Review: MacJournal 3.1

Good software for the hidden writer in all of us. (May 31st, 2005)

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Mariner Software

Price: MSRP $ 29.95 US boxed; , $24.95 Downloadable

The Good

  • Easy to use and publish entries. Available in many languages.

The Bad

  • Calendar doesn\'t work as expected. Can\'t group the many buttons offered.

Life is full of forgettable events, but some are worth recording for posterity. Back in the day when gas was cheap and dial-up modems were a luxury, our memorable events were carefully written down in a well-hidden diary or journal. As with most things these days, the journal is now digital and records of those special events surface on Blogs and personal web sites. Mariner Software republished Dan Schimpf's MacJournal to give this journaling software a well-deserved new life, while making your digital records a snap to create and publish. To use the software you only need to know basic menu commands, mouse control, and be willing to write. Don't worry about style and content, that only gets better the more you write!

Simplicity is the Key

MacJournal is installed with a simple drag and drop into the Applications folder. The disk image also contains an excellent 43-page PDF manual, which you might not even need because the controls are so easy to use. The journal drawer holds your journals and a calendar, while the main sheet displays the actual entries. On top rests the toolbar, ready to fill with preferred buttons for easy access to layout, fonts, and countless other options, available from the Customize Toolbar option under the View menu. With so many buttons to choose, it would be nice if you could group them under a drop down menu, since only a handful fit in the toolbar. All the functions are also available from the menu bar but the toolbar is much more efficient.

You can create as many entries in as many journals as you want, plus entries can be copied, moved from journal to journal and published with only a few mouse clicks. Publishing is done through free communities, such as LiveJournal, Blogger, WordPress, and Movable Type, but also through email and .Mac subscriptions. In addition, there is an HTML copy option, so you can easily add entries on any web site that allows user input. The calendar is nice because dates with entries are highlighted, but it is also annoying beyond belief. When you click on a date a new entry is created instead of taking you the first entry of the. This is considered a feature, but it is not one I like.

Secured from Prying Eyes

Teens around the world will rejoice that journals can be locked and encrypted to keep them safe from prying eyes. Two levels of security are offered, Password protection or AES-256 encryption. Journals are locked with one click and you can keep them locked after waking from sleep and after quitting the application. These options are disabled by default, and would fit better in the preferences instead of as menu items. There is also a powerful backup function to make sure those precious entries don't get lost because of a crash.

Recommended for Writers

Macjournal is good software that should satisfy most people who keep journals no matter how often you write or whether you prefer to live publicly. The price is right and if the few minor bugs are ironed out it would be almost perfect.

Editor's Note: MacJournal 3.1.1 was released on May 19th with a number of bug fixes, plus Tiger compatibility. The software is also available in 11 languages. Mariner Software is offering a sweet discount on the software until June 5, 2005.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Maarten Delanghe


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