Best replacements for Ulysses

macOS High Sierra
macOS High Sierra

Ulysses has been a go-to writing app for many Mac and iOs users for quite some time; however, the developers have recently decided to switch to a subscription model, meaning you'll have to pay a monthly or yearly fee to use the app. While subscription models aren't new to the world of writing apps, there are still plenty of excellent writing apps that will only make you pay once.

If you're looking to ditch Ulysses and go to a service that doesn't have a subscription fee, here are our favorite alternatives!


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You don't have to look far to find a writing app that can automatically sync to all your devices via iCloud, Apple's Notes app is pretty adept at that!

The Notes app allows you to make lists, documents, and even do basic formatting with ease from either your Mac, iPad or iPhone. Plus, if you have an iPad Pro, you can even use the markup and drawing tools in the Notes app with your Apple Pencil.

If you like putting pictures or screenshots in your notes, the Notes app can easily access your photos from your iCloud Photo Library, allowing you to fill the page with photos you've taken across your devices.

Read: Notes App: The Ultimate Guide

Notes will come pre-installed on any Mac or iOS device, but if for some reason you have deleted the app, you can redownload it for free anytime from the app store.

iA Writer

iA Writer's gone through quite a few changes over the years. Where the previous Pro app tried to breakdown your writing into a flow between notes and writing and editing, the modern iA Writer focuses on having your write in plain text, with full Markdown support. That's not to say that there aren't advanced features, however, as there are quite a few. Syntax Control breaks down your writing to show you the structure, highlighting adjectives, nouns, conjunctions, and more. Link to other documents in iA Writer to combine them into a single project, or link to images or spreadsheet files to see them in iA Writer's Preview screen in some different templates.

Like other apps on this list, iA Writer lets you publish to blogs, in this case, WordPress and Medium. You can also export your work in Markdown, PDF, HTML, and Microsoft Word.

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Pages is Apple's full-blown word processing software that comes at no additional cost on all Macs, and you can pick it up as a free download on iPhone and iPad.

Not only does Pages come with a ton of pre-loaded templates for letters, resumes, research papers, and other documents, it supports real-time collaboration through iCloud, meaning you at your colleagues can work on the same document all at once.

Pages doesn't just allow you to make documents, but Apple has included plenty of features to make your documents as beautiful as possible. You can easily add tables, charts, graphs, and other useful graphics with a couple of click of your mouse or taps of your fingers. Plus, a host of editing tools, like comments, highlighting text, and change tracking makes it a perfect tool for editors and writers alike.

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"Simple but effective" is the best way to describe Byword. With this Markdown-focused writing app, you start with a blank document and just write. It's a minimalist app with only a few settings to fuss with, and Byword only cares about getting you writing. Your documents sync between Mac, iPhone, and iPad using iCloud Drive, though you can also store them in Dropbox.

When it comes to publishing, you've got options for PDF and HTML. You can also post what you've written to blogging services such as Medium, WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger, or you could send your document to Evernote.

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Google Docs

Google Docs has long been a personal favorite of mine, and as long as you have a Google account, it's free!

Google saves all your documents automatically to its servers, meaning you never have to worry about saving your work ever again. I have had power outages in the middle of writing articles and other relevant documents and haven't had to panic knowing the most up-to-date version of my document will be waiting for me the next time I log on.

Google Docs also support real-time collaboration with other Google account members, making it insanely easy to work on a single document with multiple people. PLus, Google Docs has plenty of templates for popular document types and a straightforward and intuitive interface, making it easy to use for writing anything.


Scrivener is nothing short of a full-featured suite of tools for writers. Novels, scripts, essays, research papers, it doesn't matter, because Scrivener supports all of them. Organize your ideas on digital notecards and lay them out on the corkboard to see how your work fits together. Import images, PDF and other media you've used as research to refer to it later. Keep your work segmented for easier organization and edition, while maintaining its structure with the Binder. And each part of the app can be customized to create the exact writing environment that you need. It's hard to encapsulate just how many options Scrivener gives you.

When you're done, compile your project into a single document, and export in formats like DOC, rich text, PDF, ePub, Kindle, and even export for other apps like Final Draft. Away from your Mac? You can also check out Scrivener for iPhone and iPad, which lets you work on your Scrivener projects no matter where you are.

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Which Ulysses alternative would you suggest?

Let us know in the comments below!

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.