I have a large amount (a couple thousand) of rather small text files with short notes or stories. I use them to generate ideas on topics I'm writing about. My problem is that these are just text files on my computer; there is no index and no database. Every time I write something, I add new files.

I'm looking for a software that can manage all those snippets and has a full text search engine built in. The best solution would be something that I can run on a server, so that I can access my library from anywhere.

What are you guys using? How are you mastering your snippet collection?

  • it sounds like you need a relational database program; I only know about FileMaker. – Lauren Ipsum Apr 15 '16 at 10:11
  • I do not use it, so this isn't an answer, but I've heard many writers exist by using Scrivener. It sounds like it can do what you need, though it is a program, and not a server-based application. You might look into it. literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php – Thomas Myron Apr 15 '16 at 18:31

I use Evernote and MS One Note for all of my writing work. You can make separate/unlimited notebooks for everything, save web pages and items from the web. You are also able to search all your text in both. You are able to make audio files in both that you are also able to search. In Evernote, you are able to create tags for all of your work that makes it easier to search and catalogue everything also. Both of these programs are great for writers and they both work on all platforms and there are both free and premium versions. OneNote is part of Office 365, but there is also a web version which is free. They are laid out differently, it just depends on which one you like best. I use them both for different things, especially when I am doing research on the web - I use EverNote when I am using Google/Android and OneNote when I am using Explorer/Edge.
You are able to access your files/Notebooks from anywhere/device/platform.

  • I use Evernote and OneNote. It is worth noting that searching notes on Evernote on your phone is not a good experience and that other search programs do not necessarily find items in OneNote: you have to open the program itself, however you can export files in formats such as pdf that can be searched easily. – S. Mitchell Apr 15 '16 at 18:52
  • how would i import several thousand files into evernote? someone did that before? – tony994 Apr 16 '16 at 9:23
  • I'd exercise caution when saying that both Evernote and OneNote work on all platforms. It'd probably be better to say they're supported on most platforms. – TriskalJM Apr 20 '16 at 13:17

Windows will already do this for you if you just turn on the search contents option.

-Open any folder

-Go to Tools / Folder Options

-Select the Search Tab

-Check the radio button for Always search file names and contents.

The search will take longer than normal and the results aren't going to be really beautiful, but it'll give you what you want.

If you're not using Windows, you can still do this - just do a google search for "Search in Text files linux/mac" and you'll get a bunch of answers.


I haven't used it for exactly this kind of thing, but I'd recommend Confluence. It's a wiki software that does full-text searching of everything in it (even attached files). I use it primarily for storing a large collection of PDFs. It's fast, and it's intended to be installed on a server. The $10 for the cheapest license is very affordable for the functionality you get.

  • thanks for the recommendations. How did you add your pdf collection? Is there a filesystem crawler? – tony994 Apr 16 '16 at 9:21
  • I added them over time, but it's a plugin architecture, so someone might have written a filesystem crawler. – TriskalJM Apr 16 '16 at 10:57

The Literary Machine (http://www.literarymachine.com/) is exactly about storing, finding, and connecting lots of small texts (and more). I never used it much, but the concept was very nice, so it is not really a recommendation, but a research hint. It is local, not server, Windows, I presume. The current version is free (see the download page) but a little old.

  • thanks for the recommendation. Its looks good, but as you said, it's windows only. Will see if I can work around this. – tony994 Apr 16 '16 at 9:23

protected by Standback Apr 18 '16 at 19:55

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