When Being Organized is Essential - Astonsoft’s EssentialPIM Review

Written by Paul Moons on . Posted in Software

EssentialPIM - Weekly ScheduleEssentialPIM is a Personal Information Manager for Windows (98/ME/ 2000/XP/2003/Vista) that manages all your contacts, appointments, notes and To Do lists to keep you organised and on track.

Read on to find out how I got on with EssentialPIM over the past two months.

While EssentialPIM is essentially a single application, it comes in the following similar, yet different, guises.

EssentialPIM Pro

Full version


EssentialPIM Free

Limited feature set


EssentialPIM Pro Portable

Full version; Portable - runs from USB drive


EssentialPIM Pro Portable (U3)

Full version; Works on U3 USB drives only


EssentialPIM Free Portable

Limited feature set; Portable - runs from USB drive


EssentialPIM Free Portable (U3)

Limited feature set; U3 USB drives only


EssentialPIM Pro Network

Full version; Collaborative workgroup use


The free versions are functional, but watered down incarnations of the “Pro” versions. As the name suggests, the Portable versions are able to run from USB drives (with U3 versions are tailored for drives which support Sandisk’s U3 system). The Network version – again, as implied by its name – is able to be used in a collaborative workgroup environment.

EssentialPIM - EPIM TodayWhile I specifically used version 2.72 of the Pro Portable variant for this review, I would suggest that due to the near identical nature of the different versions, the experience I had can be considered indicative of the entire line of EssentialPIM products.

Along with the base applications, EssentialPIM is also able to synchronise itself with Windows Mobile devices, Google Calendars, Palm based devices and Microsoft Outlook.  This functionality can be added via the purchase of addons. While discounts are offered when these addons are bundled, when purchased separately, each addon costs an additional $24.95US each.

EssentialPIM is light on resources and all versions require a measly 64MB RAM and 10MB of free hard drive space.


EssentialPIM - MenuEssentialPIM opens with the “EPIM Today” page which provides you with a handy at-a-glance view of what you have planned for the day ahead. The page is split into three columns, with the bulk of the page taken up by the middle column, providing a brief list of appointments. The left panel contains a list of actions specific to the page being viewed, followed by a short menu allowing the user to switch between EssentialPIM’s different sections (Schedule, To Do, Notes and Contacts). Beneath this menu is a small monthly calendar which provides quick access to each date’s daily schedule as well as an at-a-glance view of which days have events listed. The panel on the right contains the To Do list.

While I personally found this “EPIM Today” page to be an excellent PIM opening page, it is worth noting that EssentialPIM can also be set to default to the last opened view as the opening page.


While Personal Information Managers have expanded over the years to contain copious amounts of data, their main claim to fame is their ability to schedule events on a calendar. It is no surprise then, that the Schedule is the first menu entry under the “EPIM Today” page.

EssentialPIM - Schedule Entry

The schedule of events can be viewed by day, week, month, year and also as a table. The layout in each view is neat with events able to be colour coded and categorized to your liking. Adding a new schedule item is as easy as selecting the time frame you want with your mouse and entering the details into the resulting input box. Schedule items can be customized by category/colour, duration, location, start and end time, priority, completion level and can even contain attachments. When scheduling items, you are also able to create complex repeat patterns with ease. It is also worth noting that attachments can be linked or fully integrated into the database.

To Do

The To Do section is pretty much as you would expect: A straightforward listing of items that need to be completed. Along with basic time and date data, To do items can be customized through the addition of a colour/category, completion, priority and location data. Like schedule items, To Do items can also contain attachments.

To Do Items can be sorted and arranged in folders for easy retrieval and viewing.


EssentialPIM’s notes section allows easy access to short notes that are easily searchable.  A toolbar allows notes to contain basic formatting such as bold, italics and justification. Links can be inserted into notes as can images. For easy identification, notes can also have customized icons and be stored in hierarchies. Also, like schedule and To Do items, notes can also have attachments.


The contacts page of EssentialPIM simply lists your contacts as you would expect – except each contact is able to contain pretty much, as much information about your contact as you can muster.  And if by chance, the numerous fields provided are still not enough, contacts too may contain notes and attachments. Contacts are also searchable and can be easily grouped.

EssentialPIM - Contact EntryUSING ESSENTIALPIM
For the duration of the review, I kept EssentialPIM on a small USB drive attached to my keys. This portability was incredibly handy as I was able to view or edit my schedule whenever I had access to a computer. And due to EssentialPIM’s minimal hardware requirements, even the old hardware doorstops lying around the office managed to keep me organized.

There was no real learning curve and I found basic use was very easy to master. In fact, the TEST.epim file that is loaded on first launch is about as much instruction as you need to begin using EssentialPIM.

EssentialPIM - Schedule - Year ViewI tried out the Google Calendars addon - which allows synchronization to Google Calendar which resulted in limited success. While the schedule transferred without issue, the resulting calendar was stored as a single Google Calendar category which meant all my EssentialPIM category/colour customizations where unavailable online. While this addon did the job, it certainly did it



My overall experience over the past two months has been very positive. I found EssentialPIM very easy to use – and importantly - live with, day to day. From keeping my To Do tasks to maintaining an organised work schedule, EssentialPIM Pro Portable proved both capable, time efficient and very stable on the numerous machines we plugged our USB drive into.

While I was a little disappointed with the Goggle Calendar synchronization, I was very happy with the overall performance of EssentialPIM. Its ability to store and easily manage my data in a portable platform was excellent and genuinely assisted me in organising my schedule and information.

While I have a concern with the price/functionality of the tested Google Calendar addon, the core EssentialPIM application is one of those rare programs that is both useful and reliable enough to become an integral part of your daily routine.

Our Rating: a very good 9/10.

EssentialPIM Pro Portable can be purchased from the EssentialPIM website for $39.95US or downloaded for a free 30 day trial to see what all the fuss is about.

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