Got Too Much Stuff? How To Use Your Mac To Build A Home Inventory

Look at all the natural disasters that plague humankind. From earthquakes to tsunamis. From floods to tornadoes, we’ve been given a close up look at what destruction Mother Nature can provide.

If an Ounce of Protection is worth a Pound of Cure, then there must be an app for that. If a tornado or flood wiped out your belongings, what list of your former belongings would you give to the insurance company? Where’s that list?

The Indispensable App Goes Mobile

It wouldn’t take much effort to come up with a dozen must-have Mac apps. Address Book. iCal. Mail. iPhoto. iTunes. When it comes to tracking everything you own, where’s your home inventory management system?

System? See? Most of us have never given consideration to having a healthy, detailed, up-to-the-last disaster list of what we own, what it’s worth, where we got it.

The creatively named Home Inventory app is a home inventory management system that’s dirt cheap considering what it does for peace of mind, and what it does later when you really need it.

Let’s face it. A list of what we own is like insurance. We hope we don’t need to use, but if we do… You know how that story ends. After watching all the recent disasters on TV I decided to update our home inventory.

You know why? Stuff needs to be tracked.

4 Steps To Track All Your Stuff

This whole inventory tracking thing is so easy to recommend that I’m mildly embarrassed. Mildly? Yes, I’m the woman who had two little girls pee on the floor at Target. At the same time. On two different aisles. I’m not so easily embarrassed these days. But I can’t shop at that Target anymore.

Home Inventory is good for tracking what you have now, in case you need a list of what you used to have later. It’s a database with over a dozen standard fields from Name, Make, Model, Serial Number, Purchase Date, and so on. You can also add up more custom fields for more information about each item in your inventory.

Because you have a Mac, Home Inventory made it easy to add photos and receipts using a camera, a scanner, or a bar-code. The image editor lets you crop the photos so you get only the information you need.

Home Inventory is good for collections, too. Can you say stamps? Figurines? Guns? Children? Don’t try children. The bar codes won’t stick and the local tattoo parlor won’t put on a more permanent bar code until my girls are teenagers. And then only if I pay in cash first.

Home Inventory is also a good place to stash your insurance policy details—insurer, policy date, contact information, policy number. You know. All that stuff you won’t have available after the tornado sucks up your house.

If you have an iPhone you can add items to your home inventory by using the built-in iPhone camera to scan barcodes. Once you’ve scanned the item, the information is sent back to your Mac, then the barcode is matched, and your inventory is updated. You’ll need the iPhone Home Inventory Photo Remote app for that.

Now, what happens when your Mac is sucked up into the vortex (or smashed in the earthquake, tsunami, or burgled) and lost forever? Home Inventory also prints out details reports which can be stored in a safe deposit box, in Dropbox, or Google Drive, or SkyDrive or anywhere else online. Your insurance agent will love you (or, hate you, depending on how big the check is he has to write).

Did I say mobile? The iPhone and iPad app makes grabbing inventory items and getting them stuffed into the Mac app a pleasure. Simply wander around the house taking photos, and adding inventory to your phone.

There are few Mac apps that cost about the same as two trips to Starbucks that could, in turn, be worth many tens of thousands of dollars to you, and Home Inventory fits onto that small list. Negatives? Really, not many. Some kind of automated online back up (another reason to use Dropbox) would be nice. I’d go for an option to record audio with each entry, but if you must buy an app to protect the present in the future, this is it.

Don’t Miss These, OK?

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