In an odd sort of way, our Macs are nothing more than digital collection bins. We collect information. We track things. Lots of things.
Sometimes we’re organized about what we track, and sometimes we’re not. But tracking may be what a Mac does best. Track what, you ask?
Think about it. We track our incoming and outgoing personal messages in Mail. Mail is an application which creates and “stores” email messages. See? It tracks mail for us.
iTunes and iPhoto are two other examples of storing and tracking utilities on the Mac. One for music, movies, and TV shows, and maybe even ringtones, and the other for digital photos. Store and track. iMovie now does the same thing with video clips. Store and track.
Even Safari (or whatever browser you’re using these days) stores bookmarks and web pages. It tracks which pages we’ve visited in the History feature, and stores bookmarks of web pages.
So it’s well within the realm of acceptability to say that our Mac has a primary purpose of tracking things for us. Specifically, files and information.
While I was digging around trying to find the perfect diet tracking utility, I came across Perfect Diet Tracker.
At almost exactly the same time as I was complaining to my husband that a pint of Haagen-Dazs ice cream has more calories than I’m allowed to consumer per week, that he asked, “Alex, find some kind of home inventory utility for the Mac. It’ll keep your mind off the ice cream.”
Like that’ll happen.
With just a few clicks I found enough tracking utilities to keep him busy and away from my Haagen-Dazs stash for a week or two. From here on in it gets weird. At the web site Productivity-Software is a company that seems to be called Spirit Works Software Development that develops Information Management Systems for time, expense, property rental, and—ta da—inventory tracking.
If you’re in to Blue Light Tracking Specials online then you’ll hit the tracking jackpot, because whoever these Mac folks are, they have six utilities that track almost everything except weight loss or gain, and my inventory of Pampers and Huggies, which we keep in a public storage warehouse. We started with a “just in time” inventory system for diapers, but the neighbors complained about all the trucks parked on the street.
There’s an Activity and Expense Tracker for recording time, activities, and expenses for clients and projects. There’s a Small Business Tracker Deluxe to manage time, expenses, and invoices. There’s also an Activity and Expense Tracker Plus which does more than the non-Plus version and comes with a nifty calculator.
They also publish Rental Property Tracker Plus which is simple accounting software for rental property managers and landlords, and a Vacation Rental Tracker Plus geared for short term rental property managers who take care of rooms, condos, houses, cabins, units, guests, housekeeping, income, expenses, and so on.
See the common line here? The Mac tracks all kinds of things, and if you’re a smart developer you can use the same technology for tracking, a database, and different labels for different products, tough underneath it’s just software that tracks stuff, right?
The one I thought my husband wanted to try is the Inventory Tracker Plus tracking utility which, once I downloaded it and started the review process, suddenly became a business inventory tracker for invoices, packing slips, shipping labels, inventory reports, and so on. Ugh. Back to the search. Fortunately, it was short search.
What I came up with is Binary Formation’s Home Inventory. It’s a simple Mac database that lets you track everything you own.
In fact, Home Inventory is actually fun to use. Set up locations—living room, home office, bedroom, kitchen, dining room, basement, etc. Then list everything in the room, and even use photographs to match the items you enter. Simple, huh?
Item information can get detailed. Serial number, insurance coverage, warranty information, make, model, color, size, condition, purchase date, and so on. Once you’re done with the inventory, print out a report and put it with your important papers in a safe deposit box or under a rock in the back yard.
Report by All Items, by Category, or by Location. Import images, as many as you need for each item (different angles of the same item, for example). Even change multiple items at the same time (a huge time saver).
Maybe the handiest feature is the Picture Album, which is like iPhoto for photos of everything you put into the inventory. So you can really scan by item, scan by category, scan by location, and view by photograph.
Home Inventory is a sweet little Mac utility that could be worth far more to you than the $22 cost. Think about what happens when your house goes up in flames, or a robber hits your place when you’re gone, or flood, tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or you finally figure out how to dispose of things on eBay.
Do you track your home’s inventory? How? Talk Back to Mac360’s readers in the Comments section below.