There are many details in Ulysses that you can adjust according to your likes and preferences, allowing you to create a writing environment fit for your creativity. Below, you’ll find a 10-step-guide to customize your text editor on iPad or iPhone.
If you want to know how to do this on Mac, please head over to this article. Know that if you prefer to leave Ulysses as it is, no problem — it has been carefully designed for a clean and focused experience.
Before we start, open Ulysses on your iPad or iPhone, switch to the editor view and access the editor settings by tapping the AA icon. Spotted? Good. This is where the magic happens!
Step 1: Find Your Preferred Theme
Themes define the colors of your background, font, and markup. Think of them as virtual wallpapers for your virtual writing studio.
D12, Ulysses' default theme
Another built-in theme called Freestraction
Ulysses’ default is D12, a simple theme with high contrast, a focus on typography, and a rather sparse use of color. You can also choose one of the other pre-installed – carefully designed – themes. Each of them comes with a light and a dark version.
If these are not yet what you are looking for, you can go to the Ulysses Style Exchange and select between a variety of themes created by fellow users.
- In the editor settings, tap Theme.
- Scroll down and tap “Visit the Ulysses Style Exchange…”. You will be redirected to your web browser.
- Choose your favorite theme and download it.
- Tap “Open in ‘Ulysses’”’ and… Tada, theme installed!
Step 2: Find Your Preferred Mode
What do you prefer for writing, light or dark? It depends, right? Activate or deactivate the “Dark Mode” option to select between a light background with dark fonts and a dark background with bright fonts. You can switch between them whenever you want — for example, use the dark mode if your eyes are tired at night.
Extra tip: If you prefer to write in dark mode, but find the export preview to bright, put on your sunglasses! In the preview window, tap on the sunglasses icon top right. Of course this will only affect the preview, not your exported document itself.
Step 3: Select a Font
Your default writing font is the iOS system font, San Francisco. It is undoubtedly an excellent choice, but you can always browse among the other available fonts and choose your favorite. You’ll find them in the settings under Font.
You can also upload and use your own, here’s how to do it:
- Transfer a font file (.ttf or .oft) to your iOS device, e.g., by saving it to your iCloud Drive, sending yourself a message, or downloading it from the web.
- Tap it and select “Copy to Ulysses”.
- Voilá! You will be redirected to Ulysses, where your new font is now installed.
Step 4: Edit Layout Settings
Text Zoom, Line Height, Paragraph Spacing, First Line Indent… adjust them under Layout, in the editor settings.
Let’s assume you need less space between lines, or you think they are too far apart. Try changing the Line Height. Or do you feel your paragraphs are too close together? Then alter the Paragraph Spacing. When you wish to signal the start of a new paragraph distinctly, customize the First Line Indent. And last but not least, increase or decrease the text size in Text Zoom. Try it out and find your preferred look!
Step 5: Toggle Counter and Set Image Previews
Did you notice the floating counter at the bottom (iPhone) or on the right (iPad)? It lets you access comprehensive statistics about your current sheet, with metrics ranging from characters to paragraphs to reading aloud time. However, if you’re not so much into numbers, you can turn it off under “View Options”.
Here you can also tweak the size of image previews to anything between three and eight lines, and choose to show in full color (instead of black and white, which is the default). You can also turn off image previews completely; images in the text will then be indicated with a little tag.
On iPad, there’s another setting available under “View Options”: Usually, the editor toolbar will fade out as soon as you start typing — if you activate “Always Show Toolbar”, you can prevent it from doing so.
Step 6: Hide the Library Sections You Don’t Need
These were the customizing options for your editor. We’ve got a couple more that affect your library and sheet list. Please switch to the library and tap the gear top left (iPhone) or bottom left (iPad) to open the general settings.
Your library has several sections, but you can opt to show only those you actually use: iCloud if you take advantage of cross-device sync; “On My iPad/iPhone”, if you choose to store your texts locally; or Dropbox. As a beginner, it certainly makes sense to keep the introduction within reach, but later you may want to hide it for the benefit of better focus. You can toggle sections in the general settings under Library.
Step 7: Tweak Your Sheet List
The “View Options” in the general settings let you tweak the sheet preview in your sheet list. You can set it to anything between one and six lines. Also, you can opt to hide the creation/modification date of your sheet, if it is not relevant to your writing.
Step 8: Collapse or Expand Your Groups
If you keep a lot of writing projects in Ulysses, your list of groups and subgroups can get long and hard to oversee. Luckily, you may collapse and expand subgroups whenever needed, by merely tapping the double arrow next to a group’s name.
Step 9: Focus on a Group
You’re on a deadline and want to focus exclusively on a particular project? Forget about anything else? Then you may find the group focus feature helpful. To you hide all groups except the one you’re currently working on, just swipe right on the group’s name and tap the open record icon.
When you’re done and want to show the other groups again, do the same.
Step 10: Consider an External Keyboard
External keyboards are great for many reasons. They effectively leave more space for your writing on the screen, and some find it more practical, especially when writing longer texts. Ulysses supports typing on an external keyboard and allows to speed up your writing with a number of keyboard shortcuts.
This article was last updated on June 26, 2018.