. The purpose remains the same for iPhone. Due to the space restrictions, however, some revision was required. Here is what it will look like:

Ulysses for iPhone Button Row

If you’re done revising, tap the downward pointing arrow right above the button row to hide the keyboard and go back to full screen – or should we say reading mode? – and continue.

With Ulysses for iPhone, editing and proofreading while you’re not at your desk will be a breeze. In case you need me: I’m on the beach.

Editing and Writing With Comments and Co.

“This dialogue seems artificial.” – “Is it probable to die from a rattlesnake’s bite?” – Sometimes you will want to add related comments and thoughts to the texts you are writing or editing. In Ulysses, there are several ways to do this. Today’s tip introduces comments and Co. and gives some inspiration on how to make use of them in a writers’ workflow.

Please note: Some of the mentioned features require Markdown XL, i.e. they’re not available in External Folders or when using another markup.

Your Red Pencil: Comments

You can type your comments directly into the text and mark them up: Enclose an inline comment with two plus signs ++, or start a paragraph with two percent signs %% to mark it as comment block. Depending on your settings, comments might be differentiated by a lighter font and/or a colorful highlight.

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Use Idle Time to Organize Your Stuff

An Outlook on Ulysses for iPhone and iPad and what you can do with it, Part 4

Organizing your writing is a necessary chore, but other than the writing itself it doesn’t necessarily require your undivided attention. This is where forthcoming Ulysses for iPhone comes into play.

Having Ulysses on your iPhone will let you comfortably do your organizing on the road – here are some impressions:

So, elaborating your thoughts on Foucault’s concept of power while waiting for the subway or your date is possibly a little heavy. Sorting out your collection of university notes, however, may be just the right thing to kill some idle time.

The New Share Extension: Do Some Research While Waiting for the Bus

An outlook on Ulysses for iPhone and iPad and what you can do with it, part 3

Many writing tasks start with some research and information gathering across the web. Scanning content and reading articles is a thing we do all the time on our iPhones anyway. Still, the Share extension we built into the new Ulysses for iPhone and iPad will improve the gathering part considerably.

It is very simple: If you have found an interesting article on the web, you can use Safari’s Share button to send it to Ulysses. You can also select text snippets on a page and share them.

Share extension

The shared content will be added as a new sheet to Ulysses’ library. Per default, the sheet will be inserted in the inbox, but you can also choose any other Ulysses group. Share works with any app that provides a Share button. As an example, if you share a photo from Apple’s Photos app with Ulysses, it will be added as an image object in a new sheet.

When using the Share extension with Ulysses for the first time, you’ll have to activate it. Just swipe to the end of the list of available apps and tap More to do this. If you share a lot with Ulysses (and as a writer you certainly will), you can also drag and move its icon to a more prominent position in the app list.

Accompany Your Texts With Photos – Instantly

An outlook on Ulysses for iPhone and iPad and what you can do with it, part 2

Let’s assume you’re a food blogger or a restaurant critic, paying a visit to the new trattoria in your neighboorhood. On your iPhone, you’re taking notes about the atmosphere, food and service quality. Or you’re on a mountain trip with your family, keeping a travel diary about your adventures. Or you’re a bestseller author researching for his next novel in, say, Venice, and you instantly realize that the victim meets his murderer for the first time in the very café you’re just sitting in. In all of these and probably many other cases you will want to take some visual impressions to accompany the notes and ideas you’re jotting down. Ulysses for iPhone will let you instantly complement your texts with the photos you take – without having to leave the app.

Add Photo

All you’ve got to do is to insert the (img) tag – will be accessible via the button row sitting above the iPhone keyboard – at the spot you desire. You’ll be prompted to take a photo, or to choose one from the library. The image is now part of your text and will, for example, get exported when you make a PDF. If your photo is intended to only illustrate or inspire your writing, you may want to place it in a sheet’s attachments. You can open attachments via the paperclip icon in the button row.

You can finish your piece right on your iPhone. Or, if you opt for a larger screen, you can leave your photo open to recall the smell and taste of that pizza while you’re writing. Hmmm :-)

“Ulysses Hit the Sweet Spot”

All kinds of authors are using Ulysses for their writing, and we asked some of them to share their stories. Sid O’Neill runs a creative agency, and is a dedicated blogger as well as spare-time fiction writer.

Sid O'Neill
Sid O’Neill

Which role does writing play in your life?

I run a little creative agency, and my job involves a lot of copywriting. I also use a lot of my free time writing for my personal site (about 100,000 words per year) and various languishing fiction projects. Wow. (Eyes widen.) I spend an unhealthy amount of time typing.

Could you describe what you use Ulysses for?

Absolutely everything that I write starts in Ulysses (unless I already began to write it in Daedalus Touch). I even paste things that I’m editing into Ulysses. Sadly, in the publishing world, almost everything has to eventually leap into the yawning abyss of Word or InDesign. But I do my best to avoid that until the very last moment. Read …

Write and Take Notes – Anywhere

An Outlook on Ulysses for iPhone and iPad and what you can do with it, Part 1

It has been a couple of weeks now since we started betatesting a new version of Ulysses for iOS: Ulysses for iPhone and iPad (and iPad Pro and iPod Touch, to be exact). We’re awaiting this release with excitement, and, supposedly, some of you with us: Ulysses, finally on iPhone!

Preview: Ulysses on iPhone

Believe it or not, from time to time we’re asked what people would actually need a writing app on their phones for. Well, we do have some ideas! During the time until the release, we would like to share these ideas with you, and at the same time give you a glimpse of what you can expect.

No matter the size of your device – you’ll get a fully-fledged writing app. Ulysses will be as powerful on iPhone as it is on iPad (and on iPad it is almost as powerful as on Mac). So, in technical respects, writing a novel on your iPhone is entirely feasible, even though you may want to move to a larger screen from time to time.

Whatever you write, Ulysses on iPhone will be the perfect tool for jotting down sudden inspirations wherever you are – in the park, on the subway or even at a party. Most of us are carrying their iPhones around all the time anyway. No notepad, pencil or third party app required. If you return home and open Ulysses on your Mac, your idea will already sit in the right group of your library for further exploration – thanks to iCloud sync and without a chance of being forgotten by mistake.

Ulysses MacBook Air

The beta tests of upcoming Ulysses for iPad and iPhone are going well, we’re getting a lot of positive feedback and not too many bug reports. So, for the time being, we’re still quite positive to release in the first quarter of 2016. If everything goes well… knock on wood ;-)

Never Lose Anything – Ulysses’ Backups

With Ulysses, you can write all kinds of texts, even novels. For you as a writer, your works certainly are very valuable, to the point that losing them is not an option. For this reason, Ulysses will automatically back up your entire library. You can be sure that your works are safe.


You don’t have to enable Ulysses’ backup function, it’s on per default. But where are your backups stored exactly, and how can single sheets be restored, or even multiple groups at once? This tutorial will explain all this in detail.

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