Everybody seems to have their own concept of what a PIM is. It might help to define the scope of "Best Free PIM" at the outset to avoid confusion. I will try to stick with that scope when selecting products to include here.
Best Free PIM | scope: PIMs in this category aggregate a few or all of the following functions: diary, notebook, appointments, events, tasks, address book, contact information, itinerary and messaging. These products have names like personal organizer, day planner, personal planner. Their purpose is to help you get things done. PIMs that fall outside that scope will not be discussed.
See other sorts of PIMs in "Related PIM Categories" below. If what you are looking for isn't here in "Best Free PIM" you'll likely find it in one of the other categories.
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PIMs for tablets and smartphones are displacing PIMs for PCs. Web-apps are also replacing conventional PIM programs. There are still a few free ones left though.
What I want in a PIM: The option to schedule repeating tasks -- strangely missing from many PIMs -- is a key function for me. Sync between PCs (and mobile devices -- if I had any) is also important. If I was still in the work force, I'd want tight coupling between contacts, tasks, events, and reminders. I'm getting what I want from a few single purpose products. I no longer use an all-in-one myself.
Pimero (Free Edition) is a relatively new entry in the full-featured, free PIMs category. It is a modestly crippled version of an actively-maintained commercial application. Pimero offers a full range of PIM functions: appointments, events, reminders, tasks, contacts, email -- even a feed reader, and chat. It has an attractive, well-organized user interface.
My brief testing indicates that Pimero is an efficient program to use. Other reviewers report that it is an outstanding Outlook alternative. It will import all your messages, but not your folders and folder-structure. You'd need to rebuild that yourself. The commercial version offers very nice data export, but there is no way to export your data from the free version. You cannot create repeating tasks with the free version either, if that's important to you. [Comment on Pimero | Free Edition]
EssentialPIM is another full-featured PIM based on a commercial product. It also does many of the same things as Outlook, including importing data. You can import CSV or vCard contacts as well. The integral email client can handle POP3/SMTP or IMAP4. A portable version of EssentialPIM is available.
There is no way to schedule repeating To-Do entries with free Essential PIM, but by creating all day repeating events you can effectively create a repeating tasks. They show up at the top of the calendar day grid. [EssentialPIM compared with Outlook]
WinPIM is a product from China, and is based on a commercial product. You'd never guess it's from China from the English used in the product or website.
The best thing in my view is that WinPIM has one of the essential functions I'd look for in a free PIM -- the provision to set repeating tasks. It also provides sub-tasks as well as top-level tasks.
WinPim is a complete, attractive program. It is intuitive and well-organized. It provides the options to attach notes, photos, files and other documents to almost every function. A portable version can be derived from the installed program.
The download links are on the home page. Look for the download link Download All Editions in One File. That file installs a special version of the program that opens the first time with a choice of versions. Select the free version. There are many more options for the paid versions.
PIM Xtreme would be a good choice if you want to tinker with the program interface, and the way that tasks, events, and contacts are organized and interconnected. It also has a calendar, notes, and a "Today Panel" that gives you a nice overview. PIM Xtreme has a build-it-yourself user interface. Tasks, events, contacts, notes, etc., have their own window pane, and you size and arrange them to fit your needs.
What I use as a PIM: My needs are simple these days. I use the combination of Evernote (self synced), and ToDoList, which I sync using the incomparable Tresorit, to capture information and manage tasks. I use Gmail, and good old Windows Contacts synced via Skydirve for my contact information. Your mileage may vary.
Scheduled for Evaluation
Related Web-app PIMs
- CloudPIM is a new online PIM with a social network dimension (which you can use or not). CloudPIM is currently in beta, and you'll probably want to wait until it has matured before fully committing to it. A good sign is that they have acquired a certificate for their secure connection (https://).
- Best Free Notes Organizer (Evernote is an example)
- Best Free Reminder and To-Do Program
- Best Free Project Manager (ToDoList is an example)
Pimero Free Edition
PIM personal organizer planner database tasks to-do todo calendar contacts