Best Diary & Journaling Apps For iPhone (100% FREE)

Journaling – or keeping a diary – is an excellent way to process your thoughts, track progress, and organize your mental output. And now you can do it all on your iPhone with these three awesome diary apps…

#1) Day One Journal – Our #1 Pick


Day One Journal, for me, is by far and away the best option for those that like to keep detailed, media-rich diaries and/or journals. This beautifully designed journaling app, which is 100% free, supports things like audio recordings, location data, rich text formatting, and a gorgeous composition editor.

It recently got updated to support iOS 13’s Dark Mode, so the app looks even better than it did before. Out of all the diary/journal apps on this list, Day One Journal is perhaps the most rewarding to use. It’s so good, you’ll keep coming back for more. And when you’re trying to start a journaling habit, this is key.

There is a free version – this is the one I use – or a paid version that costs $3.99 a month. To be honest, you only really need the paid-for version if you want to access some of Day One Journal’s more advanced features. Personally, I don’t need or require any of this stuff – although it is nice to know that there are more advanced features available should you require them.

#2) Moodnotes – Best For Mental Health


Moodnotes is a slightly different type of journal/diary app. Unlike Day One Journal, Moodnotes is focused more on mental health – how you’re feeling day to day. The idea is simple: each day you open the app, select a mood, and then jot down some notes on how you feel and why. Over time, you build up a repository of notes on your mood, how it changes, and what type of things have been affecting it.

Again, this is a free app, and it is one that I highly recommend, especially to anymore that wants to be more mindful of their mental health. Moodnotes is beautifully designed, simple to use, and allows the user to create extensive logs of what they’ve been doing and how they feel about things. The real magic, however, happens after a few months of daily journaling…

Going back through your entries, checking your mood status and reading your notes on each day’s events, helps to highlight things that you might have missed or not noticed otherwise. It’s an incredibly enlightening process and one that I would recommend to anyone that is seeking to better understand their mental health.

#3) Journey


Journey is like Day One Journal. It’s a multi-media-focussed, straight-up journaling app that gives you access to lots of features – things like location, rich text, media, and photos. The layout is simple and the editor is a pleasure to use on a daily basis. And best of all? Journey is 100% cross-platform compatible, so you can export all your data into Google Drive or OneDrive or iCloud – or whatever other services you’re using.

I do really like Journey, but given a choice between it and Day One Journal, I think I’d have to go with Day One Journal. Why? I prefer the UX design of Day One Journal and that ensures that I stick to my daily journaling habit. You might be different and prefer Journey. The best thing to do is download both and have a look for yourself.

As long as your maintaining your journaling habits, adding entries on a daily basis, you’re winning. All you have to do is find an application that you like using and then start the process. Once you’ve got a few months under your belt, going back through entries and reviewing your life is, for me, one of the most eye-opening things a person can do.

Famous People That Kept Regular Journals

The VAST majority of people do not journal or keep a diary. In fact, most peoples’ perception of journaling is horribly wrong; they think it is something teenage girls did in 1990s TV shows. But they’re wrong. Journaling – or keeping a regular diary – is one of the most important habits a person can develop.

Don’t believe me? Check out ALL of the people below that maintained a regular journaling habit for the entirety of their adult lives:

  • Albert Einstein
  • Marie Curie
  • Mark Twain
  • Charles Darwin
  • Thomas Edison
  • Leonardo Da Vinci

Benefits of Keeping a Journal


#1) Motivation

If you’re trying to do something new, like developing a regular running habit or starting a side-hustle, it can quickly become overwhelming. Any time you do something new or outside your comfort zone, your mind pushes back – it wants you to take the easy route. Forcing yourself to focus and dedicate time to a new endeavor is very, very hard – it takes willpower and focus.

[ss_click_to_tweet tweet=”“Journaling is paying attention to the inside for the purpose of living well from the inside out.” Lee Wise” content=”“Journaling is paying attention to the inside for the purpose of living well from the inside out.” Lee Wise” style=”default”]

But the worst thing is this: progress is almost impossible to perceive at the beginning. Only with the blessing of hindsight can you realize how far you’ve come over weeks and months of effort. And this is where a journal comes in handy. Logging your daily struggles and wins in a single place helps you keep a log of your progress. When you’re having an off day a few months into a new project and/or habit, leafing through your journal, looking at how far you’ve come, will inspire you to press ahead.

#2) Never Lose An Idea Again

Ever had a great idea that you didn’t act on? Or, worse, forgot? Yep, me too. This is another area where journaling becomes invaluable, especially if you fancy yourself as an entrepreneur. Logging ideas, goals, and visions for your projects keep a record of them, a record that you will never lose, and this keeps all your ideas in one place for later perusal.

[ss_click_to_tweet tweet=”“As there are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write.” William Makepeace Thackeray” content=”“As there are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write.” William Makepeace Thackeray” style=”default”]

Business types, inventors, and even politicians like Benjamin Franklin have kept journals for decades at a time in a bid to mine their own subconscious minds for new ideas, new perspectives, and different ways of doing things. A journal is both a record of what’s on your mind and an in-depth conversation with yourself. Do it long enough, say six months to a year, and you’ll have an invaluable trove of ideas and perspectives that you can put to use at a later date.

#3) Manifest Your Goals

Got an idea of a goal that you want to achieve? Regular journaling can make it happen quicker. How? Simple: it keeps the idea locked and loaded at the very front of your mind’s eye – and as psychology tells us, the more you think about something, the more likely it is to happen.

Your mind is an immensely powerful tool.

Give it the right ammunition and you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve. A journal is an excellent disciple that will unlock aspects of your mind and its creative capabilities that you never knew you had. This is is why authors, investors, and business magnates throughout the ages have kept detailed, daily journals.

#4) Focus, Focus, FOCUS…

We live in a world of constant distractions. Your phone, social media, adverts, friends and family, work commitments, your favorite Netflix show – the list is endless. And they’re all competing for your time. Your precious 24 hours that we’re all gifted each day. It’s up to you how you spend your allotted time, but if you’re serious about doing more with your time, developing positive habits, and decluttering your mind, a journal is one of the best tools for doing so.

[ss_click_to_tweet tweet=”“I don’t journal to ‘be productive.’ I don’t do it to find great ideas or to put down prose I can later publish. The pages aren’t intended for anyone but me. It’s the most cost-effective therapy I’ve ever found.” Tim Ferriss” content=”“I don’t journal to ‘be productive.’ I don’t do it to find great ideas or to put down prose I can later publish. The pages aren’t intended for anyone but me. It’s the most cost-effective therapy I’ve ever found.” Tim Ferriss” style=”default”]

Whether you’re interested in getting a better handle on your mental health or personality, or you want to use a journal to log a new business venture, it doesn’t matter. Humans love perspective. And nothing gives you perspective like six months’ worth of entries inside a journal. You can leaf through old entries, track progress, view developments, see how things took shape. I guarantee it will blow your mind seeing all your achievements and struggles documented in one place, allowing you to spot trends and see how and where things when good or bad and why either thing happened.

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He has written for Den of Geek, Fortean Times, IT PRO, PC Pro, ALPHR, and many other technology sites. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.

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