Digital Journaling: Make the Switch

Aug 9, 2011 by

Let’s give a warm welcome to today’s guest poster, the talented journalist Sam Lytle! Read on for his words on today’s journaling technology.

Making The Switch To Digital Journaling? These Are The Features You Should Look For.

Technology: A Blessing and a Curse


Depending on who you talk to, it can be almost equally argued that the progression of technology has either a positive or detrimental effect on society. With social media we are able to connect like never before, but at the same time less attention is paid to grammar and punctuation and now much of our communication is in emoticons, LOL’s and quotes credited to people that never existed.

This information revolution has taken a similar toll on journal keeping. Never has it been so easy to write in your personal journal at any time and at any place. Conversely, never has conveying our deepest inner thoughts and feelings been less personal.

I have filled many handwritten journals. They are full of funny and awkward moments, entries that span dozens of pages and hand drawn doodles. In the classic “What would you take if your house was on fire and you could only grab one thing?”, for me, it would be the box that holds these books.

Journaling in a Busy World

As I have recently collected titles such as ‘husband’, ‘daddy’ and ‘employee’, my free time has subsided and I am grateful for any minutes I can steal away for my coveted journal time. Another deciding factor was my famously awful handwriting. My future generations will be thrilled when they find out all of the records I have kept until they discover they are written in a secret code and are therefore illegible.

A few years back I decided that if I wanted to continue journaling in my ever busying life, I needed to make the switch to digital and I haven’t looked back. Though much more could be said about the pros and cons of both classic and digital journaling, I just want to point out a few of the things I have learned about this rapidly expanding world of electronic journal keeping.

The eJournal Options

There are three basic categories of digital diaries and journals: PC/Mac based, online or mobile apps (tablets are lumped into this category because, as of now, many of the applications are shared).

PC/Mac based software is perhaps the oldest form of digital journaling. It has basically existed since the word processor got popular in the 70’s. Today it exists both as files generated using word processing software and journals created with specialized entry software such as The Journal , Life Journal and Mac Journal . These programs are generally only on one computer and need to be manually backed up for safety.

Online journals and diaries are usually browser based and can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. Penzu , The Online Diary , LDS Journal and My Life Here On Earth are all examples of online journals. Because these software programs are based in the “cloud”, they are automatically backed up on servers, though you should investigate the method yourself and not just take their word.

And finally and more recently are journal “apps”. Short for application, apps have exploded in popularity especially since the iPhone App Store went main stream three years ago. Today there are dozens of journal apps available across several platforms including iOS (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch), Android (smartphones and tablets), Blackberry and Windows Mobile 7. These represent a journal you will almost always have with you but also are limited by the speed of your thumbs. Examples include Chronicle , Momento and Day One.

The Best Solution for YOU

While each of these forms of journal keeping have their own benefits and drawbacks, there are some ways that are arguably much better than others. My recommendation is to find either an online based journal that has mobile compatibility or a mobile app that has online compatibility and backup. For example, LDS Journal is an online source but it also a special domain you can go to on an iPhone or iPad for entries. Mac Journal is a software package that allows you to journal on your computer and now has a Mac Journal app to go along with it for entries on the go.

While the multi-platform solution is the best option for most users, here are some other features that help the best versions stand out:

  • Password protection
  • Configurable reminders
  • Multiple fonts and backgrounds
  • PDF saving options
  • Printed journal option
  • Emailed entries
  • Text messaged entries
  • Picture entry
  • Tags
  • Search
  • GPS Location Tag

In your own search, decide which of these options matter the most to you and then choose a client that has the most.

Perhaps the most important deciding factor should be to find an option that works best for you and something that you will actually do.

Happy journaling!

Sam Lytle is the founder of the new EasyJournaling.com , which is a website focused on tips, solutions and platforms to make journal keeping a reality in our busy lives. EasyJournaling has an emphasis on modern technology journals while retaining an appreciation for pen and paper journaling. He brings to it a background in iPhone and iPad app reviewing for AppAdvice.com and his personal blog about all of his writing adventures.You can also follow him on Twitter @easyjournaling.

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5 Comments

  1. These are some great resources. I am such a pen and paper type that I did not realize all these apps and software programs were available.

    It almost takes the tactile feel of writing out though. I suppose each person has to find their journal-ing style. I usually write with pen and paper and then go to the computer.

    Thanks for these links, Sam.

  2. I agree with Nicole that these are some great resources. It appears as though the apps you mentioned are only available on the iPhone. Would you happen to know anything about apps that are available for other devices? I would love to have a decent journal app for my android.

  3. Sam

    I have reviewed mostly iPhone journals because that’s what I have. I am working towards more smartphones. I did list 5 great Android journals though, you might want to check it out http://www.easyjournaling.com/2011/07/5-great-android-journalsdiaries-to-get-you-started/

  4. Suki

    I love, love, love mixed media extreme journaling but find it difficult to find the time that is required to really dig in. On the other hand I absolutely loathe writing in a journal so I was surprised to discover that I loved using my Iphone 4S for journaling. It’s perfect because I can use the microphone and skip typing all together. I found that it allowed me time to process my feelings since I wasn’t getting caught up in the grammer. The best part was having a prompt for my visual journal so I could go even deeper when I had more time :)

  5. mma

    curious about the best sites for actually printing out journals…hesitant to make the switch if I can’t have the actual pages to hold and look at…thoughts?