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 with some of the best journaling apps for Windows desktop.
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.”
Focused around users with stylus-and-pen displays, this project emerged in early 2021 from the Microsoft Garage, a program launched in 2014 that lets Microsoft employees create software and projects they’re passionate about.
Journal is one of its best creations. It gives you the tactility of directly scrawling and writing in a journal, with the organizational elements, panes and other clever features you get in journaling software. The experience will remind you of taking notes in your very own paper-bound diary!
It has loads of clever usability features, such as deleting text that you scribble out, linking to sites and contacts by scribbling certain icons on your screen, and easily transferring your scribblings between different programs.
Friday Planner and Journal really packs in everything you need in reasonably priced $4-$9 packages (though there’s a free version too). A key selling point here is just how customizable it is, letting you set up different flavors of journal such as a gratitude diary, reminding you at set intervals to remind yourself about the things that are important.
You can track your mood using Friday too, set weekly goals, morning routines, and many other key life-administrative things. Then, at the end of the month, you can view all your journaling in one convenient monthly review.
If you’re looking to keep things speedy, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can use Friday as a bullet journal too, integrating it with your calendar and task apps to consolidate your information across different software.
Most physical journals cost anywhere from $5 to well over $20, and you have a limited number of pages. Glimpses, however, is just a one-time fee of $12.99 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 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 it’s a little more expensive at $19.99.
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 photos, videos, audio, and other files. You can also 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. 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 easily one of the best journaling apps for Windows.
It also available for iOS, Android, and macOS. This makes it an ideal cross-platform option.
Journey 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 is massively cross-platform (Windows, Android, macOS, 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.
It’s designed for creating a daily self-care habit of journaling. While it’s $2.49/month, you also get access to guided journal coaching programs. This helps you get the most from journaling. You can try out the free version (web-only) to see what you think before you buy.
Are you more of an artistic journal-keeper? Are your thoughts and feelings best expressed with a quick sketch? Journalist is probably the best journaling app for Windows for artists, creatives, and doodlers. Adding text can actually be a little annoying. You won’t be the next Da Vinci using this app, but it may 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.
If you’re using a Surface device or have a touch screen, consider using a supported pen to make drawing much easier. The app is free, though there are some in-app purchases.
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 most platforms, is free (many features are premium only though), 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 many ways to compose and manage them.
8. Digital Diary
If you like nice backgrounds and a very simple interface, you may like Digital Diary. Easily add entries by typing or with your voice. Include images, add events, and find previous entries using the calendar view.
While it may seem basic, it’s free unless you want to add on the expense tracker. But the minimalist design and backgrounds make it a great option.
PaperStreet Journal builds upon the simplicity of Digital Diary. Instead of just entering text or images, you can also draw entries. Consider it a more basic version of Journalist. A secure login keeps other users on a shared computer from accessing your entries. The best part is PaperStreet Journal is completely free.
One of the lesser known journaling apps for Windows is RedNotebook. It’s open source and free to use. However, the latest Windows 10 version doesn’t include the word clouds feature to find commonly used words in your entries.
It’s basic but may be everything you need for collecting ideas or notes. You can insert images, lists, links, and more. Plus, you’re able to export your entries. You only get the basic formatting like bold and italics. If you want something simple and easy to use, it’s hard to beat RedNotebook.
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.