With the ever increasing number of smartphones and computers, various applications are made for users for the purposes of entertainment, education, automation and productivity. We are gradually seeing diversity in the nature of modern applications as they have taken to various platforms especially the web.
Today I take the turn to give you my list of favourite and essential applications which help you increase productivity, organization, and all round make life better for you. These applications may be either platform dependent or independent.
Google Docs brings your documents to life with smart editing and styling tools to help you easily format text and paragraphs. Google Docs is a free and very powerful web application which works just like Microsoft Office Suite. With G Docs you can create fully fledged Word Documents, Spreadsheets, and Presentations and export them into different formats all with your browser.
With the extension for Google Chrome, you can create and edit files offline and share them when you are online.
Additionally you can collaborate with other users and work together on a document. To have a feel of Google Docs, go to https://docs.google.com or Search for Google Docs on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. You are required to have a Google account for this, but worry not, that too is quick and easy to set up.
OneDrive(Formerly known as SkyDrive)
If you use Windows 8.1, you probably will see this on your computer. It syncs all your files, documents and media across all your devices to a central location in cloud. Each user is given 15GB for the start but can buy more storage space to suit your demands.
Just like Google Docs, Microsoft’s Onedrive enables you to use the core Microsoft Office Suite apps(Word, Excel, Powerpoint) on the web. Windows 8.x users do not need to install OneDrive as it comes pre installed(It can be found on the Sidebar of Windows Explorer. OneDrive is available on the Web, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
LibreOffice is a free, open-source replacement for Microsoft Office. It is my best alternative to Microsoft office in terms of power and flexibility. The latest versions of LibreOffice has a neat interface as compared to older versions and it’s also smooth in its operation. LibreOffice is not up to the calibre the Microsoft Office standard but it has certain advantages such as a single interface for opening and editing word documents, HTML files, spreadsheets, drawings, math sheets, presentation (Did I already mention it is free?!).
Since I use a Linux Operating System, LibreOffice has become very handy because I can’t use Microsoft Office. So if you are looking to run Linux you do not have to miss out on ‘Microsoft Office-like’ packages just like many Mac users who have not installed it. You can find LibreOffice on Mac, Windows and Linux.
If you do lots of research work on the internet, you may find it a bit cumbersome organizing your sources of information. This is where Zotero comes in handy. Zotero is a free, easy-to-use research tool which helps users to collect, organize, cite and share research sources.
For many websites and databases, Zotero can detect when books or articles are on the webpage by showing a book icon on the address bar. It can also save citation information with just a few clicks. Zotero can be downloaded as a browser extension for Firefox, Chrome and Safari or as a Desktop program for Windows, Mac, or Linux. For a hands-on on Zotero, visit https://www.zotero.org.
Google Keep helps you to create, share, and collaborate notes quickly and easily whether you are online or offline. It also enables you to create checklists and reminders for events. Just as every Google application, your notes are synced to all your devices and is made available to you virtually everywhere.
Google Keep can be on your Android phone, On the Web, in your Chrome Browser and on your Android Wear. Google Keep is my best note taking application because I use just my Google account to access this service and there’s no need to have a separate account with another service provider. Also I can choose a color for each note and this helps me to categorize and identify my notes quickly.
Just like OneNote and Google Keep, Evernote is a very powerful application which helps you write, gather, collect and present your notes all from one place. The company likes to think of it as “Your Second Brain”. The notes can be a piece of text, a webpage, a photo, a noise note or a handwriting.
You can get a free version of Evernote on your Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, or on the Web by heading over to https://evernote.com/download/.
Evernote is an undeniably great note taking software but I still prefer Google Keep to it because Google’s services are integrated and hence it’s more convenient accessing all Google Apps with just one account.
With my Google account, I can use my Gmail, Youtube, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Keep, Blogger and all the other Google Services and that to me saves more time than creating another account to a different service which means I may need to use different login credentials and my information being stored with another service provider. Additionally my information is synchronized on all my devices: Even with my Chrome Browser.
One problem with Windows based computers is that, they gradually become slow following continuous usage. A major cause of this lag is the piling up of software “garbage” (Temporary files, Browser Cache, Unused registry items…). CCleaner becomes a handy tool in cleaning up your PC and restoring your speed back to normal. It also offers useful tools such as a registry cleaner, startup manager and PC profiler. CCleaner is currently available only for Windows.
With the increased patronage of Web based applications, cloud storage has become a very important concern to many internet users. Everyday, people transfer Gigabytes of data into the cloud hence the reason for many cloud storage service providers. Some of the most popular cloud storage services include Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive.
MEGA is a cloud storage and file hosting service launched after a Megaupload was seized by the FBI. I personally find MEGA better than the other cloud storage service providers because you are given 50GB of storage space when you sign up as compared to 15GB of storage offered by the other competitors. Unlike the others, your data is encrypted and decrypted by your devices hereby improving security significantly.
Your data is accessible anywhere on any platform and you can share folders with your contacts. MEGA can be accessed on the following platforms: Android, iOS, Blackberry, Mac, Windows, Firefox and Chrome.
Ever lost your files right before an important presentation? Meet Prezi, a new cloud-based presentation app which uses Adobe’s flash technology to create animated presentations. Prezi is cloud-based, so this means you can make presentations from your browser, iPhone or Android device and always have the latest version of your work. There is a free version to try at https://prezi.com/. To make your presentations private, you need to pay for the service. This I think is the best alternative to Slideshare.
Anytime I needed some information or presentation for my research work, Slideshare had always been my last resort. Slideshare offers users the ability create presentations or upload and share publicly or privately PowerPoint, Word Documents and Adobe PDF files. Slideshare makes available a great deal of presentations, videos and infographics for free. Slideshare and Prezi both have their own unique features to offer but the former is not advanced and overwhelming as the latter. So it’s better that way for beginners. Slideshare is available primarily on the Web but is also available for Android and iOS.
Teamviewer is a very powerful software which enables you to control any computer remotely over the internet. If you have been trying to help a colleague with a problem on their computer or do some stuff on your home PC from work or manage some remote computers/servers in your company, you should try using Teamviewer. Teamviewer also allows you to have group meetings and presentations over the internet in real time. Teamviewer is available at http://www.teamviewer.com/en/download/linux.aspx.
Make no mistakes, this is a real fence for your Desktop. You probably have had a Windows computer with files and shortcuts all over the Desktop. Sometimes, Windows does not provide a very efficient method of organizing the Desktop. Fences automatically organizes your desktop’s shortcuts and icons based on easy-to-find categories. You can hide and unhide all your Desktop icons by just double clicking on the desktop. Fences is available for only Windows. Go to http://www.stardock.com/products/fences/download.asp for a 30-day free trial.
Doodle is a fantastic Web application for scheduling your meetings. If you are planning to meet with different people and you don’t want to impose your timing on them, Doodle helps you to make a poll and invite your group members to vote an appropriate time they can all meet. Doodle simplifies the process of scheduling events be it board meetings, dates, hang out with friends or parties. A free (but limited) version is available on their website. You can however try the premium version for 30 days.