I have previously reviewed Bear Writer, written about my transfer from Ulysses to Bear and also commented on Bear’s version 1.5 update.

When I originally reviewed Bear I gave it 4 stars and offered one particular criticism, which was that I wanted categories as well as tags. However, after a number of months of using Bear as my primary writing app, I think I get why tags are enough now. Singular tags wouldn’t be but Bear’s multi-level tagging is.

I simply have a few high-level tags such as blog, journal, projects etc. and those effectively act as categories. Indeed they even look like categories — expandable categories — in the left-pane sidebar.

I then have sub-tags along the lines of blog/gordonansell, blog/gordonansell/drafts, blog/gordonansell/2018/07 etc.

I’ve got so used to it now I wonder where my unreasonable desire for a separate set of categories came from. Maybe it was habit and it just took some time to get used to Bear’s tag-only philosophy.

I’d still like to see some of the features I mention under Other Minor Gripes in my previous article, namely:

  • live preview: you can preview in Marked if you’re using MacOS but I think Bear needs its own preview, one that also works in iOS,
  • links: links could do with a space to enter a ‘title’ attribute,
  • tables: table support via markdown might be nice,
  • custom themes: it would be nice, although far from essential, to be able to create custom themes,
  • tag-by-tag sorting: at the moment, Bear sorts all tags the same way (which you specify in the Settings) and I’d like to be able to sort tags individually so, for example, I could have one tag sorted by date and another sorted by title,
  • saved searches: I’d like to be able to save searches either as a ‘tag’ of sorts or within a separate section of the left pane. Yes, these last two items have stolen shamelessly from Ulysses but they’re very useful in that app and they would be in Bear too.

But if I was to review Bear now, after a number of months’ constant use, I’d give it 4.5 stars instead of 4. I still think it’s one of the most beautiful apps available for macOS and iOS.