Usually, when we think about journaling, the old fashioned method of pen and paper comes to mind. But of course, there’s a digital version of every activity now, and there are a ton of great apps and software out there designed to keep your memories in a single place. There are nearly endless options to choose from, so we’ve rounded up the best that are currently available, depending on how you want to use them and what your goals are.
If You Want to Comprehensively Track All of Your Memories
App: Day One
Price: Free, Basic level; $US34.99 ($49)/year, Premium
The app features a simple and elegant interface that is uniform and consistent across all platforms. It’s super easy to create text entries in just a few taps, and you can also attach photos, location, steps taken, and even “Now Playing” info. Everything’s organised chronologically, but you can also use tags to make it easier to find old entries. There’s the option to browse memories through a photo view or a map, as well.
Your data gets backed up locally or through iCloud. For iCloud, you just need to go to the app’s Settings > Account Details and then choose Link Apple ID. There’s also a Day One Sync service with paid subscriptions, which is well worth the cost if you’re concerned about saving your data. With Day One Sync, all of your journal data gets backed up automatically to Day One’s servers, as long as you have a data connection.
Again, Day One is free to download on your device. With the free download, you’ll automatically get a Basic level account. Basic only gets you one photo per entry, one journal, and no cloud services. A Premium account runs $US34.99 ($49)/year, and gets you unlimited journals, up to 30 photos in each entry, and unlimited syncing through Day One Sync with optional encryption, among other extras.
A recent 3.0 update added new Premium features, including a visually appealing new Dark Mode and two modes of audio recording: Transcription and Audio-only. With Transcription, you can record one-minute clips of audio at a time (up to 10 minutes) and have it transcribed into text. Audio-only recordings can be up to 30 minutes in length.
Personally, I’ve been using Day One for years because it’s fast, simple, and intuitive. Plus, it’s amazing to go back and reflect on all of life’s memories with just a few taps. Day One even has a book printing service (discount provided for Premium subscribers), so you can turn digital memories into physical ones, if you’re so inclined.
If You Want to Track Your Moods
If you’re more interested in tracking how you’re feeling over time, perhaps to keep tabs on your own mental and emotoinal well-being, it’s worth giving Moodnotes a try.
Moodnotes sports a simple, colourful interface that feels natural to use. Once you open the app, it asks “how are you?” Just swipe up or down to find the smiley that represents you, and then either do a quick save or add more detail to the entry.
Once you input a mood, Moodnotes asks you to enter in some feelings associated with that mood. For example, you may feel “Happy” that you got a promotion at work, thus feeling “excited,” or even “inspired.” From there, it’ll ask you to reflect and include some thoughts you had at the time. These entries help you identify common “traps” that people fall into, from there, how to avoid them in the future.
As you use Moodnotes over time, you can see patterns in your moods and develop healthier perspectives on your own happiness and well-being. Moodnotes even visualizes everything in pie charts that reveal your moods over a set time frame. The idea here is to help you become more self-aware of your mental health, potentially leading to reduced stress and healthier habits to support improved moods.
For maximum efficacy, Moodnotes is best used daily, not just when you’re in a bad mood or feeling stressed out.
If You Want Automated ‘Journaling’ from Your Social Media
Price: Free, Basic level; $US3.99 ($6)/year, Premium
If you don’t ever seem to find the time to journal daily, but manage to Tweet and Instagram every hour on the hour, then Momento’s probably your best bet.
With Momento, just link up your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, Swarm, and other assorted social accounts, and every update you post gets imported in Momento as an entry for the day, and added automatically from that point forward.
But Momento lets you add manual entries too, if that’s what you’re in the mood for. All entries in Momento can include notes, photos, videos, places, and tags.
All data in Momento gets backed up either locally or through iCloud, so nothing’s lost. You can download and use Momento for free, but there are some features that you can only get with a premium subscription.
If you nab a Premium subscription, you’ll get unlimited feeds, plain text and media export options, hourly feed updates, 4-digit passcode and TouchID/FaceID lock, multiple photos for each entry, and all future Premium features. Premium costs $US3.99 ($6) a year, or you can unlock certain features a la cart through in-app purchases.
If You Want to Coordinate with Google Drive
Price: Free, Basic level; $US3.99 ($6)/mo or $US29.99 ($42)/year Premium
Journey’s extremely cross-platform compatibility is possible thanks to the fact that it uses Google Drive to sync and backup your new journal entries from this point forward.
Users can also throw in a few photos and videos (something Day One doesn’t support yet) into an entry as needed, though the process only seems to be one-by-one, so you can’t just throw in an entire album at once. Journey also captures your mood through simple smileys, in case you want to note how a particular memory made you feel.
It’s free to download Journey on most platforms (WIndows and Mac versions have a price tag), and you can get started right away. While there is a premium upgrade via an in-app purchase, it’s completely optional and just a one-time purchase. However, there is a Journey.Cloud membership available, starting at $US3.99 ($6) a month or $US29.99 ($42) a year.
The one-time in-app purchase gets you bonuses like a Night theme, Markdown syntax formatting, export to .docx, PDF export watermark removal, up to 10 photos per entry, along with one recording or video per entry, and bulk export options, including blogging sites.
If you opt for a subscription, you’ll gain the ability to create entries from email, get notification reminders and daily inspiration, and VIP access to the entire Journey ecosystem (all platforms).
If You Want a Private and Fast Micro Journal
Price: Free, Basic features; $US3.99 ($6) Premium upgrade
Daylio is the digital equivalent of the classic, brief daily journal that will help you keep track of moments you might not remember, without feeling pressure to write a novella every day.
Out of all of the apps we’ve covered, Daylio’s probably the easiest to use. Just launch the app, select a smiley face that represents your overall mood, and then select the activities you did today, such as “work,” “relax,” “travel,” “date,” “sport,” or “gaming.” If you want to add more detail, add it in the Notes section, then tap the checkmark to save the entry.
To help you kickstart your habit, Daylio has the option to set reminder notifications, nudging you to log every day. Over time, Daylio gathers up your manually inputted data for statistics, such as the Monthly Mood Chart or showing you what activities correlate to what moods the most.
The default moods in Daylio should be enough, but you can create your own moods, as well. There’s also a premium upgrade available through an $US3.99 ($6) in-app purchase. This nets you unlimited moods (you can add four more of your own with the free download), PIN lock, advanced stats, extra mood emojis, and more. With advanced stats, you’ll see monthly mood charts, mood counts, average daily mood, and other insights.