Maxjournal: Simplifying Your Life In Words

Keeping a journal is a great way to write introspectively and is just as important for some people as formal writing. The App Store holds a select number of journal or diary apps, but I stuck with Maxjournal.

Maxjournal is free and allows for creating multiple journals. Its interface is a good balance of style and function. It’s also pretty easy to use, which makes starting a journal less about the fluff and more about the content.

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Easy Journal Management

The app’s main screen is where you manage all journals, where you can add, delete and edit them. Three main controls are found on the top right for adding a journal, changing the background and going to the Help section.

A dashboard view of journals

Creating your first journal is done with a few easy steps. You can either start from scratch (Create New Journal) or from a backup file (Import from Backup). Note that you shouldn’t already have a journal with the same name as a backup journal file, otherwise it will not work. Creating a journal from backup should only be done if you are restoring a journal that you have previously deleted.

Two ways to add journals

A journal can be secured with a password, and you can add a cover photo and a background image. You can choose from three presets, or pick a color from the palette.

More Content, Less Fluff

After creating a journal, you are then led to the default journal page, which opens to the current date. The months of the year are on the top bar, while all dates for the month are indicated on the bottom, and you can tap on a date to go to that page.

Default journal page view

The writing area takes up most of the page, with the exception of a sidebar which is only seen in landscape mode, where you can view previously added photos and tags and the control icons are found on the app’s top right corner. These are: Day/Month view; Export, Search, Background, Text and Help.

The default view for a journal entry is the current day, and tapping on the Day/Month view icon changes the journal to month view. This shows snippets of a journal entry for each date, the rest of which can be viewed in the right pane. Double tapping on a date opens the journal entry in full, Day view.

Month view for journal entries

A Focus on Writing

To start writing, simply tap on the blank page and the entire screen shifts into a distraction-free writing mode. In this mode, it’s just you, your thoughts and the keyboard — and a minimal timestamp and Done button. This interface is the same in both portrait and landscape modes. Maxjournal uses the same capitalization and auto-correct settings of the iPad and there is no option within the app to change this.

A clutter-free writing interface

Although you can add photos to a page, it doesn’t take the spotlight away from your journal’s main content. In this app, photos appear discreetly on a sidebar, or completely hidden from view — depending on what you decide.

Adding photos in portrait mode

Adding a photo in landscape mode sends it to the top portion of the sidebar in thumbnail view. On the other hand, adding a photo in portrait mode prompts you to choose whether to add it inline with the text or to the sidebar.

Photos that are added in the sidebar can be viewed in landscape mode by tapping on the photo icon on the top right corner and choosing Open Lightbox. This opens a full screen gallery of photos attached to the page. Here, you can delete or add photos. Any change is immediately reflected in both viewing modes.

Maxjournal has a great selection of fonts to apply to a journal. Font settings apply to the entire journal, and not just for the current page. However, you can have different font settings for other journals. Text size can also be adjusted, as well as the brightness and background color.

A great selection of fonts

Never Lose a Page

Another impressive feature that’s not found in other paid apps like Day One is the Export function. You can choose to export a journal in plain text or PDF format and save it to the cloud. You can do this from the main page by tapping on the tray icon on the bottom of a journal cover, or from a journal page by tapping on the same icon located on the top right corner.

Exporting journals in several file formats

In addition to exporting a journal, you can also create local backups of your journal using the iPad File Sharing system. Maxjournal‘s Help section has helpful, step-by-step instructions on how to view or retrieve journal backups in iTunes. To view this, tap the question mark icon on the top right bar and go to Backup and Restore.


Writing in a journal is a personal and intimate experience and it doesn’t need to be complex or elaborate. Maxjournal‘s simple and straightforward design understands this and provides the best environment for putting your thoughts down in words with minimal distractions — whilst still maintaining style and functionality. Whether you’ve been keeping a journal for ten days or ten years, this app is bound to impress, inspire and allows you to simply write away — with hardly any distractions.


A simple and elegant app for writing journals