Sorting Out the Family Home, Laden With Possessions

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I am not a hoarder. In fact, I'm exactly the opposite: I would love to live in a minimalist house, and have strong opinions about disposing of or recycling old things.

But no matter how I feel about hoarding, my family home is constantly accumulating "stuff." And we now have so much, it's nearly time for a big spring cleanout, a process that would be much easier if I had an inventory of all the important things in our home. Of course, I'm going to use some apps to help.

My app of choice for building an inventory is Nest Egg, $2.99 on iOS. It's a powerful tool for storing data about your purchases, new and old, including photos and relevant information like warranty expiration dates.

I love this app for its interface, which is logically and attractively designed. The app's main page provides one-touch access to a list of all the household items you've cataloged, a category-by-category list of your items and even a location-based list, for example, whether the items are in your study or bedroom. There is also a pie chart that shows you the number of items you've entered in each category, and an estimated value total.

Adding items to the app is easy. You simply enter the "items" menu, tap "+" and then enter all relevant data. Each item's entry is clearly organized, starting with text boxes for name and description, then parameters like manufacturer, serial number, product category and location in your home.

The app can even use your phone's camera to scan an item's bar code, by linking to the free scanning app Pic2shop, which you are prompted to download. Scanning a bar code like this populates some of the data for you, including a photo in some cases and even an estimated price sourced from online store data.

The app is flexible enough that you can enter your own category types; I had to add "paintings and photos," for example. Nest Egg can also remind you if a product's warranty is about to expire, and it can even be used to keep track of items you've lent to someone.

One big criticism is that it can be easy to get lost in the app's submenus. They all look similar, and you frequently need to double-check the title to see where you are.

A great alternative to Nest Egg is MyHome Pro: Home Inventory, a $3.99 Android app. A very limited free "Lite" edition is available, so you can test it out first. The paid app is more utilitarian in design than Nest Egg, but it has many of the same features, like the ability to scan bar codes. The app is just as easy to use, and has clear sections to let you add items to an inventory or to browse through existing entries.

As a nice touch, it also lets you specify details of your various insurance policies, including policy numbers and deductible amounts. This sort of detail could be invaluable in case of a burglary, breakage or other home disaster -- and you wouldn't have to scramble through your documents to find the information.

In keeping with its functional design, the user interface of My Home Pro is designed more around drop-down menus and entering lots of text than tapping on cute icons or checking out pie charts. But this straightforwardness does at least make it easy to navigate, although it takes some of the fun out of interacting with the app.

MyStuff2 -- Home Inventory and Database is another good inventory app, costing $4.99 on iOS. The app, like MyHome Pro, has a user interface that's designed around lists.

Its main page is a list of item categories, like "electronics" or "video games," with a total that shows how many entries are in each one. Tapping on a category takes you to a page that lists the relevant items, and you can sort this list in a number of ways, like alphabetically or, in the "books" category, by author or genre. Entering the information for each item is a similar process to the other apps mentioned here, and you can scan bar codes to speed up some of the process.

MyHome Scr.App.Book is a much simpler room-by-room inventory app that's free for iOS devices and Android. If the idea of laboriously entering details for each item in your home discourages you, but you do want to build some sort of list, this app is a good alternative. It's much simpler than its peers, with fewer category options, and it cannot scan bar codes, but it is slightly swifter to use than other similar apps.

One warning with these apps: They'll take up a lot of your time if you intend to log every possible detail about all the things you own. I'll admit, though, that there's a certain geeky pleasure that goes along with the process.

Quick Call

The alternative cab-calling service Uber has just updated its free Android app to a new version that brings a lot of the slick design elements from the iOS edition and makes it easier to navigate Uber's services. If you've never tried Uber, now is a good time to do that.

interact

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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