A simple org-mode based journaling mode
Emacs Lisp
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A little hook called whenever an entry is created
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org-journal.el Run a hook whenever an entry is created Feb 21, 2017


http://melpa.org/packages/org-journal-badge.svg http://stable.melpa.org/packages/org-journal-badge.svg


Adapted from http://www.emacswiki.org/PersonalDiary

Functions to maintain a simple personal diary / journal using in Emacs.

Feel free to use, modify and improve the code! — mtvoid, bastibe


org-journal maintains a set of files, where each file represents a day. Convenient bindings allow the creation of journal records in the current daily file and search within all records or specified time intervals. All records can be browsed and searched from the Emacs Calendar for convenience. All entries in a specified TODO state will be carried over to the next day. Optionally, the journal can also be encrypted.

An example of a daily file (it will actually look a lot nicer, depending on your org-mode settings):

* Tuesday, 06/04/13
** 10:28 Company meeting
Endless discussions about projects. Not much progress

** 11:33 Work on org-journal                                   :org-journal:
For the longest time, I wanted to have a cool diary app on my
computer. However, I simply lacked the right tool for that job. After
many hours of searching, I finally found PersonalDiary on EmacsWiki.
PersonalDiary is a very simple diary system based on the emacs
calendar. It works pretty well, but I don't really like that it only
uses unstructured text.

Thus, I spent the last two hours making that diary use org-mode
and represent every entry as an org-mode headline. Very cool!

** 15:33 Work on org-journal                                   :org-journal:
Now my journal automatically creates the right headlines (adds the
current time stamp if on the current day, does not add a time stamp
for any other day). Additionally, it automatically collapses the
headlines in the org-file to the right level (shows everything if in
view mode, shows only headlines in new-entry-mode). Emacs and elisp
are really cool!

** 16:40 Work on org-journal                                   :org-journal:
I uploaded my journal mode to marmalade and Github! Awesome!

** TODO teach org-journal how to brew coffee                   :org-journal:


org-journal is available through marmalade, melpa and melpa-stable. So installation should be trivial:

C-x package-install org-journal

Then add (require 'org-journal) to your .emacs.


Doing C-x org-journal-new-entry (or C-c C-j) will immediately create a journal directory in the default path (customized using the org-journal-dir variable), open or create a file in org-journal-mode, and insert a template for a new journal entry.

The same command with a prefix argument (C-u C-c C-j) will do everything mentioned while skipping entry creation, which is useful for looking at the current journal file.

Basic Usage

Bindings available in org-journal-mode:

  • C-c C-f - go to the next journal file.
  • C-c C-b - go to the previous journal file.
  • C-c C-j - insert a new entry into the current journal file (creates the file if not present).
    • C-c C-s - search the journal for a string.

All journal entries are registered in the Emacs Calendar. To see available journal entries do C-x calendar. Bindings available in the calendar-mode:

  • j - view an entry in a new buffer.
  • C-j - view an entry but do not switch to it.
  • i j - add a new entry into the day’s file (creates the file if not present).
  • f w - search in all entries of the current week.
  • f m - search in all entries of the current month.
  • f y - search in all entries of the current year.
  • f f - search in all entries of all time.
  • [ - go to previous day with journal entries.
  • ] - go to next day with journal entries.

Advanced Usage and Customization

Journal Directory and Files

Customization options related to journal directory and files:

  • org-journal-dir - the journal path. Tweaking this variable will also update auto-mode-alist to ensure journal files are opened in org-journal-mode.
  • org-journal-file-format - format string for journal file names.
  • org-journal-find-file - a function to use when opening a journal file. By default it opens a window using find-file-other-window. Set this to find-file if you don’t want org-journal to split your window.

Journal File Content

Customization options related to the journal file contents:

  • org-journal-date-format - date format format org-journal uses when showing a date within a journal and search results page.
  • org-journal-date-prefix - this string will prefix the date at the top of a journal file.
  • org-journal-time-format - a timestamp format that will prefix every entry within a daily journal file.
  • org-journal-time-prefix - a string that will prefix every entry within a daily journal file.

Searching the Journal

org-journal has two searching options: the usual org-mode agenda search and the built-in plain text search. The former can become slow with bigger journals, so the built-in search is a recommended option.

To use the agenda search, you can add all the calendar files to your org-agenda by adding org-journal-dir to org-agenda-files and setting org-agenda-file-regexp to include files with an all-numeric name:


That way, you can use org-agenda to search for TODO items or tagged items in your org-journal.

The built-in search is available through the following function: org-journal-search (C-c C-s in org-journal-mode). By default, it will ask for the time interval to search within (accepting the org-read-date format such as “-1y” or “-1m”) and the string to search for. Given a prefix argument (C-u org-journal-search), it will go through the whole journal.

The order of the search results (ascending or descending by date) can be customized using the org-journal-search-results-order-by variable.

Search is also available through the Emacs Calendar as described in “Basic Usage”.

Carry Over

By default, org-journal will try to carry over previous day TODO-marked items whenever a new journal file is created. The older journal entry will be moved (i.e., deleted and reinserted) to the current day’s file.

This feature is controlled through the org-journal-carryover-items variable. Set this to nil to disable this feature, or to any agenda tags view match string for a set of matching tags, properties, and todo states. By default, this is TODO=”TODO”, which will match TODO items.


The journal can be encrypted using org-crypt when org-journal-enable-encryption is non-nil.


Can I use monthly/weekly journal entries instead of daily ones?

org-journal currently only supports daily entries.

Can I have multiple journals?

At the moment, this is not possible. But it should be possible to switch the value of org-journal-directory using a custom function or directory local variables.

Can I use org-journal with Spacemacs?

To use org-journal with Spacemacs, you can:

  1. git clone https://github.com/borgnix/spacemacs-journal.git ~/.emacs.d/private/journal
  2. add it to your ~/.spacemacs. You will need to add journal to the existing dotspacemacs-configuration-layers list in this file.

The manual of the journal layer can be found at https://github.com/borgnix/spacemacs-journal