Ulysses keeps wordsmiths on track with advanced productivity features.


The ultimate writing app


Coming up with a good idea isn’t the hardest part of writing a book or a script. Neither is concocting a great ending. The difficulty lies halfway, when you have thousands of words to write. So. Many. Words. The secret to getting it done is consistency in your writing habits: setting goals and completing them every day.

Ulysses can help with that. This seemingly minimalist text editor is actually packed with features, including a Goals tool that helps keep you accountable.

“Goals allow for more habitual targets, like ones that are recurring every day,” says Ulysses cofounder and development lead Max Seelemann. “Setting a smaller target for every day helps build motivation, and a word count of zero is less intimidating, as your goal is manageable.”

In the app, you can set goals per Sheet (the name in Ulysses for a single document) or per Group (a bundle of Sheets).

Slow and steady wins the race. Attach a goal to each document to keep yourself on track.

In a document, click Edit > Attach > Goal to start setting targets. Choose how many characters, words, sentences, paragraphs, lines or pages you want to write. You can also opt to have the app calculate reading and reading aloud time. Attach a due date for accomplishing your objective and set which days of the week you want to write. (Let go of that keyboard every now and then!) As you type, you can see what you’ve logged against your goal. With iCloud, your goals will be synced across devices.

There are added features for Groups. Right-click on a Group and select Goal; you’ll see an Every Day option, which enables you to pick a daily target. Here you can also access History, where you can see your daily writing average, your daily best, a weekly total or just check out the graph it draws using this data to get a visual representation of where you dipped and soared.

Completed a goal? Brag about it! Using the Goals tool you can post on social media to let everyone know that your novel, scholarly analysis or soap opera script is coming along nicely.

The more you write, the more you progress (left screens). The History tab (right screen) provides an overview of your routine over time.

“The biggest challenge was getting the wording and calculations right – to make the information feel natural,” Seelemann says. “Take the deadlines as an example. We are calculating a daily average here from the remaining days and words. During testing, we found that exact values, like 1,634 words per day, felt meaningless and arbitrary. We are now rounding these numbers, essentially turning the daily average into an estimate.”

And there’s more coming. “Our users keep coming up with fresh ideas, like success notifications or an Apple Watch complication to track their progress,” he says. “Goals might look like a bland feature on paper, but they seem to introduce some fun into the chore that, truth be told, writing oftentimes can be.”


    The ultimate writing app