Dabble vs. Ulysses: Which Should You Write With?

Doug Landsborough
April 20, 2023

There is no shortage of tools out there to help authors write their stories. From programs dedicated to worldbuilding to those that compare your prose to bestsellers, it really feels like there’s an app out there for every part of your writing journey.

One of the most important tools your can have in your writer’s toolkit, however, is what you use to get those words down and write your book. Sure, you could use a pencil and paper or a typewriter or something equally inconvenient and artsy.

In reality, you’re going to want to choose a writing tool that not only has features to help you but one that jives with your writing process.

Two of the best options for writers out there right now are Dabble and Ulysses. These platforms are similar in many ways, but each of them brings some unique features to the table.

In this article, we’re going to compare Dabble and Ulysses to figure out which is best for you and your process.

Brief Overview of Dabble and Ulysses

Before we get too far, let’s get a basic understanding of what Dabble and Ulysses bring to the table.

Dabble is a writing app that provides a user-friendly interface and a range of features designed specifically for fiction writers to write their books. The easy-to-use, simple navigation makes it an accessible option for both new and experienced writers while providing a range of features that are there when you need them.

Some of the key features offered by Dabble include multi-platform compatibility, the Plot Grid to manage your subplots and character arcs, and a focus mode that helps users write distraction-free. Dabble also keeps all your notes, character profiles, and worldbuilding one click away from your manuscript in the same project.

Ulysses is a powerful writing platform that provides a clean and intuitive interface, along with an extensive set of writing tools and customization options. The app is designed to cater to a wide range of writing needs, providing options for writers, students, journalists, and bloggers.

Ulysses offers cross-device synchronization, collaboration and teamwork features, and a streamlined interface. The app’s focus on organization and its ability to handle large projects make it a popular choice for writers working on extended pieces like novels or screenplays.

Most notably, Ulysses is only available on Apple products: iOS and MacOS. So if you’re using a Windows, Linux, or Android system to write, Ulysses won’t function without an emulator.

While both platforms offer similar functions, Dabble has been designed from the ground up for fiction writers, while Ulysses is useful for a variety of different writing tasks. Ulysses still has features for writing books, and we’ll dive deeper into those in the next section.

Comparing Dabble and Ulysses

Time to get down to the little details. What do each of these writing platforms bring to the table to help you

Dabble’s Tools and Features

Because Dabble is a program created for fiction writers by fiction writers, it boasts a bunch of features that help you write a better book. Some highlights of these features include:

The Plot Grid – A flexible system to not just plan your plots and subplots but to manage character arcs, settings, relevant notes, and so much more. The Plot Grid lets you attach Scene Cards to specific scenes, making your important info just one click away while you’re writing.

Organization and Flow – All of your information—and even multiple manuscripts in the same series—can be stored in a single Dabble project. You can drag and drop chapters and scenes, create folders and subfolders for your notes, and link between documents for easy navigation.

Goals and Tracking – Dabble lets you set a writing goal, deadline, and days off to calculate how many words you should be writing when your fingers get tapping. This helps keep you on track to finish your book and can integrate directly into NaNoWriMo in November.

Distraction-free Writing – Not only does Dabble have a clean, modern interface, but it has a dark mode to help your eyes endure those long writing sessions and auto-focus to remove everything but your writing from the screen once you’re on a roll.

Collaboration – Dabble users can co-author books together, allowing multiple writers to collaborate on a manuscript in real time. Author changes can be tracked in case you want to blame someone else for the glaring plot hole.

Writing Anywhere, Anytime – With automatic cloud syncing, web-based access, and a desktop app, you can truly write on any device, even when you don’t have internet, and automatically back up your work, so you never lose a word.

Other Dabble features that can help writers are:

  • Spelling, grammar, and style check powered by ProWritingAid
  • Book covers, prologues, and epilogues
  • Insert images either from your computer or via Unsplash
  • Export to Word and text files
  • Word counter
  • Novel subtitles
  • Find and replace
  • Project formatting options
  • Font themes
  • Import through paste
  • Comments
  • Text highlighting
  • Strikethrough
  • Sticky notes
  • Split and join scenes
  • Duplicate projects
  • Export plot & story notes
  • Images in story notes
  • Chapter heading images
  • Share to web
  • Read to me
  • Thesaurus
  • Plot labels

More features are being added regularly, too. Upcoming features are voted on by the Dabble community, meaning that what comes next is chosen by people actually using the program.

Ulysses’s Tools and Features

Ulysses has been around since 2003, and there have been countless patches, updates, and new features added since then. Like the previous section, we’ll highlight the most popular Ulysses features available at the time of writing (February 2023) and include other features relevant to fiction writers.

Distraction-free Interface - Ulysses is all about providing an interface that lets you focus on your writing. All the features it has are hidden or eloquently shown in a way that doesn’t distract you while those words are flowing.

Credit: Ulysses

Projects - Keep all of your writing, notes, and goals together in one place. Projects allow you to keep relevant information close at hand. No more scrolling through pages of notes for other manuscripts or worlds! Projects provide easy navigation and an accessible overview of all your work.

Built-in Editor - Ulysses has a custom editor and style assistant versed in more than 20 languages. This editor can note potential fixes for capitalization, punctuation, semantics, redundancy, style, and more.

In-app Publishing - Once you’re done with your writing, Ulysses gives you the option to save it as a PDF, e-book, Word document, or even a blog post. It has a previewer, so you know exactly what your final document will look like, and switching styles is a breeze.

Cross-device Syncing - Whether you’re writing on your Macbook, iPad, or iPhone, your work will automatically be synced across your devices. This is a great quality of life feature for people who like to jot down notes or a few sentences while on the go.

Other handy Ulysses features include:

  • Keywords
  • Grammar and style check
  • Image support
  • Goals and tracking
  • Markdown compatibility
  • Nest files and folders
  • Filtering


This could be the defining factor for many writers. If you don’t have an Apple product (iPhone, iPad, or Mac) or an emulator to host an Apple operating system on a non-Apple device, you can’t use Ulysses.

If you have any or all of these products, writing with Ulysses is easy and automatically syncs across all your Apple devices.

Dabble, on the other hand, is a web-based application that can be downloaded to any computer or device or accessed online. Wherever, whenever you write, your work will be synced with the cloud and updated across all devices.

Even if you’re writing offline, Dabble caches your changes and will automatically sync the next time it has internet access.


For many writers, especially those just starting out, price can be a big factor when deciding what you write with. Since both Dabble and Ulysses are constantly adding new features, both of them are subscription-based programs.

Dabble has a free, 14-day trial with access to all premium features for you to try. When you’re ready to purchase, you have options to subscribe monthly or pay a discounted price for annual or lifetime membership. Teachers and students can get a discount, too.

Here are Dabble’s pricing tiers:

Basic: for beginners just getting started

  • $10/month USD
  • Unlimited manuscripts
  • Cloud backup and sync
  • Access on any device
  • Goals and stats
  • Manuscript Organization
  • Spell check
  • Text highlighting
  • Email support

Standard: for those wanting a bit more

  • $15/month USD
  • Includes everything in Basic plus:
  • Plot Grid
  • Story notes
  • Focus mode
  • Dark mode
  • Sticky notes
  • Comments

Premium: For those working on a publishing track

  • $20/month USD
  • Includes everything in Standard plus:
  • Advanced grammar and style checks
  • Co-authoring
  • Priority support via chat

Ulysses doesn’t have a free trial but has options for monthly or yearly pricing: $5.99/month or $39.99/year. Ulysses also offers discounts for students and comes with Apple Family Sharing, so you can share it with up to five family members.

Recommendation for Fiction Writers

Realistically, you can’t go wrong with either program. Both Dabble and Ulysses are designed to help you write better. But we want to figure out what’s best for you, right?

Here is a summary of the most notable pros and cons of both programs:

Dabble Pros: Built specifically for writing; tools to improve your writing habits, plot, and characters; free resources; distraction-free writing; collaboration; write anywhere, any time.

Dabble Cons: More expensive than Ulysses; no account sharing; available for download, but not through the App Store.

Ulysses Pros: Built for Apple products; 20 years of support, new features, and patching, extreme minimalist interface; less expensive than Dabble; provides a range of features for different writers.

Ulysses Cons: Only available for Apple devices; built for all sorts of writers, meaning it has features fiction writers will never use.

So which is best for you?

If price isn’t an option, Dabble offers more features geared toward fiction writers. If you write more than just fiction and want to do it all in one place, or if you’re on a tighter budget, Ulysses is what you want to look at.

Whichever you choose, there’s only one thing left to do: get writing!

You can click here to go download Ulysses if you’re on an Apple device.

If Dabble seems more your style, you can try it for free for 14 days by clicking here. You don’t even need to put your credit card information in, so you won’t be automatically charged unless you decide you love it.

Now go write that bestseller.

Doug Landsborough

Doug Landsborough can’t get enough of writing. Whether freelancing as an editor, blog writer, or ghostwriter, Doug is a big fan of the power of words. In his spare time, he writes about monsters, angels, and demons under the name D. William Landsborough. When not obsessing about sympathetic villains and wondrous magic, Doug enjoys board games, horror movies, and spending time with his wife, Sarah.