Start Journaling on your Mac with Memories

These days, it seems like people want to share just about every little detail of their life with others online. In a world where few brunches go un-instagramed and few complaints about the DMV go un-tweeted, its nice to see personal journaling experiencing something of a resurgence.

I’ve kept a paper journal for about ten years, and while it will always store entries about the more important events of my life, I recently started keeping a daily digital journal for recording the less momentous ones. I’ve spent a few days playing around with Memories from Juicy Cocktail. Can it handle my digital journalling needs?


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Interface

When you first load the app, you are presented with an entry that serves as a simple tutorial slide. The main window uses a dual pane interface, with a listing of your entries in the sidebar and your main journal entry in the main body. Across the top bar are controls to show and hide the sidebar, add and remove entries, add pictures and video, controls for color and font, and the search field. The color and font controls are the standard Mac popups that most people will already be familiar with. While Memories can go fullscreen, I found the app to be rather efficient with its layout and therefore was happy using it as a small window.

The tutorial gives you some basic directions.

Hitting the “new” button gives you a blank entry to work with. You can name your entries, though I wasn’t particularly interested in coming up with a title as if each one was a blog post. Oddly, when you click in the title field, the placeholder text doesn’t disappear, so you have to manually delete it (which is a frustration). Next to the title entry box, you’ll find a cloud icon. If you grant Memories access to your location, it will tag each entry with the local weather at the time of your writing. Clicking on the cloud won’t give you any new controls, but will display what weather information is getting tagged to your entry.

The map feature lets you geotag your entries.

Next you’ll find an arrow icon, which has become the standard mark of location services for apps. Clicking on it displays a map that pinpoints your location using your WiFi connection. Next is a small emoticon. Click it, and you get four options for which there are no titles, but I would describe them as ecstatic, happy, indifferent, and “what a terrible day I’ve had.” It’s an interesting touch, if not a bit gimmicky. Lastly, there is the date display, which you can control if you need to record an entry for a day that you missed.

Smiley faces let you tag your entries with your current mood.

Features

Anyone who ever grew up with a nosy sibling knows how important it is to keep your secrets hidden from others. Memories allows you to password protect your journal, and set it to automatically lock at user-defined intervals.

Keep your journal secret with password protection.

If you are hoping to get into keeping the journal regularly, you may need to be reminded to write. Memories integrates with Mountain Lion’s Notification Center to alert you when you need to fire up the app. You can set whatever time you want, and choose the frequency (as frequently as every 15 minutes to weekly). I found that the alerts work well.

The reminders pop up as notifications in Mountain Lion.

For those who are a bit too lazy to type – or perhaps a bit narcissistic – you can record video for your journal. Clicking on the camera icon activates your iSight camera. After you’re done, the video gets embedded directly into the entry with playback controls available. Having the controls isolated within the app means you won’t open up Quicktime and leave a potentially embarrassing trail for others to uncover. This is good for privacy, but also means you can’t access the video elsewhere for your own use (such as iMovie for editing).

I tested out the video recording and found it to be quick and easy.

The search feature works well, and you can also use the calendar icon to filter which entries are displayed based on a time frame you specify.

Competition

For me, Day One for Mac and iOS has become the gold standard of journaling apps thanks to its clean design, expansive features, and quick syncing between devices. It is hard to try out an app like Memories without comparing it to Day One.

Perhaps the most glaring disadvantage for Memories in such a comparison is the lack of companion apps for you iDevices. My laptop stays at home while I bring my iPad out with me all day. I like being able to make a quick entry about a meeting I just had or phone call I just made. With an app that exists only on your Mac, your options for entry-creation are limited.

I love Day One’s clean layout and extensive features.

The lack of companion apps also illustrates another limitation: A lack of cloud syncing. Even without apps for iPhone or iPad, it would be nice to have access to backups. Apps like 1Password let you change the location of the library in a cloud-connected folder like Dropbox, while maintaining privacy. Even if iDevice support never comes, it would be nice to be able to change the library location, if only for syncing between Macs.

Day One offers tagging of your entries. As this is a personal journal, you aren’t using tags the way you would for something like Twitter, but instead for your own organization. If you take a trip to Hawaii, you can tag those entries to help you easily find them again later. Memories’ search function works well, but having tagging enabled would make finding a specific entry much easier.

Conclusion

Overall, Day One is a cleaner looking, more fully featured app. Having access to iCloud-synced companion apps for iDevices is a huge plus. However, the ability to add video directly into an entry in Memories makes it more attractive to anyone interested in keeping a video journal.

Memories currently goes for $9, which is a buck cheaper than Day One. I think the extra dollar is worth the sync-capabilities and cleaner layout, but if you want dead-simple video recording, Memories will serve you well.


Summary

A journaling app for Mac with rich text formatting and video recording capabilities.

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  • http://juicycocktail.com/?ref=macappstorm Rafael Bugajewski

    Hi Jonathan,

    thanks for writing the review. I’m glad that you overall liked the app, especially the built-in iSight camera support for taking videos and pictures right inside the app.

    I wanted to correct some things you probably missed:

    • Memories has iCloud support. There is currently no iOS version, but you can keep your database on all of your Macs. Everything gets set up automatically, you just have to make sure that you sign in with the same iCloud account on all of your devices.

    • I feel that you missed some differences between Memories and Day One. The latter just shows the weather on your Mac that you entered on an iOS device. There is no way to change that. Memories allows you to add the location in addition to the weather and display it on a map. There is also a gorgeous popover view for the weather that shows more detailed information in addition to the weather icon.

    • Day One stores everything in plain text. It even synchronizes all of your private entries to iCloud and Dropbox without encrypting them. That’s a huge letdown if you want to store private things and have the certainty that nobody else can read them. Even if you set a password, you’ll have full access to everything you wrote. Memories has full AES encryption of all of your entries. Its security is comparable to 1Password, which is a tool for managing passwords. We paid a lot attention to encryption, because we really think that only you should own your data. Nobody else should have the ability to read your private thoughts.

    • Day One just has some basic formatting like bold or italic. With Memories you can change font sizes, colors, alignment. You can put videos and pictures right inside the text flow. You can mix different font types in one entry. There are a lot more possibilites to express yourself.

    • We have excellent support. While this may be not a relevant point, we really love our customers and try to answer all support requests withing 48 hours—most of them get answered much faster.

    Thanks again for your review. I hope that I could give some more insights. Let me know if you have other questions, I’m happy to answer all of them.

    • indra

      I hope u make the iOS or any mobile devices app, I’ll wait :D

      btw this app is awesome and helpfull

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