Ulysses Software Review – Should You Use This Writing App?

P.J McNulty
May 22, 2023 | 8 mins

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Are you willing to invest in yourself as a writer? 

Part of making the concept of being a writer part of who you are, rather than something you merely do, is making smart investments in tools and services that will advance your writing career. Whether those investments are in the form of a classic book of writing advice, a coach to help you get clarity and hold you accountable, or specialist software that is a great fit for your needs, is entirely down to what will get the most bang for your buck.

Ulysses is an example of the latter. It’s a writing app packed full of features designed for serious writers. While it’s certainly possible to write with even the most basic and default writing app, you should ask yourself if it’s the optimum choice. Or would you perform better by using book writing software that allows you to do your best work in the most efficient way possible?

To help you decide whether Ulysses fits the bill, we’ve prepared this full rundown. We’ll break down exactly what it’s capable of so you know if it’s the right software for you.

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This Ulysses review covers:

So what exactly is the main purpose of Ulysses as a writing tool? Let’s find out!

What is Ulysses?

Ulysses isn’t afraid of making bold statements. It claims to be “the ultimate writing app”. 

Whether that’s the case depends entirely on the features you’re looking for, but we definitely understand where they’re coming from. Broadly speaking, there are often two main approaches that writing apps take. 

The first is to pack in absolutely every feature imaginable. This tends to lead to a tool that is capable of doing almost anything, albeit at the expense of ease of use and intuitiveness. 

The second is to release an ultra-minimalist tool that might provide a fantastic writing environment but very little else. 

Ulysses aims to provide the best of both worlds. It packs a more powerful punch in terms of features and capabilities than many of the more simplistic writing apps out there. However, it doesn’t sacrifice ease of use in the process. Its writing environment is still minimalist and suited to writers wanting to experience maximum levels of focus.

If you’re looking for a middle ground between maximalism and minimalism in your ideal writing software, Ulysses might be just what you’re craving. 

However, before you get too excited, there’s something you need to know about its device compatibility. 

Which devices does Ulysses work with?

If you’re a fan of Apple devices and operating systems then you’ll be thrilled to learn that Ulysses is aimed at you exclusively. Ulysses works exclusively on Apple’s three flagship families of products – the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. It even syncs between the three of them, allowing you to work on whichever device you have to hand at the time.

However, if you don’t use Apple, Ulysses is not an option for you. There’s no support for Windows or Linux devices at this time and we don’t imagine there will be in the future. 

Truthfully, to get the most out of Ulysses, we’d suggest having a Mac and either an iPhone or iPad at minimum. That way, you can take advantage of the seamless syncing capabilities, allowing you to tap into the features of Ulysses wherever you are.

It could still be a great fit if you have a Mac but no iPhone or iPad. However, just be aware that you won’t be getting everything Ulysses is capable of. 

Now that you know what Ulysses is capable of running on, let’s explore what it’s capable of doing.

What are the key features of Ulysses?

As we mentioned earlier, Ulysses can be seen as a middle ground between writing software that does everything imaginable on one end of the spectrum and extremely minimalist options on the other.

But how exactly does it manage that? What features have the creators of Ulysses included to offer writers the best of both worlds?

  • Distraction-free writing environment. Ulysses knows that the user interface you craft your words in is its most important feature. It’s therefore opted for a clear and focused environment that allows you to power through your word count without having your intention interrupted.
  • Project management and productivity. Good writing is often reliant on both the quality of your research and your ability to stay on track. Ulysses helps with both. You can store research and plan your projects within Ulysses. You can also set targets and measure your progress toward them.
  • Easy sharing. If you’re like a lot of writers, you enjoy the process of expressing yourself through words. But when it comes to the logistics of exporting, uploading, and formatting your work, you may well be less enthused. Ulysses reduces this friction by allowing you to either publish directly to major blogging platforms like WordPress and Medium without leaving the tool or allowing you to format and export full eBooks or PDF files. 
  • Editing and synchronization. Ulysses saves the need to export your work into a separate tool such as Grammarly. You can edit and make style improvements without having to load a separate app. Also, thanks to the syncing between different devices, you can edit on the go by pulling out your iPhone or iPad. This also offers a welcome break from being chained to your desk for the entirety of the writing process. 

As you can see, Ulysses aims to be your one-stop solution for all things writing. If it has everything you need to produce your work from start to finish, you can craft a project from start to finish without ever having to leave Ulysses.

Ulysses Pros and Cons

You should have a solid grasp of exactly what Ulysses does at this point. But what about a succinct summary of its pros and cons?

Ulysses Pros

  • Strikes a great balance between a distraction-free writing environment and powerful additional functionality. 
  • Used by successful and accomplished authors of fiction and nonfiction alike. 
  • Longevity and continuous improvement, as shown by the fact that Ulysses will turn 20 next year and has new features added almost every month. 
  • Seamless sync between your Mac, iPhone, and iPad, coupled with the intuitive and pleasing performance we’ve come to expect from using Apple devices.
  • Affordable, offering both monthly and annual payment options.

Ulysses Cons

  • For Apple users only. If you use Windows or Linux then you’ll need to find another writing software solution. 
  • Some features may be redundant. If you’re new to specialist self-editing software or formatting and export tools, then Ulysses is great. If, however, you’re already a paid user of Grammarly, for example, then you may not need everything Ulysses is capable of doing. 
  • Ongoing payment. Unlike some other tools which allow you lifetime access for a one-off payment price. Ulysses requires you to keep paying either a monthly or annual subscription cost for as long as you need the tool. 

If you use one or more Apple devices, we’d seriously suggest taking a closer look at Ulysses.

Is Ulysses right for you?

So how do you decide if Ulysses isn’t just useful writing software, but the best fit for your needs?

The first and most obvious concern is whether you use Apple devices and whether you plan to in the future. As stated earlier, you’ll get the maximum benefit from Ulysses when you combine either a desktop Mac or a Macbook with a mobile device like an iPhone or iPad. If there’s a chance you’ll be switching away from those in the future, you might want to look elsewhere. 

However, if you’re committed to Apple, then Ulysses should definitely be a strong contender for your investment. 

Before pulling the trigger and buying Ulysses, ask yourself the following two questions:

  1. Does Ulysses have all the features I need, and will any of them be redundant if I’m already using different software for that purpose?
  2. How does the cost of Ulysses fit in with my writing budget, and are there more cost-effective options out there?

The good thing about Ulysses is it offers a free trial. You can get hands-on and see if its reality lives up to your expectations. 

How much does Ulysses cost?

Pricing is often a major deciding factor when choosing writing software, especially if you’re a newcomer to writing and are on a strict budget. 

At this time, Ulysses has three main options when it comes to cost:

  1. Free trial. When you download Ulysses from the App Store, you can try it out for free before your payment plan begins.
  2. Monthly subscription. Ulysses is available for a recurring monthly subscription cost of $5.99 per month.
  3. Annual subscription. If you’re sure Ulysses is the right long-term software for you, save $31 by paying $39.99 per year, breaking it down to around $3.33 per month.

Overall, Ulysses represents good value for money considering everything it is capable of doing. However, be sure to compare it to other options out there including those available for a one-off payment. 

Alternatives to Ulysses

There will be plenty of writers who aren’t the best fit for what Ulysses has to offer. If that sounds like you, don’t worry! There are plenty of other options out there. 

Perhaps you find the minimalist writing environment of Ulysses appealing, but don’t need all its additional features? If so, check out our guide to the best distraction-free writing tools out there.

If you want to check out a wider range of writing apps, take a look at our full guide to the top writing software available. You’re bound to find something that’s a good fit for your needs.

Ulysses Review – Final Verdict

Overall, we’re tempted to agree that Ulysses truly is the ultimate writing app – provided you use Apple devices of course!

It manages to walk the line between minimalist writing tools and slightly bloated powerhouses. 

If you use Mac, and like the sound of what Ulysses has to offer, why not give its free trial a go?

Looking for more writing and design apps? We have plenty of other reviews you can check out! }

And if you’d like further guidance on which writing software is your best option, check out our free assessment to help you choose. 

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