How To: Export Your Day One Entries

As regular readers will know, I love to journal my thoughts, ideas and goals, as well as track family memories using the wonderful Mac and iOS app, Day One. Having all of this information in one place that’s easy to access, simple to use and - just as important to me - visually stunning, is very important to me. 

A concern that people have levied against this approach pertains to what happens with my data should anything ever happen to Day One. Is it still mine? Will I be able to access this in thirty years time when I want to pass things down to my children? As negative as these thoughts may be, they are not without foundation and so I started looking at ways to ensure I’ve got a copy of all of my Day One entries. Thankfully, the team behind the app understand these worries and have a feature built-in to help with this. 

Exporting Entries

Entries can be exported, in bulk, on both the Mac and iOS versions of Day One. These are the export formats:

- JSON - This format is used when you are planning to re-import archived data into Day One, as well as other programmatic uses with applications that support Day One JSON files. Not something I need as I’m not a coder in any form at all, however, some of you out there will like this. 

- PDF - I use this when I want an offline record of a particularly memorable event, such as a family party or day trip. This format is great for printing and includes both formatted text and inline images. 

- HTML - Creates a zip file that allows you to view the entry via a web browser. 

- Plain Text - This is the format that forms part of my ‘backup’ regime. Comprises of one single zip file that contains a single text file with all of your selected entries. These entries all include the inline references to folders, however as they are plain text, they don’t contain the photos themselves - there is a separate photos folder that is exported. 

The process for exporting these entries is simple in both formats:


  • In Day One, open Settings then Import/Export.
  • Select the required journal.
  • Choose a date range. 
  • If there is a tag that you wish to specifically export, toggle Only Tagged Entries then select the desired tags. 
  • Choose the export format you want. 


  • In the Journal Pane, select the Journal that you wish to export entries from. Alternatively, if you only wish to export selected entries, then highlight these entries by holding down the  key and clicking on the entries you wish to export. 
  • Bring up the contextual menu and select Export
  • Choose the desired format. 
  • Select the location for the files. 

It really is that simple. Part of my weekly review involves reading my Day One entries for the previous week. I’ve now added a stage whereby I quickly export these entries to my NAS device (which in turn backs up off-site) so I know that no matter what happens, I’m taking the appropriate measures to ensure that these important memories, of both thoughts and events, will be mine to keep.

How I Use: Day One to Track My Goals

On my recent live session recording for LearnOmniFocus, I happened to mention that I track my goals within the journaling application Day One. The response was reasonably overwhelming - lots of questions as to how I do it!

The truth is, there isn’t anything really scientific, or technically mind-blowing to it. It’s just a case of having a journal where I log my goals and progress towards them. It’s worthwhile discussing how I do this though - as well as why. 

Let’s talk about the why.  Why do I use Day One rather than any other tool? I guess it comes down to association really. I see a journal being the ideal location for storing important information about my life as a whole and goals are a core part of that. That may not be the same for the vast majority of people reading this, however productivity and personal development is exactly that - personal - so this fits for me. 

The how is every bit as simple as the why. Firstly, I set aside a separate journal that is dedicated completed to my goals. That means that I now have three journals in play - Home and FamilyBusiness as well as Goals. There’s a little bit of cross-pollination there as I have both Home and Family, as well as Business goals stored in the Goals journal, however the simplicity of having all goals in one easy to reach location works for me. 

I don’t have any kind of hard and fast rules that govern how I set my goals. It’s more of a loose framework that develop and adapt as the need arises. There are some patterns in play though and the main ones are as follows:

- Goals are split into Areas Of Focus

I’ve separated my life out into some key focus areas and these are represented in both OmniFocus (my ToDo list application of choice) and Day One. Projects and Goals are assigned to each of these. Obviously my Areas Of Focus will be different to yours, however if you are interested, mine are:

  • Me, Myself and I (Personal)
    • Hubster (Spouse)
    • Dadster (Father)
    • Chèz Garrett (Household)
    • Soliam.Biz (My Business)
    • MyProductiveMac (My Website/Blog)
    • Think Productive (Coaching)
    • Brain Gain (Personal Development)

- Areas Of Focus Are Assigned Goals

I personally like to set quarterly goals, and set milestones for these on either a monthly or weekly basis as required. Is there a minimum/maximum number of goals that I will set? The answer is No and there is a very good reason for this. In his book, Living Forward, Michael Hyatt writes about our Areas of Focus having an Account Balance, much like our financial bank accounts. I may be in credit with my Brain Gain Area of Focus, having spent lots of time in the last quarter reading books, studying software and perfecting the use of apps, whereas my focus may have slipped from Chèz Garrett, leaving lots of tasks needing to be completed around the house and a negative balance in that account. So as part of my review process, I assess how much credit I have in each area of focus and schedule my goals accordingly. 

- Goals are broken down into milestones

This may well be the Project Manager side of me coming to the fore, however I find it very difficult to focus on a goal without setting milestones. In the project management world, a milestone is a key event or deliverable that is committed to as part of the project and can act as a measurement for the progress of the project. I will typically break my goals into manageable chunks of work. This is a great practice, as it allows me to make sensible decisions as to how long I should allow the project to run. 

I could set myself a quarterly goal called Write a new children’s book, yet when I break it down into the key milestones (research, drafting the chapters, finding a publisher, editing, final proofing, marketing etc - I’m no author by the way!), it may be that this would be better suited as an annual goal, with milestones set per quarter, or month

- Goal progress is updated weekly in Day One

As part of my weekly review, I update the progress (or lack of) for each of my goals in the journal. This allows me to course correct, if needed and schedule more focused blocks of time for a particular goal if I’m falling behind. If I’m well ahead on a certain target, I can allow less time in the coming week(s) and focus on a different goal that may have been neglected. It’s a system that works for me. 

Drafting Goals

Another reason for using Day One as a goal journal is the ease of putting in check marks for goals. Visually, Day One is stunning and I need to look at something that’s aesthetically pleasing and allows me to see, at a glance, how I’m doing. 

The format of the draft is simple. You’ll see below a Before and After shot of a sample goal. Each AOF has a master entry and the goal’s title will include the time period it has set aside for it - in the case below, it is a goal for the first quarter of 2018. I have this set in bold face. 

Below, you will see the milestones and you can create checkboxes by typing a hyphen and two square brackets, all with a space between each. If the task is complete, then there will be a X between the square brackets. Clicking Done in the top right-hand corner will show you how it looks when formatted. The check boxes are clickable here, which I think looks great. 


Each week, I will update with notes commenting on progress and quite often, I’ll find that I have ideas on how to improve progress with the goal, just by writing in Day One. 

You'll also see that there is a weekly goal, or milestone that is still to be confirmed. That's fine because there will be times when you can't spell out every stage of a project, or goal, at the outset. As the project matures, you'll have a clearer indication as to what steps need to be taken to reach your goal - it can be very much an adaptive process. 

Well - that’s it! As I say, it’s simple, it’s rudimentary yet often the most effective systems are exactly that and this is certainly an effective system for me. It’s working well so far and I have no plans to change. Maybe some ideas here for you too.

How To Use: Keyboard Shortcuts with Day One

If you are a Power User on the Mac, chances are you look to use keyboard shortcuts whenever possible - I know I do. 

As a keen user of the journaling application Day One on both macOS and iOS, I rely on these shortcuts to ensure I can capture important information as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Here is what I believe to be a comprehensive list of the shortcuts available - feel free to comment on more as you find them. 

Command + N - New Entry

Command + Shift + N - New Entry in Window

Left/Right Arrows - Previous/Next Pane

Up/Down Arrows - Previous/Next Item In a List

Command + L - Open Location Editor

Command + Shift + L - Lock Journal

Command + D - Toggle Single/Dual Pane Modes

Command + E - Toggle Entry Edit Mode

Command + F - Open Search Popover Menu

Command + J - Open Journal Picker

Command + Shift + J - Show/Hide Journal Sidebar

Command + T - Open Tag Menu

Command + 1 - Timeline View

Command + 2 - Photos View

Command + 3 - Map View

Command + 4 - Calendar View

Command + B - Bold Text

Command + I - Italicise Text

Command + comma - Preference

Command + ctrl + F - Toggle Full Screen

How I Use: Tags with Day One

Like many of you out there, I use Day One as my journalling application of choice on macOS and iOS (oh, and the Watch too!). It has a lot of use cases, some of which are:

  • capturing special moments with my wife and kids
  • logging work completed for clients
  • tracking progress towards my goals
  • writing reviews of films or programmes I may have watched
  • taking photos of amazing food I eat in restaurants

As well as many more besides. With so many entries, it’s important to have a system for retrieving the entries you have made when you need them. That’s why I love the inclusion of tags for your Day One entries. This helps to categorise and find specific entries easily. 

It’s important to have a solid system for the application of tags, however, as they can quickly become unwieldy. 

I’m going to briefly run through how I use tags in Day One in the hope that it may inspire you to utilise them more yourself. 

Format - all of my tags are lower-case. This is a spill-over from how I use tags in both Finder and DEVONthink Pro Office. The OCD side of my nature tends to overheat when I see a mixture of lower-case, upper case or a combination of the two. Also, my brain doesn’t need to think about how to format it as there is a system in place. 

I also try to ensure that there are no more than two tags per entry. Were I to become trigger-happy with the number of tags I create, I can quickly become overwhelmed when it comes to:

  • deciding on tags to use
    • scrolling through the list of tags in use. 

I’m heavily into simplicity and minimalism so I will use the appropriate amount of tags I need and no more. Also, the Search capability within Day One is first class. If there was a particular restaurant for example that I was dining at, I wouldn’t waste a whole tag entry on it’s name. Instead, I would tag the entry with eating out and if needed, the occasion (for example, birthday) and then rely on the search facility to look within the tag and find all entries related to that restaurant. 

That brief rule of thumb covers the format, so here are the most frequently used tags within my workflow:

review - now the word review has multiple meanings. When it comes to journaling, and given my last example, you could assume this relates to films I watch, restaurants I visit or books I have read. Not so. For me, the tag review is purely about mindfulness. I conduct a daily review and a weekly review as a bare minimum and these all receive the appropriate tags. 

filmsbooksTV - now these are reviews, or at least a track of media that I have consumed. I don’t know if it’s an old age thing, however I tend to find that I’ll see something in a store and think to myself “Have I seen/read that?!). Embarrassing I know, however Day One helps me with that. 

birthdays - I like to track parties or events that I attend with the family. This will often be used with another tag, such as eating out or parties

(client name) - I have both coaching clients and Project Management clients and I like to track work I have completed with them. Day One is great for this. 

health - I use this to cover visits to my local GP or hospital (which themselves form secondary tags)

holiday - or as many of my readers would say, vacation. Holidays are few and far between at the moment so it’s crucial that I capture as many moments as I can. If it’s a location that is visited regularly, then I’d add that in as a secondary tag in it’s own right. 

girls - I’ve got three amazing daughters and a gorgeous wife. I’m indeed blessed and try to record special events with them in Day One. The tag girls is usually used alongside another primary tag, such as birthdays or holiday. I also use their names individually as tags if the event I’m capturing pertains specifically to them. 

christmas - it’s the best time of the year. Simple. 

funny - Having looked, this tag is used mostly used in conjunction with the tag amelia, my youngest daughter as she is just a continual source of amusement! It’s also handy when looking up humorous anecdotes you may want to use at dinner parties or social occasions. 

tottenham - this is my guilty pleasure tag. I’m a huge football (soccer) fan and Tottenham are my team. I track all results, news etc in these entries with the tottenham tag. 

Those are my top 10 (ish..!) tags in use at the moment. What do you use? I would love to know.

Day One and the Apple Watch

Day One is my go-to app for journaling. It is slowly evolving into one of the most important, as well as most used applications on my devices. It's used daily on my MacBook Pro for recording client logs as well as on my iOS devices for capturing more social and family focused information. I track places we visit, meals we eat, films we see on top of those magical moments that only a parent can appreciate.

I also use it on... My Apple Watch.

That's right - I don't just use the watch for picking up football alerts on the move and tracking activity information. I use it in a productivity context as well!

As I'm working through my day, my brain tends to develop ideas. This can be when I'm on one of my daily walks, when I'm sat on the train zoning out, out with the family - any time. The beauty of Apple Watch is that it's always on my wrist to I always have a means of capturing these ideas.

Why Day One though? Why not use a different application for capturing ideas and thoughts?

Simply put, I review my journal at regular intervals and I like the idea of knowing where I was, what I was doing when these ideas came to mind. Do my best thoughts come to mind when I'm out walking on my own by the beach? Then maybe I should increase the frequency of that activity. When I meet with a particular colleague at work, do I get inspired? Are there times of day where new ideas never seem to form?

For this reason, I have created an "Inspiration" journal in Day One. (Remember, in the updated version of Day One, you can have multiple journals for various elements of your life). All ideas are trackable from within for easy review.

How to use Day One on Apple Watch

There couldn't be a simpler set of instructions for this, which is one of the reasons I find Apple Watch applications engaging. I like simplicity and we've definitely got that in abundance with a lot of them!

  • Open the Application
  • Use the Digital Crown to select the Journal you wish to create an entry for
  • Click the microphone to dictate an entry. I find the dictation to be highly accurate although I've had to modify my diction a tiny bit. Maybe my English accent isn't 'classic' enough!
  • Click the check-in indicator to record your location

That's all there is to it. There isn't a need for any additional layers of complexity to the app. The point of the watch, in my opinion, is to capture information quickly and easily as well as retrieve if the need arises. I don't think I will ever need to pull Day One information directly from the watch, yet recording is a valuable addition to my workflow.