Serial Numbers, Bloody Serial Numbers

License KeeperFor a software junkie such as myself, managing serial numbers can be a task requiring planning and dedication. Even if you’ve got just a couple dozen different pieces of software and shareware, keeping track of licensing information can be quite a hassle.

That’s why I’ve always been amazed at the dearth of software serial number management applications for the Mac platform. Historically, I’ve tended to manage serial numbers in mammoth Excel spreadsheets. More recently I’ve been trying to keep all my information together in Bare Bones’ Yojimbo notes app. On the one hand, Excel gives me all the flexibility in the world to track information as I want to, while Yojimbo forces me into a narrow world with very restrictive options.

Either way, however, is imperfect. Software serial number management is a simple process with just enough data quirks to demand a particular management process and neither Excel nor Yojimbo are quite right for the task.

So after years of frustration and time wasting, a new pieces of shareware that hit the scene last month was more than a welcome discovery – it was much-needed solution to a bitter problem.

License Keeper from Boston-based Outer Level is the killer app for managing personal serial numbers. This perfect little piece of software combines powerful functionality with simple operation and presents it in a traditionally attractive Mac OS interface.

License Keeper integrates with Mail, Entourage, or PowerMail and can suck serial numbers and other licensing information right out of individual messages. It will also duplicate and store email messages with serial numbers in the database so you never have to go digging through your inbox again. If you’re a visual thinker, like me, and tend to identify apps as much by sight as name, License Keeper can import the icon of each app you’ve licensed.

A recent update makes it compatible with application plug-ins, such as for Photoshop and iPhoto, and it can also register Preference Panes and Widgets automatically. Furthermore, License Keeper will keep track of your software order history and allows you to attach virtually any kind of file to a license record.

License Keeper’s $20 license fee is a small price to pay to protect even the smallest library of software serial numbers.

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