Everyone knows that computer applications and programs can be very expensive. Some tools are worth the extra cost. However, today I’m going to list out my top 10 (or so) free productivity tools that I use on a daily basis to improve my workflow.
LogMeIn – Allows you to access computers remotely. I probably use this at least once a week. This is my go to program for troubleshooting since I can be anywhere yet still seem like I’m sitting right next to someone while fixing a problem. This has saved me more money in gas and time than I could think of. It’s extremely easy to setup and free to use. Right now I have it installed on 22 computers and can access any one of those within 2 minutes. Talk about convenience! They even have an Android App (but it costs $30)
Filezilla – My new favorite FTP client program. I’ve tried several different ones but this one is open-source and constantly being improved. Just so you know, open-source means that the developer released all the programming code so it can be edited by anyone. The advantage to this is you essentially have created a team of developers from around the world. Pretty neat but of course it limits your ability to make any money off the program. I’m not complaining though. So you might ask “what is FTP?” or “why do you need an “FTP program?”. Well, usually it’s the web developers that use them most. It allows you to copy files from your computer to a server. There are lots of uses for them but if you ever need to move a file from one computer to another then FTP is going to be your primary means of doing it.
Notepad++ – This is the program that I’ve done the majority of my editing in. It’s open-source too and has developed quite a community of fans. Several plugins are out there for it and if you do any type of programming I highly suggest trying it out. If you are in the Mac world, then the text editor that I’ve started using in the past 2 weeks is TextMate. It’s incredible! It costs $53 but worth every penny in my opinion.
Evernote – This is one of those apps that you can’t say enough about. There is a version for about any type of computer or internet device available. I specifically use it for all the business cards I get since it has a built-in OCR tool (which means it can convert images to text to make it searchable/readable by a computer). I take a picture of a business card and send it to Evernote and then anytime I need to find it all I have to do is search for it. I keep my personal wishlist on there as well as notes for home projects I need to do. There are so many uses for this program that I really can’t list them all. So you should give it a try and I’m sure you’ll find some cool applications for it.
SyncBack – Syncing and backup software. I’ve been using SyncBack for a while now. They have free and paid versions available. So far the free version has all the advanced settings I’d need. So how do I use it? Let’s say you have an external hard drive. It can be a pain to remember to copy your files over each time well this application can keep the files synced and you can schedule it to run at anytime. It will send you email confirmations of whether the backup was successful or not and can even backup to a remote location. Very powerful stuff and the best part is it’s all automated!
CutePDF & PDFsam – These together makeup my own PDF suite. CutePDF allows you to make a PDF from any file or website. It adds a “PDF Printer” to your printer drop down list which allows you to create a PDF in a few seconds. PDFsam provides the ability to split, merge and extract any page(s) out of a PDF document. This tool makes it very easy to replace pages and organize a PDF document.
TweetDeck – This keeps all my twitter information in one place. Of course, it helps to have a Twitter and TweetDeck pro on the other side of the room (@ReneeRevetta). She introduced me to this app and she’s my go-to-source for questions. I love integration and when one tool can replace a bunch of other tools and you can work even faster, well, then I’m all for it!
Digsby – Instant Messaging has been around for what seems like forever. I remember being amazed the first time I saw AOL and how I could chat with someone through text. Look how far we’ve come now. Well those old AIM chats have been replaced by many other copycats (probably most of all by GChat – Google’s version). Digsby is my main application for all internet chatter in the office (other than email). It allows for easy access to each coworker for question/answer sessions as well as just checking up. I can sync up my social network profiles as well as several different instant messaging platforms including GChat. Google Talk and Trillian are two other favs!
VLC Media Player, IrfanView, GIMP/Paint.NET – This collection makes up my open-source media suite. VLC Media Player’s slogan is “It Plays Everything!” and they aren’t kidding. I haven’t had a single video file that I haven’t been able to open. It’s a lot faster than Windows Media Player and I rarely have to get any extra plugins to play anything. IrfanView is the equivalent to VLC in the picture arena. It can open almost any photo/picture file. My favorite feature of IrfanView is the ability to do bulk resizing of an entire set of images. Lastly, I’ve been using GIMP for some time. GIMP and Paint.NET are the free equivalents to Photoshop. I’ve been pleased with GIMP but have been reading about some advantages to Paint.NET so I’m currently testing it out to see what I think. I’ve heard GIMP has a lot of advanced features but Paint.NET is easier to use.
Dropbox – Now this is my favorite. I can share files with anyone by just dropping them into a folder. The application does the rest. Simple, fast and easy would explain the process. Install the program, drop a file into the “Dropbox” folder and pick people to share that folder. You can also just use it to share files with yourself. So you can install the program on your work computer and your home computer to stay in sync. Dropbox also provides an online site you can access files from wherever you have an internet connection.
Well there you have it…my favorite computer apps for 2010! Give a few of them a try and let me know any other apps that you love.