tool tracking software Tips and tricks training guide
tool tracking software

This training guide covers the same material as the advanced Tracker Lite features streaming video tutorial. It's based on the sample data provided with the Tracker. If you're not using the sample data, contact us. We’ll help you set it up (if you're using the Tracker for real, we'll set it up separately from your real data and show you how to switch between the 2).

The best way to learn the Tracker is to watch a tutorial then immediately work thru the corresponding training guide, i.e., sit in front of your computer, type in the data that's asked for, push the buttons that are described, etc.

If you're not familiar with the Tracker, watch the basics tutorial first. That tutorial covers basic features (adding inventory, checking items out to jobs, running reports) that aren't covered in other tutorials. Afterwards, the order you watch the tutorials isn't critical (with 2 exceptions: watch the advanced billing and repair & maintenance tutorials after watching the basic versions).

Covered in this training guide

  • The Tracker help system
  • Some mechanics (keyboard keys, sorts, etc.)
  • Queries (complex finds)
  • Bulk change
  • Advanced check in and check out features
  • A few options
  • Other edit windows
  • Vehicle tracking
  • Previous locations
  • Backup and rebuild
  1. Start the Tracker. If you're running the demo version, click DEMO then TRACKER LITE.

  2. Select HELP CONTENTS from the HELP menu. Headings are represented with a book icon, individual pages with a question mark. Double click on a heading to open up its contents.

    The help system includes an overview, installation and startup info, along with descriptions of each version of the Tracker (Lite, Construction, Tool Crib, and Maintenance) and our optional modules.

  3. You can print individual help pages or groups of pages. Click PRINT at the top of the page and a window will appear, asking which you want.

  4. Search for key words by clicking on the SEARCH tab, typing in the word(s) you want, and pressing ENTER or clicking LIST TOPICS. Double-click on the topic you want to display it.

  5. Click the 'X' in the upper right corner of the help window to close the help window.

  6. Click the INVENTORY button.

  7. Many people like to move around the screen without using a mouse. Press TAB when the highlight is in the grid (like it is just after opening the Inventory window): the highlight moves to the right. Press SHIFT+TAB (hold down the SHIFT key then press TAB): the highlight moves to the left. Press CTRL+TAB: the highlight jumps out of the grid to the ADD button. Press TAB repeatedly: the highlight moves thru the other buttons then returns to the grid, where it goes to the right.

    Now press CTRL+SHIFT+TAB: the highlight lands on the CLOSE button. Press SHIFT+TAB repeatedly: the highlight moves thru the other buttons then returns to the grid, where it goes to the left.

    TAB goes to the right in a grid, down and to the right in a window. SHIFT+TAB goes to the left in a grid, up and to the left in a window. When the highlight is in a grid, holding down CTRL and either TAB or SHIFT+TAB will cause the highlight to jump out of the grid.

    We recommend using TAB instead of ENTER to move around grids and windows.

    • Under some circumstances, ENTER changes data. For example, if you press ENTER when a checkbox is highlighted, the box will change as if you had clicked on it.
    • CTRL+ENTER and CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER don't jump out of grids.

  8. ESC generally closes windows. Press ESC and the Inventory window will close. Click the INVENTORY button to re-open the window.

  9. The underlined letters you see in buttons are hot keys. Pressing the ALT key and the underlined letter is the same as clicking that button. Press ALT+F to open the Find window. Press ALT+C to close it.

    Some hot keys aren't displayed on buttons. You have to use the Tracker often enough to remember they're there. Click on the TRACKER menu and you'll see some hot keys that duplicate buttons, e.g., ALT+I. But you'll see at least one that doesn't: ALT+O for Edit or Add to Order. Click on the OTHER button at the bottom of the Inventory window and you'll see another hot key that isn't in a button: ALT+Y for Copy. Press ALT+C or ESC to close the window.

  10. You can customize grids in temporary and permanent ways. If you hold the mouse over the line separating 2 columns (between 2 column headings), a special cursor will appear: click the mouse and drag to the left or right to decrease or increase the width of a column. Click on a column heading and drag it to the left or right to re-position it. Click on the black bar at the bottom left corner of the grid and drag to the right to 'split' the grid. These are temporary changes. Close the Inventory window and re-open it and the changes will be gone.

  11. There are 4 pre-defined, permanent grid layouts. Select GRID LAYOUT from the WINDOW menu and click on VERTICAL for an example. The choice you make here is global: every window and every user will be displayed with the layout selected here. Select GRID LAYOUT from the WINDOW menu and click on HORIZONTAL to return to the default layout.

  12. Click on a column heading and your data will be sorted by that column. Click on DESCRIPTION and your data will be sorted alphabetically (ascending from a to z) by description. The Title at the top of the window tells you the current sort order. Click on DESCRIPTION again and your data will still be sorted by description, but now the order is descending from z to a (some data may 'flip' above the top of the grid: scroll up to see it).

  13. Tracker popups behave differently under different circumstances (described in the help system under TRACKER BASICS (TRACKER LITE), EDIT AND TRANSACTION WINDOWS, POPUPS). One behavior worth noting is: if a popup is open, you can type multiple letters and the highlight will jump to match. Click in the DESCRIPTION field then on the down-arrow at the right of the field to open it. Type S and the highlight will jump. Press TAB, ENTER or SPACE and the highlighted value will be selected.

  14. Click on the FIND button. One-column finds or searches were covered in the Tracker basics tutorial and training guide. Here, we'll talk about finds or queries that use more than one column and/or comparisons other than 'begins with' or 'equals.'

  15. Temporary queries are created, used and discarded. Reusable queries are saved for repeated use. The mechanics are the same, so we'll create a reusable query.

    Click the white 'radio button' to the left of CREATE, EDIT OR RUN A REUSABLE QUERY the click OK. If no reusable inventory queries have been created, a window will appear saying so: click OK. If one or more queries have been created, a window will appear listing them by title: click ADD.

  16. Type in a title: PU TRUCK LOCATION TO BE ENTERED then click OK.

  17. The window that appears lists all the fields in the inventory table. ID will already be selected. All our pickup trucks' IDs begin with PUTRUCK, so we can find them using the ID. Click NEXT STEP.

  18. The window that appears lists comparisons ('greater,' when using character data, means 'after, alphabetically;' 'less' means 'before'). BEGINS WITH will already be selected. Click NEXT STEP.

  19. Type in PUTRUCK and click DONE.

  20. The window that appears displays your query. We want to add another condition, so click ADD.

  21. A window appears, asking if you want to join the first and second parts of your query with 'and' or 'or.' Click AND.

  22. Select LOCATION, click NEXT STEP, leave BEGINS WITH selected and click NEXT STEP, the, when you reach step 3, click on ASK LATER. When we run the query, the Tracker will ask for a location. This is handy. You can create a complex query and fill in the specifics when you run it.

  23. The window that displays your query will appear. Click RUN. A window will appear, asking if you want to run the query now. We want to simulate a situation where you call up a previously-created query. So click NO. A window will appear, telling you how to run the query later. Click OK then CLOSE.

  24. You'll still be in the Inventory window. Click FIND, CREATE EDIT OR RUN A REUSABLE QUERY then OK.

  25. If you've created more than one reusable query, they'll be listed. If so, click on the query you just created. Click RUN.

  26. The system will ask for a location. Type J and click DONE.

    The one-column ‘begins with’ finds described in the basic tutorial behave differently in edit windows than queries. A one-column ‘begins with’ find will sort your data using the column you've selected then display the first match. All your data will still be displayed. Queries are different. They only display the data that actually matches your conditions.

  27. Click FIND (noting that the word FIND turned blue to indicate that a find is active). Your query is displayed. Click CLEAR THE CURRENT QUERY then OK and all your data will be displayed (some may be 'above' the top of the grid; scroll up to see it).

  28. Click the OTHER button, BULK CHANGE, OK. Bulk change is useful if you want to change a group of records in the same way at the same time.

  29. A window will appear, suggesting that you back up. We URGE you to back up before using this feature with real data. If you make a mistake, the easiest way to recover is with a backup. For now, click NO.

  30. A window will appear, explaining that you'll select the field or column you want to change in the following window. Click OK, choose COST from the FIELD popup, then click OK again.

  31. Enter 30000 as the new cost and click OK.

  32. A window will appear, explaining that you'll select the records you want to change in the following window. Click OK, type PUTRUCK (you're not limited to one-column 'begins with' searches; you can use temporary or reusable queries with the bulk change utility), then click OK again.

  33. A confirmation window will appear, describing what's about to happen. Click OK and check out the results: the cost for everything whose ID begins PUTRUCK will have changed to $30,000. Then click CLOSE to close the Inventory window.

  34. Select EDIT OR ADD TO ORDER from the TRACKER menu. In the window that appears, click on the arrow in the ORDER popup. A list of past orders will appear, most recent first. Click on the most recent order then on OK. The order you selected will appear in the transaction window, where you can add or delete inventory, edit the existing entries, or re-print a shipping tag.

  35. The LOCATION NOW field in the header grid limits searches to the location you enter. Enter a job number in LOCATION NOW and click FIND (a window will appear, asking if you want to save your changes: click YES). The Tracker will automatically create a find: LOCATION BEGINS WITH the job number you entered. Click OK.

    If 2 or more items have been transferred to the location you enetered, they'll appear in a window. You can transfer them all by clicking SELECT ALL then ADD. If just one item is at the job you entered in LOCATION NOW, that item will be added to the detail grid. If no inventory is at the job you entered, a message will appear, telling you so.

    LOCATION NOW is handy when checking items in: you can limit your search to inventory at a particular job. If you want to return everything at that job, you can do so with 2 mouse clicks: SELECT ALL and ADD. LOCATION NOW is also handy when checking items out: you can limit your search to inventory at a particular storage site.

  36. Click CLOSE to close the transaction window then click on the UTILITIES menu, on OPTIONS then on TRACKER (the menu in the tutorial says TRACKER LITE). The Tracker Options window will appear.

    If DEFAULT CO LOC is checked, the Tracker will automatically fill in LOCATION NOW with your default storage site when you're checking items out (default co loc stands for 'default checkout location').

    Other options in this window include AUTO PRINT TAGS (automatically print shipping tags when you close the transaction window). The TAG HEADERs appear at the top of shipping tags and are normally filled in with your company name and address.

  37. FAST ENTRY is useful if you enter entire IDs when you check items out. Click FAST ENTRY then OK.

  38. Click the TO JOB button.

  39. Type JOB 1 and press ENTER.

  40. When Fast Entry is on and you press ENTER in the TO column, the Tracker acts as if you'd clicked the SAVE & ADD button: a row is added to the detail grid. Type PUTRUCK3 and press ENTER. The Tracker acts as if you'd clicked SAVE & ADD again: if PUTRUCK3 is in storage, it will be added to the order and another row added to the detail grid.

    When Fast Entry is on, you can enter ID after ID quickly without clicking a button or touching a mouse. This is particularly useful if you're using a stationary barcode reader (one that's attached to your computer): scanning a tool ID is, from the computer's perspective, exactly the same as typing it in and pressing ENTER. So you can scan ID after ID without ever touching your keyboard.

  41. Click CLOSE to close the transaction window. Click the UTILITIES menu, OPTIONS, TRACKER, uncheck FAST ENTRY, then click OK.

  42. Select ABANDON INVENTORY from the TRACKER menu. If you abandon inventory, it will remain in the Tracker but its location will be ABANDONED. The Abandon window works just like any other transaction window. Click SAVE & ADD, type in PUTRUCK2 and click SAVE.

  43. Click on the INVENTORY button. The abandoned item's location is now ABANDONED. You can find your abandoned items by searching for LOCATION BEGINS WITH ABANDONED.

  44. There are 2 canned Abandoned inventory reports. Click on the REPORTS menu, INVENTORY, ABANDONED, SORTED BY DESCRIPTION, SCREEN , OK. Check out the report then press ESC four times to close the report then the report setup, Inventory, and Abandoned windows. You should be back to the starting, blank Tracker screen.

  45. Some people want to know more than that a tool's been abandoned: they want to know if it was stolen, scrapped, is missing, etc. If you're interested in this level of detail, you can create fake storage sites for the categories you're interested in. Click on the TRACKER menu, OTHER EDIT WINDOWS, STORAGE SITES. One fake storage site (REPAIR, for 'being repaired') is included in the Tracker's sample data. Click ADD, type BROKEN, click SAVE then ADD then type STOLEN. Click SAVE then CLOSE.

  46. Click TO STORAGE and enter BROKEN in the TO column. Click SAVE & ADD, type PUTRUCK2 and click SAVE (if PUTRUCK2 is already in a storage site, you'll be asked if you want to transfer it: answer YES).

  47. Click on the INVENTORY button. PUTRUCK2's location will be BROKEN. Click on the REPORTS menu, INVENTORY, SORTED BY LOCATION WITH COST, SCREEN, FIND. Change the find to LOCATION BEGINS WITH BROKEN, click OK then OK again. The report will display just items that you've declared broken. Press ESC four times to close the report then the report setup, Inventory, and To Storage windows. You should be back to the starting, blank Tracker screen.

  48. Click the TRACKER menu, OTHER EDIT WINDOWS, DESCRIPTIONS. This is where the description list in the Inventory window is stored. You can delete, add and edit descriptions here. If you edit them, the Tracker will offer to change all existing matches to the edited value. Change PICKUP 1/2 TON to PICKUP 1/2 TON DIESEL and press TAB or ENTER. A window will appear, asking if you want to change the value everywhere it's used. Click YES then OK. Then click the INVENTORY button. Your pickups' description will have changed. Press ESC twice to close the Inventory and Descriptions windows.

  49. Click the TRACKER menu, OTHER EDIT WINDOWS, TOOL STATUS. This list appears in the Inventory window in the CONDITION or STATUS column. Click the INVENTORY button and scroll to that column. Click on the CONDITION popup then on its arrow to open the tool status list.

  50. Scroll to the VEHICLE column and check the box. If the VEHICLE box is checked, you can enter vehicle data. Enter a license number, state, expiration date (enter today's date) and license fee.

  51. Click the REPORTS menu, INVENTORY, EXPIRING LICENSES, SCREEN, OK. The expiring licenses report lists vehicles whose license will expire within the next 30 days (or that have already expired). Press ESC four times to close the report then the report setup, Inventory, and Tool Status windows. You should be back to the starting, blank Tracker screen.

    If you check LICENSE CHK in the Tracker Options window, the Tracker will check vehicle expiration dates every time you start the system; if any vehicle's license has expired or will expire in the next 30 days, a warning will appear, asking if you want to run the expiring licenses report.

  52. There are several ways to look up an inventory item's previous location(s). Click the REPORTS menu, INVENTORY, PREVIOUS LOCATION, SCREEN, OK. This report lists each item's most recent previous location (if the item has never been transferred, PREVIOUS LOCATION will be blank). Press ESC twice to close the report and the report setup window.

  53. You can get lists of previous locations in the History window or a History report. For example, select EDIT HISTORY form the TRACKER menu. Each inventory item's previous locations are displayed in the location column. Press ESC to close the window.

  54. The Tracker's backup utility compresses your data into a file that's stored on your hard disk (or, if you're accessing data on a server, on the server's hard disk; backups are stored in an olddbs folder in your data directory). Backup files are named for the date and time they're created, e.g., 04291504.zip was createdon April (04) 29th at 3.4 pm. To backup, select BACKUP DATA from the UTILITIES menu. The rebuild function backs up your data then purges deleted data, re-indexes your files, and performs other housekeeping functions. It's a good idea to rebuild periodically (the system will prompt for a rebuild every few weeks). To rebuild manually, select BACKUP AND REBUILD DATA from the UTILITIES menu.

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