- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On April 24, 2015
Staying focused and organized in our increasingly digital world can be a difficult task. Countless apps and programs offer to help you make sense of all the sites and pages you have to manage, but few of us have the time to try them all, especially when so many of them are unnecessarily complicated in their own right or fail to deliver on their promises.
Over the years, I’ve probably tried hundreds of these utilities. The downloads folder on my laptop and the “My apps” section of the Play Store on my phone are both littered with a long list of apps I’ve downloaded, only to uninstall soon afterwards. But sometimes one will make an impression and stick around, and occasionally even become an indispensable tool. This list contains the latter ones, the best ones, the ones I use every single day or close to it.
1. Use OneTab as a virtual filing cabinet
If you often find yourself with way too many tabs open in your browser, then OneTab is a must-have. This handy extension adds a button to Chrome or Firefox that turns your open tabs into a list that you can browse anytime. You can then organize them into groups, rename and reorder them, share one or all of your lists as webpages, or even import or export links. It’s particularly useful for storing pages you might reference in your own writing. Whenever I find myself short on ideas for a blog post, I can usually find inspiration by browsing the list of titles in OneTab.
2. Take notes and collect documents with Evernote
Evernote has been around for a while, and there’s a reason why it’s lasted longer than most of its competitors. I recently started using it again after a long hiatus and it’s already made me more organized. You can store information in just about any format and use it to organize links in a similar way to OneTab. Don’t have time to transcribe a document right now? Just snap a photo and save it to an Evernote notebook just like you would text. And the best part is that everything is synced across all of your devices.
3. Take your screenshots to the next level with Skitch or FastStone Capture
Instead of sending images with blocks of text underneath, add your captions directly to your screenshots with either of these tools. Skitch is made by the folks at Evernote. FastStone Capture has long been my personal favorite, but it’s a Windows-only program and unfortunately I’ve never been able to find an equivalent app for Macs. I still keep it in my Dropbox for when I’m using a PC, however.
4. Sync your files everywhere with Dropbox or Google Drive
Speaking of keeping files on hand for use when you’re not on your main computer, Dropbox and Google Drive can’t be beat. Both are killer apps that sync your files across different versions of Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android. Every blog post I’ve ever written is stored on Dropbox for easy access anywhere, and you can download files for offline use as well. If you use multiple computers, you’ll never have to use a thumb drive again.
5. Create beautiful graphics with Canva
For the longest time, you needed to be a Photoshop whiz to create nice graphics for your website or blog, but no more. Canva is a powerful tool that anyone can use to create professional images, whether you need a header, call-to-action, or even a print file like a flier or business card.
6. Edit images anywhere with Pixlr
If you don’t have Photoshop, editing images quickly can be a real pain. Default image editors that come with your operating system only have the most basic functions, and even tasks as simple as resizing or cropping an image can take more time than they should. Pixlr is a webapp that solves that problem on any operating system or mobile device. It even has three different versions—Pixlr Express for quick fixes, Pixlr Editor for more complex changes, and Pixlr O-matic to add fun Instagram-esque effects for social sharing.
7. Collate your favorite conent with Feedly
If you don’t already follow all of the websites and blogs you frequent in an RSS reader, Feedly is the best one out there. Many different readers emerged from the ashes of Google Reader when the search giant canceled that project, but Feedly is as easy to use as they get, and you don’t even have to create an account—just log in with your Gmail or Facebook password. When you read something you want to come back to, just click a button to send it straight to Evernote or another service.
8. Make your smartphone smarter with Tasker
Phones are awfully smart these days, but there are still some things they can’t do out of the box. Tasker fixes that. We’ve written about automating the things you can before, and Tasker is a simple way to do that on your Android device that’s well worth the three bucks it costs in the Play Store. Tasker will automate pretty much any task you do regularly—when a friend told me about it, it seemed too good to be true, but it hasn’t disappointed.