Think you’re too busy to journal? These apps let you do it on the go.
Dear digital diary...
Keeping a daily journal lets you practice writing, organize your thoughts, and preserve your habits and events for posterity. But who has the time and energy to sit down for a dedicated recording session every day? Instead, jot down your entries on the go—by keeping the tome on your phone. These five apps will let you journal at any time or place.
1. Day One
Few journaling apps are as beautiful or flexible as Day One—in addition to the versions for Android and iOS, you can download the app to a macOS computer, which makes it ideal for those who prefer to type on a larger keyboard.
Day One offers abilities you didn’t even realize you needed: support for exporting your work as plain text or PDFs, a range of templates for each entry, and easy inclusion of photos, weather reports, daily step counts, locations, tags, and other pieces of information. It wraps this functionality in an attractive and intuitive interface that makes archive-searching easy: You can browse through a calendar view, sort entries by tags, or revisit all the posts written in specific places on a map.
Although you can use a basic version of the app for free, you’ll need a premium subscription, which costs $35 per year, to unlock all of its features. This buys you unlimited cloud storage, the option to create multiple journals, and the ability to upload more than one photo a day.
Universum manages to squeeze in even more features than Day One, but to do so, it sacrifices that elegant interface for a more crowded-looking one. And unlike the previous option, this app is only available on Android devices.
This app lets you deck out entries with photos, drawings, calendar events, and even daily expenses. We also like the mood tracker than can assign a smiling, frowning, or neutral face to each day. Universum can also back up entries to cloud accounts such as Google Drive and Dropbox. Between all these options, and the advertisements that come with the free version of Universum, the interface can get a little cluttered. Overall, however, the app looks pretty good, particularly when you tap an individual entry to display all the information you recorded that day.
To make the interface look even better, you can pay $4 for the premium version of the app, which has no ads. This subscription also gives you the ability to export your journal in PDF format. All of the other features come included with the free version.
Universum for Android only, free with a premium plan for $4
In some ways, Momento is the opposite of Universum: It emphasizes a smooth and elegant interface, and it is only available on iOS. Unlike the other apps on this list, Universum easily incorporates your web activity, so it’s an excellent option for social media enthusiasts.
With this app, you can add all kinds of details to your daily entry, including photos, videos, locations, custom tags, and the names of friends you spent time with. Plus, of course, there’s plenty of room for the text that should make up the bulk of your journaling. Alternatively, it can import up to three social media feeds to automatically update your journal on your behalf. Momento can pull data from your Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other accounts, so even if you forget to record a journal entry for the day, you’ll still be able to check out the songs you listened to or the tweets you sent on a given day.
You can enjoy many of these features for free, but Momento does offer a premium subscription for $4 a year. It gives you access to extra abilities like exporting entries as plain text, locking the app with a PIN code, adding more than one photo per day, and importing more than three external feeds.
Momento for iOS, free with a premium plan for $4/year
What really makes Journey stand out is its cross-platform appeal—it offers apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS, and you can also use it through its website. Because you can sync your entries across all of these platforms, Journey makes an ideal app for journalers who plan to jot down their thoughts on whatever device happens to be closest.
This app also has a well-designed interface that offers a nice balance between text, images, and videos. In addition to these tidbits, the app can automatically include weather and location information in each post. It lets you navigate older entries in multiple ways, from searching through custom tags to checking out a calendar-based overview. We also like the fact that you can share certain entries with friends and family, while keeping the rest of your journal private—just be sure to check which entry you’re about to broadcast when you hit the Share button.
If all this sounds appealing, you can upgrade to a premium subscription for $30 a year. This gives you access to features like night mode (a darker interface that’s easier on the eyes) and the ability to export multiple diary entries at once.
5. Five Minute Journal
If you find the whole idea of daily writing a bit daunting, we’d recommend Five Minute Journal. It encourages you to take just 300 seconds out of every day to scribble down your thoughts, ideal for those who have tried journaling in the past but have never been able to stick with it. To make this even easier, it guides the user with prompts.
These questions focus on the positive: They might ask you to list three things you’re grateful for, a few fun memories of that day, or three traits you like about yourself. You can supplement the text with photos to create a short but (in theory) uplifting record of each day. When you decide to thumb through your archives, the well-designed interface offers a few different views of past entries, and displays a daily motivational quote as well. To maintain this simplicity, Five Minute Journal doesn’t offer as many features as some of the other apps on this list. However, it makes the journaling process a whole lot easier.
Unfortunately, you can’t try this app for free. That said, you only need to make a one-time payment of $5, rather than shelling out monthly for an ongoing subscription.