Personal Information Manager Roundup

Matt Mickiewicz

With a constant stream of new information from news sites, to newsletters and message boards, how’s a human being with limited brain capacity supposed to cope?

Most of us have our own way of organizing tidbits of information that we may want to refer to later, but few of these homemade systems are perfect. And finding that scrap of information when you need it can be even more difficult if you don’t have the right tools.

Today, I’m going to introduce you to a couple of fantastic programs for managing information, including one that I use.

1) NoteCenter is a shareware information manager that I’ve been using for over two years. You create a simple information tree, which can contain multiple sub-pages. Each item on the tree is essentially one gigantic sheet of paper onto which you can copy and paste relevant information. Individual items in the hierarchy are quickly and easily moved or renamed.

For example, you could have a top-level category for each Web Design client, and then multiple sub-pages for information relating to the design, database back-end, and newsletter distribution systems for that client’s Website.

NoteCenter can sit as an icon in your Windows system tray for quick and easy access.

2) eNotes is a toolbar for Internet Explorer 5+. When you see useful information on the Web, you can select part of the page (or even the entire page) and click "Take an eNote". The information is then stored on your hard drive, including a link to the source page and the date and time you copied it. You can add your own notes to any saved text by clicking "Edit eNotes", and even pass on saved eNotes in the form of Word documents.

3) Treepad is similar to NoteCenter, except that it features more advanced functionality, such as the ability to save images. Treepad also includes an advanced search engine – something that NoteCenter lacks. A freeware version of TreePad is also available.

4) MyInfo is yet another variation of the NoteCenter concept.

MyInfo is a program that allows you to organize information in a hierarchical structure or outline. For example, you could copy and paste snippets of text related to marketing in the Website > Marketing part of the navigational tree.

A clean, easy to use interface, a beginner’s tutorial, and a comprehensive help system make using MyInfo simple. Features include templates, the ability to export data, a find function and a multitude of ways to arrange pages.

5) TexNotes is another fantastic information manager. Unlike some of the other programs here, TexNotes allows you to format your text in different sizes and colors to make important information stand out. You can export your TexNotes as RTF, HTML (with or without stylesheets) or just plain text. You can also import Microsoft Word documents directly into TexNotes, if you have Word installed on your PC. A full featured calendar with reminders and alarms is also included.

Happy organising!

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