Wondering whether or not Ulysses is the writing app for you? Then check out this Quickstart Guide on How To Use Ulysses To Write a Novel.

What’s So Special About This Tutorial

It doesn’t jump all over place and brag about the different features of Ulysses. Instead, it tells you exactly how to start a new file, how to add chapters and how to use basic formatting

Perfect for Microsoft Word Users

We all know Microsoft Word so I’ve translated each step of how to use Ulysses into Microsoft Word terminology! If you know how to use Microsoft Word to write your novel, then you can learn how to use Ulysses to write your novel, too!


  • 0:00 The problem with other Ulysses Tutorials
  • 1:18 Why I didn’t initially like Ulysses vs Scrivener vs Vellum
  • 2:43 Microsoft Word Terminology Explanation
  • 3:14 Step 0 | You must have an Apple device – it will not work on a PC, Android and there is no workaround
  • 3:40 Step 1 | Log into EVERY apple device with the same Apple ID
  • 4:02 Step 2 | make sure you understand how iCloud drive works and that its syncing correctly, the storage space is correct and ensure that you are logged into the App Store and iTunes with that same Apple ID – this is SOOO-O important. I can’t emphasize this enough. Otherwise, your cloud storage won’t work and you won’t be able to use Ulysses across multiple devices.
  • 4:29 My specific problem with iCloud + how I fixed it
  • 5:40 How to avoid getting double charged for Ulysses. You only need to purchase it one time and then it should work on each device you want to use Ulysses on. But this will not occur if your Apple ID or iCloud is out of sync.
  • 6:30 On-screen Tutorial Starts!
  • 6:46 Step 1 | Hide the Introduction Section
  • 7:30 Step 2 | Ignore Library – it means nothing at this point
  • 7:41 Step 3 | Ulysses = File – New Group MS Word equivalent = File – New Document
  • 8:00 Step 4 | Ulysses = File – New Sheet MS Word Equivalent – None, you just start typing Scrivener equivalent= New Folder 8:38 Step 5 | Ulysses = View – Typewriter Mode – Disable MS Word equivalent .= None, this is a not a Word Feature
  • 8:53 Step 6 | Ulysses = Highlight Text + click dmc + B MS Word equivalent = same steps
  • 9:03 Step 7 | Ulysses = Markup – Heading 1 MS Word equivalent = format – style – Heading 1
  • 9:15 Step 8 | Ulysses = File – New Sheet MS Word equivalent = None, you just start typing
  • 9:36 Step 9 | Ulysses = drag + drop sheets to reorder MS Word equivalent = Highlight text, then cut from current location + paste into a new location

FREE Download | Ulysses Quick Start Guide for Beginners

It’s 8-pages long and it’s filled with:

  • Pre-Work Everything you need to do before you can even think about downloading and purchasing the Ulysses App
  • How to purchase Where to buy the Ulysses App
  • Steps 1 – 12 How to start your first novel in Ulysses, how to save your file, how to add chapters, how to re-order your chapters, how to export your file


Let’s talk today about how to get started using Ulysses to write a novel. There’s a ton of different tutorials out there, but mainly on how awesome Ulysses is, what the great tools are, some different shortcuts, but when you actually go to open it for the first time, like me, you probably looked for a tutorial on how to get started and you didn’t find any. You were totally confused. I don’t know. People are so excited about the different features inside of there. They just started talking about those and not to say that they don’t have great features, but I just want to know how to open a document and start putting my chapters in there. So today we are doing a very basic how to get started writing a novel using the Ulysses software and that is it.

Hi everyone. I’m Lisa bestselling co-author of the Snow and Her Seven Seals series. And on this channel we talk all about romance writing specifically for Newbie and aspiring romance writers. So if this sounds like you are something you might be interested in, make sure to hit the subscribe button below. I post new videos every Monday. First, let me just say a huge thank you to Ulysses. If you recall, I have another video that says Ulysses versus Scrivener versus Vellum, which I basically just said that Ulysses was not something that I wanted to use because it was so difficult to sort of figure out and to use the markup language and learn css, which was really overwhelming to me and while I still am not excited about market playing coach or css, there are many redeeming qualities about Ulysses that I did find during the free trial that they gave me.

Now today we’re just only going to talk about how to start a new document and when I say document a new novel inside of Ulysses because like I mentioned, there’s so many random tutorials. Even on the Ulysses site itself. It doesn’t really tell you how to do a novel and I believe the reason why is because Ulysses is able to do blog posts for you. People use it for news articles. There are so many different ways that you can utilize the Ulysses platform, not just for authors, which is really what Scrivener was dedicated to and what that tool is meant for, so Scrivener tutorials are a little more robust, plus they’ve been around longer, they’re much more popular and there are just more courses and information on how to get started with Scrivener. So today I’m going to give you a completely beginner. I just thought about buying Ulysses or I’m trying it out and I’ve never used it before.

Tutorial and I’m going to talk about it in Microsoft Word terminology because I think that is something that we all kind of know. I was looking for the file save as I was looking for the word spell check. I wasn’t really able to find it because you list these uses different technology terminology, which I as a novelist found very confusing. So we’re definitely going to clear all of that up today.

So let’s get started. The first thing you need to do before you do anything else is you must have an Apple device. So I know before people were really upset because I didn’t mention this right away, you cannot use Ulysses on a PC or an Android, don’t try to jerry rig it. There is no solution. It does not work. So if you are still here, then the second thing that you need to do, or I guess the first thing you need to do really is you need to have an Apple ID that works.

Now for me, I have an Apple ID, but I don’t really buy a lot of products using my Apple ID or rent a lot of movies. So it’s just kind of a necessary evil that I have an Apple ID. I don’t know the password. It’s very confusing to me. I had to look it up. I had to go back to Apple and figure out my iCloud storage. So that is numero uno. You need to figure out what is going on with your Apple ID and you have to figure out how to use iCloud drive because all of your documents and the way that you’re able to use Ulysses from your Mac to your ipad to your iphone or any other device is all through your Apple ID. So if you’re not sure what that is, you’re not sure how to access that and you’re not even sure how iCloud works.

Then you need to go back into a remedial lessons on how to do that. Now, for me, I actually had tried to use iCloud many years before. So if this happens to you, when I went into the iCloud drive it said I had like something ridiculous like 600 GB worth of data, but I did not. And when I went in there it was empty. It was zeroed out and I was on the phone with Apple. I took it into the Apple Genius Bar, you know, probably 10 or 12 different Apple technicians looked at it. This took me, no kidding, probably three months to clear up. So it’s a good thing that Ulysses gave me a six month trial because it took me a long time just to clear up my iCloud drive and my Apple ID and get it working and in the end they actually had to reset it, which means they wiped everything out that I had, which again wasn’t a big deal for me because I was not using it a lot.

However it did wipe out all of my photos, which I didn’t really think about, but it’s not a big deal. I mean I post so much to social media that it wasn’t a huge loss, but something you should think about. All of that has to be clean and ready to go so that when you log in with Ulysses, it is able to know that you were using, your Apple ID have logged in to your device on your desktop and then maybe you’ve also logged into your device on your ipad and your iphone and that’s how it’s able to easily sync all of those documents between those different devices is because it’s using the Apple ID to do so. Same thing if you are purchasing. Well, I guess it’s a monthly rental fee for Ulysses. It will charge you a again, a second time when you go to a new device.

So when I was first using Ulysses, when they gave me the free trial, it kept asking me to pay. Every time I went onto a new device and that’s because my Apple ID was not working properly. Now the thing is when you are using the app, this was a point of contention. I’d ask Ulysses for help and they would say it’s a problem with my Apple ID. I would ask Apple for help and they would say it’s a problem with the third party software. So that is a little frustrating because you do have to figure that out on your own. And again, like I did mention, it took me three months and that’s why this tutorial is so late. Now, the first thing you need to know, and I’m going to go ahead and share my screen so that you can see it.

First thing that you’re going to see when you open up Ulysses is this introduction section and it’s going to have it pretty open to these different sheets inside of here. You know, welcome. How do I libraries and filters all of this information so you can go ahead if you would just ignore it because it’s not going to be helpful. Um, go to introduction. If you hover over to the right, you can see the hide button. I would just hide it. Don’t worry. It’s not going to show up in your file. That’s what I thought because in Microsoft word, everything you see is what ends up in your final file. That is not the case here. This is basically on the less. What you’re looking at is a file folder structure, making sure that all of your documents are saved in this second section called iCloud because that’s the only way that you’re going to see that same file on your iphone, your ipad or another Mac device that you are logged into.

Remember you have to log in with your Apple ID. Then you will see those same files. Now if you say something on external folders are obviously on my Mac, you will not see that when you go to open up this program inside your other applications. So let’s go ahead and create a new document. So the way to do that is it’s not a library. You said that I need to create a new library. There is no such thing as new libraries. Just totally ignore this section. You’re going to go to file new group. A new group is basically a new book. Um, so you’re going to call it. Let’s say I want to do snow book three, so I’m going to call it snow book three. I also have New York nights, Wall Street here. I’m. Those are two other books that I have started here inside the Ulysses application. So over on snow book to let’s say I want to start typing. So in order to start typing, I need to go over here at the top two new sheet. I clicked new sheet and it says empty sheet and then I could start typing. I’m going to say once upon a time

there was a girl and a boy, so nothing really fancy over here. Uh, so this is basically a sheet if I want to make a new sheet. So let’s say a new section. So let’s call this chapter one. So chapter one, I want to make sure that chapter one is highlighted in this weird texting you’re seeing is the typewriter editor. If you find that annoying, um, you can simply go over here to view typewriter mode and click disable and that’ll get rid of that. I find it annoying, but if I want to make sure that this is kind of, I guess bold, I can simply highlight it and hold the bolt, hit uh, the apple sign and be. Or if I don’t, if I just undid that, I could go over here to markup language and I could mark this as a heading one and that put that weird pound sign in front of there.

And that means heading one. Again, that’s that weird markup language of Ulysses. It does take a while to get used to. Now if I want to add a new chapter, I simply go over here and I click new sheet again and I will click chapter two and same thing, you know, this is chapter two so I could have to go over here again and make this a heading. Now if I want to reorder these, this is a nice part about it because it is like scrivener, I can just hold it and drag and drop it and it will simply move the order of those two chapters. Now, if I wanted to have sections inside of here, like sometimes I know in scribner people had even further sub folders. You could have a group within a group so I could go over here and make sure snow three is highlighted and I could do file new group and I could say this is the introduction trow, uh, the meet cute and that’s how I want to save it.

And over here I think the music cued chapter one should go in there. Again, I can just drag and drop it. It’s pretty easy. And then I can sort of see the name of that different section or that different group within the group. So groups are the names of your files, but if you have a group within a group that is then the name of the section within that file I know very confusing. So if you want you to spell check, make sure you go over here to edit and spelling and grammar and then show spelling and grammar and that will do the regular spellcheck that you use to where it’ll find something. You can change it, ignore it, learn from it, uh, that you’re used to in Microsoft word. Now let’s say you are like, heck with this. I need to just put this in Microsoft Word or you need to share it with somebody else who does not have a Ulysses.

What you can do is you need to make sure, and this is kind of weird, it took me a while. If I just highlight one sheet and I do an export, it will only export that one sheet. You actually need to make sure you highlight all of the sheets at once. You may need to hold the shift key down and then over here you’re going to go to that apple sort of export button. Hit that once, make sure you have tech selected, then rich tax. I know what you’re thinking, but Lisa, can I do docs? No, you can’t. I don’t know why it doesn’t turn out right. Make sure you go to text and then rich text and then go ahead and hit this folder button which is saved to. And then that will allow you to sort of choose a folder anywhere on your drive to save this file to.

And that’s when you can change the name of the document up here and then click save. So that’s what you want to do if you want to export it to word. And that’s pretty much it. To get you up and running and start writing your novels. So, um, I hope that was helpful and I will see you guys back in December. All right. Like I mentioned, this is the bare bones, what you need to get up and running to start writing a novel of the other bells and whistles, the styles, the exporting, all that silliness that can come later. Just go ahead, try it out. For nanowrimo. I know that I’m trying it out this November, so I will report back in December, but leave me a comment below and let me know if you thought this was helpful and if you were going to try it out so we can try to compare notes in December. I hope everyone’s having a great prep Tobar and I will see you guys in. We’ll see you guys next week, but I’ll see you back here to talk about Ulysses in a month by.