I work with the Ulysses app, as my starting point for all notes & drafts — and happily recommend it to anyone on macOS and iOS.

(Alternatives Markdown notes apps for Linux & Windows are included here.)

With information in so many places nowadays, it’s nice to have this one place to consolidate, store, disseminate and come back to at any time — like a search engine for your ideas.

Noting is an outlet for the busy and creative mind — I like to think of my notes as emails to myself — sometimes before sharing with others, and sometimes gathering something I’ve shared with a few to later publish for many. It’s for saving all these thoughts in a way that you can jump between them with no pressure to finish any one. Always adding to them, never losing an idea, until a time you may need or wish to progress and share them.

If you’re new to Ulysses, and want to quickly get up to speed with the setup I have, this short post is that.

Of course, these are my personal preferences, and if you’re not on a Mac you’ll find alternatives in the Plain-Text & Markdown post — but I think this a nice way to work to make note-keeping a happy habit, continually adding to your body of work as a multifaceted creator and author…

My preferences

  • Preferences > General
    • Font: Courier
  • Preferences > Library
    • After reading the Introduction, uncheck all locations except External Folders — to be explained…
  • External Folders > +
    • ~/Documents/Notes/Markdown Notes
      • Read and write Markdown files: Yes
      • File extension for new sheets: .md
      • Create reference links: No
      • Always use fenced code blocks: No
    • ~/Documents/Notes/Ulysses Notes
      • Read and write Markdown files: No
    • On Each Folder > Sort by Title
  • Preferences > Markdown
    • Markdown XL
    • Colour syntax in code blocks: Yes
    • Get More Themes…
    • Favourite editor theme: Atom One
  • Preferences > Accounts > +
  • Preferences > Backup
    • Yes — of course!
  • Preferences > Privacy
    • No — it’s not encrypted so no point
  • Preferences > Styles > Get More Styles…
  • View
    • ☑️ Show Tab Bar
    • ☑️ Library
    • ☑️ Show Paragraph Numbers
    • ☑️ Always Show Toolbar
    • ☑️ Dark Theme
    • Sheet Preview > ☑️ 1 Line

Without detailing, I mirror all these available settings in the mobile App too, which is also a pleasure to work with whenever inspiration strikes.

File formats

  • Ulysses External Folders
    • .md Markdown Notes folders and files/sheets are for cross-application compatibility, where I might need to edit or display a file in other applications (like iA Writer or Atom) or on websites like GitLab/GitHub, and therefore only use the most basic and standard plain Markdown formatting.
    • .ulyz Ulysses Notes folders and files/sheets are for when I’m only going to work in Ulysses for then exporting to HTML/PDF/ePub/Blogs, and the additional Markdown XL formatting (Comments, Annotations, Delete) become useful for long-form writing and are recognised by the export themes for styling, formatting or omission, as applicable.

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