Whether you are 13, 35, or 55 years old, keeping a journal of your innermost thoughts, fears, and desires is a great way to unburden your mind and make good decisions. In fact, therapists often recommend journaling as a way to tackle heavy issues in your day to day life. However, it’s important to understand how to keep a journal private, so your thoughts and feelings are yours alone.
So whether you prefer a slick, online version of a personal journal, or if an old fashioned diary that allows you to put pen to paper, is more your style, we have asked experts, done our research, and found some great tips on how to keep your journal private
We are going to look at some great ways for you to keep your journal private. We have tips for everyone. Don’t worry whether your journal is an electronic online journal or a written journal, because we have tips for both!
Find a great hiding spot
We are not talking about the stereotypical hiding places like under your mattress or in a dresser drawer. It is time to get a little more creative when it comes to hiding spots.
If you have a car, a glove compartment, or the space underneath your passenger seat is a great place to keep your journal. If you are the only ones with keys to your car, you can even keep it right on the seat next to you. Better still, your car also provides a private, quiet place to sit with your thoughts and write away to your heart’s content without worrying about roaming eyes watching, and reading, over your shoulder.
If you don’t have a car, don’t worry, there are still great hiding places around the house. When we asked some long-time diary keepers where their best hiding spot was, we received some wonderfully creative answers!
Here are some of the best:
- Hidden in the freezer, in an empty bag of peas.
- In the ceiling tile in the bathroom.
- An empty paint can in the garage (most home repair stores will give you empty paint cans if you ask)
- A “secret” pillow, like this one
- Stored in seasonal clothing box (Winter clothes storage during the Summer, and Summer clothes storage during the Winter)
- In the bottom of a clean bedroom trash can, between the trashcan and the bag
Purchase a simple lockbox
If finding secret places around your home isn’t quite your style, simply purchase a basic lockbox. They are inexpensive, come with a set of keys (including a spare, in case you lose one) and are remarkably secure. Here is a great example of one from Amazon.
The cash tray lifts out and gives you plenty of room to store a diary, as well as other valuables such as jewelry, cash, or important documents like social security cards or a passport.
If the standard lock box isn’t quite your style, don’t be afraid to get a little creative. Here is a great example of a fun, clever lock box that can hide right in plain sight, as it looks like your average household dictionary. After all, almost every household has a dictionary. How often does anyone really use it to look up a word? This particular version is spacious enough to house a decent sized journal.
Write in analogies or a “secret code” of sorts
We were surprised at how many people of all ages used secret words or analogies to write their private thoughts. In fact, some people have gone as far as to create different ways of writing, such as from bottom to top, right to left instead of left to right, row by row.
Other creative diary keepers used different nouns to represent individuals, rather than their given names, and wrote about things occurring in different locations to disguise a situation. Still others simply wrote as if they were talking about a friend of theirs who had a problem or concern, and wrote about it as if they were counseling a friend in need.
Other people actually create a cipher, with each letter of the alphabet represented by a different letter or number, or symbol. This example of ciphers and cryptography may seem like child's play, as most people probably remember experimenting with secret codes in school and puzzle books as kids.
However, cryptography and ciphers has been used in primitive forms since the ancient Greeks walked the earth. Ciphers are actually pretty fun and interesting to create. Once you get used to your own interpretation, it can become just as fast and easy to write in your cipher code as it is to write in your natural language.
Create a “boring” cover for your journal
One woman we spoke to uses spiral notebooks to create all of her journals. An accountant, she simply wrote the title Tax Laws for the state of Nevada, or Tax Laws for the state of Pennsylvania on the front of each of her journals, and as such was able to leave them out on her desk or a table without anyone ever bothering to investigate further.
Another person told us he simply marked his journal with the word “Insurance”, joking that since virtually no one finds the topic of insurance interesting, he never worries about his privacy being invaded. While having a notebook filled with tax law or insurance may not make sense in your particular case, this is an area where it can be fun to get creative.
Be forthcoming and trusting
Sometimes honesty truly is the best policy. Admittedly this will not provide total security to everyone, and for some, it simply won’t be possible. However, for those who feel confident that their loved ones will respect the need for privacy, it may simply make sense to sit down with your family, roommate, or significant other and explain candidly that your journal is off limits. In addition to offering trust to your family or partner, it’s also a great way of learning how to set good boundaries with the people close to you.
However, even if you choose to be forthcoming about journaling your private thoughts, it probably isn’t the best idea to tempt fate. Don’t leave journals lying around where temptation may get the best of your family or your partner. In this situation, “out of sight, out of mind” may be the best policy. Perhaps place your journal in a drawer, under your pillow, or beneath a stack of books. Even the most trustworthy people can have a lapse in judgement, so it’s best to keep your journal tucked away where it isn’t easily seen.
Use a journaling app
In the age of smartphone, personal computers, and laptops, many people simply keep an online journal. Not only is it easily accessible, there are many ways to make your files secure and as such, away from prying eyes. However, even for individuals who have their own computer, tablet, or smartphone, you may still want a little extra sense of security for your most private thoughts.
There is an app for everything, and journaling is no exception. In fact, there are some amazing apps out there that will make everyone want to give electronic journaling a try, from experienced diary writers to total newbies. Best of all, almost all of them come with extra security measures, such as locks, codes, or fingerprint identifiers. We asked regular diary writers which apps they liked the best, not only for writing, but also for security purposes. Here is what we found.
- Diary ++ - Diary ++ has it all! It is an easy to use application where you can write freely, taking as much space as you need, plus include pictures in your journal. It also has a mood chart, where you can easily track your emotional health, as well as write your thoughts. The app is organized by date, and they make it very easy to access old entries, pictures and mood charts, allowing you to track progress through experiences, or hard times.
In terms of security, Diary ++ has several options. You can select from a passcode, fingerprint option, or a drawn lock pattern. This app also has an “intruder feature” that will snap a picture of anyone who is attempting to get into the diary app inappropriately, ensuring that your information is truly safe and secure. Diary ++ can be found in the Google Play Store and has both a free and premium paid version.
- Journey: (Diary, Journal) - This is a wonderful journal/diary app that gives Android users so much more. In addition to providing a space for free format journaling and pictures, the app also includes what they call “integrated coaching”. This feature includes daily inspirational quotes, a daily gratitude log to help develop more positive thinking, and a special “love and relationship” section with guided tools to help work through love and relationship issues that may be causing difficulty in your life
In terms of security, Journey: Diary, Journal allows for passcode or fingerprint security. It is available online via desktop app, android smartphone or tablet app, or via the web. You can have access to this app from nearly anywhere, and it offers secured privacy via the web and desktop app as well. It can be found in the Google Play Store and has both a free and premium paid version.
- Offline Diary - For those who want a simple, clean diary app without all the bells and whistles, yet still want the added security of electronic storage, Offline Diary is the way to go. It offers a clean, easy to use space to simply type your thoughts freely, allowing you to save the entries right on your device. It is a minimalist experience for those who are more inclined toward the traditional handwritten diary, yet in electronic format with a secure password lock system. It can be found in the Google Play Store and has both a free and premium paid version.
- Day One - Day One is a popular journaling app that allows you to integrate your words, pictures, and even weather and location data right into your daily entries. It has a beautiful design, is easy to use, and perfectly syncs up with Mac, iPhones, and tablets, to give users a seamless experience between devices when necessary. Day One also offers the unique opportunity to keep different, color coded journals, in case you want a separate journal to track work goals, romantic life, and other information.
In terms of security, for hand-held devices, it provides face recognition identification or touch ID identification, and for Macbook versions, all the data is encrypted for your personal security. You can find both a free and paid premium version in the Apple Store.
- Moleskine Journey - This is a journaling app that combines your calendar data, reminders, and notes; combining them with free form journaling options, food diary, and a section to create and track personal goals. This app is best for electronically savvy individuals who already utilize calendar and notes apps.
The app has a ton of information and may be slightly daunting to those who may want a simple uncomplicated freeform journal style app. However, for anyone wanting one safe and secure place to keep all their information, goals, diet data, and calendar, this app truly can’t be beat.
In terms of security, touch ID and facial recognition, as well as a passcode style lock ensures that your information remains secure. The app is free, but Moleskine offers monthly plans to use some of their premium services. The app can be found in the Apple app store
- OnePAD Pocket Notebook - This is the iOS minimalist version of an online journal. Similar to the Android Offline Diary, this app skips the bells and whistles and just gives you a clean slate to comfortably share your intimate thoughts and feelings. It provides the security of a password or touch recognition so you can be comfortable that your data is secure. The app is $0.99 with no additional fees to unlock premium services. The app is available in the Apple app store.
Set up hidden files on your computer
For those of you who simply prefer to use a laptop or a desktop computer to keep an online journal, a great way to keep your data safe and secure from anyone who may use your computer is to set up a hidden file system. While it may sound a little tricky, even folks who are not technically savvy should easily be able to create a simple hiding place for your journal entries.
- Go to the file or folder you want to hide
- Right click on the item
- Go to the “General” Tab
- Click “attributes”
- Check “hidden”
- Hit apply
When you want to see your data later, simply open a file explorer window, click on the view tab, and check the “hidden” box and you will be able to find the list of any hidden files.
- Open a terminal window - Press COMMAND+SPACE, type “Terminal”
- In the terminal window, type this command “chflags hidden “ include a space at the end
- Simply drag and drop the folders that you wish to hide over to the terminal window and hit “enter”
To access hidden files
- Go to the “Go” menu
- Click on “Go to Folder”
- Type the pathway to your folder. Format like this: ~/Desktop/diary and hit “go” . To be clear, you type the tilde symbol (~) then (forward slash) then location (desktop, documents, or wherever you store your diary) then (forward slash) then the name of your folder (diary, journal, etc) then hit “go”
Please note, the instructions for hiding folders are based on the most recent versions of operating systems, however for previous versions of your operating system, the information is easily available online.
Use a “fake” file name
This is the electronic version of creating a fake notebook name. Just like using “Tax Rules for Nevada”, you can truly use any name for a folder on your computer. By selecting an innocuous, boring name, or using a series of numbers and letters, such as: 0000000069A6785BF as a folder name, other users of your computer will either assume the folder is systems data, or simply won’t notice it at all.
Keeping Your Innermost Thoughts and Words Safe and Sound
Keeping a diary or a journal can be a rewarding and positive experience. Being able to look back in the coming years to see what you have overcome, accomplished, and learned can be an amazing, and worthwhile endeavor.
To guard your privacy and allow yourself the freedom to truly write your uncensored thoughts, it’s important to have the security of a secret hiding place, whether it’s as simple as hiding a book, creating a funny file name, or using an app on your phone. Whatever you choose, find the security that makes you feel comfortable to express yourself freely.
Do you have a favorite way of keeping your journal private? Share with us below your sneaky ways of keeping it safe from prying eyes!