ulysses app illustration

Ulysses adds privacy-focussed grammar and style checking tools

Can you use an online grammar-checking tool and still expect privacy? Ulysses builds one in.

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The excellent Ulysses writing and publishing app will now check your work for you. Its new “advanced check” feature runs your articles, blog posts, notes, or novel-in-progress through a grammar and spelling engine, and offers suggestions and fixes. It’s like having the Grammarly service built in, only you don’t have to worry about it collecting everything you type.

Ulysses new dashboard is easier to use, and better looking. Image credit: Ulysses
Ulysses new dashboard is easier to use, and better looking. Image credit: Ulysses

I use Ulysses every day for my work. Anything that I’m going to publish, I write in Ulysses. And for years, my proofreading skills have been terrible. In anybody else’s work, I can spot a double-space or a typo at 100 paces. But in my own work, typos slip through, even after spell checks, and proofing in various formats. I even tried printing my posts on paper, but I still missed things.

Ulysses’ new Dashboard combines all the previously available info about your writing, and adds a new analysis panel. 

Grammar and Style Check

Ulysses new Grammar and Style Check. Image credit: Ulysses
Ulysses new Grammar and Style Check. Image credit: Ulysses

This is the big story. The new grammar panel checks style, redundancy, punctuation, and “miscellaneous.” You can see the sidebar in the image above. One of my biggest problems is having the spellcheck miss a word because it’s spelled correctly — it’s just the wrong word. Ulysses catches more of these mistakes than the Mac’s built-in spellcheck, but still not all. I’m hoping it will also catch all those mixed-up its and it’s incidents. Those are the typos that people love to point out. As if a professional writer didn’t know the difference. These Twitter whiners never seems to consider that I’m just a bad typist.

Privacy

The Advanced Check has to be triggered for each and every document. You click the button, and your text is sent to LanguageTool for processing. Like the Ulysses team itself, LanguageTool is a German company. If you use this tool inside Germany, then, your texts will never leave the country.

You need to trigger every text explicitly for a check. No accidental ‘private’ texts being sent. — Max Seelemann, Ulysses founder.

I know the Ulysses team well. I used to rent a space in their office, and I’m friends with co-founder Max Seelemann. Which is to say, I know that they’re serious about privacy, and I trust the app with my work.

But even if you aren’t so sure, you’re covered. Because you have to explicitly trigger a check, nothing ever leaves your Mac without you wanting it to. You can proofread your blog posts, and leave your draft love letters private.

I told Max that I liked this aspect. “Yes,” he replied, “and you need to trigger every text explicitly for a check. No accidental ‘private’ texts being sent.”

Dashboard

The new media panel collects all your images in one place.
The new media panel collects all your images in one place.

The rest of the dashboard is a re-jig of the existing features, and it’s much nicer. For instance, word count (and related stats) are now in the panel, rather than living in a floating box1 that always seemed to be either hard-to-find, or in the way.

Also excellent is the new media panel, which lets you see a list of all the images you’ve added in the body of your text, and the outline panel, which is good enough that you can use Ulysses as an outliner. Maybe even Apple writer John Gruber would be happy with it.

I already loved Ulysses. Now it’s utterly essential. The redesigned dashboard is now available in both the Mac and iOS apps. The grammar and style checker is currently Mac-only, with iPad support coming later

  1. This box is still available if you want it.

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