help me pick a OSX personal database?
April 21, 2008 2:26 PM   Subscribe

Mac Mess Filter: help me choose personal database software.

OK, so I've got a Mac and I can't find anything on it because I'm a slob that just saves everything in one "bucket".
How's that working out for me? Not so great.
By "personal database" I don't mean something like Access or's Base, keeping track of a vast record collection; I mean something that will take scans, PDFs, old emails, web clips, screenshots, etc. as drag-and-drop and do most of the searching/indexing for you.
Right now I just have all that kind of thing scattered all over my desktop - every so often when the desktop gets too crowded, I just sweep it all into a folder and hope I don't need/can find it in there at some later date.

I got a chance to use another Mac that had SOHO Notes (used to be StickyBrain?) installed, and it seems really cool.
I looked around, and it has several competitors.

Then I got concerned with "Ok, now I put everything into the Personal Database software and delete the originals (why keep two copies?), continue to use it for years, and the software craps out/company folds/alien space bats attack and now I can't get my stuff out of it again. So maybe I should just keep everything as files in the bucket, but organize with some sub-buckets, etc. (Does Leopard help? I'm still running Tiger.)

So if you know about this, and/or have used any of the following, please tell me what you can about:
SOHO Notes
??? (another personal DB)
getting off my duff and making an organized file structure, labeling everything consistently, and letting Spotlight take it from there
posted by penciltopper to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I'd add in DevonThink as one worth considering, although I found it to be a big memory hog at times and did funny things to my Automator. 2.0 promises a rewrite.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:41 PM on April 21, 2008

I should add that I use Spotlight, but if it's a complex search I'll use MoRU which is now FileSpot. There is also a free NotLight.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:54 PM on April 21, 2008

Journler is my personal favorite. Cheapest, I believe. Very customizable if you want that (with smart folders). Very responsive developer. Try it out -- it's free to try.
posted by wyzewoman at 3:05 PM on April 21, 2008

You might like this previous thread.

I've not really used any programs for a vast amount of time, but people who use Yojimbo tend to rave about it. Khoi of recently tried to find some sort of info bucket - here, and that post has a lot of recommendations in the comments. He eventually went with Yojimbo.

You might also like to browse through this Lifehacker list.

I've also been hearing a lot of hype about Evernote.
posted by djgh at 3:09 PM on April 21, 2008

And by "any programs", I mean any of this type of program...
posted by djgh at 3:10 PM on April 21, 2008

I use Yojimbo for this and I'm very happy. There are still some things I'm annoyed at. For example, if you use the regular print command and "Save PDF in Yojimbo" it always launches Yojimbo (if it's not already running). There are some other small quirks too, but in general it's a great little SQlite front end. The database is a SQlite database so backing up and exporting are easy. It's hopefully going to be pretty future proof for me.
posted by zpousman at 3:42 PM on April 21, 2008

I've been using VoodooPad. At first I was put off by its lack of structure but now I've found that it perfectly works with the structure I wanted to impose upon it and ended up liking it so much that I bought the pro version. There's a trial version that lets you put in quite a bit of stuff, to see if it works for you, and also a free Lite version, if you end up not needing a lot of the features.
posted by jamaro at 3:55 PM on April 21, 2008

I love DEVONthink Pro, but it's the only solution to this that I've tried. I have a tendency to keep lots of PDFs and plain text files lying around; with DT they're at least lying around in one place and in some sort of organized fashion. It can do simple wiki-ish linking of content from one place to another, and has some rudimentary Access-like rows/columns database functionality, though its UI is rather painful to use for this sort of thing.

It's also nice that DEVONthink includes full webkit support, so it's very happy if you throw HTML files at it and use it as a super bookmark manager and web browser. It's even possible to use it as an RSS reader.

It's worth the trial download, at least.
posted by eafarris at 4:16 PM on April 21, 2008

Any of the programs you listed along with programs listed by commenters would work. The important thing is for you try them out and see which one works for you. Don't rely solely on someone else's opinions. Everyone's mental workflow and organization operates a bit differently.

I'll throw in my system into the pot. I use Punakea to add tags to existing files that get indexed by Spotlight. I save PDFs, text files, images, and videos all over my computer and let Punakea manage them via tags without having to put them all in one place. This is because I prefer decentralized systems with searchable indexing and tagging over centralized systems like the filing and journaling programs.
posted by junesix at 4:40 PM on April 21, 2008

SOHO notes seems to install itself a little too broadly across the system for my tastes.

It doesn't seem to have the kind of company behind it that Yojimbo and DevonThink have, but after I tried out all kinds of programs, I went with Together (which used to be called "Keep it Together"). It allows you to tag everything, which is much more intuitive than a folder structure for me. Also, I think it's a little more Mac-like than Yojimbo. But I also bought DevonThink and Yojimbo before I found Together, and they're great programs.

My only reservation about Together is that the author has promised a lot for the next version. If it all happens, it will be one amazing program. But I have no idea how he will have time to implement everything he's discussed on the forum. The only thing I really want is .Mac syncing.
posted by ontic at 4:47 PM on April 21, 2008

Another DevonThink Pro user here. It's wonderful with a scanner.
posted by Brian Puccio at 5:10 PM on April 21, 2008

Zotero, free, open source, solid robust and generally excellent.
posted by singingfish at 5:15 AM on April 22, 2008

I just discovered Yep and love it.
posted by invisible ink at 10:12 PM on May 15, 2008

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