Keeping Track of Your Life With Day One for Mac

We all remember journals as a childhood thing. They are usually identified with learning to write and it’s something that most adults aren’t used to doing. Journaling, however, is a great way to keep track of the stages of your life and the important events you go through.

It is always nice to go back in your journal and recall feelings, people and events from the past. It’s something that you can use to show your children your travels and adventures. But keeping a physical paper diary has become fairly inadequate, now that we have pretty much everything in digital form.

The app that we are reviewing today is called Day One and it does a great job at helping you keep a journal in the most simplistic manner in your Mac. Read on to find more about it!

We’ve also posted a review of the iPhone version of Day One in conjunction with this article. If you use an iPhone or iPod touch, it’s definitely worth reading what we have to say about the mobile version!

Getting Started

Day One launched recently, and it is only sold in the Mac App Store for $9.99. When you first open it, you’ll have the option to store its main folder in your Dropbox folder for syncing purposes.

This is to make sure that you can use the app on both your Mac and your iPhone, and keep both of them synced up. This is becoming something of a trend in app syncing, and it seems to work well!

The Interface

Interface

Interface

The interface of the app is very simple and pretty, with a very “mobile” feeling to it. This might as well be an app that you could find on your iPad, since most of its interface is graphical and all the buttons used are big and easy to interact with.

Towards the left, you have the menu buttons that allow you to see your history, starred notes, add new journals and modify your reminders (more on them later). The main area of the app is pretty big and this is where you’ll write and classify your entries, as well as read your past ones.

Adding New Entries

New Entry

New Entry

On the bar on the left there is an option called “New”, where you are able to add new entries to your journal. In this menu there will be a big text box where you can fill in whatever you’d like to write about.

Right on top of this text box there is a bar showing the info that this entry will be stored with. Here you can change the date of the entry, trash it, save it, and star it.

When using this part of the app, you’ll see an area of “quotes” near the top. Most of these are inspirational, and do a good job at getting you to write something. They also give you tips on writing, along with random ideas such as weight-loss tips, as well as questions that are supposed to help you fill out your diary.

Exploring Old Entries

Starred

Starred

A diary is nothing if you can’t go back and read it, right? That’s why two of the menus of the app are called “Days” and “Starred”. Under the “Days” menu, all of your entries will be sorted by date. Here you can check which year you’d like to see entries from, and browse a timeline of all your old entries. You can also go into any entry and star it or edit it.

On the “Starred” menu, you can check the entries that you have marked as important. I don’t see much use for them in a diary app, but I’m sure some people could take advantage of this feature.

Reminders and the Menu Bar

Reminders

Reminders

Day One supports a pretty cool feature called “Reminders” that has the potential to maximize the frequency of your writing. These reminders give the app sort of a Twitter-esque thing where it will remind you at different times during the day to write down your thoughts quickly through short messages.

This is all done through the menu bar, where a little icon of a bookmark is always shown to give you quick access to the app.

You can set the reminders to go off at any given frequency – from every 15 minutes to just once per week. When a reminder goes off, the menu bar icon will automatically open, exposing a few buttons and a text box where you can write what you are thinking.

If you are busy when the reminder goes off, you can always “snooze” it through the 10 minute snooze button on top of the text bar, or simply skip the reminder. The menu bar icon can also be used without the reminders, just click it and type away.

So, What’s the Point?

I guess it’s kind of hard describing the functionality of this app as it sort of fits the space between note taking apps like Evernote, and journal apps –which are still a pretty new and unexploited category– that can take in all of your activity during the day and file it under its file system so that you can have a log of your activities and thoughts.

These apps also bring up a lot of comparisons to personal blogs, as much like them, they give you the ability to write whatever you feel at any given time, except privately.

Sometimes there are things that we’d rather keep to ourselves instead of posting them all over social networks, and this is why I think these kind of apps are useful. They give you an outlet to keep a log of your thoughts without having to worry about other people hearing about them, so that you don’t have to wonder whether a tweet or post is appropriate for your family to see.

Conclusion

I personally would love to keep using this app on a daily basis. I might not use the reminders, as I consider them to be a bit intrusive and distracting, but I’ll definitely keep using this for at least a couple weeks to see how much use I can give to it.

I suggest you do the same. Journals are popular for being a great way to purge yourself from bad emotions, and also to record your adventures and thoughts for posteriority. I think the price is easily justified if you can also find the time to use it.

We’ve also posted a review of the iPhone version of Day One in conjunction with this article. If you use an iPhone or iPod touch, it’s definitely worth reading what we have to say about the mobile version!


Summary

Day One is a very simple app that can help you keep a private diary, and do it in a very neat and organized manner. It's simple syncing ability with the iPhone app only makes it better.

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  • cfsh

    For all its neat interface this app is very superficial. As you fairly noted, diary’s point is possibility to re-read. But how can one find a note if there’s no search, no tags, just calendar which is almost nothing. You can’t even add a picture to a note, while the reminders features seems pretty farfetched. It looks like the developer went away from the basic functionality to eye candy. Sorry, but I think this app is not worth $10 because it came down from minimalism to primitiveness.

  • http://www.mariusmasalar.com/ Marius Masalar

    I’ve been holding off on grabbing this until it gets some of the features that csfh mentioned above me. Give me a search function at the very least and then we’ll talk.

    That being said, it’s still the sleekest looking app of its kind that I’ve seen to date. Definitely makes me want to use it, which means major kudos to the interface folks.

    That being said, I’ll be over here using Chronories for now.

  • http://www.grantlucas.com Grant Lucas

    I developed something similar. It’s free and open source if anybody wants to contribute. I work mostly in terminal and have been logging for about 2 years now. My system works off of a plain text file which can be stored in your Dropbox folder. Main goals were to create something useful that keeps out of the way when not being used. It only takes seconds to enter an event, and just as quickly you’re back to what you were doing previously.

    I recently added some simple search as well.

    As always, I’m eager for feedback and for more people to check it out!

    https://github.com/grantlucas/Logger-TXT

    • SannyD

      ill try it. I use Chronories which i love but im open to alrernatives.

  • Alex

    This is lame. Check out the Momento app for the iPhone. Now THAT is how life journaling should work.

    It pulls in all your posts from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Foursquare (on top of being able to manually add posts and tag people in them for searching later)

    It’s perfection and it’s the only way I will actually have any journal with substance to it. I have TWO manual entries, and the rest of tons of info pulled from other services which can be just as informative as a manual entry.

    Momento is journaling for the normal person. And the normal person doesn’t give a crap about worrying to write in a journal everyday. But they will make the time to post to FB.

    • http://www.mariusmasalar.com/ Marius Masalar

      I love Momento, good call on this one.

      If they made a desktop app too it would make my day. I don’t write entries often, but if I have something to say chances are good it’ll be longer than I’d like to write on the go.

  • Flex

    @Alex: Do you want to enter every single sentence on your phone? Writing on the Mac keyboard is infinitely more comfortable.

    • SannyD

      i agree. i do my journaling from my mbp. i use my phone to catch snapshots. to actually write and reflect..i use my kitten macbooky.

  • WIll

    agree, the app is pretty – that(s all. It does very little. Momento is brilliant …. would love it to have an iPad or desk version

  • Tanner

    I could see using this app for tax purposes. I normally write on a calendar if I’ve traveled for work, had a client meeting, etc. Each quarter I’m able to look over anything I may have missed. This app could replace my paper and pen system with starred days as tax days. However, the ability to apply tags would be nice.

  • http://www.russe.de Russe

    I don’t like the UI. One reason why I love Mac software is that most applications look similar, menu bar, window header, status bar etc. is at the same place and I don’t need to search it again and again in every application.
    Unfortunately there are more and more applications around with a complete different UI.
    But that’s my opinion only …

  • Keith

    this is what I really like in a journal http://www.syniumsoftware.com/chronories/ What a KILLER idea for keeping track of stuff in a very personal way. WAAAY better in my opinion.

  • SannyD

    I use Chronories. after trying out macjournal and memories (i think its called) i actually shelled out dough and love Chronories. its come a long way. and im glad i stuck with it.
    This seems a bit for the tween perhaps

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  • http://www.dailystrength.org/people/1661808/journal/4160077 paralegal

    I just added this weblog to my rss reader, exceptional stuff. I like your writing style.

  • Day One User

    Note that as of the current version 1.7 even with the password protection – the entires are saved in plain text and can be viewed or even edited by anone which makes the “security” password feature useless.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      Oh, that’s frustrating…

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