Long form writing apps, what do you use?

Can I decide to start a document in Devonthink and then edit with Ulysses with the changes synced back?

Mostly yes. DevonThink supports the MultiMarkdown flavor, while Ulysses default files use a slightly modified (and customizable) Markdown syntax called Markdown XL (although you can change your file to write in Markdown as well - see this blog post).

Note that some of the custom features of Ulysses - including the sidebar notes, I believe - require the doc to be in Markdown XL.

If you’re looking to do basic Markdown writing to save in DevonThink there are lots of free alternatives like MacDown and Typora, and more powerful apps like IA Writer. Ulysses is really designed to be the storage and management vehicle for writing, so I wouldn’t really recommend spending the $$ on it if you’re just putting everything into DevonThink.


I agree with the below information, after all my searching I have decided on IA Writer and Word (for more formatted writing) and store everything in DTTG.

I had the opposite experience. Wrote a documentation set that was several thousand pages in FrameMaker, and just loved it. Fantastic program. Unfortunately, Adobe didn’t know what they had and it never got ported to OS X. I ran it in Classic for a while, and then even in SheepShaver. Eventually I rewrote the entire documentation set in Markdown, the text is in a database program with macros to generate the HTML files, and a bit of a homebrew preprocessor to generate cross page links and TOC pages and indexes.

Maybe I’ll just write plain text in DevonThink if relevant and longer stuff in Ulysses. Interesting @Steve, I’ll have to take a look at those apps. I like that Ulysses is both for iOS and Mac.

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Your money, but if I was ultimately saving my docs in DevonThink I’d instead look at IA Writer 5 or Highland 2 for long-form, multi-section/chapter Markdown writing. I own them, and were I not saving everything in Ulysses I’d be using them regularly.

Here are a couple of decent overviews from macosxguru:


I found that I started writing in Ulysses but then exported to Google Docs for table support and automatic saving for a short project I’m working on. Maybe iA Writer will be able to provide the features I need. I’d rather get away from Ulysses because of the propriety format.

Have you looked into TableFlip? It’s awesome, the most pleasurable way I’ve found working with Markdown tables.

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Propriety? Isn’t it plain text with your choice of markdown styles?

Yes, but…there’s a lot of additional metadata that it can store for you. But the text itself can be instantly and easily exported by moving the doc to an external folder.


Scrivener, for a lot of reasons, but the top two are typewriter scrolling and the audio controls that make it so easy to transcribe an audio file, including adding timestamps.

Yes! I used to dictate text as audio an then transcribe my own dictation within Scrivener. I could start and stop with keyboard shortcuts while typing. Very useful.

I currently use Bear and like it. I have tried Ulysses and everyone sings its praises. My biggest challenge with Ulysses is exporting what I like into a “simply” pdf. Bear does this for me. Much of what I use Bear for is to take notes and then to export them back to a client. So I need something clean on the input end as well as on the export end.

I am willing to give Ulysses a go … however the exporting to pdf is a challenge.


@KaizenRay if you’re happy with Bear stick with it. Doesn’t really work for me (and I just don’t like the look of the UI) but if it did I’d be all over it and I’d simultaneously stop using Apple Notes.

FYI, in the last few days the latest version of IA Writer has gone all-in on tags, and the implementation looks pretty nice. They show it off and include a brief video of it in action in their latest blog post.

That blog post also shows off what IA Writer can do with Shortcuts on iOS. Some nifty stuff, including “send clippings and entire articles to iA Writer, with title, copied text, and tags.”



I’m in between using Ulysses for papers and such to just using Google Docs. I like using Google Docs at times but will mostly write initial stuff in Ulysses unless creating tables. I will use Google Docs more for final formatting etc.

I just tried to open a document I started in DevonThink Pro into iA Writer and wasn’t able to…should I add it from within iCloud or something? Any luck?

First, where is the document stored? Is it imported into DevonThink, or imported/indexed from your hard drive? How are you trying to open the document?

I was trying to open the document from Devonthink under the “open with” option from DT. Should I instead create it in IA Writer and have DEVONthink reference it locally or in iCloud? My goal is to have text in Devonthink and use IA Writer as my editor as an alternative to Ulysses. Meanwhile I’ll also be adding/exporting stuff out of Ulysses into Devonthink for sorting.

Ah. I stopped using DTP a couple of years ago and forgot that menu command existed. I just tried it with a text file that remained in my copy of DTP (updated to 2.10.1) and opening in IA Writer worked fine. Annoying though that the menu item wasn’t in File - why did they have to put it in ‘Data’?

Sorry I couldn’t help - if it was a file format that IA Writer should be able to read then it ought to work.

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