Typewriter Mode

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Typewriter Mode – you guessed it – got its name because it mimics the behavior of mechanic typewriters in some respects. Some older users may even remember how it was to write on these! Writing on a computer instead has many advantages, but there’s one thing typewriters were actually very good at: letting writers focus on their texts. And better focus is exactly what Ulysses’ Typewriter Mode aims for.

A Macbook is sitting on a table, only Ulysses in windowed mode is visible on screen. The toolbar has been hidden and the view has been set to “Editor Only”. The Typewriter Highlight fades everything except the current sentence.

On Mac, you can turn Typewriter Mode on and off via the View menu.

Screenshot of the menu bar of Ulysses for Mac. The following menu items are selected: “View”, “Typewriter Mode”. Selecting “Typewriter Mode” has revealed the items “Enable”, “Highlight”, “Fixed Scrolling” and “Mark Current Line”.

On iPad or iPhone, you’ll find it in the editor settings.

Screenshot of Ulysses for iPad. The editor settings have been opened and the “Typewriter Mode” setting has been enabled and highlighted.

There are several options available: Highlight, Fixed Scrolling, and Mark Current Line. You can tweak them independently from each other.

Highlight (often referred to as Focus Mode) can be set to either your current line, sentence or paragraph. If enabled, the rest of the text is still readable but fades into the background.

Screenshot of text in Ulysses. The text says ‘“Why, this is strange,” said Nurse Jane to herself. “I wonder if anything can have happened to him? Did he have an adventure in the night? Did the bad skillery-scalery alligator, with humps on its tail, carry him off?”’ Everything is faded out, except “Did he have an adventure in the night?”, which is displayed in standard text color.

Fixed Scrolling fixes the current line vertically on one spot while you’re typing. On Mac, you can choose this spot to be on the top, in the middle or at the bottom of the screen or opt for variable. When using the latter, you can freely move your cursor with mouse or arrow keys. Only after you start typing the current line will remain fixed. Fixed Scrolling on iPad or iPhone also works this way.

The last option, Mark Current Line, underlines your current writing. 

The same screenshot as above, except this time no text has been faded out and the second line has been highlighted with a gray background that stretches from left to right, wider than the line itself.

Once you’ve found the perfect settings, you can turn Typewriter Mode on and off quickly via the menu or use the shortcut ⌥⌘T (alt-command-T).

On Mac: Different Settings for Different Views

Here’s an extra tip for Mac users. Did you know that you can determine the look of the editor in full-screen mode and in windowed mode independently? This accounts for view modes, but also for Typewriter Mode. So you can leave Typewriter Mode activated in full screen and turn it off otherwise. If you organize your library in windowed mode, but habitually switch to full screen for writing – do so speedily with the shortcut  ^⌘F (control-command-F) – this is very handy.

This article was last updated on November 10, 2021.

Typewriter Mode

Fix your current line vertically on the screen, and focus on the words you’re just writing