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Daylife review: Slick Mac journal software isolated from a connected world

J.R. Bookwalter | July 29, 2016
Daylife has a great look and feel, but is quite limited in its present form.

The idea of committing each day’s events to a diary—or as Greg Heffley repeatedly reminds us in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, “it’s a journal”—feels a bit out of place in our fast-paced, social networking world. But that hasn’t stopped developers from thriving with apps like Day One ($30 on the Mac App Store), which succeeds at modernizing this once-popular ritual in digital form.

Search the Mac App Store and you’ll find nearly 100 titles capable of collecting such memoirs. The latest is made by Chronos, a publisher best known for OS X productivity tools such as Greeting Card Shop, iScrapbook, and PrintLife, who has proven they have the programming chops to create good software.

daylife main window

There’s a lot to like about Daylife, which features a slick user interface that makes it easy to keep a diary or journal of each day’s activities.

They’ve certainly done so again with Daylife ($40), but unlike the company’s previous creations that work great as self-contained applications, this one feels strangely disconnected from today’s mobile, socially-minded world.

What’s your story?

With all due respect to Mr. Heffley, Daylife is the digital equivalent of a diary used to record daily entries in for future rediscovery, which can be embellished with rich text formatting, photos, and location data. Like other Chronos software, Daylife offers a polished user interface that’s slick and easy to use.

daylife quick entry

You don’t even have to open Daylife to make an entry—just start typing in the quick entry window from the menu bar.

It’s also eerily reminiscent of Day One, my current go-to journaling software. The window is split across three panes, with weather and calendar dashboards above the list of journals on a dark sidebar along the left edge and a list of entries at center; the currently selected entry takes up the remainder of the space.

While the basic premise is similar, I prefer some of Daylife’s UI choices, including the sidebar (which can also be used to stack journals into subcategories) and the bolder, cleaner look of entry headers, which display the date along with buttons for importing photos, adding tags or location, and marking favorites.

Both apps offer a background helper accessible from the menu bar. It’s a fast, easy way to add new entries, although Day One has the upper hand with its ability to also tag entries from the same place. The tables turn back in Daylife’s favor when it comes to the number of journals you can create, and how many photos can be added to each one. Day One imposes a strict maximum of 10 in both cases, while Daylife allows an unlimited number of each.

 

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