A Quick Look at Ulysses 2.1

October 31, 2011 | 16 Comments

I reviewed Ulysses 2 a few years ago in anticipation of NaNoWriMo. I thought it was an impressive writing tool that’s merits consideration for any longer writing project. (I’ve used it some myself, though most of my writing projects have been shorter the last few years.) It’s one of those apps that might leave you scratching your head when you first open it, but once you’ve taken the time to learn a little about it, you see the possibilities blossom.

Ulysses 2 1

The developer contacted me a few weeks ago to let me know about some of the updates that have come about with Ulysses 2.1, and with NaNoWriMo starting off this week, it’s worth a mention. For a .1 upgrade, there are some significant additions that I could find useful:

  • OS X Lion features like swipe gestures and full screen. (I don’t know about you, but I’m finding fullscreen apps far more useful than I expected I would.)
  • ePub exporter. If you want to read and review your document or share it with others in iBooks or ebook reader, you’re all set.
  • WordPress exporter. I prefer to write shorter items like blog posts in Byword, but if you want to have a single tool for all writing, Ulysses can do the job. A document can be exported as HTML without the extra header and body tags, so it’s ready to be pasted into your favorite blog editor.

The most important new feature is the price. Ulysses now sells for only $19.99 in the app store. I don’t know of another power writing app that can compare with this price. But if you’re interested enough, it might be free, because I have a promo code to give away. Leave a comment below or send me a tweet. I’ll pull a name from all the replies later this week.

(In the interest of disclosure, I did not receive a review copy. I was offered a promo code for review, but I’d already purchased Ulysses from the app store without hesitation.)

  • This is really intriguing and could be really helpful.

    Of course, I should also mention that I believe you are a Giant among Men. And I’m not just saying that for the free code, no way.

  • Curious to try this app (current Scrivener user), but the high price always put me off (I think it was closer to $79 or $99 before???)

    Love your web site BTW! Cheers, Steve

    • John Chandler


      I don’t recall, but I do remember that Ulysses was significantly more the Scrivener a few years ago.

  • Josh Brock

    As a current Scrivener user, I’d really like to give this a shot. Even if I don’t get a promo code, I think I’ll buy it anyway (but I’ll wait to see if I win). I have a writing project coming up so now might be the time.

  • Gordon

    John, what is the difference between Ulysses and a free program like Notational Velocity?


    • John Chandler

      Ulysses is geared toward a specific writing project that you need to collect notes for and break it up into manageable pieces for writing and editing. Scrivener is like that too.

      NV is an app that allows you to easily capture and search text, and also syncs well to mobile devices, so it’s great for collecting notes and other text in almost any environment and referring to it later.

  • Gordon

    Also I’ve been looking at Scrivener for writing as a result of your reviews on this blog. What are the major differences between Ulysses and Scrivener? To my limited knowledge they are appear to be very similar.


    • John Chandler

      They are very similar. The original review of Ulysses (which is linked in the first sentence of the post) talks more about some of the contrasts between the two.

  • Jay Freestone

    I’ve been writing my college essays and started Nano with this program, but the trial just expired and I have a hard enough time paying my gas/electricity bills as it is.

    I’d love a chance at winning a code, it’s a really great tool and I’d rather not run back to Word anytime soon.


  • Gordon

    Trying to decide which software to use for my writing projects and your blog has been helpful in introducing some software I hadn’t considered, like Notational Velocity (which now using) and Scrivener (have downloaded a trial version). Now I see u are using Ulysses, Byword and possibly others.

    I read your posts about your work flow from iPad to Mac via Evernote, PlainText, Dropbox etc. Perhaps u could dedicate a blog to your writing setup on the Mac, ie. writing software and for which task u use it, like u mentioned David Sparks did in his recent book “iPad at Work”. A possibility? Could possibly clarify in my mind all the choices and perhaps others too.


    • John Chandler


      I’ve got some notes scratched out for a post like that, but no promises on when I’ll get it written!

      In short, I’ve been using:
      Byword – for composing/drafting shorter projects like blog posts on my Mac. Anything that doesn’t require the organization of Scrivener to break it into parts.

      Notational Velocity – I save all my Byword drafts in my Notational Velocity folder so I can access them quickly for edits if a thought comes to mind. Right now, I have 8 Drafts in various stages in NV, but when I want to spend quality time with one, I will open it with Byword.

      Scrivener – for longer projects. I still use Scrivener over Ulysses only because I had it first and have more familiarity. I think they are both great, but have nuances that will suit each user differently.

  • Jay Freestone

    I’ve been writing my university essays in Ulysses and have just started Nanowrimo with it too, but unfortunately my trial has just run out and I can barely pay gas and electricity, let alone pay for software, as much as I’d love to.

    I’d love a chance at winning a free copy, it’d be great to not have to crawl back to Word especially as I’ve become really attached to my workflow in Ulysses.

    Regardless, thanks for the post about the updates.


  • Helen Zhou

    I’ve been using iA Writer for Nanowrimo, but as much as I love the minimalism for novel writing I’m finding it a nightmare to keep everything organised/separated.

    Looks like this is a potential solution, and it looks to retain a fairly minimilist UI unlike Scrivener which I find more than a little overwhelming!

    • Gordon

      Hi Helen,

      Is the potential solution that u are looking at Ulysses?

      Like u I’m thinking that Scrivener looks a little overwhelming and possibly a long learning curve. At least they let u download a trial version, which Ulysses don’t appear too. So we have to go on what John publishes on his blog about he latter writing app.

      Anyone else reading this blog who uses Ulysses and would like to publish their thoughts?

  • Gordon

    Thanks very much for all your replies John.

  • John Chandler

    Thanks to everyone who entered. Worth Wheeler, who was an entry via Twitter, was the winner of the promo code.