OSX and IOS Workflow: Writing Tools

Occasionally, the blog verges off at tangent. I’ve noticed recently that my writing workflow posts are still being downloaded. My workflow has changed a little this year and though it was time for an update.

Much of my workflow remains the same. I still rely on heavy duty apps such as Omifocus and DevonThink to keep things on track and properly organised. BUt here have been some developments on the writing front.

I still use Microsoft Office mainly because of its compatibility with the Windows version. However, I rarely use it for original writing at all. Pages overtook it for a while and I really appreciate its simpler interface. It looks as if Pages might be getting an update later in the year and that will be interesting. However, even Pages is not used as much as it once was.


Ulysses 3

Over the last few years I’ve tried number of basic writing tools that simply present you with a blank page and which eschew on-screen formatting. These, it is claimed, take the clutter away from you and let you simply concentrate on the writing. However, none of these has really worked for me, not until Ulysses 3 came along.

Ulysses works in markdown (or Markdown plus) which is very easy to use. You write on a blank screen but a quick shortcut brings up a file/organisation bar or a guide to shortcuts. It is pretty easy to export text in html format, doc format or Pages format.

I love using Ulysses and use it for all my serious or length pieces. For some reason it really does make it easier to concentrate purely on text.

Ulysses also utilises Apple’s iCloud system beautifully. The more I use iCloud the more impressed I am. The synchronisation across computers and IOS devices is now foolproof and very efficient. I know look for iCloud synchronisation when I consider buying any new application. Dropbox is still Important for file and project filing and synchronisation but iCloud has proved over and over again how useful it is. I have Ulysses running on both my destop and laptop Macs to great effect.

Ulysses has a companion IOS app called Daedalus. Daedalus can easily synch with Ulysses using iCloud and with other IOS devices using Dropbox or your own web server. Daedalus take stye same minimalistic approach to text as Ulysses does but it organises things slightly differently using stacks of writing rather than the Ulysses sheets. This works well. The producers (Soulmen) have resisted the temptation to simply clone the desktop version and have produced something which is compatible, easy to learn but which utilises the specific benefits of IOS.

Ulysses is a great system and worth exploring. The apps are available form the App Store and iTunes respectively.





This is a new note taking tool from a Q Branch, a small team that includes Apple blogger John Gruber. Just when you though what the world didn’t need was another note taking app you are proved wrong.

Vesper’s strength is its simplicity an minimalism. The screen looks great and the fonts used are fabulous. It is easy to organise note by dragging items around. But what makes Vesper is that it organises your data around tags. each note can have one or tags applied to it. The use of tagging is brilliant and makes things exceptionally easy to organise.

Export options are simple. A note can be sent by email or message or simply copied. This may not be sophisticated but is very easy to use. I can simply copy items if I want to place them in another app.

I use Vesper a lot with Omnifocus and its Email Drop facility. If you  have a (free) Omniserver account to synch data you can know utilise a dedicated email list which simply adds each email you send to it to Omnifocus. I usually email my Vesper notes to Omnifocus in this way.

A lot has been said about removing clutter from mobile screens and Vesper shows just how effective this can be.

Simple, cheap and superb. What more do you want!

iPhone only at the moment.



On IOS devices I still use Blogsy and Drafts to start major chunky pieces of writing.



Finally, I am currently writing a couple of books and have finally dived into the world of Scrivener. I’ve had Scrivener for years and have not really seen how it delivers much beyond other offerings. But having decided to use it for major projects I have very quickly come to appreciate it. Scrivener provides a really professional environment for serious writing. It is a great app which is available for both OSX and Windows.

I keep my Scrivener projects synched through Dropbox although it would be nice to be able sync to an IOS version (there is not one yet).

I am a convert!

Literature and Latte – Scrivener Writing Software | Mac OS X | Windows


Write in the box and the login details will suddenly appear!