iA Writer file organization

Hello Mac Power Users,

I’m playing with iA Writer and considering moving from Ulysses. How are you organizing your documents in iA Writer? Are you using folders in the way that Ulysses uses “groups?” Are you storing folders in iCloud at the top level of the Organizer, in Favorites, Smart Folders or a combination? For my use I could almost utilize tags as a substitute for folders. However, as much as I’m becoming a tag convert, my brain still likes the organization of folders and this probably makes sense as the number of files grows.
Thanks for your time!


For iA Writer (and generally, for other apps) I feel I get two opportunities to organize in different ways when I use folders and tags. I think of organization in this case as a matrix. One direction (say, the columns) are the folders and subfolders and documents. I organize this at the top level as Work and Personal folders, then continue down with subfolders as needed. The other direction of the matrix is the tags. There’s really no structure for these in advance. I might use a group of tags for clients, or a group for status of the work (‘draft’ through ‘final’). Tags for me are more free-form than hierarchies.(1)

Tags are just another type of folder, depending on how you use them.

(1) Some apps support tags hierarchies – parent and child tags – I don’t believe iA Writer does. So “groups” of tags are notional; not something you can do in the app itself. Though you can name tags anyway you chose, so prefacing tags works as a substitute for groups. Like “C” for client. So #c_Apple, #c_Oracle, etc.


Hello quorm,

Thanks for sharing this. I like the flexibility available with a system of folders and tags and your thoughts give me more to consider as I put together my own system.

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I’m still in the process of adapting my folder/tagging system to iA Writer from a mix of Ulysses (groups) and Bear (tags). When I first moved to iA Writer copied over my Ulysses groups and wrote a script to turn my nested Bear tags into a nested folder structure.

Since then I’ve ended up reducing the number of top-level folders, to make it easier to navigate (particularly on iOS). I’ve also decreased the depth of nesting. Now it’s basically limited to two levels, and most second level folders (folders inside of folders) are “archive” folders of one sort of another for files I want to keep but don’t need to touch very often. All of my working files are in the top level folders.

I’ve pruned back my tag set quite a bit from what I had in Bear (and gotten rid of all the nested tags since iA Writer doesn’t support them). Now tags are pretty much entirely orthogonal to folders. For instance I have a #draft tag that gets used across folders for various writing projects. Clicking on the tag in the sidebar will get me the drafts for all projects, or I can use the filter feature to find all of the drafts within a single project folder.

Finally, I’ve been relying on the quick search box quite a bit to bring things up. That’s usually my go-to way of finding a specific document.

I haven’t really made much use of favorites or smart folders so far. I’ve got one smart folder called “All” that shows me everything and one favorite folder called “Temp” that I use for ephemeral notes.


Hi Chris,
Thanks for the thorough reply. I’ve been trying to streamline my organization methods as well. I like the idea of a folder system that only goes two deep. Using tags to access documents across folders makes sense.
As the number of documents grows, a robust search really helps. It would be nice if a word search in iA Writer would show the location of the search word in a document rather than just the document containing the word. Ulysses does this but it’s not a deal breaker. Overall, I’m enjoying iA Writer I have to say, I enjoy putting thought into this sort of thing!
Thanks again.

In case someone sees my comment above about searching for a specific word…

Is seems that Edit>Find>Search Library (shift/command/F) will show the document that contains the search word but not it’s location in the document.

As long as the cursor is active in a document, Edit>Find>Find (command/F) will allow you to search for a word within the document and will show the location(s) of the search word.


And now a question…

Am I missing something or is there no way to edit tags from the Hashtags list in the organizer?
For example, if I want to delete a tag, it seems that I have to delete the tag from every document that has the tag.
Also, it doesn’t look like it’s possible to edit a keyword and have the edit apply to documents that have the tag.