Like what Doogie Howser used. Only minus the acne and gay subtext.
September 30, 2009 10:21 AM   Subscribe

My five year written book journal is almost done. I'm looking for some some sort of very easy mac journal program to replace it.

As much as I've loved the journaling up to now, I don't like that I can't search it easily. So I think I'm going with a program of some sort this time around. Are there any journal programs you recommend and that fit the bill for simple, easy and searchable?
posted by rileyray3000 to Technology (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would actually take a look at evernote.
Its not quite what you want.. maybe.
But its available cross platform, stored in the cloud and
searchable. and you can contribute pictures to it.

Otherwise, maybe Google Docs.
posted by digividal at 10:53 AM on September 30, 2009

a password protected blog would do what you want, but if you're looking for a local program I'm not sure what you'd want that a simple text file wouldn't provide. I'm pretty sure Doogie Howser was just typing into his word processor. Are there any particular features you're looking for that a word processor doc doesn't provide?
posted by jrishel at 10:57 AM on September 30, 2009

A second vote for Evernote. I don't think I've ever seen a "journalling" app per se, but Evernote is probably the closest thing to it.
posted by briank at 11:00 AM on September 30, 2009

TiddlyWiki might be something you'd want to look at.
posted by torquemaniac at 11:14 AM on September 30, 2009

Don't buy a journal program that will become outdated so that you can no longer read your journal in a few years—or if you do, be sure to save off a plain text copy now and then as a backup, or print it out. You don't want to lose your journal, some day, just because you find that you no longer have a program that can read it.

I've been using a simple text editor for my journal for almost a decade now. I started it on the Unix system at work, but made regular backups to and from my iBook (using a different letter as a suffix to indicate which computer I wrote each piece on). When I bought my current Mac desktop, I copied it all onto there. No matter what computer I move it to, my old entries are still available, easy to read and search. I make a new file for each day, with the year first in the name (e.g., 2009sep30) so that a file listing shows them in order.

The text editors I've used are emacs, xemacs, pico, and xedit. It doesn't matter which, since they all create plain text files. You can also save a document from your favorite word processor in plain text format; for simplicity, in that case, give each file a name ending in .txt. Don't save it only in Word or other proprietary formats which will change to the point of unreadability every few years. Don't forget to make backups.

Another advantage to saving your journal as plain text documents is that the files are really small. You can easily fit a decade's worth of entries on a single CD or flash drive. Just don't forget to save them all off onto the next new form of media storage, whatever it ends up being, when you start using it.
posted by Ery at 11:32 AM on September 30, 2009

I agree with Ery. I prefer the simplicity of saving 'em as .txt files. Back when I kept my journal in a digital format, I kept a folder for the year with folders for the months inside, and the individual files were labeled with the full date. Easy to search, just use your computer's "search" feature!
posted by aniola at 1:04 PM on September 30, 2009

There are definitely Journaling apps for Mac - Journler just went abandonware a week or so ago, but there are others (MacJournal, Memoires and others). Here is a thread on the Journler forums about what apps people are switching to.

Ery's point about lock-in is good.
posted by misterbrandt at 1:09 PM on September 30, 2009

Personally, I like to use a database system. It may seem a little weird at first, but SQLiteStudio will give you all the tagging, searching and categorizing power you could ever want... you'll just have to learn to do it.

Failing that, just use a text editor. Ery's point is a good one. One thing I'd say, though, is that you should name them numerically, as in 2009 09 30, rather than with month abbreviations; these can be sorted more reliably. If I'm doing this, I usually make the first line a set of "tags" and then use a tool like grep or a good text editor to search for the tags I want.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:19 PM on September 30, 2009

You may wish to consider if you want some entries to be encrypted. Your written journal is private and secure because there is only one copy and you can control access. Digital files are much more easily copied and accessed, like over a network. Encryption gives you back the assurance of privacy you have with a book.

What a program like MacJournal does is to give you a writing environment, which facilitates reviewing previous entries and organizing them in new ways as the need arises. You can do that in the finder with txt files, but it's easier in a writing app. Yojimbo is another popular one.
posted by conrad53 at 8:49 PM on September 30, 2009

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