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5 Essential Desktop (and Laptop) Apps You Didn’t Know You Needed

5 Essential Desktop (and Laptop) Apps You Didn’t Know You Needed

It’s easy to forget in a world of Android and iOS, but most people are still rocking some sort of personal computer these days. Everyone should have a list of programs they regularly install on a new system, like a quality web browser and some sort of anti-virus protection. But what about the things you didn’t know you needed? Here’s a quick list of programs you should strongly consider installing, whether you have a massive gaming rig or an impossibly thin ultrabook. They’re there when you need them, and you’ll start to need them more than you might think.

1. VLC Media Player (free)

vlc player

    Forget everything you know about video players. Don’t even bother messing with finicky, bloated apps like Windows Media Player or iTunes. This is the one and only program you need. It plays everything you can possibly throw at it; the developers actually pride themselves at how many different codecs it can handle. You can snag it for pretty much any operating system, and it takes up almost no space. It’s the go-to application for obscure video and audio formats, but VLC’s lightweight nature makes it ideal for mainstream stuff as well.

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    Download VLC at the official website.

    2. XBMC (free)

    xbmc

      If having an all-in-one media center suite is more your style, you might want to go for XBMC. It works on almost every platform, and fully supports remote control (including Xbox controllers, if you have one). The developers are constantly throwing cool new features at the project. Want it to automatically tag and organize your movie library with box art, years, ratings, cast and crew listings, etc.? It can do that. Want it to grab subtitles from the internet for the foreign film you just put on? It can do that too. VLC is a bit better for spontaneous media consumption, but XBMC is the way to go for your established movie collection.

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      Grab the latest release of XBMC on the program’s website.

      3. Facebook Messenger for Windows (free, Windows only)

      Messenger for Windows

        The guys at Facebook don’t always make this perfectly clear, but there actually is a standalone first party desktop app for the site’s Messenger service. The program functions pretty similar to AOL Instant Messenger, and does the job you’d expect it to do. It’s a nice way to keep the chat interface open while being able to navigate away from the actual site on your browser. Facebook has a long ways to go in terms of fleshing out its features, but this is the best solution for the time being.

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        Head over to the Messenger for Windows website to download a copy.

        4. Stardock Start8 ($3.99, Windows 8 only)

        start8

          Those of you who have long bemoaned the loss of a traditional Start menu in Windows 8 should consider checking out Start8. It’s a fully functional Start menu clone that works almost identically to the official thing in Windows 7. No more convoluted paths to shut down the computer or haphazardly searching for the programs you need. In typical Stardock fashion, the program also includes a ton of customization options, and retains the ability to access the Metro UI if you still need to do so.

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          Purchase a copy or download the trial at the Start8 website.

          5. SpaceSniffer (free, Windows only)

          SpaceSniffer

            Over time, every computer tends to get bogged down with unnecessary files. Finding and tracking them down can be a daunting task, but SpaceSniffer makes it easy. This program scans your drive of choice and makes a “map” of its used and free space. You can see what’s taking up precious disk space, and delete it or move it to different drives right on the screen. A must-have for solid state drive users, and recommended still for those of you with normal hard drives.

            Download SpaceSniffer on the Uderzo website.

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            Last Updated on July 10, 2019

            11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory

            11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory

            Whether at work or at school, people these days are under tremendous pressure to perform, perform and perform! Stress and pressure can have adverse affects on the well-being of a person, and need to be controlled.

            Now, this doesn’t mean you make a dash to your nearest therapist. There are a number of wonderful and smart apps that you can use on your phone. These brain training apps have been scientifically designed to target specific areas of the human mind and control harmful emotions such as anxiety, as well as to improve memory and sharpness of the brain.

            Here are 11 iPhone apps that you will not only enjoy but also find useful in keeping your mental health balanced at all times.

            1. Lumosity

            This app consists of games that focus on improving the user’s memory, problem-solving capability, attention span, and thinking. There are three games in each session, and they challenge the brain by changing every time. The user has to complete the games while playing against a clock.

            Free of trial. $15 per month for the full version.

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            Luminosity Mind training apps-Lifehack

              2. Fit Brains Trainer

              This brain training app has 10 sets of games that work on different areas of the brain and improve memory as well as concentration. A user is required to finish a particular task from each category on a daily basis and the app tracks the progress by a color coded graph.

              Free.

              Fit Brains Trainer Mind training apps-Lifehack

                3. CogniFit Brain Fitness

                Developed with the help of neuroscientists, this fun app improves a person’s cognitive abilities, which includes memory and concentration. The progress made by the user over a period of time can be tracked. Users can also play challenge rounds with their friends. The app also modifies the difficulty level to suit the profile of the user and provide recommendations based on the results. Spending 20–30 minutes a few times every week can give measurable improvement in the performance of a user.

                First four games free, then $13 a month.

                cognifit-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

                  4. Brain Fitness Pro

                  The makers of this app claim that it can improve the IQ of a user, and improve intelligence and memory. The app is fun and is user friendly, and 30 minutes a day can fetch you results in less than three weeks.

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                  Buy for $3.99.

                  5. Happify

                  If nothing else makes you happy in life, this app will. Well, this is what the developers claim at least. This app comes loaded with lots of quizzes, polls and gratitude journals, which work on the fundamentals of positive psychology. The app also helps to control stress and emotions to make you feel better.

                  Free to use.

                  Happify-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

                    6. Clockwork Brain

                    You will like the little gold robot that comes in every time to explain the next game you are going to play. While the games are not much different to those offered in apps such as Luminosity, the look and feel reminds me of a workshop from old times.

                    Free.

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                    Clockwork Trsin-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

                      7. ReliefLink

                      Initially created as an app for suicide prevention, it has found its use as a great app for tracking the mood of the user by taking measure of all things relevant to the user’s mental health. In case the user experiences high emotional stress, the app has a coping mechanism that includes voice-recorded mindfulness, exercises and music for relaxation. There is also a map that informs the user of the nearest therapist and medical facilities for mental health treatment.

                      Relief Link - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                        8. Eidetic

                        Eidetic is a memory enhancement app and uses a ‘spaced repetition’ technique to help users memorize information such as important phone numbers, words, credit card details or passwords. It also notifies you when it’s time to take a test to see what you remember, so that you retain information in your long-term memory.

                        Eidetic - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                          9. Braingle

                          Braingle helps to maintain the sharpness of the brain and improve the reasoning ability of a person through riddles and optical illusions. It is different from other brain training apps that employ memory and reaction based tests. You can also compete with your friends and family members in figuring out the fun riddles.

                          Free.

                          Briangle- Mind Training Apps-LIfehack

                            10. Not The Hole Story

                            If you have a penchant for solving hard riddles, then this app is a must-have for you. Filled with exclusive riddles along with a simple-to-use interface, the app gives you riddles that you have to solve through a book. You will be given hints along the way, and when you give up, the answers will be revealed. This app will encourage you to broaden your thinking and put your mind to a challenging test.

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                            Free.

                            Not the hole story - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                              11. Personal Zen

                              This fun brain training app follows the journey of two animated characters who travel through a field of grass. Personal Zen is a nice app meant for reducing anxiety and trains the brain to focus on the positive aspects. The developer’s advice is to use the app for 10 minutes a day to see the best results.

                              Free.

                              personal zen- mind training apps - lifehack

                                Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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