Four diary apps that are safe and easy to use

Black and white photo of diary and pen.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

As a writer, I’m used to spilling over abundant vocabulary pages every day. But sometimes I forget one of the most important parts of writing I can do is journaling. With these, I can track my mental health, achievements, goals, and ideas.

In other words, journaling is an important part of writing.

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Even though I don’t journal every day, one thing that has become important to me is protecting these thoughts with a password. It’s not like I have deep, dark secrets to keep. But sometimes I need to jot down something for my own eyes only, or maybe even an idea for a new book that I don’t want anyone to see.

When such events happen, I turn to one of four journaling apps. These apps make it easy for me to record my thoughts and secure them with a password. Let’s dive in.

1. Small diary

Small diary is one Linux application (available for free and installed via Snap) doesn’t include many features. However, the app does an excellent job of protecting my thoughts with a master password. After installing this application, you secure it with a password. Whenever it is opened, a password is required.

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Mini Diary includes a calendar, search, minimal formatting for diary entries, and not much more. With Mini Diary, you can create one diary entry per day, as long or short as you need. Other features included in Mini Diary include word count, import/export, and statistics. Mini Diary is a great app for Linux users who want something simple to keep track of their daily thoughts and events but don’t want to use the command line or a more complicated piece of software.

Small diary on Pop!_OS Linux.

Minilog can easily be installed on any Linux distribution that supports Snap.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Day one

The first day is a free journaling app for Mac OS. It’s also one of the few diary apps you can get for your Mac that features password protection and doesn’t require an in-app purchase to do so. Day One has enough features to differentiate it from Mini Diary, such as filters, attachment support, tags, templates, favorites, etc.

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Of course, since Day One is made for MacOS, it has the typical clean user interface found in the Apple ecosystem. Adding diary entries is easy, and you can add multiple entries per day. Like Mini Diary, this app is password protected (as opposed to individual diary entries), so no one can see your entries unless they know your password. Day One can be installed for free but there is a premium version that adds unlimited photos and videos, multi-device syncing, unlimited logs, and audio recording. The cost of the premium version is 34.99 USD/year.

First day on MacOS.

Day One on MacOS has a beautiful user interface that makes journaling simple.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Diary book

The diary is a mobile application (Android, iOS) can be installed and used for free (with in-app purchases for the Premium version). The software includes more features than you think. You will find the usual diary features and tags, Daybook GPT, third-party support for Alexa and Telegram, desktop/web version, journal writing guide, AI bot helps you easily enter diary, insights, etc. Daybook is a great journaling app with a well-thought-out user interface Beautiful and thoughtful design. The app is password protected and supports biometric login. If you’re looking for a mobile journaling app, this is the one to beat.

Logbook runs on Android 14.

The Daybook mobile diary app is a great way to keep track of your life from your phone.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Standard notes

Standard notes Not exactly aimed at journaling but it’s a great safety diary. The app can be installed for free on any platform and includes features like encrypted backups, two-factor authentication, cryptographic keys, session user agent logging, themes, Check spelling, tags and even spreadsheet notes. And that’s just the free version. With the premium version, you can add super notes (rich text notes) and plugins (for things like advanced checklists, highlights, code, additional themes, etc).

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What I like about Standard Notes is that I can use it for journal entries or other notes. I can tag journal entries with #journal so they’re easy to find. The premium version costs $90/year for the Productivity plan (all features listed above, pulse web clipper, one year note revision history, unlimited note storage, and support private). The Professional plan costs $120/year (everything in Productivity, plus subscription sharing for up to five accounts, 100GB encrypted cloud storage, hardware dongle support, etc).

Standard Notes runs on Pop!_OS Linux.

Standard Notes is more than just a journaling app.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Any of the above journaling tools would be a great addition to your daily routine. If you want to start journaling or switch from analog to digital, take your pick from these tools and track your health, daily events, etc.

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