Making a home inventory — a record of everything you own — is a smart idea in case you ever have to file a home insurance claim. But listing every gadget, sheet set and article of clothing can be an overwhelming task.
Enter home inventory apps and templates designed to make the job faster and easier. I tested more than a dozen of them to find the ones that actually lived up to their promises.
Here’s what I was looking for:
Ease of use. Was the interface intuitive, or did it take a while to figure out how to add items and keep everything organized?
Efficiency. Because creating a home inventory can be so time-consuming, I prioritized apps that made the process quicker.
Useful features. Certain functions come in handy while creating an inventory, such as being able to scan barcodes or add multiple photos for a given item.
Ability to back up and share your inventory. You may want to email your inventory to yourself or share it with your partner, insurance agent or adjuster. I favored apps that made this easy.
Cost. Although I tested several paid apps, I found that the free ones were just as good — if not better. There are enough free options that homeowners generally shouldn’t need to pay to create a home inventory. As a result, I didn’t include any paid options in this list.
Based on these criteria, here are the best home inventory apps and templates I discovered.
Available for: iOS and Android.
Best feature: Ability to record all your belongings quickly while going into detail on the most valuable items.
Downside: Some features and terminology may be confusing because the app serves other users besides homeowners.
How it works: Encircle was designed primarily for insurance adjusters and home restorers who help make repairs after a disaster. But it ended up being my favorite app for home inventories because of how quick and easy it was to use.
As soon as you take a photo within the app, you get the option to take another one right away, without having to return to a main screen, hit “save” or add an item description. That makes it easy to capture an entire room within minutes.
For example, I snapped 34 photos of my kitchen, including views inside cabinets and drawers as well as wider shots of countertops and furniture. Then I listed a couple of higher-value items individually, such as my refrigerator, noting the brand and uploading a picture of the model and serial numbers. (You can also add further details such as the purchase date and price, the warranty period and the current estimated value.) Capturing the whole room took only about five minutes.
By combining overview photos for most of your stuff with individual listings for valuables, you can document everything in your house quickly and with the appropriate amount of detail. Bonus: You won’t spend all weekend doing it.
You can share a link to your Encircle inventory via email or text. Logging into the web version of Encircle also gives you access to a spreadsheet view. I liked the app’s “generate report” feature, which creates a PDF version of the inventory with pictures.
Available for: iOS and Android.
Best feature: Ability to keep track of more than just your stuff, including home services, warranties and even medical records.
Downside: If all you need is a quick home inventory, Itemtopia’s network of features might be overkill.
How it works: If you’re looking to keep more than just your belongings organized, Itemtopia might be a good app for you.
It has three categories you can document: items, services and family. Services might include things like receipts for past home repairs or contact info for your landscaper. Under family, you might upload vet records for your dog or appointment reminders for your kids.
To create a home inventory, go to the Items tab and create a space for your home. Within that space you can create subspaces for each room if you like, then start adding items. I liked the “quick add” feature, which lets you enter multiple items at once, along with their category (such as “furniture” or “electronics”) and a photo. You also have the option to upload a warranty or receipt.
You can share a CSV or PDF version of your inventory via email, text and various other channels.
For home inventory purposes, Itemtopia isn’t as efficient as Encircle. But if its other organizational features sound appealing, this app may be worth a try.
Available for: iOS and Android.
Best feature: Barcode scan for serial numbers.
Downside: Slightly clunky interface.
How it works: Developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, this app features expert tips that could help you if you ever need to file a claim.
The inventory section of the app is cleanly designed, with room suggestions that you can edit or delete. When adding items, you have the option to list the purchase date and price, a category (such as “electronics” or “large appliances”), and the brand.
One useful feature is the barcode scan, which will automatically fill in an item’s serial number if you hover your phone over the barcode. (Double-check the result, though — if the item’s label has multiple barcodes, the app may read the wrong one.)
You can also add multiple videos or images to each entry, which is handy when listing items in bulk. For example, if you’re including all your books as one entry, you can attach a photo of each shelf.
The interface has a few blips that make it less efficient than it could be. For instance, the purchase date defaults to the day you upload the item, so if you don’t know when you actually acquired it, you’ll have to take the time to clear that field. Plus, you have to tap the “save” button each time you edit an item or attach a photo. When you’re uploading hundreds of items, these extra steps add up.
You can export your inventory as a CSV file, which doesn’t include pictures, or a PDF file, which does.
Available for: Excel.
Best feature: Its comprehensive list of every household item you can imagine.
Downside: Doesn’t easily allow for photos and video to be added.
How it works: If you’d prefer to work with a home inventory template instead of an app, check out this comprehensive offering from United Policyholders, a consumer advocacy group. It saves you time by coming preloaded with hundreds of suggested items, divided into different tabs by room.
Scanning the list and noting the items you have is quicker than typing everything from scratch, and it can help jog your memory about small items you might’ve overlooked. The sheet includes columns for the year you acquired the item, how many you have and the cost. You can also add notes or a link to a photo.
The template’s been around for a while, judging by a few items on the sheet (cassette player, anyone?), so you’ll likely have to do some editing. And the sheet’s nitty-gritty level of detail may not work for all homeowners. For example, do you really need to list how many self-help books you have vs. sci-fi novels?
But it’s easy enough to delete irrelevant entries, and collectors may find the ultra-detailed tabs useful.
Perhaps the quickest way to create a home inventory isn’t by using an app or spreadsheet at all. Simply taking a video of each room of your house can be an efficient way to document everything you own. I tried it myself and got through two floors plus a garage and deck in about 30 minutes.