I'd like to back up my local content with my own scripts, but I'm not familiar with how macOS apps work. For example, I can't find where Ulysses stores its local content.

Or more generally: where do macOS apps usually store their files?

2 Answers 2


It’s really up to each program to decide if it stores in the home folder / documents and lets users manage things or if it makes a database in plain view (like Photos or iTunes) with aspects of the database elsewhere or entirely hide the filesystem and manage all files / syncing.

In the case of Ulysses - the developer has decided to manage things in a bundle/database and either sync it to iCloud via a local cache or store the content locally in your user library folder - out of view of normal expectations in ~/Documents or ~/Desktop

Content stored On My Mac

If you do not sync your local content using iCloud (i.e. it's in the On My Mac section in your Ulysses sidebar), you can access each group in your Ulysses library at the following file path:

~/Library/Group Containers/X5AZV975AG.com.soulmen.shared/Ulysses/Documents/Library/Groups-ulgroup/

Each group belongs it its own -ulgroup directory and will have an (unhelpful) hash for a name—for example, cba24c5b16a949c388b0204c9aa28867-ulgroup.

Within each -ulgroup directory, your documents will each have their own .ulysses file. And you guessed it, they also have a hash for a filename. Note that .ulysses files actually contain both a Content.xml and a Text.txt with your content in them.

Content synced via iCloud

You will have a hard time accessing your Ulysses iCloud-stored library from Finder, but I seem to be able to access mine fine using the Terminal if you're comfortable doing that. It's stored similarly as I described above, but here is the file path you'll be looking for instead:

~/Library/Mobile Documents/X5AZV975AG~com~soulmen~ulysses3/Documents/Library/Groups-ulgroup

A note on iCloud. The com~soulmen~ulysses3 is the application bundle/group name provided to Apple by the developer when they created the iCloud entitlements for this application. The X5AZV975AG is Apple’s provided identifier that combined with the reverse dns type name space, makes each iCloud bucket unique but common across everyone that uses that app.

  • Easily Find Your Files: Go here cd ~/Library/Group\ Containers/X5AZV975AG.com.soulmen.shared/Ulysses/Documents/Library/Groups-ulgroup Search all the files: grep -Ri "PHRASE" - "oven to 350" is better than "oven" It prints the location of the file, and the whole line too! You will find what you're looking for very quickly. Other grep options: -v everything except PHRASE -n line #'s -m 2 first 2 matches Apr 3, 2021 at 15:24

There's a way to do this where even if you lose access to Ulysses you will still have your files in a way that is useful for you and won't make you cry.

Move your files in Ulysses' iCloud and "On My Mac" sections to two external folders. The exact directory structure gets copied & the sheet names are retained; it took me about a minute.

how to set Ulysses up for sanity

Once you've set it up to only use external folders you can do normal things with the files.

For comparison:

enter image description here

Everything Ulysses keeps in the ~/Library area is all over the place. Hopeless. I thought I was going to have to make every folder (group) by hand and export each "sheet" one by one.

No one should have to go through this to move a directory structure full of text files from one place to another my God. Comma key is broken apologies.

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