Comparing Bear to Ulysses

Comparing Bear to Ulysses


I’ve been giving Ulysses the full brunt of things for the past day or two.

Also, I spoke with someone who has been using Bear as a commonplace book who is having issues with finding what he needs, so is toying with Ulysses:

One thing I’m toying with right now is finding a way to export my Bear notes into a single folder on a daily basis and add that as an external folder to Ulysses to take advantage of its search features. I now have over 800 notes in Bear so it can be tricky to find things.

So I may keep moving full speed with Ulysses for the time being.

(Wilson Ng) #22

I think Shawn Blanc’s The Sweet Setup defines Bear as a note taking app and Ulysses as a writing app.

Yes, you could do notes and writing in either one but there is a slight shift in perspective when you are using either one.

(Mike N) #23

If linking between ideas and including images / screen captures are important, Ulysses is going to be frustrating for you to use. The real question is if that is something you think is cool or is something you use in your daily activity. Tagging, filters, and sheet / group organization will drive how you manage it.

It is worth the effort to glance through their tips and tricks section for tidbits. I’ve purchased but not watched Shawn’s course, so not sure how much is covered there.

The collapse group feature solved my major issue with the app, archive vs. active content.

Move old notes into an “Archive” group and have all the live ones in another. Collapse to just live and search is restricted there. This also allows you to mass filter out work or personal items from each other when searching / applying filters.

Ulysses is where I do all of my writing, journaling, where notes end up, someday / maybe lists, commonplace book, etc. I was even using it for project / task management before switching to paper.

If you use an iPad with external keyboard - nearly all of the desktop app functionality is present with keyboard shortcuts. You can drive 95% of the interaction from the keyboard. Command + O all day.

Nothing wrong with having a writing app and a notes app, especially if you create any resistance to writing because of random notes also being in the same tool.


Thanks Mike. This is some really helpful perspective. I’ve never actively tried to connect notes before now, but I’ve been reading a lot about the idea of Zettelkasten, which involves regular interaction and “communication” with your collection of notes. It seems smart. But again, it’s not something that I’ve done.

I do like to capture images occassionally for my commonplace book. Again, it’s not central to my needs, but part of the reason why using text files synced with Dropbox got on my nerves was because of images.

My brain is still going back and forth about the right way to move forward. Bear seems like it’s the perfect choice.

BUT, I’m worried about keeping ideas and sparks contained in one place so I can avoid the constant “where did I put that” problem.

I guess it wouldn’t hurt to use Bear for notes but try to keep creation in ulysses.

Tagging system in Bear is also better suited to export and long term survival since it’s just #hashtags in the body of the note. I’m not sure if there’s a way to export from ulysses while keeping keywords in a meaningful way.

The tyranny of choice is real!

Maybe I need to sell all of my devices and just use paper.

(Mike N) #25

I don’t generally use the Keywords function for tags. I add tags to the body of the sheets. I use @tag and not #tag as # messes with the markdown formatting.

Filters can be used to search everything for that tag or just footnotes or just notes, etc.

(John Johnson) #26

I don’t believe anyone has mentioned Agenda in this thread. If you’re taking notes related to events (meetings, etc. ), or dates (journal), Agenda might be useful. Date linking is optional, of course. It also does tags, projects, categories, and people.

For generic notes (chunks of code, movie, music, book lists), I use Bear.
Light writing is in Ulysses. Heavy in Texpad.
Agenda is a contender to supplant NotePlan, though I still like NotePlan’s interfacing with the calendar and reminders.

(Simon) #27

I’ve started to use ulysses again as it came with my Setapp subscription. I’m a bit anti Ulysses as I was bitten by their subscription change which essentially penalised loyal long term customers.

Having said that the features I like are the search (copy of the Silver Searcher). What I like here is that the search shows every line where the criteria matches with a few words either side. I also like the preview feature and the ability to create your own. I preach and teach a lot and Ulysses is the only real contender here. Few markdown apps on the iPad create a useable preview for public speaking and ulysses does this well. Plus I can create my script on my mac and it autimatically syncs to my iPad.

In terms of a daybook (which I now bulletjournal in a paper notebook), my greatest digital success was with Eastgate’s Tinderbox. The ramp in is pretty high, but you can create your own meta data and create bots that list notes based on the meta data, plus a whole slew of other features. I stopped using this as it’s another subscription app as you have to pay every year to receive updates. It is however, a very robust fully featured note taking app. There is no mobile app though although basic text sync does work with simplenote.

(Kevin Arthur) #28

This is really intriguing. I’m trying this and I like the way my Ulysses “@” filter presents search results as a list of instances so that I can jump to the line containing the tag (which Bear doesn’t do).

Have you tried adding a markdown definition to cover these “@” hashtags?
I’m wondering if that could make it possible somehow to replicate other Bear hashtag behavior like being able to globally rename them and see a hierarchical list in one place for navigating. I experimented a bit but came up with nothing useful.

Disclaimer: I’m relatively new to Ulysses so I may just not be thinking the Ulysses way yet. I’ve been using Bear as a lightweight method for coding qualitative data (mostly interview transcripts) with lots of hierarchical hashtags. It sort of worked, but I’m using Ulysses for other things so was wondering it if could support this as well.