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Best Free PIM

 
 
Introduction

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. laugh

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.

In a Hurry?

Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

Discussion

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. wink

Screenshot of PimeroPimero (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]

Function menuEssentialPIM 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]

menu for new objectsWinPIM  is a product from China, also based on a commercial procuct. 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 the essential function 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 too. It provides the options to attach notes, photos, files and other documents to almost every function.

A little caution is called for in downloading WinPIM. You won't find the link for the free version on the Download page. At the present time it is on the Home page. There are several links there that will take you to the pro version. Look for the download link Download All Editions in One File in text. That file installs a special version of the program that opens the first time with a choice of versions. Select the free version.

Related Products and Links

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 Evernote (self synced), and ToDoList, synced via the incomparible 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. smiley

Scheduled for Evaluation

  1. Agenda At Once
  2. Chaos Free

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://).
Related PIM Categories
Quick Selection Guide

Pimero Free Edition
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Well organized user interface. Full range of well-integrated PIM functions. Data encryption, automatic backup, and iPhone synchronization. Easy to use.
You cannot export your data from the free edition, and sync and backup disabled. Provides recurring appointments, but not repeating tasks. Imports messages from Outlook, but not the folder structure, which you need to re-create. Cannot export data.
2013R1
27 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Free for private use only
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP / Vista / 7; Installs Firebird, and .Net 3.5 if required
EssentialPIM
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Another full-featured PIM. Does many of the same things as Outlook and can import your Outlook data and/or Outlook Express contacts as well. Small file size. A portable version is available.
Supports repeating tasks (events), but not repeating to-dos. May have trouble with multiple email accounts.
http://www.essentialpim.com/
5.5.7
13.4 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Vista, Windows XP
WinPIM
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Full featured, attractive, intuitive and well organized. Has repeating to-dos, and allows sub-tasks. Provides the options to attach notes, photos, files and other documents to almost every function.
No provision for syncing between PC or mobile devices
http://www.winpim.com/
12.83
7.5 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Free for private use only
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Vista, Windows XP; Requires Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0.

Editor

This category is maintained by volunteer editor philip. Registered members can contact the editor with comments or suggestions by clicking here.
You can visit philip's Google+ profile page here.

Tags

PIM personal organizer planner database tasks to-do todo calendar contacts

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Comments

by Caspian (not verified) on 15. September 2011 - 17:33  (79679)

I have Time & Chaos version 5.6.10 working on two (2) Windows 7 (64bit) machines.

Works great!

by Anonymousfortunecookiedough (not verified) on 17. September 2011 - 5:22  (79763)

I found this PIM: Esy Planner
http://web.tiscali.it/esysoft/

It is fairly nice, freeware, handles recurring events perhaps better than any other, it contains a budget component, etc. BUT it's not complete nor polished per se. Does it have audible alarms? Can you categorize events with different colors?
----
So, desirable components from my perspective are:
email, contacts, calendar, tasks/to-do, notes/memos, quotes(daily activity, like on many paper 1-day-at-a-time calendars), budgets(manage your budgets per week/month etc.,

also, encryption-capabilities or password protected at least, organize events into categories via custom colors, organize tasks into folders/sub-folders, import/export of icalendar formats(etc), audible alarms, recurring events, tabs, and should sync with other calendars perhaps.

To boot, it has to be freeware, should be non-abandon-ware/legacy, and not resource-hogging cause of bloat from included file-managers, password generators, etc... but then again you may think it's better suited in a PIM than in a browser?

Hope this helps... oh yeah, Kontact (or the primary calendering compent of KOrganize) can be ran on windows with KDE for Windows.

by philip on 17. September 2011 - 13:15  (79789)

Thanks for the report Anonymousfortunecookiedough.

by dagwood (not verified) on 17. September 2011 - 16:40  (79795)

Check out etm (http://freshmeat.net/projects/etm/). It's free, cross-platform and supports recurring events and tasks using simple, plain text data files.

by philip on 17. October 2011 - 21:09  (81620)

@dagwood, Thanks for the lead. I see that etm is a nice task and calendar management app, with simple project management as well. It offers most of what I look for in a PIM.

etm is evidently fast and efficient. But it does not have a conventional user interface. Interaction and item entry is requires the use of keystroke combinations. They are logical, but there are many of them, and you need to know virtually all of them.

They wouldn't be hard to learn over time if you want to go to the trouble. My mind is already cluttered with keyboard shortcuts for Windows, Firefox, and other programs, and emt is not an app I'd select when there are more conventional alternatives

by Australia (not verified) on 20. October 2011 - 3:54  (81763)

Pimero looks like a fine program. But thank you for informing readers that it requires NET Framework. I prefer standalone applications. I dont want to install any additional Frameworks that potentially slow down my Windows Startup :)

by Anupam on 20. October 2011 - 6:57  (81768)

Its a myth that .NET frameworks slow down the computer, or even the startup. I have all .NET frameworks on my computer... 2.0, 3.5, 4.0. My computer experiences no slowdown, and starts up fast.

.NET frameworks provide the base for programs to build and run on them. That's their purpose.

by Anonymouse (not verified) on 23. October 2011 - 12:28  (81986)

Please note that EssentialPIM does have a portable version from the developers:

EssentialPIM Free Portable 4.24
29 Jul 2011
7.18 MB
EssentialPIMPort4.zip

The link can be found on the homepage.

Please update the article to reflect this.

Thank you.

by Anonymouse (not verified) on 23. October 2011 - 12:37  (81988)

Pimero Free Edition is not unrestricted freeware.

On their website, it is clear that you are not permitted to use the free edition for business use.

http://www.pimero.com/en/editionen.php

Please update the article to reflect that.

You may also want to re-evaluate if this software still holds the freeware award if you are not able to use it in a business context.

Thank you.

by philip on 23. October 2011 - 16:48  (81998)

OK, I'll look again Anonymouse. Thanks

by philip on 23. October 2011 - 16:50  (81999)

Thanks for catching that Anonymouse

by nanswim (not verified) on 19. November 2011 - 15:54  (83548)

How did you back it up? I have a new computer and cannot sync my palm anynore cause it does not sync with a 64 bit computer. I was thinking of backing it up onto an external drive and then somehow getting it onto my new computer.

by fernman (not verified) on 25. November 2011 - 13:24  (83875)

PIM Xtreme, which you mention in "Other full-featured PIMs", stores your data in MySQL server, rather than in a file on your computer. This means you can not use it offline, you must have an internet connection. From my point of view that lessens its usefulness severely.

by Frustrated (not verified) on 8. February 2012 - 18:51  (88528)

I installed Pimero server on my Win7 x64 system so that I could use their ipad util on my ipad2. Well after installing Framework.net 4 I had to reboot the computer in order to get the server admin to start up properly. Pimerio on the desktop started up ok but then I could not shut it down. I had to force shut it and the server app disappeared and the service refuse to restart from Services. Uninstalled the software.

by philip on 9. February 2012 - 18:42  (88598)

I believe the sync function is disabled in the free version. At any rate, that use is beyond the scope of use that this review envisioned.

by snowbound999 on 11. February 2012 - 20:24  (88694)

The software won't even run properly on my Windows7 x64 never mind syncing. Did you test this software on Win7 x64?

by ish (not verified) on 28. March 2012 - 19:03  (91341)

I have Palm 4.2.1 on my mac.
Suddenly all my data has disappeared and the user shows: NONE

It also says Hot Sync Manager cannot be found.

I had connected the computer to my IPad -- I wonder if this has anything to do with this ---- How can I solve and restore data??

[edit] Email address removed. we do not provide individual support here in the comments. Please post details of your issue in our forum.

by whiterabbit (not verified) on 1. April 2012 - 19:52  (91549)

I think another aspect of PIMs that should be critically evaluated for this category is how well each allows users to modify recurring events.

Most people that are going to use a PIM to organize their lives, are going to be using recurring events in their calendars. Inevitably those events will need to be modified at some point. Some people, like me, make changes to every instance of a recurring event (marking a meeting complete, including some key points from that meeting, etc). When a user does this, it becomes impossible to make changes to the event series without altering past individual events. Want to change the end date for the series? Change the meeting time for the *rest* of the series? You can't. Not without losing all the changes you made to your past events.

This is an Achilles-heel of even many paid-for PIMs, including some of the paid-for versions in this category. Search the web a bit and you'll find out that Outlook is notorious for it. I've been using Essential PIM Free for a year and a half now, made some forums posts, and I still can't modify a recurring event without losing data. I've even found errors after exporting my database and opening it in he same program. Appointments in the wrong spot, things missing.

The EPIM folks there seem to be aware of the problem, but are unable to fix it, similar to Microsoft's issue with Outlook. Apparently Palm, Lotus Notes, iCal and others know how to do it right. I switched from Sunbird to EPIM, and now I'm thinking about switching again. This is after loving EPIM so much that I was thinking of shelling out dollars for a lifetime license of the Pro version.

Palm's defunct desktop seems to be the only piece of freeware that can manage this feat. As a legacy product, that is *very* disconcerting. I might have to revert to my old-school datebook, if these software designers can't seem to get things right. Troubleshooting the program becomes more trouble than it's worth!

Does anyone else know of a fully featured (non-defunct) program like EPIM, that can "split" the series of recurring events properly, therefore avoiding most of these problems?

by whiterabbit (not verified) on 1. April 2012 - 21:48  (91551)

FYI for those thinking about using Palm Desktop, the 6.2 version is newest and prettiest, but it lacks some of the stated functionalities that can only be found in 4.1.4e/4.2 and earlier.

Namely:
>6.2 DOES NOT have repeating To Dos/Tasks.
>6.2 also is MONOCHROMATIC; you cannot make events different colors; they all appear gray, similar to the color-scheme for the window.

In test driving this PIM, what I really miss compared to current PIMs (like EPIM) is the larger memo section that basically is like a tiny word processing program with a tree-structure for notes. I had no idea how much I would use this feature until I started using Sunbird a few years ago.

Everything else is at least as functional, as the newer software, though not as pretty. You can even put pictures in the Contacts section, which I was impressed with.

Also, I can verify that 4.1.4e does work on Windows 7 (install as administrator), though, I'm testing it on Win7 "Starter" (rather than HP/Ultimate) via my netbook.

by whiterabbit (not verified) on 1. April 2012 - 22:12  (91552)

Something else that should be noted about using Palm Desktop is that the file formats used make it difficult/nearly impossible to get data imported/exported.

.Dba is a Palm proprietary format, and .vcs is the old .ics. There are some converters that can attempt to put each of these in .csv or .ics, but it seems like a bit of a crapshoot. Expect to have missing events, events at the wrong time, etc.

Issues with import/export are probably one of the biggest reasons not to switch to this program, in my opinion. Though, I'm finding it extremely tempting, due to the presence of repeating tasks and ability to correctly handle edits to repeating events!

by philip on 2. April 2012 - 0:16  (91553)

In light of the thoughtful comments here and previously, and the fact that Palm Desktop is an orphan program, it has been removed from this category.

by EOS (not verified) on 18. May 2012 - 14:52  (93673)

Any PIM's that have a Desktop Component, AND an Android Component AND can be installed as a Cloud Component on one's OWN website domain? Sort of like a private Cloud?

I'd like to get away from the other sites like Google, MSLive, Apple etc., from hosting my calendar & notes, my PIM info, as I have my own website. I don't need to share it with anyone else. I can do this by exporting & uploading files but doing so via an Android app would be great vs. and Android FTP app. I do appreciate the convenience of Google Calendar on my Android phone. I just don't like Google anymore.

I really like EPIM, but they don't seem to want to make an Android app to allow it to sync with the desktop version or have it installable on my website.

by philip on 19. May 2012 - 0:29  (93691)

The only free PIM server solution I've ever run across is the one from the "Chandler Project" (which seems a bit moribund). As you might expect, there's no Android "component" for it. You might get a more hopeful answer at our Freeware Forum. Good luck.

by Karen Collins (not verified) on 14. June 2012 - 18:16  (94871)

I'm not sure if you are in search of a desktop, mobile, or web-based PIM - but CloudPIM (listed above under web-based PIMs) offers the ability to modify a recurring series without overwriting all events in the series. You can choose to modify all occurrences after a particular date, or you can overwrite the entire series if you wish. If you are more inclined/prefer to use desktop PIMs this doesn't help your cause, otherwise I think its a decent solution.

by whiterabbit (not verified) on 20. June 2012 - 17:34  (95159)

Appreciate the suggestion, Karen.

I'm not into keeping any of my data, but especially private details about my life that would be in my datebook, on the web/cloud/someone else's server, etc.

Some company out there besides Palm, really needs to figure out how to do this correctly. It's a major shortcoming of pretty much every desktop-based PIM available, free or fee-based, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one that finds it exceedingly frustrating!

by gtexas (not verified) on 20. June 2012 - 22:52  (95175)

just started using Gqueues and I love it. very simple yet effective. Thanks for pointing it out. so many task managers are too complex. some are missing essential elements

by philip on 21. June 2012 - 14:24  (95196)

Nice to hear that you like it gtexas. I took another look at GQueues and I see that there is now a GQueues app for Chrome.

by a dude (not verified) on 19. October 2012 - 23:25  (101081)

What does everyone think of www.dayviewer.com is it worth checking out? anyone used it?, seems to do some group based stuff according to the help page.

by Mark Ward (not verified) on 20. October 2012 - 1:16  (101084)

Vueminder has a freeware version that is better than all listed above.

by Notalk (not verified) on 2. November 2012 - 1:05  (101708)

I'm not sure the EPIM - Android comment is correct. I think that currently EPIM contacts, notes and tasks all sync to an Android counterpart and EPIM calendar syncs to the Google/Android calendar. I think EPIM is working on coming up with its own Android calendar. Then, it looks like EPIM desktop and EPIM Android will function like Outlook and Windows Mobile (not Windows Phone).

Have I missed something here.