MacJournal 4.1 by Mariner Software
Over the past three decades, Apple has made it easy to integrate computers into our daily routines. Whether you started on an Apple II in college or high school, or you just got your very first iMac or MacBook, you’re probably finding lots of ways to replace the paper in your life with simple applications.
Keeping a journal, meanwhile, has traditionally been an ink-and-paper affair. While some people will always crave the experience of curling up on a sofa with an elegant diary page, most of us find that sending quick notes throughout the day is the most realistic way to record what’s going on in our lives and in our heads. Unfortunately, keeping those notes in word processor files can be clunky, while e-mailing yourself can be risky.
Dan Schimpf’s MacJournal solves both of those problems by offering Mac users an effortless way to capture and organize their thoughts and ideas. And, in an era where often share our musings with other people, MacJournal offers a robust variety of publishing and privacy options.
Compose Your Journal Your Way
Working in MacJournal feels like sending yourself an e-mail. Its simple design makes you feel as comfortable jotting down thoughts as drafting a message to a close friend. Users of Apple’s Mail application will quickly understand how to customize fonts and add color to their journal entries. For diary keepers that want to block out the rest of the world, a convenient full-screen option offers a focused, green-on-black environment that’s easy on the eyes. It even reminded a few of us of our old Apple II’s.
Getting Intimate With Sound
What makes MacJournal so special is that the designers understand that it’s sometimes easier to express your thoughts in your own voice. Each journal entry contains a “recording bar” that can be activated from the “view” menu. By using simple controls and your Mac’s built-in microphone, you can record audio to accompany each journal entry. You can even choose to let your journal speak for itself, literally.
Taking Your Thoughts Public
Of course, blogging has brought the process of journal keeping right out in the open. While not everyone feels comfortable sharing their innermost thoughts with an online audience, MacJournal gives bloggers a set of powerful tools to organize and publish weblogs without using a web browser.
For beginner bloggers, you can use your .Mac account to publish new journal entries to the web. If you’ve been blogging for a while, or if you want to take advantage of advanced features like comments and trackbacks, MacJournal will work with many popular free blogging sites, like Blogger.com, WordPress.com, and TypePad.com. Expert users can even configure MacJournal to work with blogging software on their own servers. If you’ve been blogging for a while, you can even import your previous blog entries right into MacJournal, making it a great tool to back up your blog in the event of a service crash.
Better still, MacJournal has been optimized for podcasting. Using the recording bar and the built-in web publishing tools, you can use MacJournal to easily record and distribute simple podcasts. While there are plenty of Mac blogging and podcasting tools on the market, we can’t find any that include so many hassle-free features for such a low price.
Locking Up Your Deepest Thoughts
Not everyone wants to share every idea or emotion with the entire World Wide Web. That’s where MacJournal’s heritage as a diary tool really shines. Users can choose which posts to make public and which to keep private. You can even keep multiple journals, each with varying privacy settings.
Most importantly, you can lock and even encrypt your journals to prevent them from being read by anyone but you. Clicking a padlock icon on a journal entry assigns a secure password to that journal. And a powerful set of advanced security settings allows users to enable deep encryption, making it tough for anyone to crack your personal secrets. Other settings allow you to automatically lock and secure your journal upon stepping away from your computer, to prevent family members or co-workers from spying on your entries.
Running MacJournal on Your Mac
Instead of waiting for a heavy application like Word or Pages to launch, users can open a new MacJournal entry very quickly. Even on the older iBook we tested it on, MacJournal was ready to go in under five seconds. On our faster MacBooks, it launched almost instantly. Expert journal keepers will tell you that this is critical, since you want to capture brainstorms the instant they form.
Having made the transition from a freeware project to a fully supported commercial product, MacJournal reflects the tremendous amount of care that has gone into its development. With a list price under $40, MacJournal is an essential tool for any Mac lover that wants to document their life, both online and off.