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Originally published April 2, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 2, 2007 at 2:00 AM

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Small office / Home office

Serial numbers just got easier to track

I have a kind of pack-rat mentality when it comes to filing away things of importance. So when it comes to my computer, you'd think I would...

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

I have a kind of pack-rat mentality when it comes to filing away things of importance.

So when it comes to my computer, you'd think I would use this piece of sophisticated technology to keep track of everything. Well, that depends.

I do use my computer to keep track of my financial matters. I live and die by Quicken.

Online banking, checks, bill payments and everything else that's related to my financial empire is completely organized on my computer.

All of my correspondence is managed via my e-mail software; documents I type are sorted and managed by the computer's operating system so I can find anything, anywhere and at any time.

All of my names and addresses are there, along with phone numbers, too.

Given my propensity as a pack rat, it's amazing how organized I've become, all thanks to the wonderfulness of my computer. But there are still a few problems.

The most glaring on my computer is the software that resides within it. All of the applications and utilities that I have purchased over the years have serial numbers and other associated information that is part of the licensing process.

Essential numbers

Without them, I could find myself in a world of hurt. Without the proper serial numbers at hand, I may not be able to get technical support if I need it.

Guess where I keep track of all those serial numbers and contact information? No, I was smart enough to keep all of them on my computer and not scrawled on sticky notes. But it isn't much better.

I just use the plain old Notepad utility and keep adding them on page after page. It's a virtual mess. But now I've found something a lot more reliable.

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LicenseKeeper lets me store both serial numbers and the actual license files along with any receipts, e-mail and other related items. I've been using it for a while and actually having fun.

That's because in most cases I don't have to type or re-enter the associated information.

For example, when I want to enter information about a purchased application, I can just drag and drop the product's icon into LicenseKeeper's display window.

The product's title, version number, Web site and other relevant information is automatically put into the proper places within the LicenseKeeper program.

From there, I can manually type in the serial numbers and any other related registration and contact information.

There's even a place to add notes to yourself, which I can attest is something you'll use.

I was able to enter most of my important programs in a couple of hours. And of course, now that it's all set up, adding any new software will be a breeze.

Invaluable help

What you get for this small amount of effort will be invaluable. Now I have a single place to go whenever I need that critical licensing information.

No more do I have to try and find where I put that original CD case or manual that has the licensing numbers on them. I just launch LicenseKeeper and there it is.

It will even launch the applications if you like and go directly to the product's Web site as well. That's a nice, thoughtful touch.

LicenseKeeper is downloadable directly from its publisher, Outer Level, at outerlevel.com and sells for $19.95. There's a free trial version so you can make sure that this is the answer to your license-keeping woes before you buy it.

I'm sorry but LicenseKeeper runs only on Macintosh OS X, so Windows and Linux users will still have to use their Notepads and Post-it Notes until something better comes along.

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