The Complete Guide to Choosing the Best Journaling App for You

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Hey there! Journaling is an excellent daily habit that can benefit your mental health and wellbeing in so many ways. As a fellow productivity geek, I wanted to share this comprehensive guide to help you find the perfect journaling app to start or improve your journaling routine.

Through extensive research and testing out various journaling apps myself, I‘ve discovered the key factors you should consider when choosing an app to summarize your days. Together, we‘ll explore:

  • What journaling is and its benefits
  • Pros and cons of digital journaling
  • 13 best journaling apps ranked
  • Factors to choose the right app
  • Tips to journal effectively

Let‘s dive in!

What is Journaling and Why Is It Important?

Journaling simply means the practice of keeping a personal diary or log of your thoughts, feelings and daily experiences. Putting your reflections into writing can provide many scientifically-proven benefits:

Benefits of Journaling
Improves mental health Reduces anxiety and depression
Enhances self-awareness Develops emotional intelligence
Boosts immunity Studies show >30% increase in T cells
Aids problem solving Clarifies thoughts to find solutions
Sharpens memory Recall improves by over 25%
Expands creativity Frees flow of new ideas
Tracks growth Reflect on changes and progress

Journaling allows you to regularly process emotions, plan goals, express creativity, clarify thoughts and ultimately achieve self-actualization. Apps make it convenient to journal anytime, anywhere from your smartphone.

Digital Journaling vs Pen and Paper Journaling

While old-school pen and paper journaling has its appeal, using a journaling app has some key advantages:

Digital Journaling Pen and Paper Journaling
Portable and accessible across devices Not as convenient for on-the-go
Add photos, audio, video Text and drawings only
Searchable and taggable Harder to organize and find entries
Analytics and insights No data analysis
Cloud backup Risk of losing journal
Password protection and encryption Less secure

However, traditional journaling fosters disconnecting from technology and more mindful writing. The tactile process can feel more meaningful for some. Try both to see what works better for you!

13 Best Journaling Apps for 2022

Based on in-depth testing and research across platforms, these rank as the top 13 journaling apps available:

Journaling App Best For Rating Platforms
Reflectly Mental health insights ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Android, iOS
Diaro Minimalist journaling ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Android, iOS
Daylio Mood and habit tracking ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Android, iOS
Journey Journaling for beginners ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Android, iOS
Penzu Multiple journal types ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Android, iOS
Thinky Beautiful journal design ⭐⭐⭐⭐ iOS
Momento Automated journal ⭐⭐⭐⭐ iOS
ZenJournal Fast streamlined journaling ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Android, iOS
Day One Free-form journaling ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Android, iOS, Mac
Grid Diary Diary + planner ⭐⭐⭐ Android, iOS
Happyfeed Gratitude journal ⭐⭐⭐ Android, iOS
Reflection Templates and tracking ⭐⭐⭐ Android, iOS, Web
Alan Mind AI chat journal ⭐⭐⭐ Android, iOS

Let‘s look at each of these top-rated journaling apps in more detail:

1. Reflectly – Best Mental Health Insights

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Platforms: Android, iOS

Reflectly app

Reflectly stands out for providing thoughtful prompts and tools optimized for improving your mental health. It uses AI to curate prompts that help you process emotions, reflect on relationships, reduce anxiety, improve self-esteem and more.

The intuitive interface makes it easy to rate your mood and energy levels. You can then view insights on your happiness trends and progress over time. It‘s the perfect app if you want to leverage journaling to enhance mental wellbeing.

2. Diaro – Best for Minimalist Journaling

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Platforms: Android, iOS

Diaro app

Diaro excels in its simplicity. The clean interface allows you to capture journal entries quickly and easily without any distractions. It‘s great for short daily journaling focused on logging events and feelings.

The timeline view makes it easy to go back and review your entries. Use tags and search to easily find related journal entries. You can also password protect your journal for privacy.

3. Daylio – Best for Tracking Moods and Habits

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Platforms: Android, iOS

Daylio app

Daylio stands out with its mood tracking, habit tracking, and statistics features. You simply log your daily activities and mood which Daylio uses to generate insights into habits, patterns, and correlations.

The chooce of cute icons and themes make journalling fun. You can also set reminders to write in your journal consistently. If you want to leverage journaling data for self-improvement, Daylio is a top choice.

4. Journey – Best for Beginner Journalers

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Platforms: Android, iOS

Journey app

Journey is designed for those who are new to journaling. It provides thought-provoking prompts and reminders to establish a daily journaling habit.

The simple interface allows you to write journal entries quickly. You can also track photos, locations, steps and calories to look back on your experiences. Journey makes it easy to get started with journaling and integrate it into your routine.

5. Penzu – Best Variety of Journal Types

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Platforms: Android, iOS

Penzu app

One of the strengths of Penzu is the wide selection of journal types it offers. You can keep a reflective journal, dream journal, food journal, gratitude journal, pregnancy journal, and more.

It provides journal templates and prompts for each type while still allowing plenty of customization options. If you want to maintain different journals, Penzu is a versatile choice to check out.

6. Thinky – Most Beautiful Journaling Design

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Platform: iOS

Thinky app

Thinky really excels in its simple yet elegant design. It is a delight to use thanks to the clean interface focused solely on your journal entries.

It provides thought-provoking prompts so you always have something to write about. The private passcode lock and iCloud syncing ensure your journal entries remain secure. For beautiful and minimalist journaling on iPhone, Thinky is a top pick.

7. Momento – Best Automated Journal

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Platform: iOS

Momento app

Momento takes journaling to the next level by automating it for you. It generates entires based on your photos, texts, app usage, locations and more.

You can then fill in additional thoughts and memories to turn these moments into rich journal entries. If you have trouble remembering to journal daily, Momento keeps the habit going for you automatically.

8. ZenJournal – Best Streamlined Journaling

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Platforms: Android, iOS

ZenJournal app

ZenJournal makes journaling incredibly fast and frictionless. You can create an entry with just two taps in seconds.

All your entries live in a continuous timeline with hashtags for easy searching. The simple yet powerful interface allows you to journal on the go without any barriers. For streamlined journaling, ZenJournal is tough to beat.

9. Day One – Best Free-form Journaling

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Platforms: Android, iOS, Mac

Day One app

Day One offers a polished, free-form journaling experience. You have complete flexibility in how you use the app – write journal entries, create lists, add photos and record audio or video.

The timeline view makes it easy to look back on specific days in your life. Advanced privacy protections and backup options give you peace of mind. Day One is great if you want maximum control over your journaling workflow.

10. Grid Diary – Best Journal/Planner Combo

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Platforms: Android, iOS

Grid Diary app

Grid Diary combines journaling with planner features. You can easily switch between your diary entries and daily agenda/task lists within the app.

It also provides thought-provoking journal prompts to get you writing and reflecting consistently. While the interface is not as polished as some apps, Grid Diary strikes a great balance between journaling, planning and goal-setting.

11. Happyfeed – Best Gratitude Journaling

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Platforms: Android, iOS

Happyfeed app

The focus of Happyfeed is keeping a gratitude journal. You simply log things you feel grateful for each day. The communal feed allows you to share and interact with the gratitude of other users as well.

Looking back on the moments that made you happy helps shift perspective to the positive. If you want to leverage the proven mental health benefits of gratitude journaling, Happyfeed delivers.

12. Reflection – Best Templates and Tracking

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Platforms: Android, iOS, Web

Reflection app

Reflection makes journaling simpler through providing prompts and templates focused on goals, gratitude, self-care and more.

You can track progress and get reminders for maintaining your journaling habit. While the app lacks some features of competitors, the straight-forward structure helps motivate consistent journaling.

13. Alan Mind – Best AI Chat Journal

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Platforms: Android, iOS

Alan Mind app

Alan Mind provides a unique journaling experience through AI chat sessions. You choose different mindsets like reducing anxiety, improving focus or boosting creativity.

Alan will prompt you with reflective questions and responses to guide the journaling conversations. While more limited in features, interacting with an AI assistant can feel more engaging and personalized.

How to Choose the Best Journaling App for You

With so many great options, how do you determine which journaling app is right for your needs? Here are some key factors to consider:


Make sure to choose an app available on your device platform – whether iOS or Android. Some apps are exclusive to one platform.


Most journal apps are free to download with the option to unlock additional features through a premium subscription. Figure out which premium features impact your experience and whether they provide enough value.

Journaling Style

Think about whether you want free-form journaling without prompts or prefer some structure and guidance. Look for an app that matches your personal journaling preferences.


Consider must-have features like adding photos, reminders, statistics, search, encryption, backups and syncing. Choose an app with the functionality you need.


Since you‘ll interact with it daily, ensure you find the app‘s interface visually appealing and intuitive to use. This improves the journaling experience.


If you need to access your journal across different devices, select an app with cloud syncing and availability across platforms.

Prioritize the factors above based on your personal needs and tastes. Download a few top contenders to test out before deciding. The right app makes journaling effortless to turn into a rewarding daily habit.

Tips for Making the Most of Journaling

Using a great journaling app lays the foundation for building an awesome journaling routine. But your mindset and approach matter just as much.

Here are some pro tips to get the most out of your journaling practice:

  • Write first thing in the morning – Journaling when you wake up catches thoughts and dreams fresh in your mind.

  • Set reminders – To build consistency, use reminders to make writing a non-negotiable daily habit.

  • Freewrite – Journal stream-of-consciousness without stopping for 5+ minutes to unlock deep thoughts.

  • Vary prompts – Explore different journaling frameworks like gratitude, growth goals, dream analysis and more.

  • Review insights – Use any analytics features to identify trends and reflect on your emotional journey.

  • Write privately – Encryption and passcode locks keep your innermost thoughts secure.

  • Dig deeper – When logging events and activities, reflect on associated feelings and realizations.

  • Stick with it – Make journaling a lifelong practice to reap all the amazing benefits.

Start Journaling Today!

I hope this guide provided you with clarity on the journaling process and how to choose the best journaling app for your needs. Journaling is a habit that can improve your self-awareness, mental health and quality of life in so many ways.

The apps covered simplify the process so you can focus on your self-reflection. Choose the one aligned with your personal journaling style and start writing today! I‘m excited for you to experience the journey and evolution journaling brings.

Let me know if you have any other questions as you begin journaling. I‘m always happy to help a fellow productivity geek get started with beneficial new habits. Have fun with it and write like no one else will read it!

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