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When I do research I often find pieces of information (typically between 1-2 sentences) at different locations on the web. I would like be able categorize (or maybe link or tag) these snippets in some kind of searchable database.

The software does not need to be free. However I would prefer it not to be a web-based application (although if you know of some good web-based app for this purpose, I would like to hear about it).

Is there any good Windows software for this purpose?

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    Why not web based? The UI? Because you don't want that information on untrusted servers? – CodesInChaos Nov 30 '15 at 14:13
  • exactly, @CodesInChaos;-) – coderworks Nov 30 '15 at 15:24
  • @coderworks Answering 'yes' to a question that contains two wildly different reasons isn't very helpful. In particular the privacy argument also rules out native applications that upload your data to servers without proper encryption while the UI argument does not. – CodesInChaos Nov 30 '15 at 15:36
  • sorry @CodesInChaos, I meant "exactly, I prefer not to store my data online", and "no, it is not the UI". – coderworks Nov 30 '15 at 17:30
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There is ISO/IEC 13250:2003 standard for storing related information: topic maps

A topic map represents information using

  • topics, representing any concept, from people, countries, and organizations to software modules, individual files, and events,
  • associations, representing hypergraph relationships between topics, and
  • occurrences, representing information resources relevant to a particular topic.

Occurrences is to store the pieces of information you have found on web and topics with associations are used to organise them into database.


There are currently two alive realizations for that standard.

Wandora is a free desktop application written in Java. It already has a lot of extractors that could retrieve information from web.

wandora screenshot


Ontopia is a free web based application written in Java. It is more sophisticated than Wandora and support more features of the topic maps standards.

ontopia screenshot

screenshots on github.


I personally have used only the first mentioned software. It has clumsy interface and some actions requires too many clicks, but it works and allowed me to organise data.

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You might wish to take a look at Tomboy, which is available cross-platform for Linux, Mac and Windows – and even has mobile apps (e.g. Tomdroid for Android) to connect with:

Tomboy
Tomboy (source: Wikipedia; click image for larger variant)

As the screenshot shows, the GUI is a mix of notepad and wiki. You can connect notes, group notes, and even have them sorted hierarchically. Selected features include:1

  • Text highlighting
  • Inline spell checking using GtkSpell
  • Auto-linking of web and email addresses
  • Undo/redo
  • Font styling and sizing
  • Bulleted lists
  • Note synchronization over SSH, WebDAV, Ubuntu One, or the Tomboy REST API [3] that is implemented by several server applications

There are also several plugins available.

How it matches your requirements:

  • categorize (or maybe link or tag) snippets in some kind of searchable database: Check. That's exactly what Tomboy does.
  • does not need to be free: Won't hurt if it is, right? :)
  • not a web-based application: Nope, it's a native desktop version. Still, you can sync it across multiple devices, if the need arises.

1: taken from Wikipedia

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I recommend Evernote because it matches very well with your specific requirements.

Let's take a look at those requirements:

  • When I do research I often find pieces of information (typically between 1-2 sentences) at different locations on the web. I would like be able categorize (or maybe link or tag) these snippets in some kind of searchable database.

Evernote will allow you to quickly save each snippet using the Evernote Web Clipper. Both the Windows and OS X desktop clients will allow you to assign multiple tags to each note.

tag example

Source: https://help.evernote.com/hc/articles/208314388
  • The software does not need to be free.

Evernote allows up to 60MB of notes to be stored on their servers for free. After that, you will need to pay. Currently, offline notebooks are very limited in the free version as well.

  • However I would prefer it not to be a web-based application (although if you know of some good web-based app for this purpose, I would like to hear about it).

Evernote has dedicated desktop clients as well as a web client. They also have Android and iOS apps. You are free to use whichever combination of products you like to create and access your data.

  • Some kind of searchable DB

All text entered in Evernote is fully searchable. With their paid products, you can even search for text within images, as it automatically performs OCR.

In the past, I successfully used Evernote for similar tasks as you are attempting to accomplish. At times, I was frustrated by bugs and functionality limits, but even recalling those issues, I can still recommend it.

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  • I highly recommend this software as well. Most of the time I want to make a note, it is coming off of a web page. The Evernote Webclipper is well suited for this and allows you to enter and categorize the note quickly. – Paul Zepernick Nov 30 '15 at 15:05
  • Can you use evernote without uploading your data to their servers? The OP clarified that their desire to avoid web based solutions due to privacy concerns, a native application that uploads everything suffers from the same problem. – CodesInChaos Nov 30 '15 at 17:59
  • @CodesInChaos That's an excellent question. You can set notebooks to be offline. I do not know how that limits functionality. Anybody who knows is welcome to add to the answer. – RockPaperLizard Nov 30 '15 at 22:39
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It sounds like you are looking for Evernote which is an online service, free for basic, with browser plug ins which allow you to clip a link, page, screenshot or selection to your Evernote collection. It includes mechanisms to organise, share, discuss and search your clips.

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  • Hi Steve! I started editing your answer, but I edited so much, I decided it was better to create another answer. I hope you don't mind. – RockPaperLizard Nov 30 '15 at 13:45
  • @RockPaperLizard - No problem - your answer is much more extensive than I had time to do - had to set off for work. It is the answer that matters not who gets the "points" after all. – Steve Barnes Nov 30 '15 at 18:43
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You can try Flamory. It will save selected text from a web page or a local file on double-copy.

In addition, it will save a screenshot, so you can visually find the needed snippet. You can later find the place you saved by any words from your selection or the web page itself.

It automatically groups saved pieces into topics, based on the links between the pages. So, if you do a web research in some area, and save several places, it is likely that they will end up in one topic.

It saves everything locally on your PC and is free for personal use.

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