Benubird PDF: free document management system lets you manage, organize, and tag your files

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Benubird PDF is a free document management system designed to manage all manner of documents and files in a single, centralized location.

It allows you to organize your files and documents within virtual folders (irrespective of where they reside on your hard drive), and to and apply tags to them as well as other metadata.

The interface provides for quick and easy filtering and search capabilities. Advanced features include the ability to monitor local folders for changes and to use a set of user-defined rules to update the library of documents/files accordingly.

One way to describe what a document management system is to consider the filtering functions available in, say, modern media players: you can filter songs by genre, artist, album, and even tags (for some), etc, in order to find a correct set of results.

Benubird PDF allows you to do something similar for documents and files; you can create a “library” of documents/files, organize them in virtual folders, add tags and metadata, and filter the documents according to the criteria you need.

Note that the program title (Benubird PDF) elevates its presumed ability to convert any type of document to PDF (presumably because of PDF’s status as a “standard” document format). The only problem with this is that it actually does NOT convert other documents to PDFs, at least not in the free version that I tested. It seems that for PDF conversions it is designed to use a shareware virtual PDF printer called NovoPDF, but it doesn’t seem to install this properly. This really is no big deal though, since you can use the program to manage any document or file type. If you need PDF conversions, use the free PDFCreatorPrimoPDF, or doPDF (all very capable freeware virtual PDF printers).

Here are more notes on this program:

  • Creating a library: you can add documents and files to the library by specifying a file or folder (or zip archive) or by drag and drop; however you can use a set of rules to filter exactly the file types to add, whether to include subfolders, which virtual folders (called “collections”) you might want them to be automatically added to, and even filter by metadata (e.g. all documents from author x to be added to collection y).
  • Virtual folders: you can create a set of hierarchical folders/subfolders (collections) and organize your files in them. This is virtual and completely independent of where they reside on the hard drive. One cool option is the ability to select a bunch of documents/files and right click to add them to a collection or create a collection out of them.
  • Documents: any filetype can be added. The program is designed to display previews of some filetypes including Office files, PDFs (if you use Adobe Reader), image files, and some media files.
  • Windows context menu: want to add file(s) or folder(s) to the library? You can do this quickly by right clicking on them in explorer and using Benubird PDF’s context menu entry.
  • Metadata: there are 5 fields that can be used as metadata for any file type: Title, Author, Subject, Categories, and Comments. At times there will be overlap between these and any metadata that is already defined in your files (e.g. most Office documents will have a Title and author by default, but will not necessarily be correct).
  • Tags: in addition to the metadata fields discussed above, you can add tags to any file(s) at will, and filter by these in the right hand pane. To filter by tags, click (or ctrl+click) on the tags; to un-filter, click anywhere on the white space in the tag pane. To add tags, you will have to define them first in the “Library tags” section (they cannot be defined on the fly).
  • Folder monitoring: if using this option, the program will monitor folders you specify according to certain rules you set for file extension types, metadata, checking frequency, etc. (A process names “Benubird assistant will run in the background at all times, but it only consumes 6 megs or so, which is quite light).
  • User interface: is quite good (employs the ribbon-style interface popularized by Office 2007). The media-player like filters section on top is both powerful and will be familiar to most people. You can view your files as icons or list and sort by column names, etc.
  • The search function: a powerful, quick and easy way to hone in on what you want.
  • “Smart” playlists: actually smart “collections” (i.e. virtual folders). Three of these: last modified files, last added, and an “incomplete properties” collection that can

Wish list (or how this program can be even better)

  • Mass metadata editing by user defined rules: for example, a way to populate”Title” metadata (or other fields) from the filename or some section(s) of the filename or path.

The verdict: Benubird PDF provides a very simple and easy way to categorize, and organize your documents and folders, and with its folder-monitoring option it may be one of the best solutions for general, system-wide file tagging.

this is a well thought out, powerful, and professional program that has a lot of potential. The program’s web page states that Benubird PDF is “guaranteed to save you time and revolutionize the way you work with your documents”, and at least for some I think this might turn out to be the case.

Version Tested: 1.4.0.1

Compatibility: Windows 2000, XP, Vista.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 10.56 megs).