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 imdb.com,
bol.com, 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

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.

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