MacJournal 3.1.2, by Mariner Software
Posted: 16-Aug-2005

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Mariner Software Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Jim Melton Class: PRODUCTIVITY
     
$24.95   Download

Overview
MacJournal is a program designed specifically for keeping a journal. Of course, you don't "need" special software to journal; you can use any text processor or outlining tool (or even paper and pencil!). But MacJournal provides tools and features with journalling in mind that are missing from the other techniques.

Requirements

MacJournal requires Mac OS X 10.2 or above, and version 3.1.1 supports Tiger (10.4). It requires 15MB of available RAM and at least 4MB hard disk space. I tested it on a 17" Powerbook G4 (512MB) running OS X 10.3.9.

Price
MacJournal is a free download, and costs $24.95 to unlock. You can also purchase the boxed version for $29.95.


Set-Up
Installing MacJournal is the way all Mac software should be. Download the software from Mariner's web site and mount the disk image. Drag the MacJournal application to your Applications folder (or anywhere else) and you are ready to go.

In Use
MacJournal starts up with a default journal ("My Journal") and a default entry that gives you bootstrap instructions for getting started. The most obvious thing to do is to create a new entry in your journal and write something profound. Entries for the current date/time can be created by clicking on the "New" icon. Entries for other dates can be created by clicking on the date in the calendar. At any time, the date and time associated with an entry can be changed.

MacJournal allows you to create multiple journals, so you can organize and partition your stream-of-consciousness meanderings. I found this feature very useful because I always have a number of different things I want to blather about at any given time. Unfortunately, all these journals are stored in a single database, and there is no way to change databases. I would have liked to be able to have independent sets of journals that could be accessed through a "File->Open" option.

For your most private thoughts, your journal can be password protected, and optionally encrypted using the password. When you assign a password to a journal, you are given the chance to remember the password in your keychain. A locked journal is indicated in the journal drawer with a padlock icon. If you try to use a locked journal (such as adding a new entry), you are prompted for the journal password. If the password is stored in your keychain, you are not prompted.


Working on a novel using MacJournal


Journal entries are entered in familiar text pane. You can format your entries by changing font, colors, and paragraph alignment. Also, there is limited support for lists. Here is an area where I felt the program was weak. Much of my journalling and thought processes are hierarchical. I like to use lists and indentation to organize my thoughts. However, MacJournal doesn't expose a ruler so you can change margins, nor does it support nested lists. On the other hand, it does include a list style with check-boxes. I found that feature useful in creating a list of outstanding actions and checking them off as they were accomplished. This feature won't replace a "To Do" list feature of iCal (for example), but it is very useful in some cases as you journal.

After you have captured your pearls of wisdom, the obvious thing to do is share them with others. Here is where MacJournal proves its worth. You can select entire journals or just certain entries and publish them. You can e-mail an entire journal, or export it as a file in several formats: MacJournal native, plain text, text with attachments, Rich Text Format (RTF), HTML, or Word. Journal entries may also be shared using
Blogger, LiveJournal, or .Mac. I didn't test any of these because I don't have accounts for any of these services. But if blogging is your thing, MacJournal will support you.

NOTE: There are a couple of places where the software implies that journals can have attachments, but I couldn't find any way to attach anything to a journal or entry.

An advanced MacJournal feature allows you to define an HTML template to be used in creating your exported journals and entries. The default settings should be adequate in most cases, but those who have an insatiable need to put their unique stamp on the world will appreciate the control provided for customization.

NOTE: For review writers, you will find MacJournal an indispensable tool for jotting down notes while testing review software. MacJournal makes it simple to document your thoughts with minimal impact to the testing process.

Summary
MacJournal is the journaling software I've been waiting for. I've used paper, text editors, and outlining tools. MacJournal has spoiled me forever. Its interface is easy and natural to use and helps me organize my thoughts into different journals. It sports rich capabilities for exporting journals to files, e-mail, or the web. There is room for improvement in its formatting capabilities, and file management, but I have not found anything better for anyone who wants to journal.


Pros

  • Easy to use and intuitive interface
  • Privacy supported with passwords and encryption
  • Automatic time/date stamping of entries
  • Export in a variety of formats, including HTML, e-mail, Word, RTF, and plain text


Cons

  • Limited formatting of journal entries
  • Limited/awkward support for creating different "journal clusters"

Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice