Journal and diary apps for the iPad

Journal and diary apps for the iPad

So many ways to record your life.

If you want to use your iPad for journaling, you will find yourself faced with a bewildering variety of choices, both free and paid. The first thing you should do is narrow down your list of "must-have" features:

  • Will you be attaching photos very often? Or do you imagine this as strictly a text entry sort of journal?
  • Do you ever want to make your entries public, by sharing them on Twitter, Facebook, etc? Or is this going to be a private diary?
  • How much security do you want? (Note: Even if you don't share your iPad with another household member, you probably want at least a basic password protection to keep any random coworker or fellow student from picking up your iPad and paging through your diary.)
  • What kind of style do you want? Classic leather-bound look, fun and sparkly, or high tech calendar-based?
 
1. Notes App
The Notes app is your most basic option. Included by default with all iPads, this one gives you a few choices of font, and looks like a yellow legal pad. Entries are automatically dated, and you can search them. But this is a bare-bones app, and it also does not have any password protection available. 
 
This is a great app if you want to use your journal as an all-purpose calendar and note-taking job, like a digital version of a Franklin Planner. Day One is powerful and flexible with a lot of ability to tag, organize, and sort your entries. Some users find it overwhelming, but if you feel like a traditional diary would be too restrictive, you should definitely give Day One a whirl.
 
This is the one that I finally settled on. It auto-saves after every character entry, and gives you the ability to backup and restore via Dropbox. The interface is clean and un-cluttered, and you get the choice of a plethora of fonts and paper styles. If you want something that feels like a traditional diary, but with digital options like search and automatic back-ups, then My Daily Journal is a great choice.
 
4. My Secret Diary
If you want sparkles, stickers and secrets, then My Secret Diary is for you! This app lets you attach all manner of media, including not just photos but MP3s, has mood stickers to illustrate your day, and plays music directly from your iTunes library.  My Secret Diary is definitely the most fun of all the diary apps, but be warned: it does not currently offer an export or backup capability, meaning that if the app has a problem, your entries could be lost.