MacJournal and Replacing Journler


When hunting around for a ‘Casemap’ replacement a few years back, MacJournal entered onto the final list. Now, because of its ability to import Journler data, complete with tags, MacJournal finds itself doing heavy lifting on case analysis.  Caveat, MacJournal will not pull over images or any metadata other than tags.

Initially, MacJournal lacked the ability to change the date of each entry, making it impossible to use for case analysis chronology.

Pros: Can save individual documents, making client-matter project management easier. You can save a journal as a ‘document’ into Dropbox for each client-matter.  Additionally, this offers the opportunity to keep one journal as your ‘attorney’s daybook’ where you drop all the tidbits that accumulate.  MacJournal has an excellent developer (Dan Schimpf answers questions and listens to user input – check his blog). Questions, comments and concerns often get a personal response.

Cons: PDF/attachment handling is done ‘inline,’ kind of ugly, but not a deal killer; No ‘filter’ option for doing a quick filter of entries based on Tag, Annotation, Date, or Content, i.e. must create a ‘smart folder’ to accomplish, still not a deal killer; proprietary file format and structure, but considering responsiveness and longevity of MacJournal/Mariner, still not a deal killer.


When conducting document review with MacJournal, it goes like this: (1) With a document open in Preview, hit Command-c when you come across a choice page; (2) switch to MacJournal and create a new entry, date it, add tags and, in the main body jott a few notes; (3) hit Command-v and the page is dropped into MacJournal for later reference/review. Double clicking the image opens it in Preview where you can annotate/mark-up/add notes if you desire. This approach is simple, quick and gets the job done with a minimal of effort. And, yes, it can be used to review deposition transcripts as well. When reviewing other documents, if you have bates stamped your PDF using a unique ID, you also have a reference back to the original document which can be located via Mac OS X’s Spotlight. A free bates stamper is available here. Click image above for detail view.

MacJournal sells for $34.95.

Other Alternatives

Originally known as ‘K.I.T.’ (Keep It Together), Together offers many of the same features as MacJournal, with one key exception, poor developer response. Together sells for $39.00

Yojimbo also offers the ability to do case analysis on slices from documents. Yojimbo offers an iPhone application to go along with the desktop and sells for $39.00

Finally, there’s SOHO Notes which lists a tantalizing array of features, including the ability to integrate with their SOHO Office software and iCal, creating a group project management environment. However, the forums and customer feed back have been entirely negative as sync fails and databases corrupt. SOHO Notes sells for $39.99

There are others out there as well, but this is just a sampling and, really, any product which works for you is the one that works. The best bet is a systematic approach to case analysis and stick with it. Because MacJournal, Together, SOHO Notes and Yojimbo all offer the ability to filter, sort, slice and dice the data with quick access to the source information, they all provide the ability to be systematic in your case analysis. Other software to look at (and PLAY with if you can afford the time) includes: Eagle Filer, DevonThink Pro; VooDoo Pad Pro; and Curio.

Oh, hey, you’re saying right now “What about Evernote?” Yeah, there’s Evernote too. But, Evernote has a fatal flaw – the inability to store your database and sync it however you want. If you want to sync an Evernote database, you must use their paid service and it also means that your data is going through their service (which is also true for Dropbox, but at least it’s backed by Amazon’s S3 encryption and cloud storage).

Correction & Clarification: As reader Bob Hill pointed out in the comments, EN does not require a paid account. However, the free accounts have a limited data transfer. Using EN for case analysis would or could quickly exceed this data transfer limitation.  Also, the database itself resides in an EN specified location with no ‘save as’ option. Hence, you cannot move the database around on your on or use other sync services such as Dropbox.

Why The Switch From Journler?

Several things conspired to drive a search for an alternative to Journler. Despite promises of future development, the forums for Journler are filled with spam, questions to the developer go unanswered and licenses don’t get sent out. Not exactly a reassuring situation for future support or development. Journler still beats MacJournal others in the functionality & feature department. But, until the software gets into the hands of an interested and earnest development company, it simply cannot be considered reliable into the future.

18 thoughts on “MacJournal and Replacing Journler

  1. I agree that support for MacJournal is exceptionally good. A modification to another application caused MJ to crash. I used MJ’s on-line chat support. Via the chat, the MJ representative had me transmit crash logs. The tech suggested a few steps, which did not work. As we were attempting those, we waited for a response the developer himself, to whom the tech had forwarded my crash logs. Within about 10 minutes, I had solution. From the first crash, to the fix was about fifteen minutes — all handled via chat. No one-size-fits-all tech support script (e.g., is the machine plugged in?) – but instantaneous, competent help.

  2. Please clarify your comment that, “If you want to sync an Evernote database, you must use their paid service … .” Isn’t the prime feature of standard, free EN is the global sync of data, platform, OS, and device-agnostic?

  3. Bob – you are correct. Poor editing. It was meant to reflect fact that for data transfer in excess of a certain amount, EN requires a paid account. Using EN as a case analysis tool where each page of a pdf gets entered in and annotated would quickly exceed the data transfer allowed by EN.

  4. MJ is hardly a case management tool. If you have a very small case with no images and don’t need a bates stamping tool then fine, use this app. Compared to Summation, CaseMap, and the others, there is no real comparison.

    Otherwise, run Parallels and use a windows software such as CaseMap.

  5. Redd – you are correct. MJ is not a ‘case management’ tool. However, it does provide all the tools and features necessary to perform good ‘case analysis.’ Additionally, there are free bates stamping tools available, as well as the ability to bates with Adobe Acrobat Pro or PDFPen. A properly bates stamped document can later be retrieved using OS X’s Spotlight to find the unique bates i.d. Using Parallels defeats the purpose of switching to a Mac platform and also eliminates the benefits of Spotlight. Spotlight will dig up old info in MJ even if you can’t remember the case name etc. whereas you cannot later dig up old info in a Casemap or Summation database, unless you already know exactly where to look Finally, MJ just looks and works better. Summation, IMHO, is one of the most obtuse and outmoded user interfaces I have ever come across, not to mention the atrocious user support where I was told to “uninstall my antivirus software in order to force Summation to quit duplicating entries and Deposition transcripts.” Yeah, I’ll stick with the Mac side and MJ, thanks.

  6. That does sound stupid – uninstall your virus software to make Summation work.

  7. I’ve also been searching for a Journler replacement and used MacJournal back in the days before its commercial release. It looks much improved, but I’ve noted some complaints on the web dating from last fall about problems of data loss when syncing via MobileMe. Has this been straightened out?

  8. The state of Journler is indeed in limbo according to the developer’s recent blog post (July 17, 2009)

    I have enjoyed trying to learn Journler after purchasing and reading this site. Recently, I started trying to see if MacJournal could handle or do some of the same things Journler can do. There are many similarities. I enjoy the auto tagging feature of Journler by dragging an entry onto a smart folder. There has to be a way to recreate that in MacJournal.

    Notebook has been good and is great for case organization. However, after getting used to the easy note entry feature of Journler, I was tending to use that to keep memo to file notes.

    Anyway, I look forward to seeing more analysis you perform.

  9. Pingback: MacJournal for Attorneys | Sparkle City Blogs

  10. I have tried all of these programs, and found Together to be the best of the bunch. Certainly, it is not a full-fledged case management program, but is the best at handling all of little pieces that don’t really fit anywhere else. In particular, getting document, text, and clippings into the program, via keyboard or dragging, is quick and easy. Also, I have found the developer to be responsive and helpful, and pretty good at getting out updates. Just my .02.

  11. I had MacJournal for free on my Macbook from 2006. Just got a new iMac and found that it does not come with it. I stumbled upon this post in looking for free alternatives to MacJournal, not necessarily to replace Casemap (I actually work for Lexis as the community manager of Martindale Hubbell Connected), but just as a pure journal capture. I’ve used Evernote on my iPhone and am not crazy about it (the native Notes function is cleaner). Any suggestions besides Evernote for free journal tools?

  12. Check out “NoteBook” from Circus Ponies. Funny company name, but don’t let that stop you from testing it. I’m a law student, have notes for 28 cases, the actual case text, lecture notes, and emails — all in one file with full-text search capability. My favorite part is the “multidex” feature, that keeps an updated index various features, like highlighting, keywords, search terms and more. Multidex even keeps an index of every word in the file (for me each class has a file, but I think files can be intertwined). So, when I want to see every instance where “consideration” is used, i click on the word and all the areas the word is located on different pages are shown, one line each, in context. (Yes, a 1L taking contracts). I wouldn’t mind checking out other programs, but I haven’t found anything I don’t have or don’t like about NoteBook. To give an analogy for those not computer savvy, NoteBook is an electronic 3 ring binder that keeps notes of your notes.

  13. Pingback: R.I.P. Journler « MacLitigator

  14. I have used journler and wa really pleased so far. When i heard that development has been stalled i found thoughts to be a real nice alternative. And it really looks awesome. Check out looks really promising to me

  15. “Yojimbo offers an iPhone application to go along with the desktop” ???

    Well if it does, I can’t find it !

  16. Yes, correct. Yojimbo does not offer an iPhone application. However, Webjimbo gives access to Yojimbo over the iPhone or any desktop where Yojimbo is itself not installed. Webjimbo costs $30 and you can read more here.

  17. I am still using Journler as a digital notebook where I write what have I agreed on meetings or phone or whatever on a day so I can review whatever I have communicated with anyone. It works great as I can add reference files and emails to every entry on Journler, which odly is only possible as inline on MacJournal so I’m not ready to move to that.

    I do use Together for collecting all random piece of information from websites and documents as well as pictures, pdfs and design for later review and reference.

    I wanted to tell you that the developer of Together has always responded very quickly and I would say the support has been very good and fast.

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