Info Select 2007

This high-powered tool makes fast work out of organizing random Web clippings, snippets of text, and more. But its high price and restrictive evaluation policy are a real problem.

October 24, 2006

5 Min Read
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Info Select is a great product for organizing huge volumes of random text, Web clippings, e-mail messages, reminders, and all the digital detritus that we all collect, but often have difficulty keeping track of. It's fast, powerful, and easy-to-use. The latest version, Info Select 2007, released last week, continues that tradition. It's a fantastic product.

Unfortunately, vendor Micro Logic seems to be actively discouraging people from using it.

Info Select falls into a broad, loosely defined category of products called "personal information managers," designed to help people keep track of their calendars, address books, to-do lists, notes, writing, images, stuff they've clipped from the Web, bookmarks -- basically, all their digital information, with exception of audio and video. The two best-known products in that category are Microsoft Outlook and OneNote. Other products in that category are a bunch of cult software products that nobody but their devoted users have heard of, including Zoot from Zoot Software, TreePad from, and EverNote from EverNote Corp. These products are sufficiently different from one another that, in some cases, they can't really be called competitors.

Get Organized
The main thing that Info Select does is create, store, and organize formatted text. Individual text documents are called "notes." Notes are stored in outline format, in "Topics." You can "pin up" notes so they open in separate windows for easy editing.

Info Select also lets you organize notes into folders, with a single note appearing in as many folders as you want it to appear in. You can tag individual notes with tiny icons to visually categorize them, including an exclamation mark for to-dos. You can designate an individual note as a "Tickler," with a due date; it'll get a little icon of a bell next to it, which will become an exclamation mark -- making it a to-do -- when the tickler becomes due.And while Info Select excels at organizing and helping you find information via its outline format, the application's search capabilities are where the program really shines. Info Select has lightning-fast incremental search -- it locates text as fast as you can type.

Info Select's creators have really given a lot of thought to usability. In particular, there's a wealth of easy-to-use keyboard shortcuts that come naturally to the fingers. For example, F5 calls up search, F7 starts a new note, F2 starts a new topic, and so on. I was a devoted Info Select user until a couple of years ago, and I when I tried out this new version, I found that my fingers still remember the most common keyboard shortcuts.

New Features
Info Select 2007 is a brush-up release, with a couple of interesting new features but no real blockbusters. "Context Tabs" let you set several default configurations for Info Select, with different notes open, closed, and pinned up, for different projects. "Smart Folders" are very similar to saved searches; they let you designate certain conditions -- such as presence or absence of particular search strings -- for including notes in different folders.

The new version of the software also upgrades Info Select's built-in Windows file manager so that you can create a note or topic that's a shortcut to an individual file on disk, such as a Word file or Excel spreadsheet. And there are a couple of handy-dandy little utilities, such as a timer, quick-text feature for inserting commonly used words and phrases into notes, and a password generator.

And Info Select does it all without taking up much space -- the footprint is a supernaturally sleek 15 MB.The Flies In The Ointment
So what's wrong with Info Select?

Well, for starters, despite the small footprint, Info Select still manages to be bloated. Besides its information manager, the application includes a whole lot of capabilities that other programs simply do better, including a full-blown e-mail and newsgroup client, image organizer, database, spreadsheet, presentation manager, and calendar. (On the other hand, the user interface for those utilities are tucked neatly out of the way -- if you don't want to use them, you never have to interact with them, or even know they're there.)

But the software has more significant problems than that. It costs an arm and a leg: $249.95 to buy it outright, or $49.95 for an annual subscription -- after the subscription expires, the data is available only in read-only format until the user renews. The upgrade cost for previous versions is $99.95, and a simplified Palm version of Info Select, which synchronizes with the Windows version, is priced at $69.95.

Other PIMs with similar capabilities are priced up to $100, with some of them available in free versions. And single-user wikis such as the open source wikiPad offer similar capabilities -- for free.

Info Select also has no try-before-you-buy policy. Just about all other vendors of downloadable software will let you try out their products for free for 21, 30, 60, or 90 days, but Micro Logic makes you pay for the product before you even see it. Micro Logic gives you a money-back guarantee, but there's a world of difference between paying and getting a refund, versus not paying until you're sure you want to buy.Combine the high price and the no-try-before-you-buy policy, and that makes Info Select a great product that most sensible people will never even test-drive.

By the way, I wrote this review in Info Select. As a reviewer, I do get to try Info Select before I buy -- they sent me an evaluation code so I could give the software a spin before I review it. And now I have a decision to make: Info Select is a great product, but is it worth a nickel shy of a hundred clams for me to upgrade to the latest version so I can continue to use it?

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