Recommendation for plain text notes organisation and syncing?

I love Ulysses but I’d love it more if the files it stored in iCloud (or any other syncing location) were text/markdown rather than a proprietary format.

Being able to organise collections of files in folders is a requirement too.

What should I be checking out?


I’m not sure of apps to check out without some time to think about it, but notes in Ulysses can be set to use standard Markdown rather than the proprietary format.

At least on iOS, though, it looks like that has to be set on a per sheet basis. It may be possible to change the default on Mac, but I don’t have my computer handy to check.

Several good ones that come to mind. I’d start with these: Textastic, iA Writer and Kodex. They allow for opening in-place and editing from any folder. Textastic offers more of a code friendly environment. I use it for website work. Also has built in ftp. iA Writer is closer to Ulysses in that it is more of a Markdown editor. Kodex is a solid plain text editor.

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You can use Ulysses’ “External Folders” feature to store your sheets as .md files in any folder. This article talks about how to do this in Dropbox, but you can point Ulysses at a folder in iCloud drive or some other location as well.


When I moved to Ulysses my cloud files previously were in a Byword folder. I was lazy so I just pointed Ulysses to that folder and … there’s no step 2, there’s no step 2!


Two more recommendations: Drafts – the Mac version is still in beta but it’s already very mature – and nVALT – a bit long in the tooth but it still works.

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My long-time favorite and still used constantly is nvALT. My newer favorites are Versatil Markdown and Keep It. I also spend a lot of time with Multimarkdown Composer when creating tech notes and workshops.

Drafts & Ulysses are what I’m using mac and iOS. Mac version of Drafts is still beta. I appreciate th file handling in Ulysses.

For me app selection is trial and error. I tried Drafts three times before it took. Actions are live shortcuts…

Ulysses is simple in appearance but is feature rich. I’m betting I’ be using it as long as I live in Apple land — distraction free, markup, enhanced highlighting in markup, a side bar to put short notes, WordPress publishing,

These features keep me from straying, but can be irrelevant to other writer/ note takers.

There are things I don’t like about Ulysses — mainly that they keep piling on features that don’t interest me. But I’m staying with it because it’s just so effortless to write in.

I played with Keep It this afternoon and I like it.

I’m curious about what you think about it. I’m still evaluating my one-time purchase Mac/iOS Notebooks apps, which works great on my Mac, is stable (it’s been around 10 years now), and which is expected to have a major update soon, as well - yet I haven’t yet finalized on it as a replacement for EagleFiler.

As for Ulysses, it isn’t perfect, but it’s better than most other Markdown apps I’ve used for my writing. (I still sneak back to BBEdit from time to time on my Mac for its grep search/replace.)

I own and like iA Writer and I like it but I can’t help but get bored with its imposed font/text color/ background limitations - I just feel more comfortable with different fonts than the three it permits, not to mention the color customizations.

I understand. We’ve exchanged view on features in Ulysses. I like many that you wish would go away. A big but for me is the features don’t intrude color coded keywords aren’t shoved in your face.

It may be that I know Ulysses well, but it simpy a relaxing place to write.

We agee.

I have KeepIt on my 10.5 because I wanted to move my recipe collection out of Evernote… And I’m playing with Agenda and Notebooks. That’s for fun.

Given my comfort level with Ulysses I’ll continue to use it as my main writing app. If my needs change, e-books production for example, I might look elsewhere.

I used Finder on the Mac and Files on iOS for document management for the last 4-5 months of this year. It worked well but fell down when I needed to edit an RTF on iOS and have it round-trip to Mac. I may take another look at that problem this week. Maybe use DOCX instead, and Microsoft Word?

IA Writer seems to me like a big winner for this. I am currently in the process of moving everything from Ulysses to it - it’s almost as powerful for that use case. And big selling point, they keep upgrading the app with no subscription cost…

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IA Writer looks interesting. Does it store documents in Finder on the Mac, or in its own database?

I think I’m going to stick with Finder and Files for notes and documents. I found an app which will edit RTF documents on iOS, which was a big missing piece of the puzzle. That app is TextEdit+.

iA Writer is fantastic. Stores it’s documents in a folder in iCloud. Can also open documents/folders in place from other folders. iA Writer on Mac can access as can other apps. Great editor, flexible organization of files, adopts the latest iOS technology and not a subscription. Also publishes to WordPress and Medium. I use it almost everyday.

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Pages will open RTF files and can save back as RTF.

Hmmm… I looked at Pages before and rejected it because it doesn’t seem to be able to create RTF files by default. However, I don’t know if that’s necessarily a problem.

IA Writer and Ulysses seem roughly equivalent from my perspective. And IA Writer is $29.99 for a one-time payment while Ulysses is $39.99/year.

On the other hand, I’m skeptical that one-time payment pricing for an app like IA Writer is sustainable. And I’m quite accustomed to Ulysses. And writing is how I make a living. So I think I’ll stick with Ulysses, at least for now.

However, IA Writer is intriguing so thanks for prompting me to take another look.

As Denny says: it uses plain text files directly accessible in a transparent manner. :slight_smile:

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