12 Best Journal Apps To Help You Cherish Your Memories

People keep journals for many reasons. Some find that writing down their thoughts and experiences can be quite therapeutic. Others consider it a good way to stay organized. And of course, you can always use a journal to keep detailed accounts of your memories, allowing you to relive them with ease several years down the line. While they can be kept private, a journal can also be a great way to give future generations a detailed view of your everyday life.

Traditionally, journaling involves buying an empty book, with nice paper, and a comfortable pen. Some people still enjoy that experience, and there's nothing wrong with that. Others don't like writing by hand or find carting around a thick wad of paper inconvenient. If that sounds like you, a journaling app may be the best solution. Apps have other benefits, many of them remind you to write every day — where it's easy to forget with a traditional journal. They also make backups simple, so losing your phone doesn't mean losing several years of memories. The apps can also be specialized and include features that meet the user's needs. A mental health journaling app may include a mood tracker, a food journal may include a section to track things like calorie intake and physical reactions, and a travel journal app may include spots for photos, links, and social features. 

Then there's cost. If you have no money to spend, there are plenty of free apps and apps with free versions. There are also paid apps that could include more of the features you're looking for. So let's take a look at 12 of the best journaling apps that are currently available.

Day One is a firm favorite

Day One Journal describes itself as "The #1 app for journaling" and it may have a point. The app is widely available and can be picked up on both iOS and Android. It isn't just limited to phones and tablets either — Mac users can get a version of the app for their notebooks from Mac's own app store. The layout has been optimized for journaling, and it even features an "on this day" mode which lets you live what you were doing on the same day in previous years.

If you like the idea of journaling, but writing isn't your strong point, Day One might be the app for you. In addition to traditional journaling, you can opt to record segments of your life with photos, videos, drawings, or audio recordings instead — though some of these features require a subscription. There are also security features that should please those who are worried about folks reading their diaries. A passcode can be set, and biometric methods like Face ID can also be used to keep your journal private and secure. Other features include end-to-end encryption to ensure your thoughts aren't hacked in transit, and automatic backups so your journal survives even if your phone is lost, damaged, or stolen. Day One is free, and the free service isn't that limited. A premium service, offering things like unlimited journals, multiple photos per entry, and non-writing features like video and audio recording is available for $34.99 per year.

Diarium is feature heavy

Diarium is another popular cross-platform app that is available on iOS, macOS, Windows, and Android. As with other journaling tools, a single account can be used across several platforms. So you could do your main journaling on a laptop at home, but still use your phone in a pinch while on the move. Diarium is best described as something like a private Facebook account. Photos, videos, and audio recordings can further enhance entries, and you can even tag your location at the time. A tagging system similar to something you'll see on social media is also available, so you can easily find entries based on their content. You can also avoid excessive typing by dictating your entries. You can also connect social media profiles, calendar apps, and your camera roll if you want Diarium to automatically compile entries for you.

One of the more unique features of Diarium is how the entries can be displayed. You can go to a world map and view entries by location, browse a photo album and read entries linked to specific images, and make use of an "on this day" feature. You can also get pretty personal by customizing the app's fonts and display colors. Security features, such as a PIN, are available. Diarium offers a free service on some platforms, while the "pro" version costs $9.99. It's a one-off payment that is far lower than many annual subscriptions, but there is a downside. A subscription is only valid for the platform you signed up with. So an iOS subscription will only work with your Apple devices and not your PC or Androids, and vice-versa. This may be okay, or it could potentially put you in a position where you're paying for the same app multiple times.

Penzu is free and easily accessible

Penzu is an online-based journaling service that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. You don't need a web browser to access Penzu — a mobile app is available on both iOS and Android. The free version of Penzu allows users to keep a journal or diary and keeps people writing by providing daily email prompts. The website also contains information on types of journals, like pregnancy journals, travel journals, or dream journals — as well as kinds of "diaries." This information can help users who are unsure or short on ideas get started. Images can also be added to entries if you want to illustrate your writing. Premium features include custom fonts and designs, better encryption, and a search function that helps you sift through entries.

The basic version of Penzu is free, and there are two tiers of subscription service. Pro, which comes with features like encryption locking and PDF export, is available for $4.99 a month, and Pro+, which comes with military-grade encryption, a selection of premium fonts, and a recovery service, costs $9.99 a month. Heavy discounts are available if users opt for an annual subscription, and you can currently get a "lifetime" Pro+ subscription for $199.99.

Momento is an iPhone exclusive that doesn't require much effort

If you're an iPhone user who wants a journaling app specifically tailored for your device, then Momento might be the right choice for you. Momento is a great tool for people who want to look back on memories, but don't have the time to keep a dedicated journal. It integrates with social media and other services in a way that allows it to auto-compile entries for you. Private notes and tags can be added, as can photos, videos, and locations. One nice feature of Momento is the daily, monthly, and annual summaries it offers which give you a brief rundown of your activities during that time period.

In addition to the free service, users can also opt to pay for "Momento premium" which unlocks features like Face ID, new formatting options, and hourly feed updates. "Premium Gold" is also available and unlocks priority support — though it is mainly for people who want to contribute a bit of extra cash to the app's future development. "Core functionality" is totally free, but most features require a subscription. Actual pricing varies from country to country. If you live in the United States a one-month free trial of "Premium" is available, and a monthly subscription is just $3.99 afterward. An annual subscription can be purchased for $14.99, and "Gold" is priced at $37.99.

Grid Diary is an easy way to get started

If you haven't kept a journal before and want to ease into it, Grid Diary is one of your better options. The grid-style layout which gives the app its name is easy to navigate and allows you to "focus on the areas of life you want to track." Writing prompts also help you get a flow going when you're short of ideas, "reflect" on events you have experienced, and "gain insight into yourself. Templates are also available if you need a helping hand with formatting. Multiple journals can be kept, so you can use different ones for different purposes. One feature Grid Diary has, which a lot of similar programs don't, is "stickers." Various stickers can be chosen to help customize your entries and make things a little bit more fun. Most of Grid Diary's features are free to use, though if you want certain things like a passcode lock, the ability to sync between devices, and some additional customization options, you'll need to purchase a premium subscription.

Grid Diary is available on iOS, Android, and macOS. Pricing for the premium subscription is set at $2.99 per month or $22.99 per year. Signing up for the monthly subscription unlocks a three-day free trial allowing users to try out the app's premium features. The annual subscription comes with a longer trial period, lasting two weeks. If the membership is canceled during the trial period, you won't be charged.

Five Minute Journal helps you focus on the positives

If you're pressed for time, Five Minute Journal is a good way to keep track of life events and experiences without committing much of your day to the concept. Unlike a lot of digital journals, the Five Minute Journal also has a paper version available. So you can still crack the pen out while exploring a relatively new concept. If you want to stay digital, there is an app available on both the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store. Whatever you choose, the self-care tool promises to make you "happier" in just five minutes a day. It has features you may expect from a self-care-focused diary tool, such as a mood tracker, space for self-reflective notes, and "insights" on how to achieve a positive mindset. The journaling itself is simplified. The app gives you some prompts you can respond to with a few short sentences. Prompts can include phrases like "today I am grateful for" and other questions that help shift the focus to the day's positive elements.

The Five Minute Journal can be used on Android phones and tablets, iPhones, Macs, iPads and it even has an Apple Watch companion app. There is a basic free version you can use indefinitely — but features like photo and video capture, mood tracking, "personalized practice," notes, and the "on this day" feature require a premium subscription. The premium subscription is available for $4.99 per month in the United States, with annual and lifetime options also available.

Dabble Me has a unique entry method

Dabble Me is unique in that it is all done over email. Once you sign up on the website, you'll receive an email to which you reply with that day's entry. The entry can consist of anything you want, though some writing prompts are provided. You can even include a picture that may help illustrate what you've written or just remind you of the day you're writing about. Over time, the emails you receive include random previous entries you've written. So you'll get a nice blast of memories as you create new ones. As it's all done over email, you're free to review all your entries by simply going to the sent section of your email service.

The free version of Dabble Me is pretty limited. The prompt emails only arrive once every other Sunday, so it may be hard to get into a routine. There isn't a search function, beyond searching your own sent section, and you can't edit or delete your entries. All of this changes with the premium version, which is priced at $3 per month. The premium version allows you to do things like edit and delete entries, view entries by calendar date, edit the frequency of the prompt emails you receive, and even attach Spotify tracks to your entries. You can also just skip the emails and directly make entries on the website — which could actually take away a bit of the fun. While it may not be for everyone, Dabble Me is certainly one of the more unique journaling tools available today. As it's handled via email, so it's available on anything you can check and respond to your emails on.

Daylio is a simple way to track your mood

Daylio is a self-care-centered bullet journal aimed at building healthy habits and improving your emotional well-being. Daylio allows you to set your mood, whether it be "Rad," "Meh," or "awful," and that mood is then tracked so you can measure your general happiness over time. You can also log activities, which allows you to monitor what you were doing and how it made you feel. Goals can be added, habits can be formed, and achievements can be collected. Perhaps the most useful feature of Daylio is the deep dive it offers into your entries. These deep dives can take place every month or annually, and offer insight into your feelings and activities over the time period. Daylio shows that journaling is a very broad concept, and you don't have to write vast paragraphs to catalog your life. Telling a story can be as simple as putting different colored dots on a calendar.

You can get Daylio on both Android and iOS, but it is limited to those platforms with no purely online or PC option available. The free version of Daylio is quite extensive, but a premium version is also available for $2.99 monthly or $23.99 for a yearly subscription. Premium features include more in-depth stats, a wider range of icons and emojis, and unlimited "moods" amongst other things. There is also a 7-day free trial available if you want to test the premium tier out before handing over any money.

Journey is very versatile

Journey is billed as a self-care journal, but it may actually be the most versatile app on this list. Firstly, it is available on pretty much all platforms. iOS, macOS, Android, the Chrome Web Store, Snap Store, Huawei's App Gallery, and everywhere else via the web app. Beyond that, the sheer number of tools makes it ideal as a general journal, self-care journal, photo journal, fitness journal, or travel journal. To give a couple of examples, you can link it to fitness tracking apps like Apple Health and Google Fit and it should compile your exercise info automatically. Pairing that with the "mood chart" should give you an okay grasp of your mental and physical well-being over time. Integration with Apple Maps or Google maps takes some of the strain out of tracking your travel. You can either tag places you've been to or even use Journey to plan future trips. Journey must be doing something right, as it's won a whole heap of awards including an Android excellence award, the iOS app of the day, and several Google Editors' Choice awards.

The app has a free version with some restrictions and the premium version of Journey is available for $2.49 per month — though this is billed annually. If that seems to be a bit steep, hanging around on the membership page of Journey's website seems to prompt a popup that will give you a 40% discount. Premium removes the cap on things like recording "moments," allows unlimited access to all of the journal's apps, and adds a feature where you can email entries in if you're unable to get onto an app or the website.

Reflectly uses AI to create an intelligent journal

Billed as "The World's First Intelligent Journal," Reflectly uses artificial intelligence (AI) to power many of its features. Like many apps, it falls into the "mood tracking mental health journal" category, but the implementation of AI might just be enough to make it stand out. The AI is mainly focused on graphing your mood and powering things like the "habit tracker" which the company claims may be able to indicate why you're feeling things like depression and stress. The AI can also offer personalized prompts and pieces of encouragement, the former of which can help you get an entry in when you're struggling to build a journaling habit.

In terms of a downside, some customers have pointed out that pop-ups pushing premium can be annoying for free users. Others have flagged the inability to add pictures to previous posts as a shortcoming. Reflectly is available on both iOS and Android, though users opting for the app's premium service should be aware of a major difference between the two platforms. According to Choosing Therapy, the Android version of the premium subscription costs under $20 a year, while Apple users are stuck paying $59.99 — or an eye-watering 200% more. It's also not explicitly clear what you'll be getting for the extra money.

Diaro is about as basic as it gets

If you're masochistic enough to enjoy using one of Amazon's tablets, don't want to be overwhelmed by features, and are looking for a journaling app — then Diaro may well be your best choice. It's the only one on this list that advertises the fact it is available on Amazon's app store, as well as the Apple App Store and Google's Play Store. The platform is free and funded by ads. It provides a space where you can write as much as you want, add photos, and organize it all via dates, tags, and locations mentioned, or in individual folders. It's a no-frills tool that is ideal for someone who just wants to write things down and save those writings somewhere. If you want to keep a basic journal or diary, and aren't bothered about that day's step count and the weather being automatically logged with your entry, then this may be the tool for you.

Online file storage and transfer tool Dropbox is Diaro's go-to method when it comes to transferring your diary entries between your phone and the PC. One of the app's few premium features, "Cloud Sync" also relies on Dropbox. The other premium features are the ability to export entries as a PDF, DOCX, or TXT file and print them, "priority support," and the absence of the ads that are used to fund the free version. The limited number of "pro" features is reflected in the price, with Diaro Pro costing just $5.99 a year.

Alan Mind Daily Journal has been likened to a therapist

The Alan Mind Daily Journal app has received high praise from users and professional reviewers alike. A couple of years ago, Alan Mind acquired another popular journaling app, Jour, and incorporated its best features (via Medium). Some have even likened it to actual medical help, with one person quoted on the website saying "It's more than a journal it is close to a personal therapist." In addition to journaling and mood monitoring, the app offers a range of "therapeutic techniques" which include mindfulness, breathing techniques, and expert guidance. If you want to get into journaling for therapeutic reasons, or just want to use it as a way to build better habits, then the Alan Mind Daily Journal App might be your best option.

You can grab the Alan Mind Daily Journal app on both iOS and Android devices through the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. A 7-day trial of the premium service is available, and if the extra features get you hooked then you can keep premium for $59.99 a year. Premium expands the app's functionality, offering extra insights, writing prompts, and mood overviews. However, the basic app has a lot of content, so you may not actually have to pay for the premium version with this one.