There have been many a time where I have spent years painstakingly manually performing a task, only to discover years later there is a tool that could have saved me literally hours a week. The problem is, even then, it is very hard to drop your old habits in favour of a new fan dangled technologically more efficient equivalent. It almost feels like a failure on your part to quit your old ways for this new way. It feels like you are mocking your old long-winded methods by moving over to the new.
This, is of course, an entirely irrational response, there is far more mockery to be had over someone that knowingly chooses a slower, less efficient method of doing something simply because they are too stubborn to accept a newer, more efficient method that would save you time and potentially money.
A prime example of this, and I’m sure even today you know someone who does this, are those that still do their accounting by hand? There is no benefit to accounting by hand. It will never be quicker or more efficient than a computer put to the same task. But, there are those that just won’t budge. They will manually do all their accounting until the day they die.
Well, I am once again procrastinating, so let’s get on with this as I go through the top 10 most useful tools that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without!
Fed up with messing about with green screens and worrying about what you wear whilst doing videos for your VLOG or presentation video?
Or maybe you just want to do some hilarious memes or GIFs to share on your social network. Well, say goodbye to green screens and say hello to unscreen.com.
Do you produce a podcast or do regular interviews? Need multiple audio and video inputs all streamed a single output, or maybe streamed to multiple outputs?
OBS Studio will be right up your street then. It is open source and 100% free to download and run.
With OBS Studio you can record directly from your webcam and microphone, while capturing your screen, a portion of the screen or just a particular window, you can also incorporate footage from games, add existing videos, music and still images, and much more.
There is nothing out there better than OBS Studio for free, and in fact, there are few, if any paid pieces of software that will perform these tasks better.
You can download OBS Studio from the OBS Project website. It is available on Windows, MacOS and Linux.
Ok, so this one may not be a productive tool outright, but indirectly in may save you some great irritation and thus time. Ever had an annoying tune in your head that just won’t go away? Ever got hung up on what that damn tune is, you know it, it is on the tip of your tongue -“what was it called goddamit!”?
Well, Midomi is to the rescue. Just hum or sing the that mysterious nameless song into the Midomi tool and it will spit out the artist and song name. Crisis over, move on!
So, the next time you just can’t quite remember who was responsbile for that annoying tune rattling around in your head, just go to midomi.com – trust me, you’ll feel much better!
Facebook Sharing Debugger
So this isn’t so much a tool that will save you time, but it’s a tool that will solve issues you may have if you are a frequent poster on social media.
I’m sure you have had many occasion where you try to post something, either a link to your own blog, or an article you just want to share with your friends. You post it and Facebook doesn’t pull the image from the article and just shows a link. Far less captivating for your potential audience, which means far less chance of being interacted with.
More often than not, the reason the image isn’t pulled correctly is because the original cached version was corrupted or never pulled correctly upon its first share on the platform. You see Facebook doesn’t actually pull a new image from every link posted, it creates a cache for quicker access in the future for when someone else shares the very same link.
If you are seeing no image in your link preview when posting on Facebook, just head over to the Facebook Sharing Debugger, then enter the URL in the box, hit DEBUG, the tool will then show you what details Facebook currently holds on the URL, it’ll tell you when it was first shared, any errors it found in the page code and any images scraped for preview links when shared. If no image appears, or maybe even the wrong image, just press SCRAPE AGAIN.
This will typically resolve any issues with link preview images when sharing on Facebook. Twitter offers a similar tool which they call Card Validator.
Writing is something which many of us do every day, whether it’s for our blogs or websites, social media updates or email communications.
We live in an age where communication is now the norm via electronic format, but how good are we at writing?
We can be creative as we want with our writing, but if our grammar isn’t up to scratch, our credibility soon takes a nose dive.
ProWritingAid is perfect for those who don’t have the luxury of employing a proof reader and lack an editorial division. For those, like me, who work freelance and are continually expected to provide flawless, readable content, you can’t go wrong with ProWritingAid.
But it isn’t just for people that write for a living, Prowritingaid will help you expand your language and build your grammar skills. There is a free version which is totally useable and features everything you need to get your writing up to scratch!.
Head over to prowritingaid now and download the browser plugin and Word plugins.
I hate passwords, I hate the continual requests to change them, use CAPITALS, no consecutive numbers, special characters – what once was a simple, “oh, I’ll just use my kids name or date of birth” has become a complex operation resulting in dozens, if not hundreds of passwords to keep track of and manage.
That’s where Lastpass comes in. It will store all your login details in one place, using a single master password. The free one does everything you need, though there is one handy feature which the paid version does offer and that is the ability to share passwords securely with others (who also use Lastpass).
I’ve used LastPass for the past 5 years or so and love it!
Instant Eye Dropper
This one might not be useful to every one, it really depends on your field of work. But for me it is one of those tools which I use time and time again, saving me little bits of time, frequently.
Instant eye dropper runs in the taskbar of your operating system and when clicked it will provide you with the colour HEX address of any pixel on your screen. When throwing together websites, blogs, templates, newsletters, logos or any other creative work this is something you are constantly requiring.
Just click on the eye dropper icon in the taskbar and move the cursor over the area of the screen that you’d like to identify the colour, click again and the colour HEX address is copied into your clipboard. Da Daaaa!
Copy and Pasting is one of the most frequented actions for just about anyone who uses a computer for creative uses. I know myself I use the function at least every few minutes whilst I’m on my laptop. Whether to simply copy across a reference quote from another article, or for copying links into article or posts i’m writing, or maybe for copying images from a website to a blog you are writing. As I said, it is a very common function, which is why the ‘C’ key is often the first to die on your keyboard!
Anyway, the problem with the native clipboard system is that it doesn’t stack the copied items, it simply discards the last entry and replaces it with the new entry. But maybe you have several different pieces of text to copy from different pages, or (a more common one for me) maybe you copied a bitcoin address into your clipboard a while ago and want to retrieve it without having to go into the associated wallet or exchange to retrieve it. Ditto solves all of this.
Every time you Ctrl+C, the item is stack on the Ditto clipboard pile. Accessed via the taskbar, Ditto allows you to retrieve items you copied from days ago (depending on the time for disposal you set within the program).
Ditto is a clipboard manager, simple, yet saving you time and effort every day.
You can download Ditto for free HERE
Bitlord is a Torrent downloading interface with its own built in search functions and streaming capabilities. If you haven’t used torrents before, why not?
I won’t get into the legalities of using Torrent here, that is something you can decide for yourself. But Bitlord makes finding and downloading just about anything a doddle, even for the less computer literate.
Want to watch the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz? Go for it, type it in Bitlords search, find the language and quality you want and click STREAM, the film with buffer for a few seconds and away you go!
Because the torrents are a decentralised peer-to-peer way of sharing data, this can be done for any movie you want, providing it exists, it’s probably on the network.
But it’s more than that, you can find audiobooks, ebooks, technical manuals and guides, language books, documentaries, software and of course, music!
If it exists in the digital realm, it is more than likely available for free on the BitTorrent network.
Using the right #Hashtag in a social media post can be the difference from receiving just two likes and a comment from your mother to remind you about lunch tomorrow, to going viral.
Ritetag helps you get there more easily with suggested hashtags for your content. Just copy and paste your text and it recommends high-traffic and trending hashtags to give your post the very best chance of reaching the most audiences.
Head over to ritetag.com, create an account or sign in with your existing Facebook or twitter account – and away you go.
RiteTag is essential for anyone who uses social media as part of their work.