The benefits of journaling are touted all over the internet. Most articles and research claim that the benefits come from the actual act of handwriting. We know that writing information down triggers the Reticular Activating System in the brain and increases memory. Writing allows us to release emotions and organize our thoughts. It has even been linked to increased physical health, lowered blood pressure, and improved immunity!
Let’s be honest though, most of us don’t write anything anymore. It is increasingly becoming a more and more digital world. Cursive handwriting is no longer taught in schools. Most schoolwork is done via computer, and we even carry tiny computers in our pockets. As our smartphones keep improving leaps and bounds each year, there really isn’t much we can’t do on them. Banking? There’s an app for that. Need directions? There’s an app for that. Need to see your sister that lives across the world? There’s an app for that. Edit photos? App for that. Need food dropped off at your house? There’s an app for that too.
We seem to have an app for pretty much everything. So, why wouldn’t there be an app for journaling? Truth is, there are tons of them, an overwhelming number, in fact. If you have opened Google play or the Apple App store to look for a journaling app, chances are you quickly realized you either need to do some more research or there is going to be a lot of trial and error.
That’s why you’re here, right? You are trying to figure out if any of these digital journals are any good? Which ones are good? Do their benefits compare to analog journaling? And most importantly which one is right for you? We know you don’t have time to download and try all these out, so we have gathered some of the best journaling apps for you. In this guide, we will cover the pros and cons of each app, what form of analog journals they compare to, and which one is best for your situation. Let’s go!
Still Love Tried and True Paper Journals?
Even though journal apps are convenient, paper journals remain a favorite of travelers worldwide. We’ve come up with a travel journal format that will help you document your experiences from start to finish. Connect with your destinations and write about your adventures in this handy exploration companion!
The Best Journal Apps
1. Dabble Me PRO
If you have trouble sitting down and talking to yourself in your journal, or you just aren’t that great at sharing feelings to begin with, Dabble Me is for you. It compares with the analog version of Unsent Letter Journaling. So, basically, instead of writing to yourself, you write a letter, or in this case, an email, to someone else. With Dabble Me, you will receive an email prompt every day, or at the frequency you set up, asking you how your day went. It’s a direct question, and you respond, writing a letter describing whatever you think was important about today. When you hit send, the system saves your entry, and you do it all again tomorrow. It’s a great way to get out the anxiety of the day, do some self-reflection, and keep a record of your life, in a no-nonsense, straightforward fashion.
- You don’t have to write daily, you can dictate the schedule.
- It’s easy to attach photos to your entry to help you better remember.
- It has rich text formatting, so it looks good across devices and processors.
- It provides you with segments of former writings each day too, so you can expand on them or rewrite if the situation has changed.
- It has a calendar and a search function, so you can easily see all your old posts and re-read them at will.
- It’s cheap at only $2.49 per month.
- You have to wait for your email to do your writing, usually not a problem, but it might be for some.
2. 750 Words
One of the most popular forms of analog journaling is a method called Morning Pages. It was developed by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way. The process involves writing 3 pages, first thing each morning, in a stream of consciousness. You get up and start writing, and you write whatever comes to mind until you fill up your pages. You are not supposed to censor or edit it. It doesn’t matter if it’s complete sentences or fully-formed thoughts, you just write.
750 Words is the digital version of this method. This website works great for those suffering from anxiety. The freeflow form allows you to get all the stress out of your head and onto the app. It is also great for writers and morning people.
- It’s simple.
- The process is easy and the app is user-friendly.
- There are rewards for being consistent.
- The app has built-in privacy settings and costs $5/mo.
- Every day you get a stats sheet that gives you some information on your mood, mindset, and thoughts, based on the words used in that day’s writing.
- There is a word counter, so you know exactly when you hit your 750!
- This method is hard if you struggle with writing, expressing ideas and feelings, or coming up with topics.
- It’s browser-based so requires the internet.
- It’s not the most sophisticated system. It’s pretty basic and not that visually appealing.
3. Day One Journal App
Day One is a favorite for millions of people. It is a photo journal, video journal, travel journal, and note-taking system all in one. The app has a beautiful, award-winning interface, and everything you need for privacy. It’s easy to use and has some incredible features. We would suggest this app if you are normally a bullet journaler. It doesn’t have all the features of an analog bullet journal, but it is one of the best apps to keep all your details in one place. The app works for iOS and Android, and is beautifully done. It was Apple’s app of the year, with over 50 million downloads and 50,000 5-star reviews.
- Awesome award-winning design
- Unlimited diary entries for free
- Rich text formatting with markdown
- Can be used on iPhone, Mac, and iPad, along with Android products
- You can keep several different topical journals, all in one interface, with the premium edition.
- Top-notch security with passcode or biometric entry.
- Easy to attach photos, videos, maps, social media posts, handwritten notes, and voice recordings.
- You can text or email things to your journal.
- Daily reminder texts and journal prompts keep you accountable.
- If there are any cons, it’s that the free version doesn’t have much. If you want all the goods, you will have to pay the subscription fee, $34.99 for the year.
- Users report having to pay for each app separately across their devices.
Daylio is an app for people who love an analog photo journal or art journal. Journal entries in the app require no writing at all. Daylio asks you to pick your mood and then add in activities you have done today. That’s it. Two steps, and it only takes seconds. If you journal primarily to keep an eye on your mental health, then Daylio will be great for you. You can, of course, go back and add notes and elaborate all you want, but you don’t have to. This is a great app for those who do Single-Sentence Analog Journaling or use the Five-Minute Journal, as well. It keeps a great record of the important parts of your day, is a good habit tracker, and won’t take up all your time.
- Daylio has great statistics that it automatically creates from your logs, helping you quickly review your habits.
- You can customize your mood icons
- Works for iOS and Android, and you can backup with Google Drive.
- Pin Secured
- Very user-friendly
- The instructions and prompts are minimal, thankfully it’s pretty easy to figure out.
Momento works by gathering data from your social media feeds. It’s a multiple Apple Award-winning digital diary app. It automatically collects various posts and data and pulls them into an organized feed. Then, you can go in and fill in the blanks. The app is easy to use and has a beautiful, award-winning interface. This app is great for those who use social media regularly and who don’t have a lot of time to journal. There is a free version, but to utilize the unlimited social media feeds, you need the premium version.
- There is a calendar view for easily finding events.
- The search feature also allows you to find data quickly using keywords and tags.
- Data can be exported for use elsewhere.
- Tagging functionality to add friends, places, and check-ins.
- It does not have an Android version.
Diaro is a digital journal app for iOS and Android. It is a simple system that works like a digital diary and daybook put together. It’s a great app for beginners. It has more features, than say, 750 words, but is still simple to use. It offers password protection and data encryption. Diaro has a mood tracker and the ability to pull in notes from other diary apps like Evernote and Journey. The app itself is free but offers several in-app purchases, and of course, you get the best features with Diaro PRO.
- The blog and community offer a lot of great tips and tutorials.
- Very minimal yearly fee for Diaro Pro
- Compatible with Dropbox for data syncing.
- Works offline
- Available in over 30 languages
- Too many adds
- Can’t link journal entries to each other.
Penzu is an iOS and Android journal app that functions more like a blog. It offers a beautiful journaling experience that is customizable and functional. Penzu allows you to create whatever kind of diary you want. It’s one of the easiest to use digital diaries out there.
- It has a ton of features in the free version, much more than most
- Completely customize your layout with fonts, covers, and themes.
- Military-grade encryption with paid versions.
- There have been complaints about the paid version not having all the features available on the mobile app.
- There is no social media account or community
- Some complaints about customer service
- Some people report random deleting of their information
- Hasn’t been updated since 2017
Okay. This one is cool. You actually get the benefits of an analog journal, with the perks of a digital one. Rocketbook has reusable pages. Yep. You journal by hand, and then you scan your entry into the Rocketbook app to save it. Then you wipe it clean and start over tomorrow. It’s a win-win!
- According to their website, you can “send your scans as PDFs or JPEGs to specific locations in Google Drive, Dropbox, Trello, Evernote, Box, OneDrive, OneNote, Slack, Google Photos, and Email.”
- No tree-killing, you can use your journal over and over.
- Fair pricing: It’s a free app, and the notebooks are reasonably priced.
- The app really isn’t much. It has a few small features, but mostly it’s just a high-quality scanner.
9. Five-Minute Journal
The Five Minute Journal was developed by Intelligent Change. It is an app for iOS and Android that functions as a gratitude journal and self-reflection journal. The app asks three questions in the morning, and two questions in the evening, that focus on planning and improving your day and then reflecting on how you could have made it even better. The app is designed to take only five minutes, and we like that! It is simple and doesn’t overdo it with features. You can add photos, and you can export to PDF, but primarily it is a quick digital journaling app where you answer the prompts and move on.
- The app focuses on well-being and creates good habits.
- It’s not overcomplicated.
- It’s free.
- The app doesn’t have many features.
Is five minutes still too long? We get it, some of you are busy folks! OneWord is a browser-based daily journal that only takes 60 seconds. It’s not actually an app, and honestly, we only include it because it is the most simple of the daily journals listed here. OneWord will only work for those who are true beginners and are just trying to start a good habit.
The website gives you one word, one single word. You expound on that word for 60 seconds. You can write whatever comes to mind, but you only have 60 seconds. OneWord is not private. The answers are shared with a community of journalers. OneWord is really simplistic and will only work for the most minimalistic of journalers. It’s not fancy, and that’s the point.
- It’s simple and fast.
- It is easy to formulate a habit, and you can see what others think on the same subject.
- The website is, honestly, pretty ugly.
- No offline capabilities-It’s not really an app, but a website.
- You will have to use a random username if you want to stay anonymous, due to the sharing feature.
11. Grid Diary
Grid Diary is for those who love a calendar. The interface is set up in a box-grid format, like an old-fashioned calendar, with slots for recording information. Its interesting prompts and planner templates allow beginner journalers to write with ease. The app allows you to create multiple journal threads, separating and categorizing your data in a way that helps you easily track habits and moods. Grid diary is great for those who need a little help knowing what to write about. We love it because, like a bullet journal, it is a great combination of planner and journal.
- There are customizable templates available for all different kinds of journaling, making it easy and time-efficient.
- You can tag friends and places to make your journal easily searchable later.
- There are fun additives like photos, stickers, and designs.
- You can sync across several devices and have multiple export options. When you enter information via the browser, on your laptop, it will automatically update in your mobile app.
- Daily reminders are available.
- Some users find the number of grids and boxes overwhelming. Just remember, you don’t need to fill them all in. Use the ones you want. Ignore the rest.
- Privacy features are only in the paid version
Journey is another well-rounded digital journal. The app is great for travel journaling, as it allows you to pull in photos, maps, and calendars. However, the app touts itself as a place to help “increase positive energy, be more grateful…and embark on a fabulous journey of self-improvement.” The app has collaborated with therapists and life coaches to develop an impressive array of guided journaling prompts to help new journalers, or those with writer’s block, craft entries that are not only personal but useful for reflection.
- Allows you to create journal entries via email.
- Great place for all your journals, in one app.
- Fabulous travel journal, allowing you to integrate maps, photos, tags, and notes all in one beautiful space.
- Unlimited number of entries
- Backs up to Google Drive
- Available on Apple and Android and Windows.
- It’s a free app, but has better features with the paid version, of course.
- Posts can be shared through your social media or exported in PDF.
- Great safety features.
- You have to pay for each app separately. This can result in high prices if you want it across all your devices.
13. My Diary
My Diary is another simple app for pure writers. The Android app allows you to write online or offline. You can customize your colors and design and share your entries over social media. That’s about all the features though. It’s really a glorified notetaking system that organizes your entries by date and time and makes them easily searchable. There are no prompts, no tutorials necessary. It is just an easy place to keep an old-school diary.
- It’s simple-there is no learning curve or difficult process to figure out. You just get on and write.
- It’s free
- There are ads, and with no premium version, there is no ability to get away from them.
- It only works for Android products. There is no Windows or iOS version.
Reflectly used Artificial intelligence to generate journaling prompts that collect info on your mental health and mood. The app used the principle of cognitive behavior therapy and positive psychology to prompt daily reflection and battle against negative thought processes. The goal of the app is to help you manage stress, develop an attitude of gratitude, and create a habit of self-reflection. Basically, Reflectly lets you rate how your day went, asks guided questions to help you reflect, and then gives you space to elaborate.
- It’s easy to use and doesn’t require much effort
- Available for Android and iOS
- Encourages you to think about your day and relfect.
- Pushes the paid version, and it’s a bit expensive.
- Many of the questions seem irrelevant and don’t really encourage too much thought.
- Many people find it weird to converse with what looks like a little robot. The whole interface feels a bit impersonal and childish at times.
15. Journal It!
Journal it! is a great journaling app. It is a mood tracker, planner, habit tracker, to-do list, and diary, all in one. Available for iOS, Android, and Windows, Journal It! is filled with widgets and features that allow you to organize every part of your life. Available for iOS, Android, and Windows, this app is probably the best on the list for a true bullet journal alternative.
The app is laid out in 4 major tabs. There are Home, Planning, Journeys(goals or to-dos), and Activities pages. Within these four tabs, there are widgets for almost everything you can think of or want to track. This modular setup allows you to easily search your posts and keep everything organized. Plus, it is visually appealing. There is a desktop and mobile app available.
- We love this organized layout that keeps everything separate, but together, at the same time.
- We love the premade widgets.
- The app backs up effortlessly to the cloud, with end-to-end encryption and excellent safety features.
- The interface just looks good. Unlike some others on the app, it won’t distress those who need an aesthetically pleasing environment to feel creative.
- It might be overwhelming for some. If you want a basic diary app, Journal It! is not for you.
JRNL is a combination webpage and mobile app that is free! It is one of the best free journaling apps, in fact. Like Momento and others, it allows you to pull in data from your social media sites, texts, video, and audio. You can share or export your journal in multiple formats, and unlike others on the list, JRNL actually offers the ability to export your journal into a hardcover scrapbook. You can even select a beneficiary to pass your journal onto once your pass. How cool is that? They also have an “all about me” feature that is filled with hundreds of questions and prompts, allowing you to participate in guided journaling that encourages self-awareness and reflection.
- Entries can be added from social media or email, from your computer, or from your mobile app.
- They send daily reminders via text, app notification, or email, whatever you want.
- Allows you to leave your journal to a loved one when you pass, preserving your memories forever!
- Easily add photos, handwritten notes, and other moments to your journal.
- Allows you to print your journal at the end of the year into a bound and beautiful scrapbook.
- All of it is free!
- Unfortunately, the app has reported issues. While users love the website, the mobile app has reports of losing information and being buggy. A new update came out in September 2021. Hopefully, some of this has been addressed.
Perspective is an app designed by Blinky. It’s free and has many of the same features as other apps listed above, with a few unique ones added to the mix. For instance, Perspective has an innovative timeline that maps out your entire life, displaying it all the way until your 90th birthday. This allows you to chart events, in order, and see them across the span of your whole journey. The app also has a useful weekly review. This feature is meant to help track where you spend your time and help you set new goals. The “Insights” feature brings back previous journal entries from your past, allowing you to re-read and reflect on them, adding new notes. This feature is incredibly useful for self-reflection and mindfulness, as it helps you to see where you were mentally and track your progress as you go along.
- We love the unique features of this app, including the weekly review, the Insights, and most of all the “Life Calendar” timeline feature.
- The app is versatile. You can add long written entries, or just track your habits, to-do lists, goals, and calendar.
- It has very high scores on Apple, with most users saying it is very reliable and works smoothly, on a consistent basis.
- It’s free, but it does ask for donations.
- Some users complain that the app needs to be updated more frequently.
Journaling, in general, provides a plethora of benefits for mental, emotional, and physical health. While a journaling app is not going to give you all the flexibility and memory benefits of handwritten journals, they can still be a valuable resource to help organize your life and increase self-reflection. Plus, for many of us, a digital journal is the only journal we are going to keep. We need something that is portable, fast, and doesn’t require a writer’s cramp.
Digital journals are great for people who have trouble with creativity but still need an aesthetically pleasing place to log their lives. They are great for fast-paced people on the go. Journal apps are great for those who want to journal but are not inherently great writers. They are also great for those of us who keep a handwritten journal but want a quick place to jot down things, as they happen, throughout the day. Many analog journalers use their journaling app as a companion to their beloved hard journal. Digital journals also have benefits that few analogs have, like the ability to pull in maps, photos, and social media posts. Digital journals allow us to keep so much more information in one place than an analog journal does. Their search features allow us to find and reanalyze our entries much easier than an analog journal does, as well.
In short, journaling apps, while different than handwritten journals, still provide great benefits to most of our lives. Journaling in an app is definitely better than not journaling at all. So, it’s worth a shot! Try one of these awesome apps out and let us know in the comments what you love/hate about it! We’d love to hear your take on them.
If you are still not sure about this whole journaling thing, head over to our Ultimate Guide on the Benefits of Journaling to learn more about how a daily journal can make you even more awesome.
If after reading this, you want to give a handwritten journal a try. Check out our guide on How to Bullet Journal. You may find that this innovative and creative analog journal is just what you need to get your life in order!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are so many journaling apps out there! The best journal app really depends on your personal journaling style and goals. Some of the highest-rated apps are DayOne, Momento, and Journey.
Apps like Grid Diary, DayOne, and Five-Minute Journal are some of the best journal apps for organizing your life and documenting your memories, right from your mobile device.