Day One full review

A life diary that you can keep private. Whatever will they think of next?

Day One is software for keeping the electronic equivalent of a daily diary. You may remember those. It’s what we used to do before most people started sharing every moment of every day on the internet. Before blogging and Facebook and Twitter, it was a personal space for our personal thoughts. 

We’ve been using the iOS version of Day One for a few weeks, so we were keen to try it on the Mac. The desktop version turns out to have all the great features of the mobile version, with a few extra tweaks. 

At its most basic, Day One enables you to create daily journal entries that include text, images from your Photo Library, location and weather data. The simple interface belies a tool with great flexibility. There’s text formatting toolbar, but the editor seamlessly supports Markdown for formatting and hyperlinks. 

In an age of overexposure, Day One gives you all the tools you need to track your life, with an audience of one. You.

With quick access from the menu bar of your Mac, you can pepper Day One with tweet-style updates all day, adding photos and links as you discover them. If you prefer, you can open up the full app and save your journaling for a specific time, like a super-modern Samuel Pepys.

When you create a new post or update, Day One automatically adds it the current day. A calendar tool enables you to add entries at anytime though, past or future. You can go back and edit entries if you want or add events to future posts. That means you can use it for planning – as a calendar app – as well as diarising.

Though meant mainly for personal journaling, Day One does allow you to share your updates with some other services. You can tweet links or post them to Facebook, forward entries to Foursquare or Flickr. But, for us, Day One’s strength is it’s personal, enhanced by the ability to password-protect the opening of the app.

With iCloud and Dropbox integration, your Day One diary is backed-up both locally and to the cloud. Handy, as a diary should be a permanent thing. If Day One ever disappears or stops updating, you can export the lot in PDF format. We should note that there’s no built-in local encryption, and if you back up to Dropbox or iCloud, your data will be encrypted but not truly private.

In this age of oversharing, Day One might seem like a quaint idea, but just a few days in its company was revealing. With tagging and favouriting, the tools it gives you are very similar to several social media services (Path springs to mind – a service for life-tracking online). But without an audience to cater to, the results are quite different. 

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