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Computers. If you work – heck, if you live – in these times, you gotta use them. You gotta master them. More often, it seems, computers master us. Perfectly competent, intelligent people shudder at the thought of backing up their files, configuring their email clients, or setting up a website.

Today’s prizes are meant to make your computer easier to use, and to make you more productive. ActiveWords turns every word you type into a potential command, allowing you to lookup information, launch programs, or even set up series of actions that can be triggered with a single word. Files, Folders, and Tags allows you to add tags to any file or folder on your desktop, so you can browse your computer’s files that same way you browse your bookmarks at del.icio.us.

ActiveWords

ActiveWords functions are almost endless. Type the word “weather” and hit the designated ActiveWords key, and up pops a site to look up the weather. Type “Word” and hit the ActiveWords key and Word opens. Create a script automating your entire backup, defragmentation, and disk cleanup routine, type a word you designate (say, “maintenance”) and hit the designated key, and voila – the whole routine is run.

aw_titleActiveWords also brings you system-wide AutoCorrect functions – no more correcting DOuble CAps at the beginning of words, or misspelling anything. And you can create your own text substitution strings, so that you could insert your entire name, title, address, and contact info with a single word or phrase.

There are over two dozen sets of pre-programmed actions and text substitutions, including plugins for popular programs and services like Outlook, Palm Desktop, and SalesForce, as well as specialized text substitution/AutoCorrect dictionaries for, say, legal writing. And you can always add your own. Activewords is easily one of the most powerful ways you can improve the way you interact with your computer! (Windows only; Retail Price: $50 US)

Files, Folders, and Tags

pop-prod-logo Folders are so Windows 98! The 21st Century is all about tags – and Popular Productivity brings tags to your desktop with Files, Folders, and Tags. Tagging is a far more powerful way to organize your data, for a number of reasons. First and most importantly, you can add more than one tag to a file or folder – perhaps you have a file that is both a financial record and essential for a project. Where do you put it? In the past, you would have had to choose whether it goes with your business’ financial information or the project folder, but with Files, Folders, and Tags, you can stick it in either and tag it with both – it will come up when you browse files by either tag.

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Second, you can add tags “on the fly” – if a new project comes up later that might need the same file, just add the tag instead of worrying about copying it or moving it or having to find it every time it’s needed. And third, you can give more natural names to files and folders – perhaps your workplace has a project naming convention that creates folders with names like “Proj00084284SK1AAB-Cl142”. Tag it “Gutter cleaning” and don’t worry about the gobbledygook.

Files, Folders, and Tags includes several tools to make working with tags easier, including a tray-based search tool, the ability to generate tag clouds, an an auto-scanner to help automate file tagging. With very little effort, you can be tagging and getting more done today! (Windows only; Retail price: $30 US)

How do you win?

To enter, tell us about the tool you cannot live without, the piece of hardware or software that makes your worklife easier, more efficient, or more fun. Leave your entries in the comments on this post.

The winner will be chosen by random drawing from everyone who has left a link in the comments on this post by 12:00 Noon PST on Wednesday, September 3rd. The drawing will be done by random number generator within a few days of the close of the drawing. All links will be verified.

The prizes will be sent direct from our sponsor.

Stay Tuned!

We’re kicking off the second week of the Lifehack Great Big Summer Giveaway with a great prize, but there’s still plenty of other great prizes on their way! We’ll be giving away prizes related to the working life every day this week, including:

  • Copies of PhraseExpress v.5, a text snippets program to help you save time with repetitive tasks.
  • Two years of hosting from powerMonster under their monsterSlayer plan: 10 GB disk space and 150GB of traffic with an included domain name.
  • The Ultimate Guy’s Computer Bags, made of Rawlings baseball glove leather, from Sports Accessories.
  • A $100 Amazon gift credit from Ubernote.

Don’t forget to enter last week’s contests in the Lifehack Great Big Summer Giveaway. And write a blog post about work and style to win the Careerbags.com JoJo Laptop Tote in Monday’s contest! We’ll be announcing winners for the first week early next week, after Labor Day. And check back every day this week for more chances to win!

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