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Five Outstanding Journals for the Mac

by Kerry Dawson

There are a lot of Journal applications available on the Mac platform many which are adequate and some very good. For the purposes of this article though, I chose only applications that covered a range in terms of price but had to have a couple of key components. The apps had to be:

  • cross platfom (that is the app had to run on both the Mac desktop and IOS counterpart. A pure bonus was the app also ran on Android making it a true cross platform solution). As a result, the iPhone only app Momento was not included even though it is such a high quality product.
  • Regardless of price, the app had to be truly a high quality product

These five apps that I will discuss will definitely meet the high quality standards that were a requirement for discussion in this article.

The Many benefits of Journaling

Benefits journaling

Writing a diary has many both observational benefits and quantitve values that make the activity well worth doing. As an example, the following is a condensed version of such benefits:

  • externalizing feelings to allow one to consider the facts that are generating those feelings
  • reflection
  • providing context – e.g. the year seemed to go so fast but when I look back I realize I did …..
  • improving memory – thought to ward off dementia and alzheimers
  • improved cognition – the ability to think forward instead of just back
  • it’s fun

and on it goes. In an article I wrote about a year ago titled “The Best in the Way of Diaries for the Mac” I go into detail about the benefits and discuss diaries more generally at the time. Now I’d like to discuss diaries for the Mac specifically that are not just good but better than good and sync through all your Apple environment.

Day One

DayOne Android Pixel2

Day One is an award winning journaling app that can meet anyone’s needs. It is the most expensive of the journals I’ll present but depending on your tastes and preferences this might be the one for you.

The product used to be an outright sale item and is now subscription based. The pricing is on a sliding scale so it is impossible for me to tell you what you’ll spend however, it starts at around $34.99 and changes depending on whether and when you have owned it. This pricing though applies to the current version and while version 1 is no longer sold some never upgraded.

If you like version 1 and want to save some money stick with it. It’s excellent and personally my v2 experience, though different, is no better than my v1 experience. They are both good products and I talk of them in this way as this is what the developer did to v2. It does not carry through as an upgrade but certain changes segmented it entirely from v1.

v2 imports your v1 database and on you go. However, there are other diary products that import Day One v1 in the same fashion and way you go.

Rich Journalling Environment

Day One is a very rich journaling eenvironment. You can continue to write your journal from just one database or in 2 from many. I prefer to write from one database as a diary is a special breed of information capture. It is about you and a carry through of you as you live this life. You live it through one you though that you might be changeable through time and is likely so but I would contest it is still a linear process and not a segmented process.

There are reasons I can see why you might want multiple databases for your diary – to separate say work from your home life but I would ask why are you segmenting one from the other as it is you that does both things.

Context will be severely damaged by this approach as you will be defining two you’s and when you look for context you will be looking at a shizophrenic’s pallette. Even for the severely mentally ill, should they keep a diary and I think due to the very valuable therapeutic capabilities of diarizing they should still view themselves as a whole; non-segmented self looking at their journey through life with that special lens called a jounal in a linear fashion. Context for the schizophrenic, as an example, will never be so important.

Day One though provides the richest of the environments for journaling and your able to capture many things both fluidly due to its design and automatically. It is beautiful to look at and for that little time you spend in the day with it you’ll appreciate the effort down the road that you spent recording things regularly. Journaling is a very satisfying activity.



Journey is an advanced diary application like Day One. One of the first major differences to be noticed however, is Journey only enters diary material into one database. For me, this is the way I prefer it. I’d rather have many separate enttries making up my day than jumping between databases to accomplish the same thing.


A day in Journey may look something like this:

Wednesday Feb 21

8 am Woke up and felt wel rested followed by some text.

12pm Went to lunch with Peter followed by text.

1pm Continued to write all aft without interruptions

4 pm A little TV followed by a couple of phone calls and leisure reading

7–9pm Wrote followed by dinner

10pm on – Watched an excellent fillowed by bed as for toight I was tired


Journey is also ultimately far more cost effective than Day One. Day One’s pricing is a bit complex but I’ll just say for the yearly package it is:

$31.99 (caveatte – this price might be inaccurate for your particular situation).

Journey can be had either on an outright sale basis for around $30 for the desktop and 1 remote be it Android, IOS etc or if you’re a member of Setapp, which I can higly recommend, especially if you need a couple high end packages like Ulysses or 2do you could also take Journey. Setapp is $99 yearly for any app in it’s kitbag.


Lifecraft also runs on multiple platforms but this time only within the Apple environment. Like Day One, you can have multiple databases. It is a flexible, high end product but not nearly as flexible as Journey or Day One.

It is however, quite cost effective at $14.95 yearly. It is capable package and can combine images with text and sync them through your environment.

My Wonderful Days

This package can be had on a purchase bases or through setapp. It has a light, rather fun appearance and is good at not only recording thought but also your feelings on any said day. In ways, one would view this as a light spirited Journal. It can handle that which you thow at it but is good at recording not only events and how you feel but actually measuring how you feel.

This package is an Apple only system so it doesn’t have the flexibility of Day One or Journey but it’s lightness of flair might appeal when writing out your activities, feelings and outcomes.


This is probably the least expensive of the applicatons but it runs on all the Apple platforms. Again it has a very clean, fresh look and simply might appeal to those not needing as much support information but merely get their thoughts and feelings out.

Actually, the key to good journaling is relative regularity and expressing what you might not generally express. A package does not need to provide every bell and whistle to effective. However, if you do need to use a platfrm outside the Apple sphere, Journey and Day One are your best options with Journey being the most cost effective.

The Key to Good Journaling

Good Journaling
The key to good journaling is merely the act of doing it on a relatively regular basis. Many people grow tired of the process while some become bored. If you can overcome this inertia when it sets in, journaling can be an extremely powerful therapeutic tool. It will allow you to externalize your feelings something which has been seen as very healthy.

It is not necessary to review your journal to get these benefits but doing so assists in the process of providing context e.g. How did I get here again. In other ways, it can just be fun to reflect on the past and remember when.

Today’s journals are made of text, images and video making them far richer than when it was simply pen to paper. Pen to paper is a very constructive activity but with your digital journal you can do so much more.

It’s well worth the time and litte to journal effectively while having fun with it. Mind you, there is no reason to break the bank when journaling. What is important is you use a journal you like using and are drawn to. Again, the benefit is mainly in the doing of journaling. Use what you like and can comfortably afford but keep at it as the benefits will arise. There is also the sense of accomplishment that comes with good journaling so go to it.

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