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How to use the iPhone’s new Journal app on iOS 17 (and why you should)

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Journaling can be a helpful way to not only record your day but to capture your thoughts and feelings about special moments, both personal and professional. One way to create and maintain a daily journal is through Apple’s new Journal app.

Automatically available on the iPhone with iOS 17.2 and higher, the Journal app offers suggestions for journaling based on your photos, videos, music, podcasts, and locations. Alternatively, you can simply write about whatever is on your mind.

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Choose from among your suggested items as well as photos and videos from your library, new photos or videos you take, audio recordings, or specific landmarks and other locations. You can write a plain text entry or enhance it with other content, such as photos or audio clips.

Your iPhone can remind you to add an entry to your journal based on specific days and times or you can simply create an entry whenever the mood strikes. If you wish, you’re able to sync your journal entries to iCloud where they’re protected with end-to-end encryption. Further, you can add another level of authentication by securing your journal with a passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID.

How to use the iPhone’s Journal app on iOS 17

What you’ll need: To use the Journal app, you’ll need a compatible iPhone running on iOS 17.0 or newer. That includes models dating back to the iPhone XR but nothing before that. To ensure that your device is running on the latest software, follow step one below.

To get started, make sure you’re running iOS 17.2 or higher on your iPhone. Go to Settings, select General, and then tap Software Update. Tap the button to download and install the latest update.

Update your iPhone

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After iOS 17.2 is installed, the Journal app appears on your home screen. Upon launching the app the first time, you’re asked if you want to turn on suggestions to help you generate entries. If so, tap the button to turn on journaling suggestions. If not, tap Not now.

Launch the Journal app

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At the screen to create a journal entry, browse through the various suggestions based on photos, locations, and other items that may offer meaning to you. Swipe down the screen to view more suggestions. Tap the heading at the top for Recent to see more recent suggestions. 

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Beyond suggestions based on personal content, the app offers reflections that prompt you to write something in response to a certain question. Tap the item that you wish to write about.

Add an entry based on a suggestion

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Select or deselect any items included in the suggestion you chose. Type your entry in the text space. When finished, tap Done. Your entry is then added to your journal.

Type your entry

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Sometimes you may prefer to write a free-flowing entry not based on any suggestion. At the Journal screen, tap the plus icon at the bottom. Next, choose New Entry at the top. You can now just write your entry based on anything you’d like. When finished, tap Done.

Create an entry from scratch

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Want to enhance a journal entry with visuals or other content? At the screen to write the entry, notice the icons on the toolbar. 

Also: iOS 17.1.2: A seemingly boring iPhone update you need to install now

Tap the first icon to add an item from your suggestions, the second one to add an existing photo or video, the third one to shoot and add a new photo or video, the fourth one to record and add an audio clip, and the fifth one to add a specific location. Tap Done to save the entry.

Add content to a journal entry

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By default, all your journal entries appear on the app’s home screen. To see only specific types, tap the three-lined icon at the top. You can now filter the list by photos, recorded audio, reflections, or places.

Filter your entries

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To manage a specific entry, tap its ellipsis icon. From the menu, select Edit to modify the entry, Bookmark to bookmark the entry, or Delete to remove the entry. After bookmarking one or more entries, tap the three-line icon at the top and choose Bookmarked to see only those entries.

Manage your journal entries

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You can manage your journal suggestions to enable or disable specific ones. For this, go to Settings, select Privacy & Security, and then tap Journaling Suggestions. In the top section, turn off the switch for any suggestions you don’t wish to receive—Activity, Media, Contacts, Photos, or Significant Locations. Tap Clear History to remove any existing suggestions.

Also: How to automatically share photos between iPhones with NameDrop

By default, the Journal app prioritizes suggestions for content you share with other people. Even further, the app lets other iPhone users detect if your phone is nearby to prioritize their own suggestions. For privacy reasons, you should disable both of these options. Turn off the switch for Discoverable by Others. The switch for Prefer Suggestions with Others is automatically turned off as well.

Manage your suggestions

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To manage the overall settings for the Journal app, go to Settings and select Journal. In the top section, select Location. Change the location to While Using to include your current location. Otherwise, set it to Ask Next Time Or When I Share or While Using the App. You may also want to turn off the precise location.

Control journal settings for location

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Back at the journal settings screen, tap Photos and then select Options. Turn off the switches for Location and Captions if you don’t wish to include those with your photos. Under Format, select the type you wish to use for your photos.

Control journal settings for photos

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Under New Entry, turn on the switch for Skip Journaling Suggestions if you no longer want to see any suggestions.

Turn off suggestions

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To secure your journal entries, tap Lock Journal. Turn on the Lock switch and choose when to require a passcode. The next time you open the Journal app, you’ll be asked if you want to unlock your journal using Touch ID or Face ID.

Back at the Journal settings screen, tap the setting for Journaling Schedule. To set a schedule, tap the days and times when you want to be reminded to write an entry. Otherwise, turn off the switch for Schedule to disable reminders.


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