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iPad users: what text editing app should I try? I’ve tried and disliked Editorial and Ulysses. I can hold my nose and use IA Writer.
395 replies and sub-replies as of Jul 14 2017

The only text editor I can say I even half enjoy on iOS is Coda’s, but it’s not really good for (or meant for) writing locally on iPad.
it’s basic, but I like writing in Drafts.
If you don’t like the one’s you listed I think you’re outta luck. I don’t write that much on my iPad because it’s a tablet
I use Drafts for plain text, but honestly for just banging out text I usually just use Word.
Scrivener? Might be a little overpowered for you, but it's a great app, just like the desktop.
Editorial and Drafts both great for MD.
Just installed Compotext. I dig it!
You could try Write or Bear - depends what you want it for really
Given an external keyboard, I'm stuck with Blink Shell and mosh/ssh to a server. Emacs and an iCloud/Dropbox filesystem would be perfect
Bear is the best in my opinion. One of a few apps I happily subscribe to.
What didn’t you like about Ulysses? Please share what you try and like. Curious.
Scrivener is the best and has a fantastic Mac app. Syncs over Dropbox. Can also store any file type in the project.
Did you try that Tom hanks typewriter thing?
Relatedly, just started using ghostwriter on Arch cos it uses markdown
I've tried them all, I keep coming back to 1Writer
What about @draftsapp? I could see the custom keys and actions going a long way
What are your criteria?
What don't you like about Ulysses?
Just to see it’s powerful festures, try @outlinely
Plz report back once you’ve come to a conclusion
I like iA Writer; I especially like the font it uses.
I think iA Writer *looks* great, and I very much like the typeface as well. But it doesn’t feel right.
I don't do a lot of writing on the iPad, but I use iA Writer as my standard writing tool on Mac, so it works for me.
Just curious, which part makes you feel not right? Some parts of its UI or other things?
Vesp… oh, wait.
You should write for MacStories
Love @1writerapp, but have you been able to open files from iCloud in iOS 11 with current 1Writer version?
You’ve got to be kidding me.
You are looking for BBEdit for iOS?
Ultimately, yes, but I’d settle for TextEdit.
Since i got into iOS I have been using “notes” all the time.
The MD support and category nesting of Bear Notes wins
Did you check out the editor in Transmit iOS?
I use Byword and Textastic
The one-star reviews are awesome! But I was sad to see no one complain that they couldn't figure out how to quit.
What do you not like about Ulysses? Hard to answer otherwise.
Hands down @bywordapp. Lovely, simple, great.
I forgot about Byword. Just re-installed. Opened to this:
I’d love to (privately) see the contents of that document!
But in the meantime, give it another try. Lots of really nice, subtle, smart stuff.
Byword, back when new & exciting, deleted all my notes. Maybe a bug or sloppy iCloud sync did it. The app itself always felt clumsy to me.
I have always used it with Dropbox and never had a data loss.
iaWriter too, both apps were new at the time I tried them out. Remember liking iaWriter more than Byword. Today, I simply use Notes heavily.
John, can you share your "problems with byword" with us? I use it a lot, and I'm trying really hard to move to the iPad.
If you’re using it a lot and getting work done with it, why dig for dirt? @gruber is a weirdo, he writes in a code editor on his Mac. 😬
I agree with Stu. Don’t listen to me if you’re getting good work done with it. But I’m right that the UI has problems.
Only reason I brought it up was because I have some UI gripes of my own. Still, it's the simplest Markdown editor that looks good.
If you like this “Markdown” thing, you might give @bywordapp a try. I’ve used it for my blog successfully,
Ulysses is my go to.
Byword is nice and simple.
For you definitely Bear
Byword is my personal favorite. Its focus isn't on power though; all about a serene writing experience.
Highly recommend Bear.
It’s what I write each of my articles for @macstoriesnet in
(No comment)
Some people like Byword.
What about Byword? (I use Ulysses though)
I've been using and enjoying Bear for a while. It's good for keeping multiple projects organized and I like their themes.
I never could get used to the way Ulysses styles links.
I believe you can change it in settings IIRC
really? where? always disliked the way Ulysses handles links.
I’d play with settings and look around. I heard something about it in some article I can’t find.
Yeah it's got quite advanced style and template features. Worth investigating.
where though? I can't find any advanced settings for link formatting etc. It seems to be very well hidden.
Sorry, my bad, it’s Mac OS version - in preferences>Markup
Yeah, not really what we were talking about here. :)
My issue is I have no idea how to use folders or save websites/articles.
Let me add another vote for Bear. It's the first iOS writing app I've actually enjoyed using after trying many over the years.
Scrivener or Byword if you need something simpler
Byword can be an option, but it is quite close to iA Writer, in my opinion.
I use @simplenoteapp, which is more of a notepad replacement, but does at least support Markdown.
It's super, well, "simple", but I'll give it a vote because in addition to iOS / macOS / Android, it has a web app.
Can you post it when you an answer. I’ve been trying to figure this out for a while. (I just want BBEdit on my iPad is that too much to ask)
Right there with you. Would drop $100 for an iOS @bbedit in a heartbeat. Maybe $200 for 1.0 and $100 each X.0 thereafter.
Have you tried @Textastic?
Bear is so elegant
I really like Ulysses. Would be interesting to see your mini-review.
byword, bear, textastic?
1Writer or Drafts maybe?
I predominantly use Textastic for writing code. It feels a little like BBedit.
Have you tried Bear?
How about Bear? I too found Ulysses overhyped. How about an old friend like Simplenote? Or Apple's Notes, just to keep things simple?
With Ulysses out of the running, Drafts is the only other thing that springs to mind.
I think Ulysses is an acquired taste that’s worth giving another go.
Agreed. Though I’m always wanting something better without knowing what it is specifically that would make it better...
Not strictly a text editor, but I've grown to like writing in Word. iOS Word reminds me of that last great word processor, Word 5 for Mac.
Do you dislike Pages for some reason? I do all my writing there, and I can pop around to MacBook, iPad, even iPhone to edit.
Does Drafts work for you?
I’ve been giving Textastic a try. Mostly due to integration with Working Copy, an app for managing git repos.
Textastic syntax highlighting for programming, built in preview for markdown.
If you didn’t like Ulysses, give Bear a shot.
I use 1Writer and have been trying Bear lately.
I've always used @Textastic on iPad.
Bear is a great app!
is an awesome editor for all kinds of plain text stuff
It’s getting kind of frustrating to keep up with them all, but Byword seems potential-worthy.
Textastic is the only real *text editor* worth mentioning. It will be a whole lot more appealing once iOS 11 pushes native open in
I'm currently building a Markdown editor for iOS 11 using the new document browser 😉
if you need some testing, just say...
Byword or 1Writer.
All the others (Bear, Ulysses) are more note services. Textastic is just an editor (and a pretty capable one)
Bear. It’s so good, I’ve never been happier to pay a yearly subscription for something.
Scrivener or Byword.
What’s your issues with Ulysses?
I’d love to hear that too. It’s probably my favourite app.
Their moon-man Markdown syntax for one thing. I don’t hate the app, but I feel like I’m fighting upstream every step of the way.
I use Ulysses every day & love it but it's more a self-contained "writing environment" than a text editor
Huh. I must be well acclimated to it then. I find the implementation works well for me. Thanks for the reply.
Textastic, Diet Coda
If you don’t like Ulysses and you want the 1980s feel of BBEdit maybe Textastic.
TextTool is good for random text transformations and so forth and complements more general-purpose writing apps.
Bear. Supports markdown; minimal and syncing works great.
Scrivener, Bear, 1Writer, Drafts, iOS Notes...
iWriter? Not "IA Writer", but just IWriter/
I still like @bywordapp, though it is a bit behind the times.
Drafts is perfect for link posts. Bear is great as well.
Byword is a great app and it’s available on Mac and iOS so that’s nice. I want BBEdit for iPad!
+1 for Textastic. Great editor and nice GIT integration with Working Copy.
IA Writer was the best one I’ve used, but with needing to have a more organized structure, I switched to Ulysses. Struggled between the 2
I do not understand the way Ulysses implements Markdown at all. Byword has its quirks, too, but it’s simpler, more reliable with the markup.
Have you tried 1Writer? Hands down my favorite.
Since Ulysses is pretty much the go-to, might help to hear your main issues with it
I use Bear. Love it.
Vim via ssh if you are using a keyboard
Give your mention of Coda and knowing you like BBEdit on Mac, I suggest GoCoEdit.
I hadn’t heard of GoCoEdit before. Thanks! But jeez, those tabs with closing buttons on the right? This isn’t Windows. That’s awful.
Yeah. It really is ugly. I’ve moved my workflow back to Coda but while I was using GoCoEdit it was a real effort to overlook the interface.
does nice things with open-in-place functionality w/ storage providers. I use it all the time in conjunction with @WorkingCopyApp
Can I tag on to this. Is there a good app for iPad Pro that allows you to annotate and edit long documents with the pencil
I hear you, brother.
Ha ha - I was tempted to say that but I thought it best not too 😜
byword has mac version and really good sync conflict resolution
1Writer is fantastic, it's basically nvALT for iPad.
Another +1 for Bear
Bear looks nicely-made but is not at all to my taste.
You may want to try Textastic. Closer to Coda than Ulysses.
If vim via ssh/prompt is no go , then try Trunk Notes
I'm still personally holding out for TextEdit on the iPad. Probably wishful thinking, but I love writing in it on the Mac!
I would kill for TextEdit on iPad.
And so, with a single tweet, John Gruber found himself Prime Suspect in the TextEdit Murders...
Serious question: what specifically about it appeals to you?
I just want to edit plain text files with a system-standard UI.
I just freaking want to be able to alt+tab to insert bulleted lists. And have a super light-weight text editor to write in.
Why don't you use standalone Notes app?
ability to view and edit text files directly in the OS, from the TextEdit iCloud container and otherwise, without importing them into Pages
FWIW there is @Apple TextEdit for iOS, but it has never been released.
Have you tried @Compotext? It's pretty much TextEdit for iOS.
3rd party apps don’t help: you start typing TextEdit on your Mac & continue typing on your iPad - files already go to/from via iCloud Drive
Yep, @Compotext uses iCloud Drive for syncing text documents.
But does it have a Mac version as well?
No specific Mac version, but TextEdit is similar enough for my purposes.
That’s why we want Apple to put TextEdit in iOS - we don’t want “similar enough” we want the identical app. They did it with Pages…
Have you tried Drafts?
Me too I’m dying for TextEdit and Preview. Come on, Apple, please release them on iOS
i would kill for TextMate on iOS
Among other bizarre omissions on iPad: no Calculator, no Dictionary, no Grapher. All of them important in an edu environment.
Calculator is particularly glaring, because it’s on iPhone OS. Would love to see an IOS Dictionary app.
I long for equivalents for all the remaining core system macOS apps! Dictionary, Font Book, Automator, Disk Utility, Terminal…
Font Book has been on my iOS wish list for a LONG time.
No way here! web based #html5 and webfonts editors win. Despite of all crispy ios native fonts. #macos is another story.
That’s ridiculous.
Pretty sure Automator on iOS is now called Workflow. 😉 I’d love Font Book along with the ability to install fonts as I desire!
Don’t hold your breath on Terminal. (But now that I think about it, a sandboxed Terminal could be very useful…)
it is useful! I made one! You could have an entire POSIX environment in sandbox. No external access, no mess
TL;DR benefit: my Terminal can run binaries sans a jailbreak /hat tip @qwertyoruiop
This is actually a thing I could see Apple doing.
not according to my Radar ☹️
That's too bad. Imagine all the iOS ports of various command line tools!
right! You've seen/built the crazy kinds of things you can do from within Pythonista for I/O. FTP and web servers could run in a sandbox
Of course you made one.
Could put that on the Patreon.
already open source! But not something ready for anybody to use
Inability to install new fonts on iOS is ridiculous IMO. Like 1983 again.
Yes, the year is 2017 and you still can't embed fonts in a *presentation* app like Keynote in iOS, or macOS for that matter.
What about Fonteer app?
I'm holding out for ATM to come to iOS.
Lots of luck on that… but then again who knows..
Arial is good for anyone.
Apple can drop optical drives, headphone jacks, ports…but god forbid they should kill half the embarrassing lot of fonts they keep bundling.
Extra fonts? Terminal? Might as well get a 12" MacBook
Don’t they need it for compatibility?
Don’t they need a headphone jack for compatibility?
I get what you’re saying, but obviously no.
There is a hack that uses management profiles. Can be done but very awkward
And annoyingly, those font profiles don’t transfer automatically to a new device.
Apps like AnyFont make it much easier and it’s “set and forget”…but indeed not very streamlined.
I use the AnyFont app, but it’s a hack. Imagine the sales if there were a font store.
Given how long AnyFont has been on the store, it IS weird that Apple hasn't Sherlocked it.
…Keychain please #iOS
I don’t see why Apple doesn’t have a Weather app on the iPad.
The dictionary is built into iOS spotlight (embarrassingly only in ios 11+), so I don't think the usage would be greater than 1%.
FWIW… Siri is a great for dictionary. I ask Siri daily… Define “insert a word”. And she is usually aces.
You can lookup words already so a dictionary app seems low priority.
Agree as regards TextEdit. While waiting, I've been using Notes.
I don't think there is a right answer to this question.
I use Ulysses for writing and Bear for notes. But agree that nothing seems perfect (but I do think Bear is edging closer).
Bear really is great, but lacks long form writer features I use often (md footnotes being the one that comes to mind).
Agreed. One of reasons I stick with Ulysses to write longer form.
Advantages to Ulysses over Byword? Both have a decent feature set for longform writing, but Ulysses seems to edge out w/ org. & style.
Yeah, I've used both throughout the years (and iA which I do think is better-looking). Just like U flow slightly better.
Lack of tables is my only real issue with Ulysses
We are entirely in accord on this. Though I was deeply dubious about Bear until I found the 'unfuck markdown' switch.
Byword is my choice Byword by Metaclassy, Lda.
You’ll need this. 🌂
Would be nice if 'A' is used for key demonstration
No reason to duck. My solution was to go back to my hotel room and get my MBP.
They charge you on 10.5 🙄
Laptops are becoming more like Tractors. Can a farmer get replace a tractor with a Toyota Camry? No.
There’s a big, simplifying rehaul in the works that might have what you are looking for—write to if you’d like to try the beta.
Oh really? 👀⁉️
Going back to MBP from a week on iPad Pro: I felt like Hal Jordan putting my ring back on.
Looking forward to hearing about your experience.
I love my Mac, first Mac I've owned, but appeal of iPad as one to rule them all is strong. Games, movies, work etc. Ugh.
It's not designed to be a laptop replacement for anything serious. It's definitely enough for 'the rest' of the pop. Tho, like my parents.
I think @1writerapp is worth a shot. Good MD support, cloud docs support, TextExpander, sharing options, frequent updates.
Noted, will take a look.
They all use that shitty *DownMark* or whatever it's called... 😆
May main problem is that Apple still hasn’t ported TextEdit and Preview from macOS to iOS. Both place their files in iCloud Drive by default
How many dongles is it to get from a Lightning port to the Apple Extended Keyboard II?
Two, I think!… Plus an ADB-to-USB. Cna’t recall if I ever tried this. I think I did though.
Lightning to USB Camera Adapter
Computers & Accessories
Somebody's gotta break into that lucrative ADB-to-Bluetooth market.
Textastic is my favorite text editor.
I tend to write in Notes on iPad. Simple and flexible enough across devices if I start/finish somewhere else.
Curious what you dislike about IA Writer. Been my go to for markdown on iPad for a few months now.
What's @hotdogsladies using this week? ;-)
I 'got' Ulysses eventually and like it now. I was using scrivener before that but syncing and styles got to me (writing PhD)
I wish this chart told you which ones have built-in WordPress export
This is a nice effort, but it’s too exhaustive to be effective. Maybe I just like more focused “reviews” like what @thesweetsetup does? :)
I think of this chart as a good 1st step when surveying the landscape. Limit your options based on priority features, then go to reviews.
Why not iA Writer? Regular updates and superb keyboard shortcuts
Like I said, it’s the one I like most so far, but it just doesn’t feel right to me.
Yeah, that menu bar…
I use Bear in Markdown mode. Ever heard of Markdown? 😉
iA Writer, Notes, Hanx Writer..
Currently using Bear and liking it.
I like Byword a lot, and also Bear
Depends what you're writing but @BearNotesApp is pretty great :)
Tried 1Writer? Textastic? Drafts? Bear? Scrivener?
There should be @bbedit for iOS.
My heart (and fingers) ache for that.
I’ll add a third on that…
Tried Bear or Byword?
Yes. I’ll have to give Bear another look. Wrote today’s piece in Byword.
In the past I have used @1writerapp with nvAlt on Mac. I have recently been using @BearNotesApp all around and enjoying it
Same here. I've settled on 1Writer and it's a darn good app.
Editorial and 1Writer are the two I use the most, so I second @viticci.
It’s not great for longform, but I like Bear for short pieces.
I'm in total love with Editorial. Curious to know what you didn't like about it.
Surely you’ve tried @bywordapp
And I have extensive notes (in Byword) about what I don’t like about it.
Fair enough. It works for me, but everyone’s mileage varies…
And like you I often end up back at @iAWriter because it is the best fit to my needs on the iPad.
Looks weird. I just want a nice text editor that sticks to iOS UI conventions.
Notes. *snigger*
If you could turn off that pointless background textures in Notes I’d be a very happy user.
That would be lovely. I use the shit out of Notes (couldn’t run Uses This without it).
You say that but Notes is what I keep going back to.
Notes is great, honestly. I’ve not found anything better for my purposes yet
Oh yeah, I’ve tried *so* many note apps, and always come back.
Yeah I'm a big notes fan although I'm now 100% happy with the drawing changed in iOS 11
Only being able to delete whole pencil strokes in really aggravating. Notes Itself though is almost absurdly powerful and good
Rock solid option.
They have actually introduced a new drawing mode with the delete-strokes feature. The old mode still exists if you add (+) a new “Sketch”
Really?! How do you activate the old mode?!
Just hit the + button in any note and select “Sketch”
The new drawing mode seamlessly adds handwriting/drawing to typed notes
Love the functionality of Notes. Hate the color and background texture. Drives my crazy.
And the handwriting recognition in iOS 11 Notes is crazy good
after Vesper, notes has been my go to.
Like I said, you are going to be disappointed.
...or don’t.
I forgot about Byword. Just re-installed. Opened to this:
all the way, it's the most beautiful and gosh darn functional Evernote killer in the App Store!
Textastic code editor. My fave for years
Textsstic rocks...for VHDL and code work
(No comment)
Drafts is my go-to
Happy to try it for $1.
Thanks. I’d love any feedback you have; whether good or bad. I’m always looking to improve it.
I use for notes, iA writer for small docs, and scrivener for big projects.
I use @bywordapp extensively on Mac, iPhone, and iOS. Works great for me.
Forgot to mention that @bywordapp does a very nice job with Markdown and has the requisite integration with TextExpander.
You may try @scrivoapp, it has rtf, markdown and scrivener document and projects support
Flowstate for new writing.
+1 for @bywordapp. Clean, simple, and the markdown compatibility is nice.
The issue totally worth an article about it.
Also Byword is worth a look. Depends a lot on what you're looking to get out of it.
Bear is truly awesome iOS app! @BearNotesApp. Also, it has Markdown support.
is hands down my favorite. That + learning markdown from your site = game changer for me
What is your view of @iAWriter? Likes and dislikes? The typewriter mode is excellent. Would kill for SF Mono as default. Maybe in iOS 11?
Textastic. Or get an Android and run vim in Termux ;-)
I like Letterspace because it understands markdown, uses iCloud sync, stores txt and has some smart features like #tags and cursor swipe.
Scrivener has constant sync issues that have never been helped. I haven’t found one I like super well either other than Simplenote.
...which is more minimalist than I’d like...
I wonder what's your reason to dislike Ulysses. I'm not affiliated, I'm not a user, I was simply implanted with the idea it's the holy grail
I heard Vesper is supposed to be good
I swear by IA Writer. Solid. Not sure what else is needed.
Scrivener. Good integration with Mac app too.
Maybe too heavy-duty for your taste, but how about Scrivener
I personally use Pages and have had great success.
Vesper. The one app I'd like on my new iPad.
I hear you, brother.
I have. I find it confusing.
Thanks for the reply, John. How much work would it take to make Vesper perfect for your needs? That seems like a great option for you.
May be because I'm a creature of habit, but I tend to use Notes/Pages because I'm familiar with them. 😅 Bear is really nice though.
Anything with iCloud integration, really, because I don't want to think about whether I wrote it on my iPad or Mac when pulling it up.
I’m a Byword fan on Mac and iPad.
What do you value in a text editor? Haven't used BB enough to know it's strengths...
Can I ask what about Ulysses you don't love? It hasn't grown on me either but I can't articulate why exactly.
I just started using 1Writer and like the interface and the markdown support.