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26 Free Cross-Platform Productivity Apps to Help You Get Things Done

26 Free Cross-Platform Productivity Apps to Help You Get Things Done

    There are a lot of fantastic productivity apps out there that cost a decent chunk of change like OmniFocus, Things, Microsoft Office Suite, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t free alternatives that are just as good or even better.

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    You can essentially become a productivity machine without spending a penny (except for an internet connection that is). Here are 26 free productivity apps to help you get things done.

    1. Remember the MilkRemember the Milk has been around for quite some time and with the revamp of there iPhone and Android app after the iPad app design, RTM offers the user a simple yet powerful toolset for managing to-dos online.
    2. ToodledoI have been a Toodledo user on and off for about three years and it’s still one of the best to-do apps online. The iOS apps aren’t free, but the web app is and it’s top notch, especially after the redesign.

      • CatchCatch is a cool free app that lets you collect your ideas fast and then share them with others. Catch also has a cool clipper button that you can put on your own site to clip an article inside a user’s catch account.
      • SpringpadSpringpad has turned into a something that you can store notes, web clips, video, links, pretty much everything with and create notebooks for yourself or to share with others.

        • Todo.txt (CLI)If you are a geeky type and have a file named todo.txt (like the good man, Randy Pausch), then you might be geeky enough for Todo.txt. Todo.txt is a free command line tool that allows you to interact with a todo.txt text file to get stuff done.
        • OpenOffice.orgIf you can’t stand the though of giving Microsoft more money, but want a full bore office suite, then OpenOffice may work for you. Documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and even databases await.
        • Google Docs (Drive)One of the best tools for collaborating on writing projects while in school. Almost everyone has a Gmail account, it’s free, and the collaboration features are awesome. Make documents, presentations, and spread sheets.
        • EvernoteOnce again, if we need to tell you why you need an Evernote account (again), then maybe it’s just not for you. If you want notes, pictures, documents, voice memos, links, etc. synced across the web and multiple operating systems, then please check it out.
        • GmailStill the best free email account and web app around. Tons of storage and great integration with other Google services.
        • AsanaIf you need to work in a team on tasks and projects, we here at Lifehack highly recommend Asana for that. The web interface is clean, fast, and easy to use with a team.
        • OrchestraOrchestra is another great project and to-do list manager that is made for teams and can even be used for personal use.

          • Do.comThese teamwork apps are all the rage right now and do is another beautiful and highly functional free team based to-do list app. According to do’s site you get free unlimited tasks, projects, and users forever.
          • Doit.imDoit.im is a little know gem of a to-do and project manager. There is a free web, iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, and Windows app that syncs your to-dos everywhere.
          • Outlook.comIt’s pretty (I never thought I would say that about a Microsoft product), it’s fresh, and it’s a great way to use email online. Outlook.com is Microsoft’s newest web email client and I highly recommend it.
          • Office Web AppsThe new Office Web Apps Preview from Microsoft is great. You can create Word, Excel, PowerPoints, or even OneNote notebooks that you can sync with the OneNote app on iOS.

            • BoxNeed 5GB of free backup storage for pictures, video, or any other file? Box.net has you covered. Also you can get iPhone, iPad, and even an Android client to view files on the go.
            • CrashplanCrashplan is a free and paid backup service that will work on all major platforms. The free service can be used to backup locally and even offsite.
            • DropboxDropbox is the glue that holds my life together and is the base of my entire productivity system. Get 2GB for free and start using Dropbox to keep your files everywhere you are.
            • FileZillaI’ve used FileZilla for years on Mac, Linux, and Windows. It’s a dependable way to shuck and jive your files around via FTP.
            • MarkdownNot necessarily an app, Markdown is the only way that I write for the web anymore. There are so many apps that support Markdown, but if you want to simply convert a plain text file to HTML, you can use John Gruber’s script.
            • AstridI remember when I got my first Android phone on Verizon (The Motorola Droid) and Astrid was the only passable to-do list application. It’s changed a lot since them as it now supports teams, but it’s still a fun to-do app to use.

              • ProducteevOne more to-do and project management application. I like Producteev’s idea of “workspaces” and I feel that there tagging systems is pretty good too.
              • LastpassIf you don’t have a password manager yet, go download Lastpass right now and start using it. Password managers are a necessity if you are doing any type of anything on the web, and Lastpass does password management well.
              • FreeMindMindmapping is one of the best ways to get your ideas down fast and then start to connect them together. The interface isn’t the nicest, but FreeMind is a powerful and full featured mindmapping app for Windows or Mac.
              • Google CalendarYou have to keep your day in order. The best web calendar is Google calendar, hands down. Keep your day there.
              • RescueTimeYour time is precious, but it’s hard to know what to change in your day when you don’t know where your time has gone. Use RescueTime for Mac or Windows to help identify where and when you are slacking.

              Do you have any other free productivity apps that you use that didn’t make it to the list? Let us know in the comments.

              (Photo credit: Free tag via Shutterstock)

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              More by this author

              CM Smith

              A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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              Last Updated on January 2, 2020

              How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

              How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

              Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

              Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

              But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

              Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

              Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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              Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

              It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

              1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

              They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

              To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

              2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

              Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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              Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

              3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

              Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

              Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

              4. Be Who You Are

              It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

              You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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              You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

              Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

              5. Slow Down and Let Go

              Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

              Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

              Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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              So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

              When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

              The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

              Final Thoughts

              What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

              To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

              If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

              More About Stepping Out of Comfort Zone

              Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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