Do you forget half of the interesting stuff you learn? Have trouble remembering what you were doing six months ago? Want to be able to look back and have a tangible sense of progress? You may want to give journaling a shot. Even if it’s just a sentence a day, it’s a good way to remember things you learn, record your life, and track your progress. If you’re like me, though, it’s too easy to forget to log in to a website and too annoying to type things out on mobile, so you need an app right there on your desktop, reducing the steps between you and your journal entry to “click on the app and type.”
Here are some of the best journaling apps for Windows.
It’s actually a bit difficult to find good journaling apps for Windows that are also free – perhaps people who keep journals tend are willing to pay for that privilege. Glimpses, however, is completely free and also very nicely-designed, with a sleek, clean interface that houses some nice features, but not so many as to be overwhelming.
You can make your basic text posts and add photos, but there’s no option to add fancy things like audio or drawings. You do have the option, however, to give others access to your entries via a shareable link. (Glimpses uses your Dropbox for its cloud storage.) If you want to find something you wrote, you can use the search feature or browse using the calendar. It doesn’t come with many formatting tools, if that’s something you need, but for my very brief daily journaling needs, it’s pretty much all I want, and the developers claim they’ll be coming out with Android and iOS apps soon.
This app can only export your files to PDF, however, so if you want to switch to a different journaling app later, you may find it difficult. If you’re already swamped with productivity apps and just want something simple to record a few thoughts, though, this is perfect.
If Glimpses is too minimalist for you but you like the basic idea, you’ll probably enjoy Diarium. It has pretty much everything that Glimpses is missing, plus features you didn’t even realize you wanted. The only downside is that after a ten-day free trial, you’ll have to buy the full version. The base functionality of writing entries (not much in the way of formatting, though) is backed up by integration with your system calendar, so if you add events to that, you’ll have an automatic record of what you did. You can attach photo, video, audio, and other files, tag your posts, add locations (and see them on a map!), and even rate your day.
Diarium has several options for backing it up, lets you export your diary entries, and even provides statistics about your diary entries. Heck, you can even connect it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Fit, Untappd, and Swarm and have it automatically link to your posts. You can also set it to notify you to make an entry and customize just about everything. If you’re serious about recording your life, Diarium is the gold standard for Windows.
This app is simple but comes with a very smooth, modern feel to it – almost as if your journal was a private Instagram. It’s not free, but it is massively cross-platform (Windows, Android, Mac, iOS, Web, Linux), allows you to make journal entries via email and has a decent amount of features. It’s less of a “record your life” powerhouse and more of a “capture the moment” app, giving it a more lightweight (and slightly less intimidating) feel than something like Diarium.
Are you more of an artistic journal-keeper? Are your thoughts and feelings best expressed with a quick sketch? Journalist is probably the app for you since it seems to be centered around drawing tools. Adding text can actually be a little annoying. You won’t be the next Da Vinci using this app, but it might get you drawing a little bit every day, and you could definitely create a quickly perusable visual history of your life, which I suppose you could augment with the voice recording feature.
How much explanation does this one actually need? You can use it for just about anything, so why not as a journaling app? It comes with loads of features, is available across a lot of platforms, is free, and you might already have it. All you have to do is create a new notebook and start writing entries — Evernote’s suite of features offers a lot of ways to compose and manage them.
Just for looks: Digital Diary/Paperstreet
Personally, I wouldn’t use these when apps like Glimpses and Evernote are available for free, but if you like nice backgrounds and a very simple interface, you might like Digital Diary or Paperstreet. They come with your standard set of journaling options (text, photo, audio), and Paperstreet even has pretty good text formatting, but there are better apps out there.
So which one should I choose?
If you’re just getting into journaling, you probably don’t want to drop cash on a fancy app right away. Start with a free app, then if you stick with it, you may want to upgrade. Personally, I find Glimpses to be about all I need, but if I ever got the urge to start cataloging every event in my life, it would be hard to say no to Diarium’s massive set of features and integrations. If none of the above really work for you, you can always just put a shortcut to your favorite web-based journaling app on your desktop.
Image credits: Windows 10 Anniversary Update