Five free cataloging applications

Finding software that you can use as a cataloging tool isn't easy, but with a little creativity and a lot of searching, free apps can be found.

We all have reasons to catalog various items. Whether you have a small business with an inventory you need to keep track of or if you have an overwhelmingly large collection of software or book - there is a need for cataloging. Here's the thing, finding free software suited for this task isn't easy. But with a little creativity and a lot of searching, you can dig up at least five such tools.

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Take a look at these five different pieces of software - each of which should serve your cataloging needs well. Although some offer more features than others; in the end, they'll all get the job done. So, let's dig in and find out which, if any, of these free tools will be the perfect match for your needs.

Five Apps

1. Datacrow

Datacrow is often listed as one of the best in breeds for this category - and with good reason. With Datacrow you can catalog movie, video, books, images, games, software, music, and more. Other features include: Create your own collection module, manage what you've loaned out, connect with online services (such as,, and more), make use of reporting tools, file information importing and more. Datacrow is a cross-platform application (Windows, Mac, Linux) that is written in Java (which to some could be a deal breaker). So, in order to get Datacrow to work, you will need a JRE installed on the machine. One thing to like about the project is that the developer, Robert Jan van der Waals, has made the source code very readily available on his site and has invited users to make feature requests and report bugs.


2. SoftCAT Free

SoftCAT Free is a very powerful cataloging tool with tons of features. With this tool you can enjoy: Comprehensive data fields, custom data fields, personal notes, include up to nine screen shots per program, customize to fit your needs, built-in explorer, powerful search tool, search and replace, five data sort levels, create reports, archive reports, analyze collections, and more. SoftCAT offers two versions: A free version and a full version. The differences between the free and the full versions are simple; the free version does not include the features: Auto catalog, form designer, report designer, and export.


3. inFlow Free

inFlow Free is an inventory application best suited for small businesses with a small inventory of products. The main limitations of the free version are: One hundred product/customer limitation, up to fifteen reports, multi-user mode is read only, forum support only. Outside of those limitations, inFlow offers features like: Product lists, barcode support, multiple units of measurement, multiple locations, movement history, one-click workflow or advanced workflow, reorder stock, product cost tracking, print/email purchase order, and much more. If you can live with the limitations of the free version, this application is very powerful and easy to use. If, however, the limitations take this application outside the realm of the useful, the regular version is only $299.00 per license. There is also a Premium edition ($499.00) that includes Bill of materials and work orders, customized documents, count sheets, and more.


4. Zotero

Zotero is a cross-platform tool geared specifically for cataloging your research. Think of it as your personal research assistant, where you can: Store anything, cite, sync, and collaborate. With Zotero you no longer have to worry about keeping track of folders. Instead, Zotero organizes your research into collections - similar to a music player playlist. Research items can be added to multiple named collections and sub-collections. And searching is made simple with a power tagging system. With the citing system you can create: footnotes, endnotes, in-text citations, or bibliographies. The sync system allows you to sync your research across as many devices as you need. Finally, you can create groups and invite users to your groups to aid in collaboration with your research. Zotero comes in a stand-alone desktop tool or a Firefox, Chrome, or Safari extension.


5. LibreOffice Base

LibreOffice Base is obviously not a cataloging software; but, with a little creativity, you can quickly create a database specifically for what you need to catalog. Using the Form Designer wizard, you will even have a user-friendly form that will allow you to enter data for your collections. What's best about using this method is that you can then make use of the database for other tools - so you're not limiting your collection data to one, isolated tool. The only caveat to using LibreOffice Base is that you have to have, at least, a cursory understanding of how databases work. No, you do not need to be a DB Admin, but you'll at least want to know what databases are and how to create them (with the help of the easy-to-use wizards).


Bottom line

If you're looking to catalog just about anything, there are tools out there waiting to be used. With a bit of digging, you can find just what you need. Or, if you don't feel like searching, you can give one of these tools a try. Each of these offerings has something unique, and some are much more powerful than others - but each of them will handle the task.


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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