My Obsession With Writing Apps

A lot of nerds have a backpack problem or a computer problem. My problem is with writing apps. I think I have like three or four of them going concurrently. I swear up and down that I use them for different things, but mostly I just like fiddling with them.

Right now, I use Bear, Ulysses, and Drafts to get text onto the pixels. Each app really is the best of the best, but what I recommend to everyone is Bear. But I’m writing this in Ulysses because it’s a better writing environment (thanks to to immense customizations).

Instead of doing a deep dive into each writing app, I want to highlight the key feature for each app that makes me want to use it as much as possible.

Bear: Markup

Bear, developed by Shiny Frog, make an app that I think is the “next level” Notes app. If anyone is looking for a more complete environment to replace the defaults Notes app, I’d have to suggest the Bear.

What set’s Bear apart is their take on Markdown1. Instead of most apps that highlight Markdown symbols, Bear takes it a step further and displays rich text for your notes. However, it’s still Markdown underneath.

This enables you to easily manipulate your text, marking off checklists, changing headings, etc is so easy.

Organization in Bear is also super easy. Just write #yourtag and Bear automatically will sort your note into the right place. I love that I know exactly where all of my notes will be, just based on the content of the notes. And I hate to admit it, but I also love the the little icons that Bear assigns to particular tags.

Drafts: Fast

Besides Messages and Safari, Drafts has lived in my dock for forever. Drafts enables quick capture. That’s the conceit. That’s the selling point. It sounds simple, but Drafts really helps me remember little thoughts.

Almost all text on my phone starts in Drafts. Because Drafts enables you to easily share text to almost any app easily. I typically tell Drafts to “copy to clipboard” and I get text to where I need to go.

Drafts is my “inbox” of text. Simple as that.

With updates that have recently come to Drafts (like a Mac version to hopefully be released before the end of the year), I could see this app taking over where I put my text more and more.

Ulysses: Environment

Ah Ulysses. What I consider to be the “king” of my writing apps. Ulysses is what I turn to when “real” work needs to get done. The main reason is the environment. Ulysses understands that there is a need for an extremely personal writing space. Just as with my notebook, where I want to write should be personal.

The way Ulysses “writes” is just so satisfying. I have my favorite font, I have great colors. The typewriting mode, WHICH SHOULD BE DEFAULT IN ALL TEXT EDITOR, is fantastic. I just love writing in Ulysses. While it does have note organization, which I use, and a lot of features for goals and continuing to write, I don’t use them much.

I will keep Ulysses installed and an active subscription for as long as possible because I just enjoy writing in here.

Conclusion

I don’t think many other people will use multiple writing apps like I do, but right now, each app really has segmented themselves into niches that I really appreciate. Drafts, in my opinion, has the most potential. It supports tagging, actions and more.

Bear is probably the easiest sell for people today. The interface is clean, it’s tagging is intuitive and has the easiest jumping off point for Markdown. I recommend Bear whenever possible to those looking for that upgraded. pick.

Ulysses is really for writers. It’s feature set is focused on those who write for a living. Typically, that’s a hard recommendation, but Ulysses is still king in terms of its environment. I miss it when using other writing apps.

One issue that I’ve run into more and more is searching for text. The fact that I’ve “lost” things I’ve written down means that I’m not doing a good job organizing them.


  1. For those that don’t know, Markdown is the best way to take notes. It simple, plain-text formatting. Try it and I bet you’ll love it. 
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