Short Guide to Digital Journaling 


As the creator of the National Journal Writing Month, I support and promote the use of both traditional pen and paper journaling and digital journaling. Each method of journal writing has its unique benefits, and journal writers can decide which method fits their needs.

The purpose of this short guide is to provide an overview of the pros and cons of digital journaling, and to share ten useful and currently updated applications for digital journal writing. In future blog posts, I will review these journaling apps in more detail. 

Benefits of Digital Journaling​

  1. Most digital journals include password protection, which is essential for  keeping your journal private and secure.
  2. Typing text is naturally easier to edit and revise, and more legible than handwriting. 
  3. Digital journal entries can be easily tagged and filtered by keywords, and searched by date and year.
  4. Digital journals can be archived and backed up to a local drive or cloud storage service.
  5. Digital journals can be exported to PDF and other text documents.
  6. Digital applications make it easier to share journal entries to online spaces. 
  7. Digital journals allow for adding images/photos and geo locations for where journal entries were created.
  8. Some digital journals integrate with applications like text expanders and voice-to-text programs to help with writing journal entries.
  9. Some digital journals are cross-platform, which allows for accessing your journals on multiple devices. 
  10. You can customize features of a digital journal to fit your particular needs as a user. 

Digital Journaling Drawbacks

  1. Though rare for most well developed digital journals, there's a risk that  your digital journal content can become corrupted or deleted by a bug in the software or because a complete computer crash.
  2. You need to make sure to regularly update the digital application you choose to use. If you notice that the developer is not updating the application on a regular basis (at minimum every 4 to five months), it might mean the application is being abandoned by the developer. 
  3. Digital journals require a hardware platform to run on. If the digital journal you choose to use is not cross-platform you probably will not be able to transfer your entries from one platform to the next. However, web based platforms mean that your journals can be accessed from most any web browser.
  4. Many journal writers maintain that digital journaling is not as personable and effective as pen and paper journaling. I don't share that view, but you should explore if it makes a difference for you. 
  5. Digital journaling doesn't allow for artistic journaling such as using physical color markers, paint, and ephemera. There are apps that allows for artistic creations, but of course they are not as tangible as physical art creations.
  6. A digital journal depends upon a device that must be regularly charged and maintained. 

Recommended Digital Journals

Digital journals are available for all the major writing platforms including macOS, iOS, Windows PC, Android, and Internet web-based applications. 

The following are my personal recommendations based on the following criteria: I've chosen applications that have been kept updated in the three months of this review, and that include essential features for digital journaling. Those features include password protection or encryption, cloud backup, export to PDF, support for embedding photos and other media, tagging, multiple journals, and a well designed user interface. For each application, I highlight their current and missing features that may be important for you to know about.

Note: if there are features that I did not highlight for a particular application, please contact me and let me know.​

1

Day One

Day One is the award winning iOS and Mac application that has become a model for many other digital journal applications. It's well designed and consistently updated. In its second version, it includes many features for different type of journal writers, including multiple journal, 'On This Day' for reviewing past entries, 

One of its most recent features is book printing a collection of journal entries in the hard or paperback format. Book printing is a great way to further archive your journal entries for reading and safe keeping.

Full disclosure: Day One is the personal digital journal that I’ve use for over five years.

  • Password Protection
  • Tagging and multiple journals
  • iOS, Apple Watch, and Mac
  • Touch ID support
  • Export to PDF
  • Allows for inline photos
  • Reminders
  • iCloud sync and backup
  • Calendar view and search by date
  • Markdown support
  • Activity tracking
  • Social network feeds
  • Geo and weather tagging
  • IFTTT intergrations
  • Book printing
  • No online web version 
  • No support embedded videos


  • Can't share links to journal entries
  • No online web version 


Backup Feature

The ability to back up your digital journal content is very important. The backup feature should be automatic and ran each time you open your journaling app.Having your entries backed up to cloud server is also useful for safeguarding your content. 

2

Penzu

Penzu is a well established private online journaling site, and is also available as an app for Android and iOS. A few advantages for using an online journal is that private journal entries are available to you on any web browser, and you don't have to fiddle with updating the application on a regular basis. Penzu has both a free and Pro version, both of which include email reminders for writing and sending journal entries to your online account. 

Penzu
  • Web application
  • Tagging and multiple journals
  • Android and iOS
  • Calendar and entry stats
  • Export to PDF, XML, and Txt files
  • Image support
  • Search by date
  • Password protection
  • Activity tracking
  • Social network integration 
  • Email reminders
  • Image support
  • No Mac or Windows application 
  • Monthly/yearly subscription


  • Tagging and multiple journal available only in the Pro version
  • No Markdown support


Online journaling

The significant advantage of online journaling that it is atomically updated. It also means that you can typically links to your selected journal entries with other people. 

3

Journey Cloud

As of this review, Journey Cloud is a fairly new online journaling application. Many of its missing features, like passcode protection and API support are coming soon, the developer told me. 

A big plus with Journey Cloud is that you can create an free online account using your Google email. But the online version doesn't have many of the advance features found in the Mac and Android versions. Journey Cloud is supported on the Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS platforms.

  • Password Protection
  • Android, Mac, Windows,  Chrome, Web
  • Syncs to Google Drive
  • Export to PDF
  • Image support
  • iCloud Backup
  • Search by date
  • Vide support
  • IFTTT support
  • Markdown support
  • Web clipper for Chrome
  • No support for iOS
  • No multiple journal 


  • No reminders
  • No tagging 


Inline vs attached photos

Digital journals like Day One allow you to insert photos anywhere on the page, whereas other digital journals like Grid Diary and Tag Journal only allow for attaching one or more photos to a journal entry. You click or tap on the thumbnail an attached  photo to see it in full view. 

4

Grid Diary

If you like using journal writing prompts, Grid Diary is set up to provide prompts for all your journal writing entries. Entries are set in a grid format, and you can also create grids with your own prompt templates. The iOS app also includes Reading mode for reading and sharing entries beyond the grid format. The diary asks you to tap the weather condition and personal mood icons as part of your journal entries. You can also bookmark entries. 

If you like using journal writing prompts, Grid Diary is set up to provide prompts for all your journal writing entries. Entries are set in a grid format, and you can also create grids with your own prompt templates. The iOS app also includes Reading mode for reading and sharing entries beyond the grid format. The diary asks you to tap the weather condition and personal mood icons as part of your journal entries. You can also bookmark entries. 

The Pro version of Grid Diary includes more features, such as Passcode Lock, sync to the cloud, formatting tools, and reminders. ​

  • Passcode Protection
  • Reminders
  • Inspirational prompts
  • iOS 
  • iCloud, Dropbox,WebDAV sync
  • Full text search
  • Export to PDF
  • Image support
  • No multiple journals
  • No tagging


  • Only attached photos
  • No Markdown support


Export to PDF

In addition to backing up your digital journals to the cloud and/or an external device, it's also useful to have the ability to export journal entries to PDF and other text formats. I export my entire Day One entries twice a year to PDF.  The PDF format is great for reading your journal entries outside the application, and for even printing your journals in paper format. 

5

Journi

If you travel a lot, you may find Journi a great writing application for journaling about your travels and the places you visit. Journi makes it easy to share your stories with others if you choose. In addition to your writing and photos, the pro version of Journi allows for adding flight information to your entries, as well as icons for weather conditions, transportation, activities, food and drinks, nature, countries visited, and much more. 

Note: many of the features missing from Journi, including tagging and book printing, are in the works for upcoming updates. 

  • Password Protection
  • Multiple journals
  • iOS, Android, Apple Watch, and Web
  • Calendar and entry stats
  • Export to PDF
  • Image support
  • iCloud Backup
  • Activity tracking
  • Social network sharing
  • Weather and geo tagging and map views
  • Markdown support
  • No tagging 
  • No reminders


  • No activity tracking 
  • No Markdown support
  • No export to PDF


6

Capture 365 Journal

Capture 365 is a Mac and iOS digital journal with many similarities to Day One. Its pro features include unique features such as the ability to sync journal entries with other people, importing your calendar events and social network feeds, and an automatic journaling feature that imports your photos and automatically creates journal entries based on the places you visit. These features require an additional purchase in the iOS version of the application. 

  • Password Protection
  • Tagging and multiple journals
  • iOS and Mac 
  • Calendar and entry stats
  • Export to PDF
  • Image and video support
  • iCloud Backup
  • Search by date
  • Activity tracking
  • Social network tracking
  • Weather and geo tagging
  • Custom journal templates
  • No web version
  • No inline photo placement 


  • Additional costs for pro features 
  • No Markdown support


Tagging Entries

The ability to tag entries is a very useful way to manage and filter journaling entries. I think tagging is more useful than using multiple journals because journal entries can often be about more one than one topic, and thus effective tagging can help you search and filter the entries much better.

7

Momento

The iOS app Momento is a useful journal if you want to import your social network feeds as part of your journaling. Memento integrates with a wide variety of social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Medium, Instagram, Goodreads, Spotify, as well as Uber trip history, and custom RSS and Atom web feeds. The premium annual subscription includes lock code, multiple photos imports, and additional access to more feeds.  

  • Password Protection
  • Tagging and multiple journals
  • iOS and Mac 
  • Calendar and entry stats
  • Export to PDF
  • Image support
  • iCloud Backup
  • Search by date
  • Activity tracking
  • Social network tracking
  • Geo tagging
  • Markdown support
  • No Mac or Windows application 
  • Annual subscription for additional features


  • No tagging or multiple features
  • No Markdown support


Social network integration

If you regularly use a social network like Facebook and Twitter, using a digital journal that integrates with one or more of social network accounts can be very useful for selecting and including parts of your social network content into your journal entries where they can revisited in the future. 

8

Tag Journal

Tag Journal is a beautifully designed iOS journal application that includes support for video and audio recordings. The application doesn't support multiple journals, but its user interface contains sections for your timeline, your gallery of photos, notes, audio recordings, and tags. 

  • Password Protection
  • Tagging and multiple journals
  • iOS 
  • Calendar and entry stats
  • Export to PDF
  • Image support
  • iCloud sync and backup
  • Activity tracking
  • Social network tracking
  • Text search 
  • Markdown support
  • No Mac or Windows application 
  • No multiple journals
  • No inline image support 


  • No social feed integration
  • No geo or weather tagging
  • No multiple journals 


Jrnl iOS app
9

Jrnl

Jrnl is another online mobile journaling application. It includes over a hundred "All About Me" journal prompts that focus on topics including relationships, growing up, spirituality, challenges, parenthood, and accomplishments. It also allows for printing your journal entries into a book format.

Jrnl
  • Password Protection
  • Tagging and multiple journals
  • iOS, Android, and Web
  • Image support
  • iCloud Backup
  • Journaling prompts
  • Web links to individual journal entries
  • Add journal entries via email
  • Book printing 
  • No Mac or Windows application 
  • No export to PDF


  • No weather or geo tagging
  • No Markdown support


10

My Wonderful Days 

My Wonderful Days is a straightforward journaling application that includes an icon mood tracking feature for each of your entries. It also has 30 other icons for weather conditions, birthdays, and other social stickers. You can filter entries by calendar date, stickers, and mood. The iOS app also includes secure Touch ID access.  

  • Password Protection
  • Tagging and multiple journals
  • Reminders
  • Mood and social stickers
  • iOS and Mac 
  • iCloud Backup
  • Search by date
  • Social network tracking
  • Social network tracking
  • No web or Windows version
  • Monthly/yearly subscription
  • Does not support inline photos


  • Tagging and multiple journal available only in the Pro version
  • No Markdown support
  • No export to PDF


Reminders

One of the most useful features of a digital journal are Reminders. Day One, Penzu, Wonderful Days, for example, allow you to set reminders when you want to be notified to write in your journal. You can also you use a digital or paper calendar or task manager for the same purpose. 

Your Feedback

​There are several other digital journals available that I haven't tried yet, and as they are brought to my attention I will try to add them to this page. As for now I hope that this resource proves helpful to you for considering which digital journal you find useful for your journal writing. Also let me know what you like or dislike about digital journaling, and what questions you may have about it. I'd love to read your feedback. 

Other Related Content

Your content here...

  • First tab
  • Second tab
  • Third tab

Tab 1

Tab 2

Tab 3

This is a page section

>

NaJoWriMo Starts January 1st | Subscribe for Updates • Journal Tips and Resources 

x