Does your virtual desktop and filing system get as cluttered and disorganised as the real thing? If you’re frequently left scrabbling about your computer looking for documents, you need a tool that can do the hard work for you.
Mendeley is a tool aimed at researchers and academics, making it easy to organise, cross-reference and index any kind of document. Although aimed at high-brow users, its features can in fact be used by anyone with a need to work with a slew of documents of different types scattered across your hard drive.
Mendeley is also designed to work with the cloud – and you’ll need to sign up for a free account with 1GB storage space (500MB personal, 500MB shared) when you start. This allows you to access your research from your web browser, plus synchronise your setup across multiple computers as well as access it on the movie via an iPhone/iPad app, but it goes beyond that.
You can also opt to put your research papers up for collaboration and peer review from others in your field via private and public groups. Again, it’s something aimed very much at academia and researchers, but skip this part and you can still use the service as a backup and sync tool for your important papers – or whatever else you wish to use it for.
The desktop tool is simple enough to use – drag and drop your documents in any of the supported formats (including Word and PDF), then check their details before organising them into folders and sub-folders.
Mendeley also automatically extracts any meta-data from your documents and builds an index of the text within, which you can subsequently search to quickly track down the documents you’re looking for. Note that Mendeley will attempt to find metadata for the document from various online resources, so expect some false alarms to appear. Sadly, there’s no way to switch this feature off – you’ll have to edit the details yourself manually.
You can add notes to specific documents, plus view them within their own tab in Mendeley itself, complete with annotation tools like sticky notes and highlighter pens. You can even - with the help of free plug-ins - create source citations in later versions of Word and OpenOffice directly from Mandeley itself.
Whether you're a serious researcher looking for a way to keep your documents and other research tools in order, or someone looking for an easy way to organise a set of personal documents, Mandeley could be just the tool you need.