Revealed: My core collection of productivity apps.
Technology is an integral part of just about everything I do. I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting tools, but very few can breach my sacred circle of trusted productivity apps.
I rely on this core collection of apps for day to day operations. These apps are my go-to tools for getting things done, and without them, I would be a mere shadow of the man who is writing this article.
I love seeing the apps and services that other people use, so I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of my favorites.
Here are the tech tools I used most in 2022.
Brave Web Browser
If you want the power of Chrome without slowing down your computer, then Brave is the browser for you.
It’s fast, runs all my Chrome extensions, and it blocks trackers & creepy ads on every website you visit. It even has a built-in VPN. For these reasons, and many more, I will never use Chrome again.
My search engine of choice is DuckDuckGo. I’ve used it for years and I have zero problems with it. Unlike Google, DDG doesn’t track your searches, share your information with advertisers, or follow you around the web. In short, DuckDuckGo + Brave = Peace of mind.
The search results are great, and I always find what I need. You will see ads on DDG, but they are based on the keywords you search for, not on personal information it has gathered about you. If you don’t like the ads, you can turn them off.
DDG is not as popular as Google, nothing is, but with an estimated 50 million users, it’s earned its place among the competition.
Everyone has their preference when it comes to task managers. Mine is Reminders. It’s not the fanciest task manager in the tool shed, but it does what I need it to do, and it has improved a lot over the years.
I have a great GTD-style setup, and I love that I can use Siri in my car and on my Apple Watch to add reminders on the go. I used to use Reminders to store ideas for Medium articles, (like this one), but that list got so long that I decided to break it up into a separate app. Those ideas are now stored in Todoist, the app I used before Apple Reminders.
For screenshots and short screencasts, there is nothing better than Snagit from TechSmith. There are plenty of other apps for taking screenshots, and many of them are free. However, none of them offer what Snagit does.
Yes, it has the usual annotations you would expect, but you can do so much more. With Snagit software, you can magnify parts of a screenshot, blur sensitive information, add step-by-step labels, extract text from a screenshot, and even a delete a selection with a content aware fill tool.
There will always be other screenshot tools, but if you want the best, you have to try the Snagit desktop app for Mac or Windows.
Regular readers will know that I have been using Workflowy as my primary note-taking tool for a while now. So, it’s no surprise that it finds a spot on the list of my most used tools of 2022.
For better or worse, I have always been a minimalist notetaker, and Workflowy is the best tool that I have found to support that approach. Essentially, it’s an outlining tool, but it has grown over the years to support so much more.
If you haven’t used Workflowy in a while, it now has paragraphs, headers, checklists, a slash command, highlights, backlinks and more. I’m excited to see what my Workflowy usage is like in 2023.
➡️ Learn more about Workflowy (partner link)
I remember when Canva first launched. It was a plucky Australian startup that few people had heard about. Today, it is a global phenomenon that has taken the world by storm.
Canva is ridiculously easy to use. It democratized graphic design and opened the doors for anyone to be a designer. It doesn’t matter if you know how to use Photoshop when tools like Canva exist.
Today you can use Canva to make websites, presentations, videos, flyers, infographics, social media posts, and just about anything else you can think of. Yes, there are other graphic design tools, but there is only one Canva!
➡️ Learn more about Canva (partner link)
I started using Buffer at work several years ago, and I quickly set up a personal account when I saw how powerful it was. It is my default app for sharing anything to any social media platform.
Buffer lets you plan, collaborate and schedule social media posts for a host of different platforms. When sharing a link from the web, you can add it to your queue, include an image or video from the site you are sharing, and then just forget about it.
That’s the beauty of Buffer. It is a set and forget tool you can rely on. Once you send something to your Buffer queue, it will automatically post on the day or time you chose. It works with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and more.
I’m a big fan of podcasts. I used to host and produce podcasts, but today I am firmly on the consumption side of podcasting. So, my podcasting app of choice is Overcast. It’s a free app for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
If you love podcasts, you will love Overcast. The developer, Marco Arment, is a podcaster and audiophile who is obsessive about delivering the best possible listening experience.
Overcast is known for features like Smart Speed, which has saved me 135 hours of listening by intelligently trimming out pauses and silence in the episodes I listen to. It also has Voice Boost, a proprietary EQ setting that makes almost all podcasts sound better than you would expect.
Latterly, I have also been listening to book summaries on Blinkist, but Overcast is still my go-to app for all my favorite podcasts.
When writing here on Medium, and elsewhere, I always had Grammarly by my side in 2022. Well, almost always, but I will get to that in a minute.
Grammarly is the tool you all know it to be. It uses artificial intelligence to check your spelling and grammar, while also offering useful ways to rephrase your sentences for the biggest impact. It works on every device imaginable and although there is a free plan, you really need a paid subscription to get the most out of this tool.
However, when my Grammarly subscription was up for renewal in November, I decided not to renew. Why? I was curious if I could get the same features for less money with LanguageTool. The jury is still out on that one, but I hope to do a write-up of my experiences soon.
This handy color picker is available as a free browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. You can use ColorZilla to generate a hex or RGB code for any color on the web. I mostly use this tool with Canva to help me get the colors I need for my designs, but I have also used it with Snagit and other tools.
It is super simple to use. All you do is click the eye dropper in your toolbar and then select Pick Color From Page. Then, hover your cursor over the color you want to recreate, and click your mouse to copy the color code to your clipboard.
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