Ulysses vs. iA Writer: A New Comparison

Perfecting the minimal writing environment

Marius Masalar
28 min readNov 4, 2017


It’s novel season, which has me thinking about the ways we write and the tools we use to get it done.

A couple of years ago, I compared the two front-runners: iA Writer and Ulysses. These continue to be, in my estimation, the finest plain-text writing environments out there. And each of them has come a long way in the intervening months.

With everyone sharpening their digital pencils, I figured it was time to dive in and see how their respective changes have improved the experience of using and trusting them with our words.

My Approach

To make it easier to follow along with my impressions, it helps to understand where I’m coming from as a writer and what my priorities are.

When I last compared these two, I identified my criteria as follows:

  1. Beautiful, clutter-free interface
  2. Flexible, cross-platform workflow
  3. Powerful export options

I write primarily non-fiction, mostly for online consumption in the form of articles (like this one!) and photo essays (like this one!). Sometimes, I write for print, and I keep a few fiction projects on the go as well for when I have the time and energy to develop them.

Nowadays, I publish to Medium, or to plain markdown files for magazine work, so the third point in my original list is no longer that relevant to my needs.

In its place, I would put something that’s become increasingly important to me as I’ve accumulated (and migrated) more writing work over time:

A powerful, easy way to manage and manipulate text items, whether they be articles, snippets, notes, sections, or any other arbitrary text unit.

With that out of the way, let’s see what’s new in each of the two apps.

What’s New in iA Writer?



Marius Masalar

Senior brand content strategist at 1Password. Occasional game composer, frequent photographer.