Tagging & Organizing Files With Yep

If you’re anything like me, your downloads folder is a huge mess of disorganized PDFs, Word documents, Keynote presentations and text files with uninformative names like form.doc and scan0111.pdf.

To clean up this mess, Ironic Software developed Yep, promising iPhoto/iTunes-like management for your documents

I’m a die-hard Alfred fan, and when I’m being good and giving my documents appropriate names, it’s a huge help. However, when I’m downloading and reading dozens of documents on a short deadline, all my good habits go out the window with my to-do list.

Yep claims to be the document organizer for the lazy and forgetful among us, find out if it delivers after the jump!

Getting Started With Yep

When you first open Yep, you’ll be prompted to import your current documents into Yep. I used the “auto-import” feature, and then found I couldn’t go back and check out the custom option… So I can’t report on that!

It took quite a while to import all my documents, and I only had about 300 on my new laptop. I found Yep’s handling of my current documents the clumsiest part of the interface, I felt like I pretty much had to start from scratch organizing my new documents and leave the old ones in disarray.

It would have been extremely helpful to be able to assign smart tags to documents with certain parameters, for example, automatically add the tag “essay” to anything in my essay folder, or add the tag “form” to any pdf with “form” in the title.

All my documents imported into Yep

All my documents imported into Yep

The Yep Workflow

Once you’ve got your old documents into Yep, managing new documents is significantly easier:

Downloading & Tagging Documents

To get documents into Yep, download normally from your browser/email client etc., and then reveal it in the finder

To tag the new document, simply drag it to the side of your screen and drop it into the box labeled “tag”. Next, enter your desired tags and hit enter. Your document can now be accessed through Yep using the assigned tag, but remains in your downloads folder and has not been copied.

One minor thing that bugged me about the tagging interface was that after entering one tag, you can add another by hitting “enter” or “space”, whereas other apps have made me used to hitting “tab” after adding a tag.

Dragging a document to the Yep tagging interface

Dragging a document to the Yep tagging interface

Adding tags to a document

Adding tags to a document

Filing Documents

Instead of simply tagging your documents and leaving them where they are, Yep gives you the option of having your documents automatically filed.

When you drag a document into the “file” box in the screen-side interface, it is filed into a directory in your documents folder called “Filed Documents” which is organized by year, month and date.

I didn’t understand what they meant by “filed documents” at first because it didn’t tell me where exactly they were being filed to, but now that I’ve figured it out, I file all my documents.

Dragging a file to the filing box

Dragging a file to the filing box

Navigating Yep

The Yep interface is designed to be iPhoto/iTunes-like, but I found it more like the Finder if it were organized by tags. On the left, there is a tag cloud, and at the top, powerful filtering options (by rating, date, type, location). Like the Finder, you can choose to view your documents in list or thumbnail view

One crucial feature I enjoyed was the integration of Quick Look into Yep. Since Yep has allowed me to be lazy with document names, I need the Quick Look preview to know what I’m looking at

In addition to the tag cloud, you can also display your folder structure to navigate as you would in the Finder

Displaying folder structure in Yep

Displaying folder structure in Yep

Other Organization Options

Ratings

In addition to the main tag-based organization method, Yep includes an iTunes-like rating system. You can give a document 1-5 stars, and then filter through your documents with rules like “less than 4 stars”.

I personally never use rating systems for organization, and it seems just to be there for the sake of the iTunes analogy, but some people might find this useful.

Bookmarks

You can also create browser-like bookmarks at the top of the window that are basically saved searches. Select any of file type, location, tag, and rating and save the search to a bookmark, and you can have quick access to, for example, all PDFs in the documents folder with the tag “forms”.

Bookmark manager

Bookmark manager

Test-Drive Results

I tested out using Yep as my primary means of document management while in the midst of my spring essay marathon this semester, since writing essays involves juggling notes files, source material, assignment instructions, and various drafts at once.

The rules were: I had to try to always use Yep for the first essay, but after that, if I reverted to the Finder/Alfred I would let myself.

After a bit of confusion on the first day of using Yep (where are my files going? What does “filed” mean? How do these bookmarks work?) I quickly grew accustomed to the workflow. As long as I remembered to tag a document as soon as I downloaded it, everything stayed well organized.

Being able to use Quick Look and launch documents directly from Yep allowed me to navigate through various studies, assignments and notes without leaving the Yep interface. I also appreciated how easy it was to rename documents without the awkward slow-double-click of the Finder.

Files related to my "Turing" essay

Files related to my "Turing" essay

Now that the essay marathon is over, I still use Yep, so I’d say it stands up to real-world scenarios.

Scanning and Creating Documents

Another major feature of Yep is scanner integration. I was unable to test this feature since my scanner is broken, but it promises faster scanning than Preview or the bundled software that came with your scanner.

Yep creates PDF files from scanned documents and lets you add tags and a description right away. I’m sure this would be an appreciated feature, I always hated my scanner’s software with its sloppy interface and TIFF file creation.

Yep can also create text documents from dragged text and images, just drag selected text or an image to the Yep dock icon, and it automatically creates a .txt file or an image file and files it away in its chronological filing system. This feature is especially useful for clipping text and images from webpages without having to bother with any “save as” or “new document” dialogs.

An image file and a text file created from dragging and dropping

An image file and a text file created from dragging and dropping

Conclusion

I started writing this review thinking it would turn out more negative than it did. All the issues I had starting out with Yep weren’t really about the usability of the app, but more about the confusing way it was presented on the website. It took me a while to figure out the download-drag-tag process, which could have been easily demonstrated on the website.

My biggest issue with Yep was the importing process, which was a one-shot affair that I couldn’t re-try with different settings or apply smart filters.

Since I already had a lot of documents on my computer, and have a limited attention span for organizing my computer, only the documents I’ve downloaded since using Yep are tagged. Yep would be much more useful to someone starting out on a new computer than someone with a hard drive filled with years of documents.

That being said, Yep certainly did save me time digging around for documents while writing essays, and would definitely be worthwhile for people who deal with a lot of PDFs and Word documents – like students, teachers, researchers, writers and anyone who wants more organization for less effort.

Is it worth $20? Hard to say. If you spend a lot of time working with documents, especially for work, then Yep could be a huge timesaver. If you’re responsible enough to name your files properly, you probably don’t need it.


Summary

Yep is an organizer for text-based documents like PDFs, iWork and MS Office files that allows for tag-based browsing without moving files or making unnecessary copies.

8
  • Jeff

    Be careful buying Ironic apps – most of them have gone a long time (over 6 months) with no updates or bugfixes. The ideas are always nice, but their software is not properly supported.

    • Jose

      I agree. I can’t remember the last time IronicSoftware updated LEAP. Not to mention an upgrade !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Regis

    That’s funny. I’ve been using Yep for one year now, and for the only feature you don’t talk a lot about: scanning documents. It does this job pretty well.

    I don’t use Yep for anything else, and I’m very happy about it.

  • http://jejohaneman.com Joe Johaneman

    If you’re just looking for tagging, you’re better off with something like Punakea. It’s much more lightweight, and it supports the same tagging system (OpenMeta tagging) that Yep does. I have both, and I generally tag with Punakea and that makes it easier to manage and find docs in Yep. And I agree with Jeff: Ironic doesn’t update nearly as often as they should.

    If you’re interested in Tagging in OS X, the OpenMeta project has a list of software that supports the standard.

    http://code.google.com/p/openmeta/wiki/OpenMetaApplications

    • Tessa Thornton

      I’m actually reviewing Punakea at the moment, and so far I’m actually not too impressed. Might take a little while to get used to I suppose.

  • Zydecopaws

    If you are looking to go paperless in your office, Yep is a great utility for scanning documents and is one of the easiest third-party interfaces to use. Scanner software is notoriously bad and difficult to use, regardless of whether it comes from the scanner vendor or a third party. Updates to older machines never seem to appear, and when they do finding them is a real chore.

    Yep has simplified all this by taking advantage of the native image capture functions in Snow Leopard and simplifying them even further. The automatic filing and ability to tag scanned documents is a huge time saver, especially when paired with a scanner or multifunction device that is has document feeder and duplex capabilities.

    IMO, you’ve done your readers a disservice by not testing an area that the application excels in. The $20 I spent on it was well worth it and has turned a home office overflowing with paper that had to be kept but would likely never get used again into one that only requires a very small filing cabinet to store those documents that absolutely must be retained in dead-tree form.

  • Mike Douglas

    In the review Tessa asks is the app worth $20. I decided to go buy it but when I got to the Ironic Software website it shows $40. Is there a discount code available?

    • Erich

      Try the Mac App Store. Prices are lower there.

  • Jose

    I have LEAP and, honestly, I hardly use it in spite of being a great application. If you have YEP or LEAP, you don’t need both
    Regards

  • Garrett

    BUYER BEWARE. I bought Yep based largely on this review and ignored MAS reviews. I shouldn’t have. App didn’t work as expected, wouldn’t recognize any files or auto-import. After looking at Iconic’s Support forum. This problem amongst others have been around a long time. This particular one since at least 2009. I uninstalled and cut my losses before wasting a bunch of time.

    I’ll check out Joe’s link above for other alternatives

    • RW49

      Did you go into Preferences/Advanced and “Rebuild Spotlight Indexes”? That should do the trick.

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  • strobes

    I find Yep! to be one of the truly indispensable programs for Mac. Been using it for a couple of years and this is the first time in my life I’ve been able to catalogue and find documents. The ability to scan directly (and quickly) to a PDF is superb and scan, file and shred are now part of my workflow. Truly paperless office.

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