Goodbye Ulysses

My love hate relationship with Ulysses is finally over. It’s been over a month since I canceled my Ulysses subscription and deleted it from my Mac, iPhone, and iPad. I haven’t missed it one bit. The combination of Bear and iA Writer for my writing projects has worked out well. If you want to read all I’ve written about Ulysses, good and bad, you can find it here.

Bear notes app iCloud sync

I’ve often wondered why when apps have issues with iCloud sync I never have an issue with Bear. I’m looking at you Apple Notes and Ulysses.

So I decided to reach out to Bear’s developer for a response. Here’s what they had to say.

Bear support:

At the very begging of Bear development, we tried different solutions for synching and we also tried with just iCloud but it was very clear to us handling attachments and conflicts was really problematic and synching the whole database exposes users to a concrete risk a data loss.

We don’t use exactly iCloud to sync notes, we use CloudKit, which shares the same servers with iCloud, but allow us to sync with a query-like API instead of a file-based paradigm like iCloud, DropBox or Google Drive. Here more info about CloudKit https://developer.apple.com/icloud/cloudkit/.

My last question was are there different methods of deploying CloudKit?

The API set is only one but is very versatile. Basically you can consider it a remote CoreData framework with more options. Check the private/public part of the documentation for an example.

I asked the same question of Ulysses support.

Ulysses support:

Thank you for reaching out. We are sorry it took us longer to reply.

Up until version 12 of Ulysses, the subscription as well as the sheets and settings had been synced via iCloud Drive. Since version 13, only the sheets (including all attachments) and settings are synced via iCloud Drive whereas the subscription is now synced via CloudKit.

I hope this clarifies it. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reply.

It appears that Bears sync is more reliable because they use CloudKit to sync notes instead of iCloud Drive as Ulysses does for sheets (including all attachments).

My 2020 Must-Have Mac, iPhone, and iPad Apps

Each year towards the end of December I summarize in a post, on this site, the Mac, iPhone, and iPad apps that I will be using for the next year. This is always one of my most popular posts.

This year instead of a separate article for Mac apps and another for iPhone and iPad apps I’m putting them all in one article. I indicate in parenthesis under the app title where I’m using the app Mac, iPhone or iPad.

During 2019 I tried a lot of different apps. Some I liked and switched to and others I tried, didn’t like and stayed with what I’d been using. I hope you’ll discover a new app or two that will improve your workflow or make you more productive.

My setup:

  • MacBook Pro (early–2015 13”)
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPad 5th Generation
  • Apple Watch 44 mm Series 4

Here’s my software and what I use it for:

Safari
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Safari is my browser of choice. It just works best on macOS. I use Firefox when a site doesn’t play nice with it.

Enpass
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Gotta have a password manager.

Fastmail
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I’ve been using Fastmail for email for over 5 years. A few weeks ago I also started using it for calendar, and contacts. On my iPhone and iPad, I use the Fastmail app. Unfortunately, Fastmail doesn’t have a Mac app but with Unite I turned the Fastmail web client into a native Mac app. I’ve written about Fastmail here.

Fantastical 2
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Fantastical is my calendar app. It integrates perfectly with my Fastmail calendar appointments and events.

Things 3
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I use Things 3 for task management. I love the simplicity of how it works. I wrote about it here.

Due
(iPhone and iPad)
Due is where I keep all my reminders.

Drafts 5
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I’ve been using Drafts for several years. It’s my multi-purpose writing and note-taking app. I often use it as the first stop for most everything I write and then use Drafts actions to send what I’ve written anywhere I want to. I’ve written about how I use Drafts here.

Bear
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I’ve been a Bear pro user since the inception of the app. It’s where I keep all my notes and lists. For now, it’s also where I’m doing my writing. And for plain text I use iA Writer on my Mac and 1Writer on my iPhone and iPad.

Marked 2
(Mac)
Marked is the markdown previewer app I use side by side with my writing app.

Grammarly
(Mac and iPad)
I use Grammarly for proofreading my stories for grammar and punctuation.

Yoink
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Yoink speeds and up my workflow by simplifying drag and drop. I’ve written about Yoink here.

Copied
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Copied is my cross-platform clipboard history manager. I’ve written about it here.

Reeder
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Reeder is what I use for my Feedly RSS feeds.

Pocket
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I’m now using Pocket instead of Instapaper for reading later. I wrote about why I switched here.

Tweetbot
(iPhone and iPad)
Tweetbot is for Twitter.

Day One Journal
(iPhone and iPad)
Day One is where I keep a lifelog.

Alfred
(Mac)
Alfred is Spotlight on steroids. I’d be lost without it. I’ve written about it here.

Keyboard Maestro
(Mac)
Keyboard Maestro is another app that I couldn’t live without it. I use Keyboard Maestro keyboard shortcuts to launch apps, open files and folders and automating actions. It has a learning curve but once you start to get the hang of it you can do some amazing things. I’ve written about Keyboard Maestro here.

Dropbox
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Dropbox is where I keep files that I want to have available on all my devices. It’s also where syncing happens for apps like Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, and Due.

PDFpen and Hazel are key apps for my paperless workflow. I’ve written about my paperless workflow here.

Scanner Pro
(iPhone and iPad)
Scanner Pro is also part of my paperless workflow. I use it to scan paper documents into PDFs with OCR that look clean and professional.

App Cleaner
(Mac)
AppCleaner is my app uninstaller. I use it because it deletes all the junk that gets left behind when you just drag the app icon to the trash.

Moom
(Mac)
I use Moom for window management on my Mac.

Witch
(Mac)
Witch is my Mac app switcher.

PopClip
(Mac)
I use PopClip to manage what I do with selected text. I’ve written about PopClip here.

Bartender 3
(Mac)
Bartender is the app I use to organize my menu bar. I’ve written about it here.

ScreenFloat
(Mac)
ScreenFloat is my app for taking screenshots and storing them.

TunnelBear VPN
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
TunnelBear is my VPN for security on public WiFi and web browsing privacy.

PCalc
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
PCalc is my stock calculator replacement. I use it for its additional features and customization.

Apple Activity app
I use the Activity app with my Apple Watch to track all my daily activities.

I’m done with Apples Notes

I have never liked Apple Notes because I have found it to be unreliable in several ways. But a few months ago I thought I would give it a try because I kept reading and hearing good things about it. So I copied all my notes from Bear to Apple Notes. After doing so everything was running along smoothly. As a fall back I kept my notes up in Bear and I’m glad I did.

So, here we are with iOS 13 and iPadOS and Notes is having sync issues. After reading a few support forums I found this to be a common problem among Apple Notes users. Notes fail to sync, or at best, some notes randomly sync hours later. I don’t have the patience for this.

I’m back to Bear for notes and short-form writing. I have over 500 notes and never had a sync issue. Another great thing about Bear is that I can backup my notes just in case. I also missed the ability to export a note if I wanted to.

Goodbye Apple Notes never again.

No more subscription apps

I’m on a mission to eliminate all my subscription apps. I only have two more to go. Those would be Bear and Ulysses.

Why? I just don’t want to pay for an app over and over year after year especially when I already have other free and paid alternatives that work just as well for me.

Bear moving to Apple Notes
I’ve been using Bear as my notes app since leaving nvAlt a couple of years ago. Back then the Apples Notes app was very basic at best. Over the last couple of years, it’s been much improved. Don’t get me wrong, Bear is a great app. But, I’ve come to realize that I can do all that I need to do in Bear in Apples Notes. For now, I’m running both apps parallel until I’m absolutely positive Notes is going to work for me.

Ulysses moved to iA Writer
I’ve written about Ulysses a lot over the last few years. In my effort to eliminate subscription apps I recently moved all my writing to iA Writer and deleted Ulysses from all my devices and I will not be renewing my subscription.

Marked 2 update includes improved Bear integration

Brett Terpstra released a nice upgrade to Marked 2 yesterday with some improvements for Bear integration. I purchased my copy of Marked a couple of years ago through the App Store. To preview what I was writing in Bear in Marked was a bit tricky. I always wondered why. In fact, it took me a while to figure out how to do it. Well, Brett answers why it was tricky.

Before I start talking too much about Bear, there’s one issue to note. Bear writes its preview files out to a system temp folder that Marked can’t permanently access from the sandboxed Mac App Store version, so users are constantly asked for permission. If you’re using Bear with the Mac App Store version of Marked, I offer a free crossgrade to the unsandboxed direct version. If you use the Help->_Report an Issue_ feature and just send me the top part of the report section (above the ---), I’ll consider that enough proof to provide you with a license. You can also contact me through the support forum.

I took Brett up on his offer for the crossgrade to the unsandboxed version Marked. Now viewing what I’m writing in Bear in Marked works as it does in my other apps.

If you’re using the App Store version of Marked I suggest you also take Brett up on his offer. You’ll be glad you did especially if you use Bear.

You’ll want to delete the App Store version of Marked and then install the unsandboxed version.

 

App Update issue in the Mojave Mac App Store

There’s a Mac and iOS app update for Bear out today. I ran the update on my iPhone, iPad and iMac without a hitch. On my MacBook, the update wasn’t showing up in the Mac App Store Updates section on my MacBook. I knew it was available because as I already said I had run the update on my iMac.

In the old App Store, when you went to the Updates tab it would automatically look for all new updates. In the new App Store it appears to not do the same. Anyway, I closed the App Store and relaunched it, went to the Updates section and the Bear update still wasn’t there.

If this ever happens to you there’s a way to force the page to reload. Here’s what you do. Open the App Store > Updates > Store in the Menu Bar > click on Reload Page. After doing that my Bear update showed up.