Being a bit of a pack rat when it comes to documents, links, and other things I might want to get to someday, I was looking for a way to store these things and organize them on the Mac. On the PC, I tend to use OneNote for storing everything (yes, I am still holding out hope that Microsoft will port OneNote to the Mac) but for now, it just doesn’t work correctly. This is when I stumbled on Yojimbo and was curious just to see what it is all about.

What is Yojimbo?

Yojimbo is a data collection application for the Mac. You store anything imaginable in it and search for / review it later. From bookmarks to documents, Yojimbo can do it all. That’s nice; let’s dig in and see just what its like.

Figure A

The Yojimbo window

To get items into the system, drag and drop the document onto the application’s library pane. When the document is inserted, a copy of the document is placed in the library making the original file unneeded. You can preview and access documents from inside Yojimbo itself, or drag it out to be used within the original application.

So it’s a folder… what is the benefit?

The biggest benefit I have found in the application is the ease with which you can tag documents; searching the contents of the library is simple and convenient to use.

Tagging documents allows me to keep things that are similar together without worrying about how the documents are actually stored. I can search for the tag assigned to a group of items and find what I am looking for.

Users can create tag collections, which serve as a standing search for a defined set of tags. In Figure A, the tag collections Reading List and Shopping List are defined to simply keep track of items and look them up with ease.

In addition to dragging items onto the main Yojimbo interface, there is a dock included with the application. The dock shows the library and any tag collections on to which you can drag items as well.

Figure B

The Yojimbo dock

This application is similar in many ways  to other collection services, such as Dropbox for file storage and Delicious for bookmark management; however, the fact that it is local and consolidated speeds up the process and allows some piece of mind that your documents are on your computer.

The idea here is to keep all of the stuff you need in a bucket you can use and readily access your files, bookmarks, and other things without keeping them all over the place on your computer. Seems like a really solid philosophy to me. Not to mention that it is easy enough to use, there shouldn’t be too many barriers to entry.

But I already use Dropbox, so my stuff is offsite.

This is a good idea too, but what about using both? Maybe you keep your “stuff” in Yojimbo which will make local access faster in many cases, not to mention providing solid off-line availability and searchability.

What if your Yojimbo database was backed up to Dropbox? This would solve a few of these issues by keeping your files stored in the same format offsite. Depending on the size of the database file , this might just work. Perhaps in a scenario like this:

According to the Bare Bones website, the Yojimbo data is stored here: ~/Library/Application Support/Yojimbo/

You could create a script or use another application (FolderWatch, perhaps) to copy the contents of that folder to Dropbox or some other cloud storage location on a regular schedule. This would keep your data backed up and off site.

Note: Bare Bones recommends backing up the database when Yojimbo is closed, which does make sense and can save some headaches.

As I was preparing this post, the backup idea was one that made Yojimbo seem like an even more useful tool. The interface is easy to use and searching for files wins over browsing (for me, at least) any day.

Give Yojimbo a look and use the free trial; I think you will be pleasantly surprised. There is also a version just for iPad.