Bento 3: Photos, Sharing & More

Bento is a highly regarded “personal database” application for OS X, allowing you to keep track of almost anything you can imagine. We reviewed both the Mac and iPhone release earlier this year, though I wanted to add a few extra thoughts and comments about the latest version, released today.

Version 3 brings a range of new features – some expected, and some unexpected. Most notably is the integration with iPhoto, giving access to all your albums within Bento. Also new is the ability to share a Bento Library across computers in your home network, a useful “grid view”, and enhanced security features.

This quick review-update will go over the new features on offer in version 3. For a full introduction to what Bento is capable of, I would recommend reading through our previous review.

iPhoto Integration

When opening Bento 3, you’ll now also be presented with a list of iPhoto albums (and smart albums) in the sidebar. These can be opened and viewed as you’d expect, and it is possible to add a variety of extra information to the images using Bento:

iPhoto Integration

iPhoto Integration

Adding additional information doesn’t interfere with the original images or iPhoto data – everything is kept separate. Using these images in other Bento reports and libraries is simple, with new controls available to quickly link everything together. In addition, a range of new templates are bundled with Bento 3 to make working with photos easier.

The main limitation here is a lack of support for iPhoto Events. Since the introduction of Events, I’ve found them to be a great way to break down my photo library. It’s unfortunate that they don’t carry across to Bento. According to the developer, this is due to an API limitation that they are hoping to work around in a future version.

Grid View

A new view has also been added in version 3, allowing you to flick through images or records in a “grid” view, similar to that added in recent iLife applications. It makes Bento feel very much at home as another member of the iLife suite:

Grid View

Grid View

Network Sharing

The application preferences now have an additional tab for Sharing, that allows you to configure which libraries are shared across your local network. You can also require a password, and restrict whether other users are able to make changes to your data:

Sharing Settings

Sharing Settings

By default, other users can see that you’re using Bento but will not be able to view any of your libraries. You’ll need to ensure that sharing is turned on before other people can see your content.

Security & Encryption

A final welcome addition is that of enhanced security. This comes in two different areas – either you can lock down an entire database, or require a password to view certain fields (e.g. a credit card number).

Security Settings

Security Settings

Bento 3 uses 128-bit AES encryption, and also has the ability to “unlock” an encrypted field without actually displaying the content – very useful if you’re concerned that someone is looking over your shoulder!


As you’d expect with such a major upgrade, it isn’t free for existing users. Bento 3 costs $49 for an individual license, or $99 for a family pack of five licenses.

If you’re an existing user of version 1 or 2, you can benefit from a $20 rebate. This is either applied automatically if purchasing online, or applied for at a later date if purchasing the boxed version from an Apple Store.

I’m interested to know whether you think the new features justify a $29 upgrade? I think they certainly make Bento far more appealing, though I would have very much liked to see the inclusion of Events in iPhoto integration.

What are your thoughts?


Add Yours
  • I think that the upgrade price is criminal. DB application that lacks basic security and encryption is useless. I have Bento2 but will not be upgrading to 3 as I found it to be a huge disappointment. Honestly for what it is Evernote does the job equally well.

  • At least there is an upgrade price this time! The sharing and security features are huge! They actually make me want to use Bento now.

    Here’s something I’ve wanted to see, and it’s omission feels like a huge oversite: the ability to change the icon of a library, ala Yojimbo, or any other modern Mac productivity app. Can’t stand all the red books!

  • I just don’t understand what Bento can be used for? I understand it is a Database app?

    • There is a new ability in Bento 3 to switch library icons to any of the icons included in the application. You can’t yet import external icons or create your own custom icons though so may not be what you want, but at least you can switch away from the red book to one of about 30 other icons.

    • There are a couple of good ways to figure out what Bento is for.

      Go to this page and look for the box titled “Use Bento 3 to do all this and more”

      There is a list of ideas. You can also click to see a view of all the ready-to-use templates included with Bento 3. And there is another link to the Bento Template Exchange which is an on-line site with hundreds of additional templates you can download.

  • I think I’ll download a trial and check this out.

  • Quando teremos uma opção para geração de relatório e gráficos???

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