The Best in the Way of Diaries for the Mac

Of all software item categories, one would think that writing a diary would be one area that would be the easiest to fill. In actuality, it isn’t. As a requisite, if you’re doing your diary on the Mac or even on an IOS device it should work in all areas of the Mac ecosystem and sync easily allowing you to work with any of the Apple devices to write your diary. There is actually very little to choose from that meets this criteria but that may soon change.

However, cross platform is is the way things are heading and heading fast. In this arena, Android is the major platform along with IOS to do this. People want to be able to work in teams interchangeably. The Android platform along with the Mac platform seems to be a very logical consequence but here we see things really lingering.

Work within the Apple ecosystem is Progressing

Regardless, in the field of the diary, work within the Apple ecosystem is definitely progressing. Applications are being developed or enhanced to run across platforms. It no longer requires you to sit at your computer to do some excellent Journaling.

Ten Systems to be Looked At

In this article, I am going to briefly look at ten systems that will fill the need for full cross platform development. Some of the systems have fully implemented this today whilst other systems are in the process of readying upgrades. Part of what slows the process down is the changes that continue to the OS’s, an essential component of Apple competitiveness. Developers though should be able to work with the new OS’s so that they have a nice forward migration path. Anything that stands alone is always easier to develop. However, there is a greater need than ever for systems to be not only cross platform but to be of high quality while being cross platform.

This puts great demands on sync strategies and implementations; development time for the different platforms and on it goes. A day will come though when this is all second nature.

Let’s Start

For the purposes of this article, any system considered will have to be at a minimum:

  • cross platform at least within the Apple ecosystem
  • High quality
  • Easy to work with
  • Outstanding as an individual, standalone product

No system, no matter how good it is, will suit everyone ideally. That’s why we’ll look at the various options available and how they can meet your needs. The electronic journal still has all the requirements of a written platform, but it preferrably needs to be portable between different operational environments.

We’ll start with what would appear, to be at first blush, the best and work our way down considering though that everything in the lineup is good.

Day One

Day One has been considered the product to be beat until version 2 came out. It runs beautifully in all the Apple environments supporting text with a variety of fonts, Markown and the ability to embed images and photos.

When v2 arrived there was somewhat of a backlash especially because Day One abandoned Dropbox and iCloud for its own sync solution. Initially the sync didn’t work well and some had solutions embedded in the technologies provided. Of greatest concern though was lock-in to a vendor’s solution. Day One is planning an Android version however, there current is an Android product called Narrate that works perfectly with Day One v1 using Dropbox to sync.

Day One has matured from those early days and although sync works better there are others who are not as happy with the UI as they were in v1. A lot has been written about the disgruntlement but at the end of the day this remains one of the top and most viable of the Journaling solutions.

Journey from the Android Side

Journey is a high quality, well received user experience program that provides a client for Android and the Mac and which work perfectly together. On IOS however, you need use Journey web app but this is about to change.

Jeromy of Journey has committed to an IOS client in the near future thus providing full cross platform functionality. Additionally, some are much happier with the UI of Journey than they are with Day One.

Day One is planning an Android client and at the end of the day, it will come down to the client people prefer. Both have their advantages but Journey is probably the slicker of the two providing a nice environment to get your life out there for review at some point down the road.

My Wonderful Days

This product runs on the Mac, iPhone, iPod and iPad and is a blend of skeumorphic with the new design elements. It is a very simple program to write in allowing you to describe your moods by a face, tag items for searching and just simply writing. In many ways, it is very basic in its application but for a product such as this complexity maybe the last thing you need. Taking to this product will be simply one of taking to the UI.

Capture 365

Capture 365 is a much more elaborate and full scale application environment for Journaling. You can buy feeds that will run daily and populate your journal, it runs in all the environments of Apple and it has a pleasing look.

Multiple journals are allowed however, I’ve often felt this detracts from a true journaling exercise. Using standard sync methodologies as opposed to the proprietary approach Day One takes is going to appeal to some.

Additionally, this is a full featured journaling system not much different than that of Day One except that you are allowed to have contributions from external sources something that could prove of great value.

MacJournal

MacJournal, in some ways, could be viewed as the granddaddy of journaling for the Mac environment. It has been around a long time and as such, the program has a slightly different bent. Your Journals could actually be part of a blog.

MacJournal runs on all things Apple with a long history behind it. Be that as it may, it can seem dated but only in that priorities have shifted for journals. Journals are still expected to gab the essence of your day and life. That hasn’t changed and nor should it. Can these new journals do this; absolutely and in some ways they seem better designed for this. However, MacJournal could appeal to many based upon a real life depiction of the world.

I used to like Macjournal but it is no longer my cup of tea.

Journaly the very New Kid on the Block

Journaly is cross platform and runs on the Mac, iPhone and Android devices but not the iPad. This has numerous strengths in that you can basically journal anywhere. Further, if you want to know how much coffee you’re drinking you can log this or design templates to get at lifestyle issues.

However, of all of our solutions this is by far the most basic from an interface point of view. It certainly will get the job done and you can even setup templates to frame your answers to see how well you’re doing around an issue. The interface is simply too bland for my liking at this stage of its development.

Individual Platform Apps worth a Mention

There are three individual platform apps that are worth a mention especially Momento. So the three apps are of course Momento, which runs solely on the iPhone and Daylife for the Mac. ’They deserve mention for different reasons. Then there’s finally Grid which is an IOS only app.

Momento

This is a very robust app for the iPhone. Although they are building or have built an app for the iPad they’re having trouble with sync. One look at Momento and you realize why. This is a highly robust application and as such sync would not be that simple. However, they will eventually likely need not only an iPad app but a Mac app.

Momento handles your Journal by Moments. You jot something down about this moment and later about that moment. It has a nice timeline effect for documenting your life. There are other components to Momento that you can bring in to enhance the experience. However, they will definitely need an iPad and Desktop app to round out the experience. You need to be able to write your journal anywhere and easily.

Grid

Grid is designed solely for IOS at this moment. It is getting very nice reviews due to it’s novel grid like style. A simple diary, it is visually unique and is nice to use. Reviews of Grid as the new kid on the block have been very positive.

Daylife by Chronos

One final standalone product that is worth mentioning is Daylife by Chronos. If you’re the type that just likes sitting down at the end of a day to recount it, this might be the product for you. It doesn’t run on any other platform however, it has visually has a very nice interface and writing area. Implemented using Apple’s three pain approach it is easy to use. It is certainly a way of Journaling that is visually very appealing and similar to the Pen and Paper approach of years gone by.

The Many Benefits of Journaling

So far, I have looked at digital Journaling and products that might best support this approach. However, there is much in the way of benefits brought to the person that Journals, either with Pen and Paper, or with one of the tools listed in the article. Some feel that Pen and Paper produces the best results whereas others just feel the practice of Journaling, in and of itself, sets the stage for a beneficial result.

Journaling as Habit

The key to reaping the rewards of Journaling is to free yourself enough to let the process of keeping a Journal become an integral habit. You know that you are on the road to success when you actually miss the Journaling process.

As with anything that becomes a habit, you’ll know you’re on the right road if you actually feel uncomfortable when you’re not Journaling as opposed to feeling neither regret or pride. Habit in this case, is the key to keeping a successful journal.

Improved Mental Health

One of the key benefits that arises from persistent Journaling is improved mental health. Through Journaling, you can aid yourself in reducing stress via the act of Journaling in and of itself. Journaling allows you to reflect; on positive areas in your life and negative areas. Such self-reflection allows for modest change to one’s lifestyle and the release or understanding of aspects that create stress.

The ability to understand oneself better is key to the improvement in both behavioural and cognitive function. Journaling can lead to a heightened sense of self awareness and pride which directly impacts stress. Further however, the act becomes self-reinforcing and with time the habit becomes entrenched. One bolsters the other in a constant feedback loop.

Achievement

A journal can also not only allow self reflection which has its own very powerful merits, it also allows you to elaborate or elucidate what’s important to you. With time, your goals can be uncovered in a variety of modes that leads to a safe route to self awareness. This awareness will allow you to define your goals which further enhances the probability of success and a success that is important to you. Societal pressures “to be” will diminish as you define this for yourself.

The Many of Benefits of Journaling from a Mental Health Perspective

It’s a well accepted fact that Journaling has numerous benefits. Journaling not only provides tangible results but it also can be an enjoyable habit one that is missed if you don’t do your daily journal. For some, there can be numerous pitfalls as they setup their perfect writing environment whereas for others it can be a piece of cake.

Once done and engaged in numerous aspects in one’s life will begin to change and change for the better. Such things as:

  • self reflection
  • Analysis
  • Memory
  • Needs; wants; desires will reveal themselves
  • Creativity
  • improved cognitive function
  • Mental Health improvements
  • Etc.

will develop. Such things can only be viewed in a positive light in one’s life. Many great and famous people journaled with very tangible results. For most the same will occur.

With these things in mind and with the numerous tools available to aid in the practice of Journaling, I would say just “do it”. Strike out and journal for your own benefit. I believe it is something you will enjoy while producing a more healthy existence. Even if it just helps you frame your life with greater clarity and allows you to ponder times gone by, that alone is enough to justify the little time needed to produce a useful if not fun journal.

Is there a Best Choice

After reviewing, basically at a cursory level, these various applications one is left wondering is there a best choice application. For all intents and purposes the answer is simply it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Day One if you live in a Mac only environment would likely be considered the best choice. However, if you say had an Android phone but a Mac ecosystem in every other way then your best choice would likely be Journey (this is my preferred program all things being equal).

Yet, stepping outside of the box a bit, other programs might be more suited to your personality and style of operation. So for some, My Wonderful Days may actually suit you better. Much ultimately depends on you, the writer along with a product that will work with you. So for some, that product might be Capture 365. There really is no right or wrong answer.

Finally, even a standalone product such as Momento, due to its leveraging of the OS, might be your best choice. In fact, if it ran in all our significant environments, there might be no contest here. However, it doesn’t so you have to consider your style of writing quite significantly. At the end of the day, it is how you work, write and play that will ultimately determine what is the best choice for you.

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