Could you recommend a QR/bar code based inventory/storage management app for a home with 3 storage spaces?

Our downtown city apartment is overflowing, and we rented a storage space a few streets away. To complicate things, we have a small storage space in the cellar and a large closet in our apartment which we use for storage.
We started moving things into and between the storage spaces, and it has become a nightmare trying to remember where things are stored.
We obviously tried creating lists in Numbers from the onset but it gets too tedious when things get shifted around between the storage spaces, and the lists end up not being up to date.
I know that QR/bar codes are not a magical solution. One still has to link the QR code to the object being stored at the onset, but it may make things easier when objects are shifted around between storage spaces.
I am looking for QR/bar code based inventory/storage management Mac OS app using an iOs device ideally iPhone based so I don’t have to start buying QR/bar code readers, etc
thanks in advance for your time and help
PS I left this message on the keyboard maestro outback forum but have no received any replies.

I’m a big FileMaker Pro fan, and a quick search for “filemaker pro bar code management” turned up a lot of solutions for designing databases or using add on. And you can use your iPhone to scan. Here’s just a very few:

https://www.idautomation.com/font-encoders/filemaker/#barcode-font-plugin

https://support.claris.com/s/article/Scanning-a-bar-code-1503693049711?language=en_US

FileMaker Pro is expensive, but it could be a way to manage inventory as well as generate and read barcodes. But I also stumbled upon what might be a free solution using FileMaker Go:

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Take a look at TapForms. I use it for several personal inventory tasks. (It has some form of barcode support, I’ve noticed in the documentation, but I’ve not utilized that feature.) https://www.tapforms.com

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I second TapForms. Really well designed, always adding features, and the developer is very responsive if you have issues or ideas for improvement.

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thank you very much for taking the time to write, including links. It seems great, but it’s expensive for me and subscription based.

thank you @jzw and @bb1 . Seems like a great avenue. My only small reservation is what happens if the go out of business in view of the fact that they seem to be a small firm. Is CSV export powerful enough to transfer all the data to another inventory app ?

@jzw and @bb1
thank you both again. I started working in the Mac OS version of tapforums.
Sorry for a naive question, but I must ask it before embarking on this project.
Let’s put the question of barcodes aside.
I am very familiar with Numbers. What is the added value of Tapforms. From the little I have seen, adding/changing fields, etc is much faster in Numbers.
Please understand that I understand am obviously missing something. I would just like to understand what it is I am missing.
thanks again very much

Though I can’t speak for Tapforms, for what you described, any database would be a more efficient and easier and more effective to search and sort than a spreadsheet. It sounds like you have a lot of items you’ve scanned and want to keep track of, and you need to be able to find and sort the right fields quickly and correctly. With a database you can find, cross reference, filter and sort complex searches lickety split. And you can easily link varied criteria between databases. You can link tables to tables; if you have an app that handles relational databases, and the good ones do, you can find and sort within multiple tables simultaneously.

Spreadsheets are designed to speedily manage and perform complex numerical calculations and tasks. They will easily get bogged down, or even crash, if you have a bunch of text fields. They might not be might not be able to handle complex text searches at all. And formatting text entries in a spreadsheet will be more time consuming. Reading results crammed into little cells within rows and columns will probably be quite challenging and annoying, if the spreadsheet can manage a complex text search at all. If you have a good app, you can design databases however you want, including stuff like linking text descriptions to images. There will be a learning curve, but even a can’t barely count, non techie like me managed to learn database development and management quickly.

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You need the full version of Filemaker (now Claris?) in order to create a custom database that runs under the free Filemaker Go app on an iPhone or iPad.
There might already be a paid solution out there for tracking stored items that you can install on an iOS device.
Here is screenshot from a Filemaker database that I simply copied to my iPad and opened with Filemaker GO


Filemaker solutions can even link to Google maps…

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thanks very much, but it’s simpy too expensive for me.

a very interesting comment. thank you

Another database app worth considering is Panorama from Provue. Its unique cost structure is based on usage but is fair in the Mac software universe. I don’t know if Jim Rea( its developer ) has added QR codes but the product is actively supported and updated ( and has been for decades on the Mac ).

When we remodeled our house, I just put stuff into numbered boxes and made a Numbers spreadsheet with one row per box, and noted specific items or keywords in as many cells as needed going across. Basic search for “bungee” or “Arduino” in Numbers takes me to the row with the box #. The handy thing is running the same doc on the phone and iPad. I only had 25 boxes but no reason it would work with 125. Ironically, I’m the author of a barcode scanning app (its called “LogScan”), but it wasn’t applicable for this purpose. Writing a number on a box works fine :slight_smile:

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Yes, that’s exactly what I intended to do using Numbers, but stopped in my tracks after reading @MMTalker 's comment above. Now I am confused ! thanks very much for your post.

You are very polite to thank me for confusing you :slight_smile: Databases are marvellous. Choose database over spreadsheet if you want more capability. Searching a spreadsheet is quite limited, just a word or two that needs to not appear too often. For example, I searched for “remote” and there were two hits. One was “EyeTV Remote” and the other was “Garage door remote.” The first search found one and I hit cmd-G to get the next. If I had 20 kinds of remotes and didn’t know the type I’d entered, spreadsheet search would be tedious.

So it depends on what kind of searching you expect to do and how much work to configure vs time you’d save. Would you enjoy customizing a database? Want reports? It can be a creative art if you’re into it. A database also opens quickly regardless of size.

I haven’t found spreadsheets to be crash-prone, at least not in Numbers. Mine are rarely large though.

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Now I understand. thank you.

Sorry, I forgot to respond to this. It depends a lot on what you need. An advantage of a database like Tap Forms is that you can easily customise the input fields. Some can be free text, some drop-down menus, some selection boxes, etc. So it can be quicker to enter things in depending on what you’re doing and how you’ve set up your form.

It’s also possible to link multiple ‘forms’ together. So you could have one where you list different locations, and another form has a field where you select a location from that list (though for such a simple example, you can use the ‘pick list’ input field type instead of a whole separate form).

If your needs are simple, a spreadsheet might be quicker and easier. But if you need more flexible field types and presentation, an easy to use database like Tap Forms quickly makes a big difference. It really depends on what you want.

For reference, when I last moved and had some things in storage, there ended up being three places where any given item could be. Every box was numbered with a prefix for the location (e.g. W01) and then I had a note in the Notes app that listed all the box numbers followed by the contents of that box. Syncs instantly between devices and is easy to edit. I used this for many months, and a simple search in the note located where something was when I wanted to find it.

So I would say even a spreadsheet can be overkill for what you’re doing. :wink: I’m definitely not advocating for a database if it’s more than you need. But if you are going to use one, Tap Forms is great and reasonably priced. Ultimately use what makes most sense for you both in terms of complexity and what you’re comfortable with. And keep it as simple as possible!

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You make excellent points. Thank you very much.
I bought TapForms Mac OS and ios based on your initial recommendation. At first I was disappointed because I don’t like working with templates for input. I prefer to have a bird’s eye view of the database and edit it directly, which I now see that I can do in columns view.
Yes, definitely, 90% of the work is the design/organization of the inventory system, not the actual tool used.
If I may go on a tangent: Tap Forms aside, because it is priced reasonably, I am astounded at the price of Mac OS database apps. FileMaker Pro is prohibitively expensive, and even Provue mentioned above ends up costing $100 a year which does not sound like much, but if I bought all my apps by subscription, if would end up with a hefty bill at the end of the each month.
thanks again for your post

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Some of us have to use databases for work :worried:. I have been using Filemaker for over a decade but refused to “upgrade” to their subscription system.
On a bright note, Microsoft Office 2021 will be available as a standalone, non-subscription purchase so I hope database vendors take note.

Hello, your post had me all excited, because I have MS 365 family which includes access. Unfortunately Access is part of the Microsoft 365 suite of products and is available for the PC only.
thanks anyways for an excellent suggestion