How many ways can you get organized and stay organized using your Mac? 17.
Well, 17 or more, if you’re using the SOHO Organizer. It’s what AddressBook, iCal, and TextEdit would like to be if they were cool. They’re not.
We’ve tried and ditched nearly every organizational tool you can find for the Mac. Some are great, most are very good, a very few need seasoning (before the funeral).
Somewhere just shy of great, but quite good, is SOHO Organizer, so named as to fit that growing niche of Mac users, the small office, home office. If that’s you then you know the need to be highly efficienct and well organized.
Fortunately, your Mac can be a great help right out of the box. There’s Mail, AddressBook, iCal, and TextEdit for some measure of Word compatibility. Considering the price (free with each Mac, free with Mac OS X), they’re a good value for the SOHO.
SOHO Organizer ups the ante by combining multiple standalone applications that are more powerful than Apple’s comparable tools, yet not difficult to learn. The suite consists of SOHO Organizer, SOHO Notes, and SOHO Print Essentials, all of which are beneficial for today’s SOHO.
It’s the 21st century and we’re still not free of buzz words. Sigh. I’m deep into Microsoft Entourage and Office, so trying out anything that takes me from a hard-earned routine is a challenge. But I run a SOHO and I’m always looking for better.
SOHO Organizer covers a multitude of small business sins—contact management, calendar management, synchronization with peripherals, notes management, and printing requirements. You get all that complexity so you can sleep better at night. But pay attention during the day. There’s plenty going on with SOHO.
First, it’s single user and multi-user capable so you and your partner and other members of your SOHO can use it without additional licenses per seat. Second, 17 ways to organize is an arbitrary number. There’s more than 17, but these are the highlights.
Start with Contact Management, necessary for any SOHO operation.
#17 – Contact Cards. Plenty of applications have these, but SOHO Organizer uses an efficient block layout where related fields are organized into blocks. That makes it easier to use.
#16 – Summary Pane. One option I like is the summary pane so you can see contact details with a glance. You control how much information goes in the pane to keep it from becoming a pain.
#15 – Groups. Along with the ability to zoom into a contact card to see everything, is the ability to create an unlimited number of groups, then sub-groups to organize your contacts. It’s just an easy and logical way to organize.
#14 – Custom Fields. What I hate about most contact management applications is the limited number of data fields—there’s never one or two for those extra pieces of info I need. SOHO gives you unlimited custom fields.
#13 – Notes. Think of this as the Stickies that stick to everything. If you’re a smart SOHO owner, you know that keeping notes on everything will save your buns later. Organizer has room for as many notes as you need; each is date stamped, contains a title, and—get this—can hold text, images, PDFs, audio, video, files, etc.
#12 – Duplication Killer. Organizer helps you find duplicate contacts, then kills the one you don’t want, after making sure the information is accurate.
#11 – Keywords. This won’t mean much if you don’t have over 100 contacts, but if you do, adding keywords in groups and sub-groups is amazingly beneficial. There’s nothing quite like that in Entourage and forget using Spotlight to figure it out.
#10 – Calendars. It’s tough not to like iCal. It’s simple, intuitive, free, and it works. But it’s limited, and not good for a thriving business. Organizer Calendar will let you share your calendars with others, or publish it on the web. Others can view it using Apple’s iCal.
#9 – Views. I’ll limit this one to views of Calendar because there are so many—Super-Month, weekly, weeks, daily, etc. This looks like iCal but has more options to view, including a Calendar list view, and a year view. Get a big screen for your Mac.
#8 – Journal. Amazingly, this is included in SOHO Organizer, and not in competing applications.
Think daily journal with standard word processing tools and the ability to add photos, movies, etc., right into a journal entry.
#7 – Synchronization. This is a healthy list and a major requirement for organizing tools for the 21st century. Sync with iCal and AddressBook. Sync with .Mac. Sync with your iPod, a Palm, and your cell phone.
#6 – Sharing. SOHO Organizer is network smart, as are all Macs. Since Organizer keeps data in a database, it’s only fair to be able to share said database, and open multiple databases at the same time. Just as cool is the offline syncrhonization for your Mac notebook. There’s no need to conect to the database on the network when you hit the road.
#5 – Notes. Seriously, Notes needs its own list of 17 ways to organize you. I found the ability to track daily events, as I would in a Franklin Planner, to be tops. Notes is a standalone application which I’ll review in more detail later.
#4 – Printing. This, too, is a standalone application that would require a separate review, but suffice it to say you can print what any SOHO needs. Labels, invoices, envelopes, and so on. Printing Essentials integrates with AddressBook, SOHO Organizer, and includes clipt art, photos, shapes, and a built-in scrapbook. It’ll even suck data from Excel, Entourage, and Filemaker Pro databases, as well as AddressBook.
#3 – Alarms. Did I mention that iCal’s alarms just don’t do the job? SOHO Organizer has alarms.
#2 – Standards. The Organizer does a few things that may not mean much now, but could mean plenty to some and others in the future. CalDAV. It’s an open standard calendar access protocol. You’ll see it used in OS X Leopard. You can also import and export vCal ICS information.
#1 – SOHO Organizer. It’s a whole package that lets you capture and store everything you can think of in an online SOHO operation, organize your time and contacts, thoughts and prayers, and do some dirty work such as printing up invoices, labels, cards and so on.
Is this $99 suite of applications enough to get me to ditch Entourage from Microsoft Office? Maybe. I’ll take a close look at the new Office to see what’s cooking, but if you’re not in bed with Microsoft, SOHO Organizer will make for a great affair.