MacJournal 4 is the latest version of Mariner Software's diary and blogging application. The idea behind the software is that all your blogging and diary needs are handled from one application. You keep all your entries private on your Mac or publish them to a blog directly.

The MacJournal interface keeps all your blogs or diaries in a drawer - like the one Mail has for mailboxes. To keep all your work handy, entries are listed under each journal where they are published.

This is really great if you keep multiple blogs, as all your entries can be referenced easily and quickly. Each new entry is named with the date and time by default. You can also label each one to keep everything colour-coded for that extra bit of organisation.

The menu bar has text editing options to help you easily edit font and colour options, and there's a built-in spellchecker.

Retro writing

If you type long and detailed entries, the Full Screen mode will appeal to you. Simply click on the icon in the menu bar and you're transported to a pre- Macintosh world in which green text is entered on a black background.

Though it may make your Mac look a touch 70s, it does have the benefit of making text entry easier on the eyes. If you're not happy with the green on black you can easily change the colours to something that suits you more.

Once you're done creating your masterpiece, you can export it in a number of ways. You can put the entry on your .Mac page, send it in an email or publish it directly to your blog. MacJournal has built-in support for Blogger, LiveJournal, MoveableType, MetaWeblog and Atom services, and you can configure the share setting manually to update to any server of your choice.

For those of you who have already been blogging for a while, it's possible to download existing entries to MacJournal to keep everything neat and tidy.

If you're worried about security or just prying eyes, you can password-protect each Journal and automatically back up all the data at set intervals.

One of the key elements to keeping a blog fresh and interesting is making sure that it's updated regularly, and MacJournal is perfect for this task.

Don't be fooled by the simplicity of using this program, though - it has a really impressive feature set under the hood. In fact, there are far too many features to fit into a single review.

The range of options in the Preferences pane is impressive enough, without mentioning all the web specific functions of the application. For a piece of software that costs just $35 it represents great value for money.

And it's not just bloggers and diarists that could benefit from MacJournal. If you're writing a book or very long document, MacJournal would be great for organising chapters or sections all under one roof.

So, gathering the plus points together, the one-window design of MacJournal - meaning that all your documents are in one place - makes it really easy to jump backwards and forwards between files, and is no riskier than keeping lots of separate documents in one folder. The upload features are simple to use and mean you need never leave your blog unattended.

The range of features that are available for such a cheap app makes it an attractive proposition. MacJournal has many strengths, but it's the underlying ease of use and flexibility that really impress. If you're a regular blogger, MacJournal will make adding entries faster and simpler; if you keep a diary it will make it easier for you to keep track of what you were writing about and when.

We were mightily impressed - this version is feature-packed and cheap, which is a hard balance for software to strike. It was already a good application, and Mariner has just made it superb. Christopher Brennan