Command-line composing and viewing of a "journal file" or files, which may be encrypted if desired.
Config file default is
$HOME/.config/jrnl/jrnl.yaml (macOS) or
(from the GitHub documentation page)
jrnl has two modes: composing and viewing. Whenever you don't enter any arguments that start with a dash (
-) or double-dash (
--), you're in composing mode, meaning that you can write your entry on the command line.
We intentionally break a convention on command line arguments: all arguments starting with a single dash (
-) will filter your journal before viewing it. Filter arguments can be combined arbitrarily. Arguments with a double dash (
--) will control how your journal is displayed or exported. Control arguments are mutually exclusive (i.e., you can only specify one way to display or export your journal at a time).
For a list of commands, enter
Composing mode is entered by either starting
jrnl without any arguments -- which will launch an external editor -- or by just writing an entry on the command line:
jrnl today at 3am: I just met Steve Buscemi in a bar! What a nice guy.
Most shells contain a certain number of reserved characters, such as
*. These characters, as well as unbalanced single or double quotation
marks, parentheses, and others, likely will cause problems. Although
reserved characters can be escaped using
\, this is not ideal for
long-form writing. The solution: first enter
jrnl and hit
can then enter the text of your journal entry. Alternatively, you can use
an external editor.
You can also import an entry directly from a file:
jrnl < my_entry.txt
If you don't specify a date and time (e.g.,
jrnl finished writing letter to brother),
jrnl will create an entry using the current date and time. For retrospective entries, you can use a timestamp to tell
jrnl where to put the entry. Timestamps can be entered using a variety of formats. Here are some that work:
If you don't use a timestamp,
jrnl will create an entry using the current time. If you use a date only (no time),
jrnl will use the default time specified in your configuration file. Behind the scenes,
jrnl reorganizes entries in chronological order.
jrnl supports tags. The default tag symbol is
@ (largely because
# is a reserved character). You can specify your own tag symbol in the configuration file. To use tags, preface the desired tag with the symbol:
jrnl Had a wonderful day at the @beach with @Tom and @Anna.
Although you can use capitals while tagging an entry, searches by tag are case-insensitive.
There is no limit to how many tags you can use in an entry.
To mark an entry as a favorite, simply "star" it using an asterisk (
jrnl last sunday *: Best day of my life.
If you don't want to add a date (i.e., you want the date to be entered as now), the following options are equivalent:
jrnl *: Best day of my life.
jrnl *Best day of my life.
jrnl Best day of my life.*
Make sure that the asterisk (
*) is not surrounded by whitespaces.
jrnl Best day of my life! * will not work because the
* character has a
special meaning in most shells.
jrnl can display entries in a variety of ways.
To view all entries, enter:
jrnl -to today
jrnl provides several filtering commands, prefaced by a single dash (
-), that allow you to find a more specific range of entries. For example,
jrnl -n 10
lists the ten most recent entries.
jrnl -10 is even more concise and works the same way. If you want to see all of the entries you wrote from the beginning of last year until the end of this past March, you would enter
jrnl -from "last year" -to march
Filter criteria that use more than one word require surrounding quotes (
To see entries on a particular date, use
jrnl -on yesterday
-contains command displays all entries containing the text you enter after it. This may be helpful when you're searching for entries and you can't remember if you tagged any words when you wrote them.
You may realize that you use a word a lot and want to turn it into a tag in all
of your previous entries.
jrnl -contains "dogs" --edit
opens your external editor so that you can add a tag symbol (
@ by default) to all instances of the word "dogs."
You can filter your journal entries by tag. For example,
jrnl @pinkie @WorldDomination
displays all entries in which either
@WorldDomination occurred. Tag filters can be combined with other filters:
jrnl -n 5 @pinkie -and @WorldDomination
displays the last five entries containing both
@worldDomination. You can change which symbols you'd like to use for tagging in the configuration file.
jrnl @pinkie @WorldDomination will display entries in which both
tags are present because, although no command line arguments are given, all
of the input strings look like tags.
jrnl will assume you want to filter
by tag, rather than create a new entry that consists only of tags.
To view a list of all tags in the journal, enter:
To display only your favorite (starred) entries, enter
You can edit entries after writing them. This is particularly useful when your journal file is encrypted. To use this feature, you need to have an external editor configured in your configuration file. You can also edit only the entries that match specific search criteria. For example,
jrnl -to 1950 @texas -and @history --edit
opens your external editor displaying all entries tagged with
@history that were written before 1950. After making changes, save and close the file, and only those entries will be modified (and encrypted, if applicable).
If you are using multiple journals, it's easy to edit specific entries from specific journals. Simply prefix the filter string with the name of the journal. For example,
jrnl work -n 1 --edit
opens the most recent entry in the 'work' journal in your external editor.
--delete command opens an interactive interface for deleting entries. The date and title of each entry in the journal are presented one at a time, and you can choose whether to keep or delete each entry.
If no filters are specified,
jrnl will ask you to keep or delete each entry in the entire journal, one by one. If there are a lot of entries in the journal, it may be more efficient to filter entries before passing the
Here's an example. Say you have a journal into which you've imported the last 12 years of blog posts. You use the
@book tag a lot, and for some reason you want to delete some, but not all, of the entries in which you used that tag, but only the ones you wrote at some point in 2004 or earlier. You're not sure which entries you want to keep, and you want to look through them before deciding. This is what you might enter:
jrnl -to 2004 @book --delete
jrnl will show you only the relevant entries, and you can choose the ones you want to delete.
You may want to delete all of the entries containing
@book that you wrote in 2004 or earlier. If there are dozens or hundreds, the easiest way would be to use an external editor. Open an editor with the entries you want to delete...
jrnl -to 2004 @book --edit
...select everything, delete it, save and close, and all of those entries are removed from the journal.
To list all of your journals:
The journals displayed correspond to those specified in the
jrnl configuration file.
Last modified 27 January 2023