Batch Export from Ulysses

I’m considering switching from Ulysses to iA Writer. To get my documents out of Ulysses, I select the documents and drag them out. Previously, I believe these would export as text files, but now they are .ulyx files that I am unable to convert or import to iA Writer.

Does anyone know if it is possible to batch export files from Ulysses as text files?

Thanks much.

I recently made the same switch. You have to create an external folder, add it to Ulysses and then drag all your files into the external folder. It’s an odd way to do it but that’s what works.

What I have finally decided on for my workflow is that text for basic communications, blogs, presentations, etc. are all done and iA Writer. I am back to Scrivener for a large book that I am working on. The two in combination work well for me. I use Drafts but only to draft an email and then send it.


Thanks so much for this help. I never would have figured this out on my own.

It’s a quirky process, indeed. But a 2016 blog post outlining it is the first result when you search Ulysses batch export :peace_symbol:


What made you switch?

I’m just curious; I have made the same switch and previously I loved Ulysses. But IA Writer seems cleaner; Ulysses got creeping featuritis.

I have decided for sure whether to switch, but I already own iA Writer, and I’m not sure I want to keep paying the subscription for Ulysses. I want to see if iA can meet my needs without the subscription. For me, it’s mainly a notes app and not for long form writing. Are you happy with iA Writer after switching?

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If you are okay with the choice of three open source fonts and two screen modes and little customization then it’s a great app. I own IA Writer and I use it periodically but Ulysses really is ideal for putting together longer works, with substantial customization of the look and feel through themes and styles and any font you want, with additional hooks to work with Git, and for long-term storage, and writing goals etc etc. No reason to use it if those other features don’t match your needs.


Yeah. That’s what I need to explore for myself. The look, feel, themes, styles may end up being important to me, but I don’t need the rest.

I am very happy with IA writer. The fonts and layout are fine for me, I like that it stores everything in markdown, and it integrates well with DEVONthink.

I also like that it is essentially the same app on the iPad and Mac. That’s true for Ulysses as well.

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Ooooh. How does it integrate with DEVONthink?

You can set IA Writer as your default text and markdown editor and then open text and markdown documents from DEVONthink in iA Writer. That is the way I use it.

Also, you can set DEVONthink to index the ia Writer documents folder.

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Have used Scrivener for nearly three years, Ulysses for two years, and iA Writer for almost as long (on iOS; a bit over a year on macOS). Ulysses is, at least IMHO, a more pleasant writing environment for long-term works than either of the other two. I find the Ulysses Library a better and more convenient UI than iA Writer for organizing chapters, scenes, and the like — although, of course, nothing can out-organize Scrivener. :slightly_smiling_face: However, this is all referring to creative writing. If one is talking about academic or business writing, the case for either Ulysses or iA Writer vs. Scrivener is less strong. And @Bmosbacker is right on the money about the ease of generating Markdown — and, I would add, MultiMarkdown — from iA Writer, while that requires an export from either Ulysses or Scrivener.


Indeed. In fact, I’m working on an academic book. I like Ulysses but I discovered that it lacked a few features that make writing non-fiction easier in Scrivener. Two of them that I find particularly helpful are the index card metaphor with the ability to add a short synopsis and the ability to create a link to research documents. While Scrivener does add complexity (for example the compiler), for my purposes it is worth the overhead. And, given that I get more features without paying an annual subscription, Scrivener provides me a higher ROI. As I wrote earlier, I use iA Writer for shorter writing projects where using Markdown gives me greater flexibility. Ulysses is a great app but for my use case, the combination of iA Writer and Scrivener checks all of the boxes.


@Bmosbacker, agree with you

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I am using both apps for past few years now and I agree with the sentiment here. I love iA Writer’s clean writing environment and standard markdown formatting.

That being said, I still prefer Ulysses for longer projects. The first reason is that Ulysses is more pleasant to write in. iA Writer’s dark mode is too dark for me. Also, I find using different themes for writing different projects quite helpful in Ulysses. I know, it’s a quirk, but anything that can help me get the writing done is a positive. Then there are fonts. While the three fonts on iA Writer are great, I love to do my writing in a specific font and it doesn’t allow me to do that.

Ulysses is also better for long-form writing projects. You get better organization structure and features like Goal setting. Getting the goal circle to green feels quite satisfying. I guess it’s the same as people filling their Apple Watch rings.

I think there’s no big feature that’s a deal-breaker between the two. If I had to use iA Writer and had no choice, I can easily adapt to it (I already use it daily for my day job). But given a choice, I prefer Ulysses over iA Writer.

Note: I use iA Writer for office work and Ulysses for personal writing. It keeps both the projects separate and helps me mentally switch between work and personal mode.

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Why do you prefer IA Writer?

A few reasons:

  1. Because everything is plain text and I store the files in iCloud, I don’t have to worry about exporting a proprietary format to get stuff out of Ulysses
  2. iA Writer is lightening fast to use and in syncing
  3. I like the syntax highlight function to improve writing
  4. The options are so limited that one is forced to focus on the words, not the program
  5. My use case for this program are short to medium length projects that require little organization, which works well with iA Writer. I use Scrivener for complex projects and Drafts to draft complex sensitive emails
  6. I don’t have to pay a subscription
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Ulysses lets you indicate sheets of texts or notes or links at ‘material’ (which by default are excluded from export and statistics).

I’m sure you’re aware that you can save Ulysses files outside of its database (in iCloud, Dropbox, GitHub, wherever) and even choose to save in .md (which is text) and not Ulysses’s format (though that means you’ll lose that format’s exclusive features like embedding local images, MarkdownXL tags for comments/annotations/delete, and no attachments of notes, images or sheet-specific goals).

IA Writer is a good app and I own it, but it’s not as capable or as flexible, and I prefer to choose my own fonts, colors and themes.

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I am aware of and agree with your points. However, the key distinction for me is that for long complex writing Scrivener meets my needs well and offers more features. The process that Ulysses uses to indicate sheets is not nearly as good as Scrivner in my opinion. I tried it and did not find it efficient when dealing with a complex book length project. Also, like I said in my prior post, any writing I’m doing not in Scrivener only requires the simplicity and focus of a program like IA Writer. These would include work related public communications, speaking notes, blog posts, and the like. By using iA Writer and Scrivener I cover all of my bases and in the long run save money.

Sure. That’s perfectly fine, but I was addressing criticisms like worrying about a proprietary format while ignoring that was just one option (which many people here might not know).

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