Iím constantly scouring the net for interesting Mac news, tips and hints. I also participate in numerous online forums. The problem Iíve always had was that whenever I found an interesting forum thread, news article or similar item that I wanted to keep for later reference I didnít have a quick, convenient way of saving it. I used to just bookmark everything. Well let me tell you that can get unwieldy in a hurry. I already have a couple hundred web pages bookmarked, and I donít need more. Then thereís also the issue that the page I bookmark today might be renamed or deleted at a later date rendering the bookmark useless.
With Jaguarís introduction of native PDF file creation I started using this instead of book marking. When I found something I wanted to keep Iíd just save it to PDF and then put it in a file/folder organizational scheme that resided in my Documents folder. This system soon got unwieldy as well and as we all know the files size of OS X generated PDF's tends to be on the hefty side.
I then remembered a little program called MacJournal. I had downloaded it when it first came out (way back in 2001 if I remember correctly), looked at it and thought it was a nice little program. Not being a journal writer and failing to see itís potential as an organizational tool, I filed MacJournal away somewhere on my hard drive and quickly forgot about it.
About a year ago, after reading a press release about a new version of MacJournal, I downloaded it again and took a closer look. I quickly realized that this little program that I had so quickly dismissed when it first came out, could be the answer to all my problems! Okay, maybe not all: MacJournal canít make my coffee for me in the morning. I can dream though.
MacJournal is really a very powerful program. Dan Schimpf, MacJournalís creator, wrote MacJournal in Cocoa which means among other things, that MacJournal can take advantage of OS Xís spell checker. In my opinion, though, MacJournal's power comes from the fact that it is OS X Services aware. This feature alone solves the problem I started this review out with. Anytime I find something on the web that I want to save, I just highlight it in Safari and then use OS Xís Services option to create a new entry in MacJournal. Sweet! I use this feature all the time over at Adobeís PhotoShop Elements forum. When I come across a technique I want to save for future use I create a new entry from the forum thread and file it in my PhotoShop journal. Iíve created similar journals for iDVD, iMovie, OS X Hints, etc.
When you use the Services menu to create a MacJournal entry, you can either create an entirely new entry or "Append Selection to Entry". This second option is really handy for when you want to add to an already created entry, such as an already saved PhotoShop Elements forum thread that has grown longer with more people posting.
After you've chosen to create a new entry or to append an existing one, MacJournal will pop up a journal/entry selection window where you can select which journal or entry the new selection should go to.
One of the other very nice things about MacJournal is that if you make an entry from a web page, html links are preserved. Later, when youíre using/reading an entry in MacJournal you can click on a link and be taken to the corresponding page on the web. MacJournal does a decent job of rendering html graphical elements but donít expect it to look exactly like the web page you got the entry from, however. MacJournal will also include any images from the web page in the entry.
Of course you can also use MacJournal for journaling. The Entry menu contains all kinds of useful options for those of you who write and keep journals. Iím not much of a blogger, but if you are, MacJournal can also be used to create blog entries from your journal. To use this feature, you must be using Livejournal or any other service that supports the Blogger protocol.
Did I mention that you can create as many journals as you want? Iíve got over 20 right now and plan to add more in the not too distant future. The really great thing about this is that the file size of your MacJournal data file is quite small compared with creating PDFís of all the stuff you might put in MacJournal. Better yet, you can easily add keywords to entries allowing you to quickly search for any particular entry. Try that with my PDF file system and youíll soon see why MacJournal is so useful. Dan Schimpf has also localized MacJournal for 13 different languages.
Hopefully by now you can see the potential MacJournal holds for helping to organize your digital life. But wait, thereís more! Probably the coolest MacJournal feature is totally useless but itís by far my favorite. Iím talking about the Taco button. Click this button and a sheet slides down from MacJournalís title bar containing a quote from Foxís ďThe SimpsonísĒ. Letís say youíve been working hard at your Mac for the last two hours and you really need a break. Click the Taco button and youíll be rewarded with something like "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is 'never try'." I donít know how many quotes there actually are in MacJournal but each release seems to add more. If you use MacJournal for nothing else the Taco menu is worth the price. That is, of course, if youíre a Simpsonís fan.
Did I mention the price? Dan Schimpf has decided to price MacJournal at the very affordable, low, low price of (drum roll please) free! Thatís right, this multipurpose do-all program is free. Why Iíd pay twice that for this little gem. Dan does accept donations so if you like and use the program Iíd urge you to send a little cash his way. I did for version 2.5 and will send him more when 2.6 is officially released. Dan makes it easy by providing a Pay Pal option on his web site. Do the right thing and help him continue to develop MacJournal.
MacJournal comes with many, many more useful features like RTF text formatting capabilities, password protection based on industry-standard AES-256 encryption for you paranoid types, emailing capabilities for both entries and journals, etc. Really there are just too many useful features to list, so do yourself a favor, download and try out MacJournal today. I bet youíll find all kinds of uses for it. I sure did.
I give it ten out of ten apples!
*****NOTE: Most of this review was written while I was using alpha and beta releases of version 2.6 and prior to the official release of MacJournal 2.6. I've done a little editing to (hopefully) reflect changes that were not in the development releases but that made it into the official release. One big change is the ability to give MacJournal a brushed metal appearance as you'll notice in the first screen shot. In order to achieve this look you have to enable MacJournal's hidden preferences. You have to use the Terminal to do this but it very easy. Just follow Dan's instructions on the hidden preferences page. Once they are enabled you'll have a whole host of additional preferences that you can set, including the brushed metal appearance. You can find the additional Hidden Preferences in the MacJournal menu under the normal preference option.