Personal information manager software (PIM)

This comprehensive guide is designed to provide you with all the essential information you need to expertly navigate the world of personal information management software, offering an insightful overview of the top tools available, detailing their key features, and illustrating how they can empower you to efficiently take control of your digital life.

What exactly is a personal information manager (PIM)?

A personal information manager (PIM) is a software for managing contacts, appointments, tasks, memos and other personal data.

The term "personal information manager" may seem broad or ambiguous, often used interchangeably to refer to both the computer software and the device, also known as "personal digital assistant" or PDA (remember PalmPilot?). In this guide, our focus will be solely on the software aspect of PIMs.

Varieties of personal information management apps

Personal information manager apps come in many forms, ranging from simple to complex solutions. They might offer a single information management component or encompass a comprehensive suite of PIM components.

PIM types: mobile vs desktop software

PIM software solutions can be categorized based on their target platform in two distinct groups.

Mobile personal information manager

Mobile devices, today's PDA, offer a basic set of PIM functionalities. Both Android and iOS devices allow for managing phone numbers, checking emails, creating todo lists, managing appointments, and setting reminders.

Their simplicity is a double-edged sword. While effective for basic tasks, they fall short in handling more complex personal information management needs, for which a robust desktop-based personal information management software is ideal.

Desktop personal information manager

For all major computer platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux) there are powerful PIM tools available. We will delve into the details of these desktop apps and review what computer-based personal information managers are capable of.

What is a personal information manager used for?

A Personal Information Manager (PIM) is a digital tool designed to organize and simplify the management of personal information and daily tasks. It serves as a centralized platform for storing and accessing various types of personal data, including contacts, scheduled meetings, email correspondence, personal notes, and task checklists. Users primarily utilize PIMs to enhance productivity and efficiency in their personal and professional lives. By consolidating different streams of information into one interface, it reduces the time and effort spent searching for specific details across multiple applications. Additionally, PIMs often come with features like calendar integration, reminder systems, and task prioritization, which help users manage their time more effectively. This versatility makes PIMs invaluable for individuals seeking a structured approach to managing their daily activities and information overload.

Which are the key features of effective personal information managers?

According to Wikipedia a personal information manager typically includes:

  • Bookmark manager - for storing web site URLs
  • Calendar - for managing appointments & daily agenda
  • Contacts - optional, since smartphones normally handle that
  • Email client - optional, since email clients are ubiquitous now
  • Forms - for items that require a predefined template
  • Notes - for any kind of free-text information
  • Outliner - for drafting ideas & organizing hierarchical data items
  • Reminders - for appointments & to-dos
  • Task manager - for managing tasks and todo lists

Why do you need a personal information manager app?

Everyone has unique personal information management needs, but commonly, we all seek to organize:

  • Anniversaries, events & key dates
  • Diverse collections/databases (music, movies, books)
  • Diaries/Journals
  • Email and instant message archives
  • Itineraries & checklists
  • Legal documents
  • Lists (places to go, culinary experiments)
  • Medical records
  • Personal notes
  • Passwords
  • Project management resources
  • Recipes
  • Reference materials
  • Web snippets & bookmarks

What makes the perfect personal information manager software?

Keeping in mind that we are talking about desktop-based personal information managers, these feature are most important for a quality PIM app:

  • User-friendly interface - the personal information manager is a tool that you use daily, so it needs a modern and clean user interface.
  • Text editor - since we are going to write down all kinds of free-text information, we need a decent text editor with rich text formatting, support for pictures, tables, and file attachments.
  • Search - finding your information is critical in a personal information manager app. You should have access to powerful searching functionality, including both simple searches and boolean expression queries.
  • Strong linking - you should be able to interlink different data items in the application for better and faster navigation.
  • Views - it should be possible to display and order your data by different criteria, suitable for various contexts.
  • Encryption - if you store sensitive personal information, you should be able to password-protect it.
  • Portability & synchronization - your work may require that you travel a lot and use different computers. Having your data on a USB thumb-drive can be a lifesaver. Alternatively, you may use some sort of synchronization service to keep the same data on different devices.
  • Import & Export - probably you already have a vast amount of personal information stored in other applications, databases or as files & folders on your computer. You should be able to move it to your personal information manager, but also to be able to move it out, if the need arises.
  • Tagging and metadata - another tool for making navigating and finding your stuff better is to be able to label the different data items with tags, categories and other attributes.
  • Forms & Templates - required for managing collections.
  • Web clipper - makes collecting web snippets and bookmarks much easier.
  • Customization - a good PIM program is a place where you will spend a lot of time. You should be able to change its layout and appearance to match your style and preferences.

Best personal organizer tools

While there are many PIM apps out there, we've selected three that are the best for their respective platforms. Please note that we've reviewed only computer applications, so no mobile phone apps are in the list.

MyInfo (Windows)

This is a desktop-based personal information manager for Windows. It offers powerful text editor with support for rich formatting, images, and tables. It offers an impressive full-text search (supporting also advanced search syntax), the files can be password-protected, and this organizer app can be installed on a portable drive. It has a great user interface for navigating between your items, has strong linking functions, and imports and exports many different file formats.

DevonThink (Mac)

If you are using Mac rather than Windows, then we recommend you DevonThink. It allows you to organize files from different application and edit most of them directly in DevonThink, supports smart saved searches and you can assign reminders to the different data items. Just as MyInfo, it offers strong tagging feature.


In conclusion, if you are looking for personal information manager for Windows then definitely try MyInfo. It's fast, it's responsive, it's feature complete, and it's simple to use. If you are Mac person, on the other hand, then give DevonThink a try.

MyInfo helps you collect and remember anything