Ulysses for research

I love Ulysses, and do almost all my writing and research in it. I also use the Projects feature as a way of focusing. I find it difficult to locate particular research (e.g. notes on an article) I have done in the past, especially prior to Projects. I’m interested in other academics / writers who use Ulysses and how they keep a library of research accessible.

And no, I’m not interested in switching to Obsidian :wink:

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(but I might switch to Obsidian for note-taking)

I am not your best test case since I don’t use Ulysses (much). But my academic workflow breaks down into

  • DEVONthink (storage, file management, search) ← largely contains the words/thoughts of others, but also my own complete outputs; and e.g. project admin in other formats (PDF, Word)
  • Obsidian (note taking, project planning, search) <— largely contains my own words and thoughts, exclusively in markdown.
  • Scrivener (long form writing).

I find it very easy to link between the top two apps via app-based URLs; not so much to Scrivener which is increasingly taking a back seat, or gets brought out later in the writing process when most of my thinking has been done in Obsidian.

I have dabbled with Ulysses for shorter form writing, and I really like the app, but I’ve never had enough data in there to scale up for serious searching. DevonTHINK is my go to for that: with 6000 or so PDFs it’s yet to break a sweat. Obsidian is also very strong on search and organisational capacities, but it takes more effort on (your/my) part to put a good structure and workflow in place that helps with future info retrieval.

I would imagine though, even in Ulysses, that a systematic approach to file naming, and perhaps some smart use of tags or key word searches, would be able to surface most of what you are looking for?

Perhaps you could explain more about the type of things you are looking for, and why you think they are not showing up. Is it a limitation of the app, or something to do with your workflow / note-taking style?


I think a lot of the friction has to do with the Projects feature in Ulysses. Projects allows me to marshall all the resources needed to do e.g. research and write and output an article. But it does not allow searching my other research as I’m writing (and often when I’m writing I remember something I read and made notes on but is outside Projects and – probably because of my ADHD – its sends me down a rabbit hole as I try to locate it which of course defeats the purpose of the “focused” feature).

Truth be told, I have just downloaded Obsidian and am starting to play with it.


Gotcha. The way I manage that in Obsidian is through project tags. My notes folder containing ideas and reading notes is mostly flat (no folders or anything), but I’ve pre-designed a few tags for:

  • note status
  • project name (starting with ZZ so they all cluster together)
  • some thematic tags.

Then in project management notes, I tend to build ideas from lists of notes (often called maps of content on the interwebs, but they are just lists really of linked notes) and make explicit how these relate to each other for any one project, and from thereon, an argument emerges. This flat structure means that single notes can feed into multiple projects. NB: none of this stops me from burrowing down the occasional rabbit hole, but even with nearly 1,000 notes there is still enough structure, and search is very good.

Good luck!


That’s really helpful. Thanks!