Microsoft reimagines Journal, an inking app that's 20 years in the making

9 essential apps if you own a Surface Pen
9 essential apps if you own a Surface Pen (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft announced Journal, a Microsoft Garage project for inking.
  • The app is powered by AI to help speed up input.
  • Journal features a page-based canvas and is optimized for tablets and 2-in-1 devices.

Microsoft announced a new app today that's built around inking. The app is simply called "Journal," and it's a Microsoft Garage project. The app supports several features to make navigation easy with touch and a pen, including Ink Gestures, touch scrolling, and making selections with a pen. You can get the app for free through the Microsoft Store.

Journal is built by Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group, which works on "creating the next generation of computer interaction technologies," according to its page on Microsoft's website.

The Microsoft post breaks down the many features of the new Journal app:

  • An ink-first experience for those who write with a digital pen
  • A page-based canvas for easy scrolling, optimized for tablet and 2-in-1 devices
  • New intuitive Ink Gestures to erase and select ink that don't require mode switches
  • Use touch to scroll pages, or tap ink to select words, sentences, and more
  • Drag and drop selected content between pages, or to your favorite applications
  • Microsoft 365 integration to access your Calendar for faster meeting notes*
  • Import and markup PDF and images
  • Search and recall using keywords or filters

Microsoft has a long history with inking across devices. The announcement post highlights another Microsoft app called Journal that was on the Tablet PC in 2002. Microsoft also has OneNote and Whiteboard, as well as inking support on several major applications like the Office suite. Microsoft Garage even had another inking-focused app called Plumbago, though it is a completed project and won't receive any more updates.

The new Journal app is an ink-first app that features a page-based canvas. It supports gestures, dragging and dropping contents, and selecting contents with a pen.

A unique aspect of the Journal app is that it doesn't have modes. You don't need to flip things around or jump between inking and erasing modes. Gestures within the app use AI, which eliminates the need to switch between entry modes. For example, the app can tell the difference between scratching out a word and shading in a diagram even though they use similar gestures.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at