Everyone has a story to tell. It’s not always a story in need of an audience, like Harry Potter or a Song of Ice and Fire. Sometimes a story just needs to be told. Your story.
You may want to continue the journal you started when you were just a kid, or keep a weekly account of your travels around the world. Maybe it’s thoughts, not events that need writing down. We won’t guess to the particulars of your story, but let me ask: how do you plan on penning it down?
An old-fashioned notebook works wonders, of course. I love me one of those leather-cover pockets. Ultimately, however, I’m mostly partial to a digital journal. Aaron Couch covered seven ways to keep a digital journal earlier this year. Day One is a good alternative for Mac OS X and iOS users, a great application aching to serve as your digital scribe, across platforms.
Day One (Mac $9.99 + iOS $4.99)
Day One is a journal or digital diary application that works across devices. You’ll find it on your Mac OS X computer, or on iOS; a universal application for the iPhone and iPad. Day One keeps a uniform design across these platforms and makes you feel at home regardless of where you’re jotting down your notes. Alas, you won’t find a Windows or Android client. Instead there’s an alternative diary for Android called Memoires which Saikat reviewed, last year.
retails at $9.99 in the Mac App Store, for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and upwards. On the other hand, has a price tag of $4.99 in the iTunes App Store. If you do purchase both, Day One will keep your data in sync across devices using Dropbox or iCloud magic. However, each client is standalone and can be used as your primary (even only) Day One client.
Look and Feel
One of the things that swayed my favor to Day One is its look and feel. There aren’t a lot of beautiful diary applications, another exception being Nancy Messieh’s suggestion Everyday.me for the iPhone. Rather than trying to mimic a ‘real’ journal, with post-its and fake coffee blots (putting the ‘ew’ back in GUI), Day One looks simple and stylish. Simple lines and simple fonts, yet great typography make Day One a pleasure on the eye. The design is slightly different across different platforms, but a theme clearly emerges.
Day One may look simple, but that just serves to make it pretty, not limited. You can add rich content to your journals; break up the text with pictures and more advanced markdown. There’s even an option to insert the current weather conditions from your iOS device, if you want.
In the Mac version, Day One displays a big date in the header. Any new entry you create on an empty day will include this elegant typographic contraption, giving every day the look of a new chapter in a book. A new entry on the same day will just be added below the first, with a new timestamp, as shown in the screenshot above. This makes Day One suited for most common diary types, from the short blurbs illustrated with a picture from your cellphone, painting a timeline of your day one frame at a time; or the long format plain-text journals that read more like a book than anything else.
Reminders and Menu Bar Entries
If you automatically reach for your journal in a quiet moment, I’m very happy for you. But a lot of us need some encouragement to keep going. It’s a little too easy to postpone adding an entry, and memory fails the best of us when enough time passes. For the forgetful and the procrastinators in the audience, Day One offers reminders, both on Mac OS X and iOS.
On iOS, you can choose between daily, weekly or monthly reminders. The Mac OS X version gives you a little more flexibility, allowing you to pick anything between 15 minutes and one week. In any case, you can choose the time you’d prefer to be reminded. Maybe at morning, over morning coffee, or during your break at work.
On Mac OS X, the Day One menu bar app provides an easy way to add a quick text-only entry. Although you can use the menu bar input method at any given time, it’s especially useful if the reminders guilt you into writing a small blurb.
Access And Search Your Diary or Journal
Not only is it important for a diary-keeping application to be pleasant as a writing tool. Revisiting those stories and memories should be easy and fun as well. Luckily, Day One succeeds here, offering multiple ways to peruse your own writings. The calendar view is best to get an overview. It’s a simple idea—a calendar setting apart days with entries—but it works well. The calendar lets you pick out a single day of entries; good if you’re looking for something specific.
Pressing the timeline icon (the three horizontal lines) gives you a more conventional diary layout. Entry excerpts from different days follow one another in a continuously scrolling view, per year. If that doesn’t fit your bill, you can still use One Day’s search functionality, singling out entries with specific keywords.
Either of the Day One clients — iOS or Mac OS X — can be used as a great standalone diary application, easily trumping bloated competitors. If you’re willing to pay twice, the applications will work in tandem, synchronising across Dropbox or iCloud. Either way, the stylish and clean interface just makes you want to keep writing. And if you forget, Day One has you covered.
Do you keep a journal? Let us know how you keep track of your personal story in the comments section below!