How do you guys keep a diary with timestamps automated?
August 23, 2014 5:18 PM   Subscribe

So here's the thing. I like to write down my thoughts. But I also like knowing when it was written down with appropriate date and time. But the way I currently do it takes too much time.

Right now my time logging has this format:

2014 Aug 23 Sat | 20:12

So I am currently using Google Docs to do that but the problem is that I have to copy paste the date from a previous entry then modify the date and time manually when what I really want is whenever I open the file the data is filled automatically. And I also have to do Ctrl + \ to clear the formatting once I press enter after the date entry since the date has a different format from the entries... So time consuming. Suggestions?
posted by iliketothinknu to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Evernote would work well for this. You could log each entry as a separate note; there's an option to auto-tag each note with the date and time (and location, if you like).
posted by dr. boludo at 5:32 PM on August 23, 2014

Evernote tags each note with a timestamp at creation, and another for the latest edit.

Create individual notes for each diary entry and collect them into a notebook.

That and other info (location, tags) is available via each note's "note info".
posted by notyou at 5:34 PM on August 23, 2014

If you are on a Mac then TextExpander lets you build a formula that does this for you. You could type nnow (for example, you define the shortcut) and it could expand to the current date and time in your format, including font and size. It could have a line below it and that second line could be in the font and size for your body text. You would type your shortcut and then be ready to go with the next keystroke.
posted by ridogi at 5:49 PM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're on Windows, in the built-in Notepad text editor pressing F5, I think, inserts the date and time. So maybe you could alt-tab back and forth to Google Docs when you want to insert the date.

If I recall correctly from some brief reading a few years ago, Google Docs has a javascript-based scripting language that presumably would let you customize some key stroke to do exactly what you want, if you want to try your hand at programming.
posted by XMLicious at 5:49 PM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Google Docs has a javascript-based scripting language that presumably would let you customize some key stroke to do exactly what you want, if you want to try your hand at programming.

Yep, to get this started, open "Tools > Script Editor," insert the code below, click the disk icon to save, and then reload your document and look at the new "Macros" menu:
function onOpen(e) {
       .addItem('Insert Timestamp', 'insertTimestamp')

function insertTimestamp() {
  var cursor = DocumentApp.getActiveDocument().getCursor();
  if (cursor) {
    var d = new Date();
    var element = cursor.insertText(d.toDateString() + ' ' + d.toLocaleTimeString());
    if (!element) {
      DocumentApp.getUi().alert('Cannot insert text at this cursor location.');
  } else {
    DocumentApp.getUi().alert('Cannot find a cursor in the document.');

posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:27 PM on August 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

Try IFTTT plus Evernote plus some other web app with an IFTTT channel. Kind of like this. Write your diary entry in the app (I'm not sure what this would be. Google Spreadsheet? Check the IFTTT channels.) Set up your recipe so that your entry will be appended to the Evernote note with a time stamp.
posted by univac at 6:59 PM on August 23, 2014

Apologies if this is too simplistic, but Notepad allows insertion of a timestamp via one keypress (F5); likewise -- if you want a more sophisticated text editor -- NoteTab Light (
posted by davemack at 1:25 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Day One?
posted by WillRun4Fun at 3:38 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you start a new Notepad document and type .LOG on the very first line, it will automatically add a timestamp every time you open the file.
posted by Nedroid at 8:14 PM on August 24, 2014

Best answer: Author Jamie Todd Rubin has a set of Google Doc scripts that automate timestamping, word counts and bunch of other stuff.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:32 AM on August 25, 2014

Best answer: Use a TiddlyWiki. It's a non-linear personal web notebook in a single html file. Looks like a wiki. The classic version (pre version 5) has a predefined 'add journal' button, that automatically includes the creation date and time in the header. I've been using it for years without diving into anything more complex than tags and formatting symbols. But one can dive deeper.

Comfortable with jScript or html, or copying and pasting code? The new version (5) requires some of that to get the automatic creation date and time. Here is an example: Check out the section titled 'Defining the header for journal entries'.
posted by Homer42 at 2:35 AM on August 25, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the proposals. Some of them were interesting, the most promising being the script from Monsieur Caution but I think all in all GDocs takes too much time to even load. So I am switching to OneNote for my diary purposes now! :D More aesthetic too and actually makes me want to read what I wrote.

Also I don't like Evernote because you have to go Premium for offline access? It doesn't actually feel like I own what I write. And notepad is too basic for me, ugly too actually! :D And no tiddlywiki because I don't want to spend more than 15 minutes to understand how it works.
posted by iliketothinknu at 8:02 PM on August 28, 2014

Best answer: I come back 3 months later and my solution to my problem is to use OneNote! It's free and awesome! :)
posted by iliketothinknu at 12:49 PM on December 30, 2014

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