The Best Journaling App

I’ve been using Day One for nearly a year now. And I have to say it is hands down the best journaling app. Bar none. True that. Without a doubt. Say it with your chest ‘lil man.

It’s available on iOS for iPhone and the iPad. It is also available for the Macbook (OS X). It does not appear to available for Android or Windows. But if you use Apples items exclusively like I do, then you cannot go wrong with Day One.

Some would argue the hardest part of journaling is remembering to write in one’s journal. Some say it is therapeutic. The very word “journal” has taken on a new meaning and been turned into a verb. Especially among hipsters and traveling circus freaks. But I digress.

While the leather-bound Moleskin will likely never fade in popularity (especially for the scar wrapped, thick-glasses rimmed, and record-playing toting hipster … maybe I should leave them alone for a while?)(Seriously. What’s with all the beards? I can’t grow a beard so I’m a little jealous. I want to grow a long ass-beard and hide little birds in it while churning butter in a early twentieth-century bathing suit. Who wouldn’t?); the act of journaling is shifting. Increasingly people are taking their thoughts to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Which begs the next question: Why are people so up in arms about the privacy all of the sudden when their willing to write down sometimes exactly everything they do in a given day? Well, the difference of course is those services are used specifically to share with others and stroke one’s ego. Or, as I like to call it, ego-masterbation. Also writing takes longer than typing and the hands end up sore. Especially for me. I’m left handed and I hate writing. Not easy being a southpaw in a right-handed world. The support group meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

What used to matter more was the act of saving and not letting the tiny private things in life evaporate. Day One is, in the everything you would want from journaling, and more. Day One creates and environment where no matter where you are, it only takes a second to record something. Aside from its presence on multiple platforms, Day One stands out as a meticulously crafted application. For example, when you add a photo to a journal entry, Day One asks if you want to change the time and location of the entry to the time and location of the photo. It’s such a no-brainer that once you’ve seen this feature, uploading photos to Facebook and altering dates and times feels like a waste of energy.

Day One is a beautiful app from its color palette to the variety of icon glyphs and animations you’ll notice, and has tons of features like auto-adding weather and location data to notes, markdown support, full screen mode, iCloud and Dropbox sync (the speediest I’ve ever seen), and photos, but the real key is its omnipresence. Day One’s lightweight and unobtrusive menu bar app (activated by a click or keyboard shortcut) provides only a blank text box to type in. The app rewards brevity, and after using it for a couple months, it became obvious that Day One is a journal for the Twitter age. I find myself frequently bringing up Day One’s menu bar app to throw random obscenities, thoughts, jokes, and ideas into.

Day One emphasizes creating a new entry first and foremost, though its search bar and calendar view make it easy to dig through old posts. You can even customize the app on Mac and iOS to open a new entry whenever you launch it. Day One doesn’t support scribbles or drawings or doodles, but if I do want to draw, I open up Paper for iPad. Once again, what matters is that you’re saving things somewhere permanent — in a place that can be referred to later on. Paper and Day One both offer Export options to standard file types like .txt and .pdf (respectively) in case you decide to switch apps or quit entirely.

By today’s standards, it’s not cheap to grab Day One on both Mac and iOS ($9.99 total, currently), but it’s still quite a bit less than a Moleskine. It’s also a lot more common to misplace your Moleskine than your iCloud. A few months down the road you’ll look back at your tweets and Facebook statuses and see that they’re all filled with links you’ve shared publicly. Day One is a private log of your thoughts, and the other miscellanea you find worth noting in your daily life. Thanks to a simple and always accessible new kind of micro-journaling in Day One, I’ve again realized the value in smelling the roses and writing down the little things that matter.

Originally published at on January 8, 2014.

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