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free online journalsIn the digital world, the difference between a journal, a diary, and a blog is fuzzy. A blog is meant to be shared with those around you. An online or offline journal is more personal. You can of course, remove the padlock and share it with the world but I guess most would like to keep it closer to the chest. My two penny opinion says that the difference mainly boils down to the degree of laziness. A blog needs more upkeep; an online personal journal can be used to record random and disjointed thoughts. But let’s look at it this way, the web gives us so many ways to connect with others and also with ourselves.

Writing a journal is like having a conversation with one’s own self. Treat a journal like a ‘digital wall’ to vent your feelings on or just use it as a ‘digital cupboard’ to store memories. In both cases, a journal is a priceless companion. Here are seven free online journals for your thoughts.

OhLife

free online journals

OhLife makes journal keeping dead easy by not asking you to come to their site every day. It simply sends you an email every night at 8pm asking you about your day. From the comfort of your inbox, you can type in your thoughts and send it forth like a regular email. That’s it! The easy-to-use and easy-to-keep philosophy tries to promote the habit of journal writing by dressing it up as an email activity.

You can choose to go to the site and read all your past entries when you feel like it. The posts get listed in chronological order and when it’s time for nostalgia, you can read them out to yourself.

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I really like the minimalism of this free online journal and the ease with which I can keep up the journaling habit by not forcing myself to visit one more site at the end of a tiring day.

Memiary

online journal

Memiary will make you believe that if you have had five interesting experiences the whole day, it has been a day worth recording for keeps. Memiary calls itself the weightless pocket diary. It is really that as all you have to is sign up and put down five thoughts for each day. You can even do it on the go if you have an iPhone. The five points a day really add up and you can keep them organized with tags (just add a #before any word and it turns into a tag).

It takes just about ten seconds to jot down five thoughts and the tag organization should really help when you add up all the memories. (See Directory mention)

MotoDiary

online journal

MotoDiary is another simple journaling tool without any frills. It uses some HTML5 features for storage so it’s still not compatible with Firefox. It runs on Chrome, Safari, and IE. As you can see from the screenshot above, the interface is only about your words. MotoDiary is a highly secure application. The FAQ says that the encrypted key is stored locally and not sent to the server. The app auto-saves entries to the hard disk and uploads it to the server when online.

MotoDiary displays the potential of HTML5 in a utilitarian interface. (See Directory mention)

TweetPrivate

online journal

Some people consider Twitter to be the closest thing to an instant free online journal. Why not? Twitter has become the medium for channeling all your rants and raves. TweetPrivate takes your Twitter habit and turns it inside out. Log in with your Twitter account, log your thoughts in 140 characters or less, but instead of tweeting it out, store it here and keep it private. These tweets can include pictures too. Later, you might choose to release these tweets and post them to Twitter’s public stream. By using TweetPrivate as your personal diary, you can archive your tweets and search them by date.

TweetPrivate is a cool application if you have fallen prey to Twitter (or SMS) and evolved into using only 140 characters or less.

Penzu

free online journals

Penzu comes with a few decorative features like an interface which resembles a lined notebook. The free account is limited but it serves its purpose adequately if you are not too into customization and tools. The free account gives you basic encryption with a password, photo uploads, plus sharing options with email and link. You can set up a notification to remind you to write every day.

The Penzu Pro account with all its features is appealing, but the free account is a quick fire journal tool that keeps things simple. You might grow to like the notebook style pages (see Directory mention).

If you are looking for customization and editing options, then you will be disappointed with these apps. For that I will always recommend Live Journal. But I believe when it comes to journaling or keeping an online diary, it’s best to start simple, keep it about the words and move on. For the making of a habit, these five online journal apps serve as a minimalist starting point. Your thoughts?

Image: Shutterstock

  1. Magnua
    April 14, 2015 at 11:11 am

    OhLife har shut down .. and I was so excited to try this :( Any alternative ?

  2. Loginbd
    December 28, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Very useful post...I have never known about those sites....But is it safe to keep your confidential memories at someone else database???????.....

  3. Saikat Basu
    December 22, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Memiary has an iPhone app and you can use TweetPrivate with your mobile.

  4. Jaimedanielvenegas
    December 22, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Would you know which of these websites allow me to just publish my thoughts or entries via phone as a text message?

  5. Jaimedanielvenegas
    December 21, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Would you know which of these websites allow me to just publish my thoughts or entries via phone as a text message? I don;t have either an Iphone or Android with such app capabilities, but a regular phone that can send a basic text.

  6. Aster
    December 17, 2010 at 1:17 am

    I've always been a bit leery of the (over?) simplified journaling services like these, because so many of them don't seem to have a ready way for me to export everything out of them again, should they go belly-up....

    Also, I'd recommend Dreamwidth over Livejournal nowadays (open source, non-corporate, and no advertising. I loves it, and I was with LJ back when it was still run by a guy named Brad.)

  7. Aster
    December 17, 2010 at 2:17 am

    I've always been a bit leery of the (over?) simplified journaling services like these, because so many of them don't seem to have a ready way for me to export everything out of them again, should they go belly-up....

    Also, I'd recommend Dreamwidth over Livejournal nowadays (open source, non-corporate, and no advertising. I loves it, and I was with LJ back when it was still run by a guy named Brad.)

  8. David Levine
    December 15, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    OhLife FTW! The way they email you with an entry from yesterday, last week, or last month depending on how many entries you have is great. Also, by getting the daily emails, you stay motivated to keep writing.

  9. Jmo562003
    December 15, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Awesome! I'm going to check these out asap. Love keeping a journal. Now I can have an electronic one and not have to worry about ever losing it.

  10. Dave Drager
    December 15, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    No, but I would like to be. My long term (and short term) memory is pretty horrid, to the extent that my wife asks me things about something from not even a long time ago and I have no recollection of it. It would be great to go back and see even a short summary of every day so I could look back at my "Journal".

    Its one of those things that because of (perceived) lack of time, just never got into. But a short low-maintenance journal like one of these would be great to do this on.

  11. Dave Drager
    December 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Great post Saikat! Thank you!

    • Saikat Basu
      December 15, 2010 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks Dave. Are you into journaling?

      • Dave Drager
        December 15, 2010 at 2:52 pm

        No, but I would like to be. My long term (and short term) memory is pretty horrid, to the extent that my wife asks me things about something from not even a long time ago and I have no recollection of it. It would be great to go back and see even a short summary of every day so I could look back at my "Journal".

        Its one of those things that because of (perceived) lack of time, just never got into. But a short low-maintenance journal like one of these would be great to do this on.

        • Tina
          December 15, 2010 at 5:38 pm

          You should try micro- or photo-blogging then. Just a sentence or a photo a day to stimulate your memories. I've been wanting to write that post for weeks, but so many awesome SIs from Ryan got in the way. ;)

        • Saikat Basu
          December 16, 2010 at 4:03 am

          Guess we all know what's the first item on our New Year Resolution list is going to be:)

  12. Hannes Grebin
    December 15, 2010 at 4:52 am

    http://www.30boxes.com is my tool of choice. I would go this way:
    write your headline and then write the description in "()" brackets. This would tell 30boxes to include this as further describing text.
    There are many more shortcuts in 30boxes to enhance your experience.

    What I really like about it, is the fast overview over a month to keep track and revise the goals and thoughts that you have encountered so far, something like a success diary ;)

  13. Hannes Grebin
    December 15, 2010 at 6:04 am

    http://www.30boxes.com is my tool of choice. I would go this way:
    write your headline and then write the description in "()" brackets. This would tell 30boxes to include this as further describing text.
    There are many more shortcuts in 30boxes to enhance your experience.

    What I really like about it, is the fast overview over a month to keep track and revise the goals and thoughts that you have encountered so far, something like a success diary ;)

  14. Elton Sites
    December 15, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Journals should not be mistaken as simple diaries. These online journals can also be used for work where you can write your everyday notes about your work or project.

    • Saikat Basu
      December 15, 2010 at 10:41 am

      From random thoughts to project notes, online journals can be useful tools. It can be put into use for work or life improvement if we take it seriously enough. It's better than talking to oneself.

  15. Anonymous
    December 15, 2010 at 1:07 am

    i'm already using ohlife and it works well but memiary looks very interesting too. thanks for the links!

  16. Gerard Sorme
    December 14, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on how you don't find anything of interest to share your thoughts about.

  17. Tech Maish
    December 14, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Actually time is now very precious and no one would like to spend it on a activity which gives nothing in return.

    • Gerard Sorme
      December 14, 2010 at 8:57 pm

      Journaling gives MUCH in return. Being able to empty out your thoughts, worries, dreams, and hopes at the beginning or end of each day is very satisfying. It also leaves a record of your life. I refer back to my journals all the time to see what I was doing this time 3, 5, 10 years ago. It's a tremendous resource in that regard.

      What activity is worth our precious time will vary from one to another. I journal BECAUSE time is so short. I can't imaging spending 5 minutes playing an interactive video game, but that's me and obviously not many others - and that's okay! To each our own. But never judge others on how they spend their time based on how you choose to spend yours.

      • Saikat Basu
        December 15, 2010 at 10:46 am

        We forget what ideas we might have had even a year back. But journaling preserves it. When we refer back to it, it takes on a different color; we can add more to it or discard it altogether. What you mentioned is spot on. Even 5 lines of thought is better than none at all.

  18. Tech Maish
    December 14, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    I have never realize and nor get interested in writing dairies. My GF always do this, i will surely recommend these websites. Thanks for sharing saikat.

    • Saikat Basu
      December 14, 2010 at 8:09 pm

      It's a difficult habit to keep, but one which has enormous benefits. But I say, to each his own; some can keep the habit some can't. Thanks for the comment :)

  19. Gerard Sorme
    December 14, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Journaling gives MUCH in return. Being able to empty out your thoughts, worries, dreams, and hopes at the beginning or end of each day is very satisfying. It also leaves a record of your life. I refer back to my journals all the time to see what I was doing this time 3, 5, 10 years ago. It's a tremendous resource in that regard.

    What activity is worth our precious time will vary from one to another. I journal BECAUSE time is so short. I can't imaging spending 5 minutes playing an interactive video game, but that's me and obviously not many others - and that's okay! To each our own. But never judge others on how they spend their time based on how you choose to spend yours.

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