Monday, 6 June 2011

The best free applications

As a busy freelancer there are a number of free applications which, frankly, I could not live without. These range from storage options to note-taking and image library tools. I thought I would share my list of ‘must haves’ with you and spread the word about how useful they are. Download and be productive, my little imps!

Picasa – this is ‘the bomb’. Picasa is effectively the iTunes of images. It indexes all your images (JPEGs, PNGs, PSDs, TIFFs etc) according to date, file name and, most usefully, folder name. You can search by any of these categories, plus camera type. If, like me, you have thousands of images this kind of app is essential. It also has basic image manipulation tools for editing and exporting images, which is really good when you want to chuck out web versions. It will add watermarks, sync with online albums and upload images to Blogger too. An utter must-have for a graphic designer.

Dropbox – This is an online storage tool. I was dubious of its usefulness at first but soon learned its value. You’ll never send a file by email again (you just send the dropbox link), you’ll put everything you might want to access remotely in your dropbox folder. Most importantly it’s dead simple to use as it acts like any other folder on your hard drive. Genius.

Evernote – Again, it took me a while to appreciate the value of this app. In this digital age we inevitably amass a vast quantity of tiny bits of information. The name of that brand of pencils you saw, the code you got for your train tickets, that snap of that sculpture you happened upon, the list of project you’ll never have time to do. All these notes can be categorized and searched iTunes-fashion. The notes are synced and can be accessed online, on your smartphone and on any computer where the full-fat (and much faster) Evernote app is installed. Though I never have, there are paid-for upgrades which give extra features useful to businesses and students.

Google Calendar Sync – I want to access my calendar everywhere and I don’t want to be tied to one device to do so. Google Calendar allows this. The only draw-back is that full sync to my iPhone is only available with a purchased app. Boo!

Xmarks – I use about three machines on a daily basis. Xmarks allows me to sync my bookmarks on them all. I always have a ‘to download’ folder of bookmarks, which I update on a daily basis with stuff I want to save (using the add-ons below). Xmarks means I can access this list from any of my machines.

Downloadthemall and Save Images – These Firefox Add-ons both do the same thing. They make it easy to harvest images from the web. As a graphics junkie I always want to download images at high rez and these add-ons make it easy. DTA has a wonderful ‘one click’ ability while SI has a great ‘open-all-links-in-one-tab’ function.

Screen Capture Elite -  It was only recently that I moved to Mac, and I still work on PC so I have never mastered the Apple keystrokes to save a portion of the screen as an image. I don’t need to, because I only ever want to do this with web pages and SCE adds a handy icon to Firefox which facilitates this. This kicks Flash images into saving territory.


  1. Thanks for the list!
    I think i should at least get the Dropbox and Picasa! Very usefull!!

  2. Hey okkiW - yes do check out both as you will soon wonder how you could have ever survived without them!