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organize files on pcOne of the most difficult aspects of having so many projects going at once – between being a writer, blog owner, engineer and programmer – is keeping everything sorted and organized.

The one thing that consumes a lot of my time is not so much tracking the tasks that I need to do, but re-locating the text files and word documents where I kept notes or created my to-do lists. I’m sure you can sympathize that when things get more hectic, this problem gets far worse. To make matters worse, I often lose track of important URLs, important images I’ve saved on my computer, and much more.

I’ve tried a lot of different solutions to organize my life, including countless online calendars Organize Your Life With Yahoo Calendar Organize Your Life With Yahoo Calendar Read More , to no avail. Everything I try seems to lack something – some important collection of objects that I need to track, and it doesn’t help. Here at MUO, we’ve offered a lot of apps to help you organize your life, like Jessica’s list of tools for organizing your research 3 PDF Document Management Tools for Organizing Your Research 3 PDF Document Management Tools for Organizing Your Research The web has seen its fair share of research-friendly tools grow over the past years. Let's discuss some tools that help you keep your PDF article library neat and catalogued for use when you have... Read More ,  or even Matt’s article on how to use your computer to organize your clothes 3 Ways To Organize Your Clothes Using Your PC 3 Ways To Organize Your Clothes Using Your PC Read More !

But if you’re like me, and you’ve hunted for a long time for a tool to keep track of to-do lists, files, links and information in general, then I’d like to introduce you to KeyNote NF, the desktop organizer that finally solves the organizational problem I’ve had for many years.

Using KeyNote NF To Keep Track Of Everything

I’ve tried a number of Wiki solutions to accomplish this sort of thing, like creating a Tiki Wiki site Host Your Own Fully Featured Wiki Site With Tiki Wiki Host Your Own Fully Featured Wiki Site With Tiki Wiki These days, there are a lot of businesses, both online and offline, that make use of wiki platforms to help generate teamwork and collaboration, while remaining at remote locations. With Tiki Wiki, you can host... Read More or using the Zim desktop wiki Zim: An Easy To Use Desktop Wiki For Your Life & Everything Zim: An Easy To Use Desktop Wiki For Your Life & Everything Read More (which I actually really liked). The problem with the Wiki solution is that it was never very easy or simple to track certain types of information like links to local files, or URLs. Linking to internal pages on a Wiki is always really easy, but other methods of organizing aren’t always so easy.

When you first launch KeyNote, you’ll see two blank panes and one search pane on the left. To get started, right click in the left pane and choose “Insert Node“.

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organize files on pc

This is the main page for major categories, where you will be organizing all of your sub-tasks, files and other information related to that category. For example, in my case, I created a Node called “MakeUseOf” to organize everything related to my work for MakeUseOf.

Next you create subcategories by right clicking on your main category and choosing “Add Child“.

organize files

This lets you break down each major category into sub-areas. In my case I’ve added sections for MUO SEO research, a current list of writing projects I’m working on, and our currently approved list of titles that we’re planning in the near future. I’ve also created a page just to keep track of all of the links I need to use as part of my responsibilities.

What I really love about this software is that despite the fact that it looks like a simple notepad application, it is actually a powerful organization tool because it lets you create “virtual links” to files on your computer. You do this by creating a child node, right clicking on it, and selecting Virtual Mode and then “Make Virtual“.  This lets you choose a file that you want to virtually link to.

organize files

Choosing a text file lets you open that file from right inside KeyNote. The beauty of this is that it doesn’t matter where your files are stored, they’ll be linked in the left navigation bar. No more hunting for files anymore!

organize files

You can change the contents in here, or if the file contents change, just right click the virtual link and under “Virtual Node” click on “Refresh” to see the changes.

organize files on your computer

What I really like about KeyNote is how the navigation keeps everything right at your fingertips. While under one tab, you might have dozens of categories – you can also create multiple tabs where you’ve organized loads of other information. The amount that you can pack into a very small space because of this is amazing. I’ve created one tab to organize all of my writing work, one for finances, another for various business projects and so on.

organize files on your computer

As you can see in the screenshot above, you can also format the nodes in the left pane by bolding them or creating a color code if you like.

Additional Features Of KeyNote

Beyond the ability to sort out your mess of text notes, files and URL links, there are also some other really cool features that you’ll discover in KeyNote. One of those is the ability to forward specific note pages via email.

organize files on your computer

Another is the ability to set up alarms for other notes. For example, configure an alarm to go off when you have homework deadlines approaching or article assignments due. This attaches a date/time alarm to any page.

You can find these and other useful features under the “Insert” menu. This is where you link to files, insert pictures and other objects, or automatically insert today’s date/time into your notes.

organize files on pc

As you can see, the software is far more useful than most other organizational tools out there. It’s almost like having a briefcase where you can store all of your notes, files, links and important information all in one place.

Keynote was originally created by another developer on SourceForge, but then it was taken over by Daniel and he’s hosted it as a Google Code project now. That is where you can download the latest version and check out the project notes.

Download your own copy and give KeyNote a try. Did it help you organize better, or did you find some other cool use for it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

  1. Huzzah
    December 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Hi Ryan,

    So happy that you chose to feature this oldie but goodie on MUO! KeyNote NF (the "NF" stands for New Features) is a fork of the original KeyNote (first released all the way back in Y2K!), which the author mysteriously abandoned and open-sourced the project to anyone willing to pick it up.

    It's kind of a sad story:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20051218102755/http://www.tranglos.com/free/closedown.html

    But good to see that someone renewed development on the project. I use KeyNote for all sorts of things, but as a writers' notebook primarily.

    Of interest also, a similar app is Notebox Disorganizer IIe, another classic "abandonware" app that serves much of the same functions. ND2e was originally promoted on (talk about a way-back machine) a Yahoo! GeoCities page (!) that is now archived by OoCities:

    http://www.oocities.org/goosnargh37/squirreltech/software/n-docs.html

    He maintains the downloads at Google Code since GeoCities was closed down:
    https://sites.google.com/site/squirreltechnologist/

    (And whoever "The Squirrel Technologist" is, he's pretty funny, a little, well... "nuts.")

    • Ryan Dube
      December 7, 2011 at 4:49 pm

      Huzzah - I agree, it is nice that someone picked it up. I almost didn't cover it when I saw that the original had been dropped, but when I saw the renewed project I realized that this baby still has some good life in it. Looking forward to seeing any future developments.

    • Huzzah
      December 7, 2011 at 8:44 pm

      Me too :) You should have a look at Notebox Disorganizer too. A minor annoyance on post-XP systems is that the icon doesn't display correctly for some reason in Explorer. Other than that it works fine :D

  2. el tio ska
    December 5, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Cool of you to review this product. I, too, have gone through my fair share of note-taking apps. I like TiddlyWiki (and TiddlySpace), find Evernote a bit too bulky and slow (especially to load - a note-taking app should be lightning fast in my opinion).

    But KeyNote is by far the one I use most extensively. I use it to keep track of blog posts, as a journal, to take notes of learning programming languages, to take notes for my current studies, etc. I simply love the tree structure of the notes at the side.

    This was the one program that kept me from moving fully to linux! Sounds incredible but it worked like crap on any linux distro I tried (Ubuntu with Gnome, KDE, LXDE, Enlightenment; Linux Mint; OpenSuse, PuppyLinux ...) It never worked well and crashed often on linux, dunno why. And I had too many notes on this app to move them to another program. And believe me I tried many apps and wasted too many hours looking for a suitable replacement.

    I save the files to my DropBox folder and lo and behold(!) I have ubiquitous notes :)

    • Ryan Dube
      December 5, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      el tio ska - that's a clever idea to use DropBox. I may borrow that tactic...thank you. :-)

    • el tio ska
      December 7, 2011 at 9:09 am

      Yeah the DropBox idea is quite neat. Strangely enough it occurred to me a few months ago - after years of using both DropBox and KeyNote! Interesting the way our minds work, innit? :)

    • Kuto
      December 8, 2011 at 6:49 am

      Is there any app for iPad for opening keynote files?

    • Ryan Dube
      December 15, 2011 at 1:58 pm

      Hi Kuto - actually not sure about any way to open the files on any mobile. You could try using any text editor you may use, but I suspect it may not work...worth a shot though.

  3. Muhammad Ali Shah
    December 2, 2011 at 9:49 am

    How about Evernote? I believe it's the best one out there as of now followed closely by One Note from Microsoft.

    • Ryan Dube
      December 2, 2011 at 7:42 pm

      Hi Muhammad - I like those too. I guess what I really like about KeyNote the most is how easily it is to organize an entire project of documents and files into one single "document" with everything laid out in the left pane. It saves so much time that's usually wasted hunting down documents.

  4. Farah Haddad
    December 2, 2011 at 5:48 am

    is there a keynote for Mac??? can you post the link please?

    • Ryan Dube
      December 2, 2011 at 7:40 pm

      Hi Farah - sorry, I believe that the download is Windows only. I know the new version makes use of .Net. 

    • el tio ska
      December 7, 2011 at 9:13 am

      Maybe you can run it using parallels or some other similar software? (I didn't have luck running KeyNote on linux using VirtualBox. However, I heard that running Windows apps on a Mac tends to be a breeze...)

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