Replacing Ulysses with Drafts?

It’s still very early days for Drafts on the Mac, but I am considering switching to it as my main writing tool across the board. I adore Ulysses, so who knows, but the arrival of Drafts on the Mac has me all excited.

What are you guys thinking about Drafts on the Mac?

That would be like replacing Pages with TextEdit. Not exactly apples and oranges, but also not anywhere near a feature-rich swap.


Yeah, I’ve been using it, & I think the limits of the organisational setup in Drafts become even more evident on the Mac. I don’t think it really has a place in my Mac workflow – I use it a lot on iPhone because the the fields for typing text are so small in many apps & web pages. But on the Mac that’s not really an issue. I can type directly into whatever program or page I want my text to end up in easily. But I have never used Drafts as a long-term repository on iOS either.

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I agree: it’s still in the very early days. No way I’d switch to a new Mac beta of anything for my writing.

Besides, they’re two very different apps, and Ulysses can do a ton more than Drafts even promises to; if you don’t need any of those abilities there are a large number of apps you could be using instead today.

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I think the other thing for me is that iOS automation (and hence my Drafts actions) have always been catching up to the Mac. So pretty much everything I do with Drafts actions on iOS, I’ve already automated on the Mac (and in many cases, actually on Windows 3.1/95/98 before I had a Mac…).

@bodiequirk are asking about reactions to Drafts on the Mac. Or are you asking about letting Ulysses go in favor of Drafts

If the second question…

Different apps, don’t recognize the differences, flip a coin to make your choice. No snark here I’ve gone around in circles on app choice too. I ended up using both Drafts and Ulysses, but so what.

Might be relevant if we did the same kind of stuff. Even then, I’ve spent enough time with Byword, Pages, Word, OneNote, Evernote, Notes… to appreciate these apps or combinations can serve others better.

I like it, but I don’t think it’s replacing Ulysses for me, not at the moment. I have Drafts on iPhone, I use for text capturing, but not long form writing.

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I think it is good, but not a replacement for a long-writing tool such as Ulysses or (even more) Scrivener.

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Specific long form writing — I agree. But many people get Scrivener or Ulysses and have no need for their specific features. Notes or Drafts is a best replacment depending…

From that perspective, yes absolutely. (Sort of like, a Lime or Bird scooter is a good replacement for a Tesla … sometimes :wink:)

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This is an interesting topic with a question that cannot be answered easily…

I think that Ulysses can be replaced with Drafts and at the same time, I think that it cannot be replaced with Drafts.

If you use Ulysses as a long-form writing tool Drafts is no viable alternative. Ulysses is just great for that and together with Scrivener the best option.

But if you use Ulysses for short-form writing Drafts can be the better option. With version 5, Drafts has gained a lot in regards to functionality. Using Workspaces in combination with Actions, Drafts is even superior to Ulysses as far as I am concerned.

It is hard to explain. From the Macstories Review of Drafts 5:

Workspaces are a new addition to Drafts, and are part of the Pro subscription only. When you make a workspace, you are essentially creating a saved view of your drafts. This brings a whole new paradigm with using the app. Workspaces use text and tag filters, providing saved spaces to view your drafts.


The idea of workspaces is an ingenious way of interacting with your drafts. You can separate your drafts out into categories or individual projects and narrow the focus of what you’re doing with the app. Capturing all of your thoughts, ideas, and tasks is wonderful, but placing them in discrete containers for viewing and processing boosts the potential for productivity.


Think of workspaces as areas of your life: each one provides a focused view of your drafts without having the clutter of the other areas in your face to distract you. This “General” workspace I’ve described is just one example of how the feature can be used to provide clarity, and I’ll have more to share later in the review. Workspaces are just one part of the larger picture, and explaining their usefulness and power would be understated if I went into depth here.

But I will say this for now: Workspaces, built on tagging, is my favorite new feature of Drafts 5. It has single-handedly changed the way I use the app. Workspaces grant me the ability to do things that I never could have done with the previous version, let alone the free tier of Drafts 5. All of the changes in the draft drawer bring new capability and functionality to Drafts. It’s going to change the way you use the app in the future when you start pairing it with the power of Drafts: Actions.


@bodiequirk Let me reverse the question back to you. Why switch?

I myself am a guy who switches between applications on a whim, pretty much whenever somebody praises something on a podcast or writes a particularly enthusiastic review. Or I was that guy. In the past I enjoyed that and got some value from it but now I’m starting to think of it as a waste of time.

I use Ulysses for midrange writing – articles that are 500-2,000 words or so – and for the rare piece that’s longer than that. I use Drafts for quick capture and now that it’s available on the Mac I’m considering ways I can use it for some note-taking. That seems like a good system to me.


Ulysses lets me organize my work the way I want. Drafts, an app I use, has improved its organization with workspaces and tags but does not satisfy my organization wants… This is not a this is better than that statement. If Drafts is a satisfactory replacement, it likely because Ulysses was not needed in the first place…

So I’m also in the both camp.


I was working a bit in Drafts in the Mac tonight and realized there’s no tabs or multiple windows. Rather than flipping from one draft to another over and over I ended up putting one document in Byword and keeping the other in Drafts. I think in the long term for Drafts to be viable for writing beyond quick capture, multiple tabs or windows are going to be essential.

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I use Drafts to capture all meeting notes and for bulk email writing. All of my meeting notes are then sent to Devonthink for archiving and future search as needed. Emails, of course, are processed once they have all been written. I do not consider Drafts to be a good long form writing application. I use Ulysses for that purpose.

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Both Federico Viticci and Tim Nahumck (@nahumck) have (very) successfully used Drafts 5 for long form writing for In Federico’s case, the iOS 12 review and in Tim’s case, the reviews (initial release and a subsequent update) of Drafts 5 itself were both written solely using Drafts 5. I know in the past, Federico has used both Scrivener and Ulysses. For Club Macstories members there is an in depth article about Federico’s configuration and process used for his article. These articles were all written on iOS, prior to the beta Mac release.

For example, switching between Drafts can be accomplished by automating the switch using the keyboard row that can be programmed above the main keyboard.

The beauty of Drafts 5 is the automation that can be set up to exactly meet your needs alongside the use of Workspaces and tags.

I wouldn’t call the MacStories reviews long-form writing - they’re more like 15 short pieces on a common theme. Don’t get me wrong - I think they’re great and I read every one often more than once. But the organisational demands of a piece like that, where every page has a fixed topic and there isn’t really a sustained arc or argument, are a lot less than writing a novel or a dissertation etc.

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I agree. In fact, as far as I’m concerned long-form starts at about 5,000 words, though some place it closer to 2,000. See this link. I would not want to write 5,000 plus words in Drafts.

Each to their own tool(s) of choice.

Viticci’s article (whether you classify it as long-form or not) is 42,250 words in length (his quoted figure) and the second article that he wrote about his writing process for the first article is 5,000 words. Even if you split the main article into

that is still 2,833 words per piece, which matches various definitions quoted for long-form article length.

I know this doesn’t cover story arcs or analysis of the depth of the content of Viticci’s artice when compared to a thesis for example that you mentioned, I’m only talking about the word count.

As I started by saying, each to their own tool(s) of choice. I’m not saying that anyone should use Drafts for long-form writing, just suggesting it can (and, arguably, has) been done. Drafts 5 automation/workspaces/tags allow a lot of personalisation of your workflow.

I’m not speaking from personal experience of writing long documents.

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Use what works you. I’m thinking of switching to stone tablets for long and short form. I’ll post a report when I have hands on experience with a variety of chisels and types of stone.

My chief concern is storage space. This could be mitigated because of tablet durability. Multiple backups will not be needed.

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