| By Lucas

Ulysses’ goals help you keep track of your writing progress. You can set a goal of 50,000 words for your NaNoWriMo novel project, for example. Also, you can use them to stick with determined character limits and  to help trim the length of blog posts or speeches.

Screenshot of Ulysses on a Mac. Next to the editor, there is a detached goal window floating that says “Already 37.381 words” above the goal settings “of at least 50.000 words”.



Goals can measure your progress according to the following metrics:

  • characters (including or excluding spaces)
  • words
  • sentences
  • paragraphs
  • lines
  • pages
  • reading time (slow/average/fast/aloud)

Writing goals can be attached either single sheets, or to groups. What's more, they allow you to easily share your progress with your fellows.

Ulysses' Writing Goals on Mac

To attach a goal to a sheet, click the paperclip button top right in the toolbar to open attachments. Now tap the goal icon.


Screenshot of Ulysses on a Mac. The Attachment bar has been opened and a goal is being edited. The buttons for the attachment bar and for new goals are highlighted.

You can also right-click on a group in the library or on a sheet in the sheet list and select "Goal..." from the context menu.


Screenshot of Ulysses for Mac. The context menu of a group in the library has been opened and the “Goal…” menu item has been selected.

Now, you can specify in detail which goal to set for a sheet or group. Does your goal indicate a minimum, a maximum or just a guidance value? Is it based on characters, words or pages? Whatever it is, enter the amount you want to meet into the ??? field.


Screenshot of Ulysses for Mac. A goal is being edited and arrows show the meaning of each field in the editor. The first item selects the goal type, e.g. “at least”. The second is a text field where you can enter the target count or the target time, and the last field let’s you select the metric to measure, e.g. words or aloud reading time.

If your goal is based on reading time, you'll additionally need to specify a metric in the ??? field. A  reading time goal can be set through hours, minutes and seconds using the international standard time notation.

  • 01:10:10
  • 1h 10m 10s

If you only type a number, it will automatically be interpreted as minutes. Ulysses also recognizes common time notations in all of its localized languages (English, French, German, Italian, Simplified Chinese, Japanese and Spanish).

Now your goal is set. It will be blue when you start writing, and turn green when met. By becoming red it is indicating that you’ve overreached.

Screenshot of a goal in Ulysses for Mac: “Already 1705 words of about 2000 words”

Screenshot of a goal in Ulysses for Mac: “Perfect! 10080 characters of about 10000 characters”

Screenshot of a goal in Ulysses for Mac: “Uh-oh… 7 min 6 sec reading time of at most 0:05 average reading time”

For every goal, a small circle appears either in the library, when the goal was attached to a group, or in the sheet list and on the sheet itself, when the goal was attached to a single sheet. These tiny icons indicate your progress and let you access your goal in one click. (If you don’t want to see goal icons in your sheet list, you can turn them off via “View"  › "Sheet Preview" in the menu.)

Screenshot of three goal icons on three sheets in the sheet list, each showing different progress states.

You can use goals to track your writing progress very closely. Just open a goal, move the mouse cursor to its top right corner and click the detachment icon. Now you can put it anywhere on your screen. When you start typing now, you can monitor the state of your goal in real-time. The arrow in the upper right corner of the goal will show you to which group or sheet it belongs, should you ever forget.

Screenshot of Ulysses for Mac with a detached goal floating next to it.

The circled cross icon top left will hide the floating goal again.

Ulysses Writing Goals on iPad or iPhone

On iOS, attaching a goal to a single sheet works similar: First, tap the paperclip icon top right of the editor to access attachments. Tap the goal icon, and then the goal itself.

Screenshot of the editor in Ulysses for iPhone. The attachment button in the top right is highlighted.

Screenshot of the attachments screen in Ulysses for iPhone. The “Add goal” button in the top right is highlighted.

Screenshot of the attachments screen in Ulysses for iPhone. A goal has been created and the goal is highlighted.

Now you can specify its details.

Screenshot of Ulysses for iPhone. A goal is being edited and a picker view (used to enter the target count or time) and two selectable pickers for metric and goal type are visible.

For adding a goal to a group, switch to the library, swipe left on the group in question, and tap the Detail icon. In the group's settings, tap “Add Goal...”.

Screenshot of Ulysses for iPhone. The actions of a group have been revealed, showing the actions “More”, “Share” and “Details”. The “Details” action has been highlighted.

Screenshot of Ulysses for iPhone. The details of a group are shown: Title “Introduction and Background”, Icon: “Number 1 in a squared box”, Sort: “Manually”, Parent Group: “Paul's thesis”, Progress: 3,902 Words”. Below the progress metric, there’s an “Add Goal…” button which has been highlighted.

Share Your Progress

Goals also let you share your writing progress on social networks, or via Messages and Mail. On Mac, use the Share icon on the goal circle for this.

Screenshot of Ulysses for Mac. A goal attachment has been detached and the goal’s share button has been highlighted.

On iPad or iPhone, use the “Share Progress…” command at the bottom of the goal editor.

Screenshot of Ulysses on iPhone. There’s a goal visible with a button below it, saying “Share Progress…”.

You can also add a personal message, if you want.

Screenshot of macOS’ tweet popup. The tweet says “Still having a great deal to do for #NaNoWriMo 0 words cc @ulyssesapp #amwriting”

No matter if you’re working on a novel or on a blog post – enjoy writing towards a goal.

This article was last updated March 1, 2018.


Set a word or character limit to your text, and track your progress towards its achievement