Best writing experience across iPad/iMac?

I recently traded in my MBP for an iMac/iPad combo and am finding it hard to find a sophisticated writing program that works elegantly across both devices. Normally I’d use Scrivener, but the syncing is complicated and I don’t want to download Dropbox. I’m thinking Ulysses may be the answer, but I wonder if there are other programs I’m not thinking of. Thanks!

What about Pages?
And 20more characters…


I’ve been using Ulysses for writing projects for many years and continue to enjoy using it on both my iPad and Macs (and occasionally my iPhone). I appreciate how easy it is to transition between devices and syncing is very reliable in my experience. And I appreciate that Ulysses is based on Markdown.

There are a lot of thoughtful touches that make Ulysses especially well suited to writing. As a result, I find that I go into writing mode as soon as I launch Ulysses.

Among other things, I like being able to set writing goals (e.g. 2,000 words) and visually monitor progress toward my target. I often use the outline sidebar, which dynamically builds an outline using headings; it’s especially helpful for longer documents. I sometimes use Ulysses for writing scripts for videos and seeing the reading time is helpful. I also find that Ulysses’ built-in spelling and grammar checker works well and is a nice complement to Grammarly.

As a bonus, Ulysses is included with the Setapp subscription.

I hope this helps. Happy writing!

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Is it really!?
When I tried Setapp, a couple of weeks ago, I only could get the iOS-Version of Ulysses.
That was one of the reasons, while I cx. Setapp again.

I agree with everything @timstringer wrote.

I’ve tried several programs, including Scrivener. I’ve happily committed to Ulysses for all of my short and long-form writing–including a book project.


Another vote for Ulysses. I started using it years ago as a way of writing on the phone when I was away from my Mac, where I used Scrivener. (This is before I started using Drafts on my phone to quickly capture text.) Scrivener is a powerful tool, but, even though I could make the iOS syncing work, it requires a fair amount of time and effort to do so. Ulysses just works and I love it as a writing environment on the iPad. I really like how you can tweak the appearance settings to get it just right so you can focus on writing and nothing else. The writing goals @timstringer mentioned are well-integrated, subtle, and useful. I also like that every ‘sheet’ (i.e. document or text file) and group (i.e. folder or project) has a URL link, which allows me to link individual writings to project management tools like OmniFocus and Agenda. Anyways, there are more features and customization opportunities not mentioned here, but I’ve really come to rely on it as my writing tool of choice.


I can confirm that Setapp provides the Mac, iPhone, and iPad versions of Ulysses.

But don’t you have to pay extra for the Setapp iPhone and iPad seats in order to use Ulysses cross-platform?

But don’t you have to pay extra for the Setapp iPhone and iPad seats in order to use Ulysses cross-platform?

Setapp currently has three plans: Mac, Mac + iOS, and Power User. You would need either the Mac + iOS or Power User plan (or equivalent) to use Setapp on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. You’ll find more info on their website:

I recommend reaching out to Setapp directly if you have specific questions about pricing.

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Ulysses is excellent, and I’ve used it professionally for writing long documents.

However, for my purposes, it has two shortcomings which led me (reluctantly) to abandon it.

1. No support for tables.
There are hacky workarounds involving Marked2, but if you use a lot of tables and/or table formatting, this is sub-optimal at best

2. Restricted formatting support for documents which will get exported as PDFs compared to docs which get exported as ePub or HTML.
I.e. there is formatting which Ulysses can apply to HTML/ePub exports which it can’t apply to PDFs. For example, indented vertical lines for quotations, or full width underlines on headings.

I don’t know why Ulysses restricts the formatting options specifically for PDFs, especially as there are other MacOS apps which do support those formatting options when exporting PDFs (e.g. Nisus Writer Pro)

I appreciate these two issues don’t matter to a lot of people, but worth mentioning.

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+1 for Ulysses.

Now that I don’t have to use Word (previously a requirement of my college) I use Ulysses for virtually all long form writing (logs/notes go in Bear).

For me the targets are incredibly useful and the ability to easily export in multiple styles and formats works brilliantly. I love being able to break down into and rearrange sections, as well as keeping my rough notes right in the project too.

I’ve looked elsewhere, but keep coming back to it.

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Hey there!

Although the majority of users in this thread mentioned Ulysses, my vote would go to a non-subscription application which is iA Writer on the Mac and 1Writer for iOS/iPadOS. Those are two very robust and simple apps which provide a distraction-free and pleasant writing experience. You could also use iA Writer on mobile but my example was simply to demonstrate that it was possible to combine different apps because they can sync documents from a common iCloud folder! Very versatile!


1Writer is great – strong markdown compliance (not sure about all the features of Multimarkdown), as well as the ability to write automations with javascript (eg, entering dates and times).

That’s said, I don’t write anything longer than a middling email on my phone if I can help it, and rarely use my iPad for longer writing.

Anything more than a paragraph or three gets written in Drafts, and I have actions that send it to the right folder in the cloud. From there, I use 1Writer on iOS and iPad, or various apps on the Mac (Obsidian, nvUltra, Multimarkdown Composer and Typora, mostly; sometimes The Archive).

All of those Mac apps are solid for document length writing and editing – Obsidian and nvUltra feel more geared toward notes, to me, while Mmd Composer and Typora feel more like document-writing apps.

For truly longer writing I still use Scrivener – one the the few exceptions to my plain-text lifestyle


iA Writer has an excellent Mac and iPad version.


I use Bear for short pieces/blog posts, writing-to-discover-ur-drafts, Scrivener for books, Pages for final edits and long pieces, or anything with footnotes. I use them mostly on macOS and iPad OS but have done small things on my iPhone.

ETA: As I learn/discover DevonTHINK, I’m seriously tempted to try writing a book on spec entirely in DEVONThink, then exporting to Pages for the final ms. for submission.

I find Drafts app to be an excellent app for writing and it’s on Mac, iPad, and iPhone.


agreed with that. Any option is to use Bear or Panda (in beta) , you may need to pay a subscription for the 'premium" features but it is a relatively low fee

edit - I inserted the wrong link for Panda, now corrected

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@jcarucci and @fuzzygel depending on how you interpret @beck’s original post to “ find a sophisticated writing program [emphasis added] that works elegantly across both devices. Normally I’d use Scrivener…” I don’t believe iA Writer will meet her needs. I like iA Writer and have used it a lot but it lacks key features for “sophisticated writing”, e.g., the ability to glue/merge sheets, outlining, adding comments/notes/images that are not directly embedded int he text, research/material sheets and more. It is also difficult to reorder files (one has to number and re-number them). iAWriter is an excellent app for short form writing, e.g., a blog, but I don’t consider it adequate for complex, long-form writing.

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yes, it pretty much depends on @beck 's needs and use case for a sophisticated writing program and what area of sophistications require.

I think there are pros and cons of using Ulysses versus iA Writer. Again, Bear and Panda may not meet the ‘sophistication’ test but they are elegant for casual writing and syncing between Mac / iPad / iPhone, etc


Yeah, I never do that kind of writing, so iA Writer does all I need. Don’t listen to my advice if you need to do long-form writing.