an iPad and a journal on a table to show the best journaling apps for iphone and ipad

Dear iDB Diary,

Today I started journaling. Did you know writing in a journal is a great for your mind? It’s true. I read about it in an interesting article from the University of Rochester Medical Center. Jotting down a short log of important moments helps to improve memory and creates a time capsule of life’s milestones. Journaling is also great for thinking through a problem by allowing a different part of your brain to work through an issue.

I spent some time researching, and I found a few great apps that work well for keeping my journal on my iPhone or iPad.

— Ian, 4/24/18

Day One

best journaling apps for iphone and ipad - Journal entries in Day One

Day One has become somewhat synonymous with digital journaling. It features the ability to setup multiple journals, supports rich formatting, and is designed around a robust journal. Instead of being a folder packed with plain text documents, Day One revolves around being modern. It can pull in local weather information, daily step count, location data, and supports attaching media and links to entries.

Getting started with Day One can be a little overwhelming since the app is so robust. If you’re new to journaling or not sure where to start, Day One may be overkill. That said, once you’re settled in, it’s easy to let the writing flow into Day One.

Outside of the writing experience, Day One is also designed to make revisiting your old journal entries a more visual experience. Through bold fonts, varying colors, and a collection of your images, Day One is everything we would expect out of a modern digital journal.

If you’re looking for a way to go digital with your journaling, or want something with all the bells and whistles, you’re going to want Day One.

  • Notable features: Captures location, weather, and other relevant information to give a more in-depth entry. Designed for journaling. Attach images to journal entries. Supports multiple journals.
  • Cost: Free (with an upgrade to Pro for $24.99/year).

Grid Diary

best journaling apps for iphone and ipad - The topic grid and a day summary in Grid Diary

Grid Diary is the journaling app for people not sure what to journal about. Designed around a daily grid of topics, Grid Diary prompts you with questions or thoughts to write about each day. The topic templates can be customized to provide questions that you find most fitting for your day or writing style, and are great for inspiring stream-of-consciousness writing.

Each day’s “summary” can be viewed after entries have been added, creating a more visual story of the day. Images can also be added to entries, adding to the visual component of the journal.

  • Notable features: Prompts and topics for writing. Grid of multiple topics each day helps make entries unique. Supports password protection (Pro version only).
  • Cost: Free (upgrade to Grid Diary Pro with $4.99 in-app purchase)

Drafts

best journaling apps for iphone and ipad - Drafts

Drafts is the polar opposite of the previous two journaling apps. Designed to be a starting point for text, Drafts is great for journaling for a couple of important reasons.

The biggest reason Drafts is great comes down to the incredible, yet simple, experience. Instead of showing images and maps and weather reports and step counts automatically embedded in each entry, Drafts only captures what you give it. This makes Drafts incredibly light weight and easy to use. Drafts let’s you write whatever you need, and stays out of the way.

The second great feature of Drafts for journaling is the ability to have a fresh document ready almost any time you open the app. Getting into journaling mode takes time and commitment, and the last thing anybody wants is to have an old entry disrupting their concentration.

While not a traditional journaling application, Drafts is a great place to capture ideas and thoughts quickly.

  • Notable features: Automatically opens a new file on app launch. Distraction free. Entries (files) can be shared to cloud storage, social media, other applications.
  • Cost: Free (upgrade to Drafts Pro for $1.99/month or $19.99/year)

Evernote

best journaling apps for iphone and ipad - Evernote notebooks that sync across devices

Evernote has been around for years as a catch-all note taking application. What makes it useful for journaling is cross-device syncing and support for multiple notebooks.

Evernote’s design as a note-taking application make it great for journaling, thanks to rich text and media attachment support. The added benefit of a desktop application means you can add to your Evernote journal easily from your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android device, or PC.

The “basic” version of Evernote can sync between 2 devices, up to 60mb every month (enough for all-text entries, and very few images). With the upgrade to Evernote Premium, you can sync across 10 devices and the monthly upload limit is raised to 10GB.

Evernote premium also supports scanning in documents, which means if you’ve been keeping an analog journal and are looking to go digital, you could scan in your old paper entries and have your entire journal history saved online.

  • Notable features: Cross-platform support. Multiple “notebooks”. Rich text and media support. Document scanning support, with search and annotation (premium only).
  • Cost: Free (upgrade to Evernote Premium for $7.99/month or $69.99/year)

Apple Notes

best journaling apps for iphone and ipad - Apple's Notes app works as a free journal on every iOS device

If you’re looking to start a journal, but aren’t ready to commit to a special app just for the occasion, look no further than Apple’s own Notes app. It comes preinstalled on every iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and is also accessible on iCloud.com (for those of you not using a Mac).

Within Apple Notes, folders can be used to separate your journal from other notes, and individual notes can be password (or Face ID/Touch ID) protected. Doing this keeps your journal entries organized and safe from undesired readers.

Apple’s Notes app also supports rich text formatting, rich link previews, and image and file attachments. The recent addition of document scanning almost means you can use the Notes app to hold your old pen-and-paper journal in a digital form.

  • Notable features: Syncs over iCloud to all your devices. Optionally password protect entries. Folders allow for journal entry grouping. Rich text and media attachment support.
  • Cost: Free (and already installed on your iOS device)

Have another app that’s great for journaling or have ideas about how to get started? Let us know in the comments.