5 Exceptional iPhone and iPad Apps for Keeping a Journal


Image via Bloom Built/Day One

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Keeping a journal is good for your mind and your disposition. You can use a journal to reflect on your day, to vent frustrations, to remember meaningful moments, and more. But keeping a physical journal can mean less privacy, less organization, and less accessibility.

With a physical journal you have to keep it somewhere safe, you can’t easily search the text (or edit it when you find a typo), and if you think of something you want to record, you have to wait until you’re near your journal before you can write it down.

Luckily, there are many journaling apps available on iOS that let you take your journaling efforts with you wherever you go. You can use just one, or a handful depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, some apps are geared toward keeping a record of your day, while others are meant for self reflection and awareness.

5 Paper by FiftyThree

While not necessarily a journaling app, Paper by FiftyThree is a great app for drawing and making handwritten notes. It’s very simple and natural to use and can be used for a wide variety of note-taking and sketching applications. Including journaling.

To use the app for journaling simply create a notebook—or series of notebooks—to use as your journal. Then jot down your thoughts as you see fit. It may not be as robust as the other apps on this list, but it will definitely give you a more traditional, pen and paper feel.

For this app you will probably want to use an iPad with an Apple Pencil to really get the full effect. However, you can also add text so it may still be a good option for some iPhone users. The app is free to download, but for “Pro” features you’ll need to upgrade to Paper Pro for $5.99 every six months.

One drawback to Paper Pro is it doesn’t have an option for a passcode lock since it wasn’t designed to be a journal. Of course, you can (and should) set a password on the device itself.

4 Day One

Something of a gold standard for journaling apps, Day One was developed in Utah by Bloom Built, LLC and originally released in 2011 for iPhone and Mac. That same year, the Mac version of the app was an Editor’s Choice and took the number one spot on the Mac App Store “Best Apps of 2011.”

Day One is a simple-to-use journaling app with a sleek modern design. It’s easy to use and even lets you add moments from your Apple Watch.

Encrypted cloud sync ensures that your stories are securely synced across devices, and premium members get end-to-end encryption for added security.

Additionally, Day One keeps track of where you’ve been and then prompts you to write about your daily travels. This can be helpful for remembering the happenings of your day. Additionally, Day One will sometimes provide writing prompts to give you an idea of what to jot down.

Users can setup a passcode to protect their journal and Day One supports Face ID and Touch ID. The app lets you add photo, activity information, weather and location data, and more. Text can be formatted and memories are organized in a variety of ways for your searching pleasure.

Day One for iOS is free to download and use. Users can sign up for a premium subscription for $3.99 per month or $34.99 per year.

3 Moodnotes

If you’ve ever wished there was an app that let you improve your mood and thinking process, Moodnotes is a good place to start. Moodnotes is a thought journal. You log your thoughts, your mood, and your feelings to see how you were feeling throughout the day. You can add details and reflections to help you become aware of why you felt a certain way or why you were thinking negative thoughts.

Moodnotes was created in a collaboration between Thriveport and ustwo studio. The app utilizes Thriveport’s MoodKit tools to track your mood and promote well-being. Essentially, ustwo studio took the therapy-like power of MoodKit and put it into a well designed, user-friendly app.

Additionally, Moodnotes helps you identify “thinking traps”—irrational negative thoughts—and helps you get perspective on your thoughts and feelings.

Moodnotes is available on iPhone and Apple Watch. It syncs with iCloud, lets you set a passcode, supports Touch ID and Face ID, and even offers a very basic sticker pack for iMessage.

This is a great app for creating healthy thinking habits and becoming more self aware. You can purchase Moodnotes on the App Store for $3.99.

2 Momento

Momento, by d3i, is a lot like Day One. It offers many of the same features like tagging, photos, and more. It also lets you upgrade to a premium subscription (for only $3.99 per year) and lets you import data from a variety of social and Internet-connected sources.

What makes Momento truly great—besides the low cost—is its large number of connected services. You can log your posts and media from Facebook, Flickr, and Instagram, your tweets, your YouTube videos, and even your Medium stories. Additionally, you can log activities using Moves, trips taken with Uber, music in Spotify, and your Swarm check-ins. If that’s not enough, you can also log RSS and Atom feeds.

It’s this automatic logging that makes Momento a journaling force to be reckoned with. After all, one of the hardest parts about keeping a journal, is keeping a journal. What I mean by that is remembering to write every day. Because Momento pulls from so many sources automatically, odds are you will have multiple entries per day without even typing a word in Momento. Download Momento here.

Keep in mind, Day One lets you connect some social services as well and it offers support for IFTTT which can enable you to do a lot more. If you’re looking for simplicity and low cost, Momento is probably a great app for you. If you’re looking for a more customizable and robust journal, you may want to check out Day One.

1 Grid Diary

If you enjoy writing in your journal, but have a hard time figuring out what to write, you might want to give Grid Diary a try. Grid Diary, by Sumi Interactive, is an absolutely fantastic, modern solution to journaling.

Like Moodnotes it lets you log how you’re feeling, like Day One it lets you log weather and activity, and like Momento it doesn’t cost a lot to use.

Momento is free to use with ads, but to use Pro features you’ll pay $1.49 per month, or a one-time price of $4.99. Pro users have a wide variety of formatting options, can use Night Mode, and can sync their journal to the cloud. Additionally, Pro users can set a passcode lock and get a more customized experience.

Unlike Momento, you can’t connect social media services; however, you can integrate with Apple’s Health app, Dropbox, and Evernote. Additionally, you can import data from Day One.

Grid Diary lets you customize your template or layout, and gives you writing prompts to help you know where to start. Some prompts include “What have I done with my family today?” and “What can I do to make my future better?” Some prompts are more direct, while some are very deep or abstract.

If you struggle with knowing what to write about each day, Grid Diary can help you be inspired.

? Final Thoughts

It’s never too late to start keeping a journal and the App Store has a really great selection of apps to get you started. If you’re looking to document your day, Momento, Grid Diary, and Day One are all great options. Moodnotes works well as a companion to these apps for tracking and improving your mood and building healthy thinking habits. And if you’re looking for a more traditional journal that you can keep using a stylus, you may want to consider a notes app such as Paper by FiftyThree.

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