Encircle Review — An Easy Way to Inventory Your Belongings
Take a second to think about all of the things that you own. If you’re like most people, chances are that you’d be hard-pressed to make a comprehensive list of these items — let alone price them out if need be. While it may not be top of mind, there are actually some major benefits to taking an inventory of your home, ranging from renters insurance claims to keeping track of moving progress. Luckily, the free app called Encircle makes it easy to inventory your items and catalog photos of your possessions.
Let’s take a look at how Encircle works and how it might be able to benefit you.
What is Encircle and How Does it Work?
Signing up (and choosing the correct option)
It’s important to note that Encircle actually offers a variety of products for all kinds of professionals. However, the home inventory product we’ll be discussing today is geared toward renters and homeowners. More importantly, it’s also free to use. Therefore, when navigating Encircle’s site or preparing to set up an account on their app, make sure you select the correct options — and don’t enter any payment information.
With that out of the way, setting up an Encircle inventory account is quite simple. In fact, all you’ll need to do is enter your email address and create a password. Encircle will also send you an email to confirm your account but, other than that, you’ll be all set to start your inventory.
Adding properties, rooms
After logging into Encircle, the first step is to add a new property. To do this, simply tap the “Add Property” button and either select from the list of property types or enter a custom title. From there, you can begin adding rooms to inventory — or start with the exterior. For the former, once again, you can choose from a list of common room options or type a room name of your own.
Taking photos and videos
Drilling even further down, you can then add items to a selected room. When you tap “Add item,” you’ll be asked to give Encircle access to your phone’s camera so that you can snap pictures of your belongings. Alternatively, you skip the photo-taking process or choose an image from your phone’s gallery instead.
One aspect of Encircle’s photo inventory workflow I really appreciate is that, after snapping a picture, you’ll have the choice to add notes right away, continue to the next photo, or tap “done” to exit the camera. This gives you a variety of options for going about your inventory as you see fit. Personally, I like the idea of taking photos of everything in one area first and then entering the info afterward — but it’s completely up to you. In any case, once you exit the camera, you’ll see that your room is populated with your various items and photos. You can then tap on any one of these to edit the details, add notes, and find pricing info.
Notes and other info
As I mentioned, tapping on a given photo will allow you to edit the information for each item. Some of the data categories offered include:
- Item description
- Model and serial numbers (with the option to add a photo)
- Purchase date
- Receipt info (with the option to add a photo)
- Warranty information
- and more
On top of all that, by tapping the Notes button, you can attach additional text or photo notes to an item. In other words, there are plenty of options for ensuring that you have all of the relevant info about a given item in one place.
Another cool feature of Encircle is that the app has created a clever tool for helping you find the value of your items. When you tap the “Prices” button, you’ll first be asked what country you live in before being served a list of retailers to search from. If you don’t see your preferred store offered, you can also elect to run a Google search or enter the site you want Encircle to open.
What’s neat about this tool is that it will use information you’ve already entered in order to find a match. For example, if I put “MacBook Pro” as the item’s title, it will then search for Apple MacBook Pros. Then, as it identifies prices displaying on a page, it will highlight them in yellow. Tapping a price will then give you the option to apply that value to your item.
While this system works pretty well overall, it’s not always so simple to find an actual value. If all else fails, you can always manually enter a value. Still, it’s a nice feature for the app that can hopefully help you at least get a ballpark figure.
Syncing and using the desktop site
Up until this point, I’ve been sharing a walkthrough of Encircle’s mobile app. However, it turns out that their desktop website is quite useful as well.
Using the email address and password you use for the app, you can login to Encircle’s site. What’s great is that all of your photos and info will sync between the two mediums. Because of this, you may find it easier to take all of the photos you need on your phone and then move to the desktop site for data entry.
Finally, whether you’re using the mobile app or desktop site, Encircle allows you to generate PDF or Excel reports of your inventory. In the app, this can be done by tapping the three-line icon in the upper right corner, selecting “Documents,” and then “Generate Report.” For a PDF report, you’ll have a few additional options, such as the ability to include a cover photo, selecting whether or not you want a table of contents, and much more. Meanwhile, the Excel report will allow you to deselect any items you don’t want to include. In either case, your generated reports will show in your Documents section where you can view them as well as forward them via email, messages, cloud storage options, etc.
As for the desktop site, the options are mostly the same, however you’ll find the reports by navigating to the Overview section and scrolling down to documents. Additionally, the Spreadsheet tab will provide you something akin to a “living” version of the Excel document where you can edit the field for your item and perhaps preview what your exporting report will eventually look like.
Uses for Encircle App
As I mentioned, the reason I first came across Encircle was because I figured it’d be good to have an inventory of my stuff in case I ever needed to file a renters insurance claim. However, even before this necessity might arise, I think the app could be useful for determining how big of a renter insurance policy you need in the first place. To be honest, when I first purchased a policy, I had no idea how much my belongings actually totaled up to. Thus, I think those considering renters insurance should take the time to inventory first and then make their policy decisions from there.
Another potential implementation for Encircle is ensuring that all of your belongings make it with you during a move. Whether you’re hiring movers or doing it all yourself, it’s easy for boxes or loose items to get misplaced. Therefore, having an easy-to-generate checklist could certainly be useful. Similarily, I could also see using your inventory to creating a packing plan ahead of time — potentially avoiding the dreaded “random” boxes that always seem to plague my moves.
In the same vein, if you’re looking to do some spring cleaning or otherwise pare down your possessions, having a master list of all of your stuff can certainly help guide that effort. Since you can add notes to Encircle, you can even create digital “keep,” “donate,” and “trash” boxes. Speaking of donating, having the value of your items totaled can be useful since your donations might be tax deducible.
Final Thoughts on Encircle
Overall, I’ve been really impressed with how comprehensive and powerful Encircle is — especially considering that it’s a free tool. With a bevy of customizable options, there are several ways to make the app work for you. That said, I will admit that some parts of Encircle can be a bit overwhelming and are likely geared more towards pros. My advice is to just overlook any section you don’t feel like filling out and keep it simple.
Ultimately, regardless of what you plan on using your home inventory for, I think that Encircle is a great tool for preparing it.
Also published on Medium.