I wrote an article for the Stanford Business Reporter this week about productivity-enhancing software programs. As the suggestions are more broadly applicable, I am republishing a condensed version of the article here.
(Note that I haven’t included some of the big ones; I’m assuming you already know about Office, Firefox, Skype, anti-spyware etc. Also, apologies to the Mac faithful – we are just doing Windows this time. Enjoy!)
Stop Cutting and Pasting: Anagram (link)
You get an email about an appointment. You then painstakingly copy and paste the info from the information into your Outlook calendar. No more! With Anagram, you simply highlight the information, hit F12 and all the information goes straight into your calendar! Anagram parses through the text, placing the proper information in the appropriate fields. Anagram also works with email signatures, bringing them quickly into your Contacts. If you only download one program from this article, this should be it.
Paste Unformatted Text: PureText (link)
Find yourself “referencing” Wikipedia in your PowerPoint presentation? If so, you may have noticed that annoying links and formatting get copied over when all you wanted is the text. PureText is a tiny, neat liitle app which allows you to paste text into another application, without getting all the formatting from the original source. PureText is easy to use, simply use WINDOWS+V instead of Ctrl+V.
Keep Your System In Shape: TuneUp Utilities (link)
When you get bloated, unhealthy and slow, you go to the gym. What can your computer do? Why, use TuneUp Utilities. TuneUp Utilitie has a one-click wizard which makes your system faster, slimmer and more secure. All important aspects of system configuration, security, cleanup and maintenance can be accessed through an slick, easy-to-use interface.
Create Cool Screen Shots: Snag-It (link)
I used SnagIt for all the cool screen shots in this post. Yes, I know you can capture screen elements with PrintScreen, but PrintScreen is to SnagIt what pre-made sandwiches are to In-n-Out burgers. SnagIt lets you grab images of Web sites and software applications. Editing tools allow you to circle important areas, and add arrows and text with a single click. You even can capture video and record screen action.
Tiny PowerPoint Files: NX PowerLite (link)
NXPowerLite is a great little app .NXPowerLite optimizes Powerpoint documents – crunches presentations from several MBs down to a hundred KB or so, with minimal data warp. Works great for emailing a large project to your group.
Photos: Picasa (link)
I thought everybody already knew about Picasa, but I was over at two consecutive dinners last weekend where the host didn’t have it. Simply put, it’s the best and most fun way to organize and share photos on your computer.
Easy Online Backup: Mozy (link)
Sure you may own a backup hard drive, but when was the last time you actually used it? Mozy doesn’t require any external hard drive, it automatically and securely backs up your system to a secure and private online backup whenever you turn on your computer. To be honest, I have never used Mozy (I use the similar online backup service Carbonite), but my friends Erik, Kayne, and Walt Mossberg swear it’s better, so I defer to them.
It can take ages to file and sort through all of your emails. Lookout is fast search for your e-mail, files, and desktop integrated with Microsoft Outlook.
Lookout X1 will find your search terms hiding nearly anywhere in your Outlook or public mailbox - subjects, bodies, phone numbers, addresses, etc.
should note that many swear by other desktop search products such as X1, Copernic and Google Desktop. I decided to recommend Lookout here as it is the simplest and doesn’t slow down your computer.
Note that if you have Outlook 2007, you may want to stick with the default Windows Search application.
MyLifeOrganized is a turbo version of Outlook Tasks. It’s a great little app for people who like to prioritize. The task outliner will help you to organize your goals, projects and tasks into a tree. The to-do list will generate actions that require immediate attention to keep you focused.
Hope you found this helpful. For the computer geeks out there, I’m sure this will spark debate and other recommendations, so let the nerdfight begin in the comment suggestions.
Next issue of the reporter I will be featuring “Useful Web Sites” – so let me know of suggestions.