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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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            Published on October 9, 2018

            Evernote vs OneNote: Which Improves Your Productivity Better?

            Evernote vs OneNote: Which Improves Your Productivity Better?

            Note-taking is useful in helping improve your memory and increase your productivity at work. By writing down notes, you have something tangible you can refer back to, remember what needs to be done, and regain control of your work throughout the day.

            There are thousands of different note-taking apps you can use on your desktop or mobile device. The two most popular are Evernote and Microsoft OneNote because they are incredibly efficient and effective that each has a following of extremely loyal users and advocates.

            So if it comes to Evernote vs OneNote, how do they improve productivity?

            An overview of Evernote and OneNote

            First, an introduction to the two platforms. Evernote is an app that lets you store content, take down notes, write lists, and organize all of them. While these are stored in Notebooks, the whole concept behind this productivity app is more like a Universal Inbox where you can save everything you’ve collected so you can quickly find it when you need them through the use of tags.

            Microsoft’s OneNote, on the other hand, works very much like a digital version of the notebooks you used to carry around in school. Aside from storing all your notes and different types of content you’ve collected, you can also organize them into sections, pages, and containers.

            Each of these apps offers their users a host of features to help them improve their productivity and memory. Also, because no app is perfect, each also has their strengths and limitations.

            To get a better idea of which app will be your best choice, we’ll be comparing the two based on three key features most used by their users: collecting information, note-taking, and mobility.

            Collecting information

            Both the OneNote and Evernote come with their own web clipper extension that allows you to quickly collect and store information from different websites as you find them.

            Both give you the option to choose whether you’d like to save the entire web page as is, a simplified version without the ads, or just a section of the page. You can also add some notes before saving them to make it easier for you to remember why you “clipped” that particular resource.

            Since OneNote gives you more structure to organize your content, its web clipper allows you to choose not just which notebook to save the details, but also what section within the notebook.

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              Source: OneNote.com

              Evernote gives you the option to add tags to your web clippings before you save it, so it’s easier for you to search for it later.

              Premium users get access to Evernote’s Related Results feature located in its Options section. When you search on Google, Evernote will launch a secondary search that will show all the notes related to the keyword you used in searching for information.

                Source: Zapier.com

                This feature, according to Jeremy Skillings, President of Youcanbefound.com, is beneficial because it lets you know what information you already have stored in your notes.

                “In some cases whenever I do my research, I find out through this feature that I already have the exact information I need stored in my Evernote account. That alone cuts back a significant amount of the time I spend on projects.”

                Note-taking

                Both of these productivity apps allow you to create and format your notes to create rich documents. Among these features include changing the font size and color, adding tables, and inserting media files.

                Evernote’s note-taking features are very similar to a Word document in that it’s very structured concerning how you input your notes.

                  Professionals who need to be able to build and access well-structured docs in the field make up much of Evernote’s loyal fanbase. One such 2-year user in the real estate field, Anthony Gilbert of RealFX.com, liked the formatting options, but admitted that there were still some downsides to the rigidly formatted approach.

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                  While he enjoyed the features, his personal experience with using it in the field revealed that the formatting features,“mean that if you need to change parts of your notes around, it can get tedious”. He continued, “the formatting features are quite finicky, so you may need a bit of patience to get the end results you are looking for.”

                  Professionals who need to be able to build and access well-structured docs in the field make up much of Evernote’s loyal fanbase. One such 2-year user in the real estate field, Anthony Gilbertof RealFX.com, liked the formatting options, but admitted that there were still some downsides to the rigidly formatted approach.

                  Structuring your notes properly from the get-go can have an effect on your productivity. A blank slate can sometimes be puzzling. Evernote allows the ability to use battle-tested templates and workflows that save you time. They can provide inspiration and structure on what’s possible.

                  On the other hand, OneNote gives its users more versatility and flexibility in the way notes are created. You can click at any area of the page and begin typing. If you need to move things around, you can drag and drop sections of your notes to the right place.

                  On the other hand, OneNote gives its users more versatility and flexibility in the way you create your notes. You can click at any area of the page and begin typing. If you need to move things around, you can drag and drop sections of your notes to the right place.

                    Source: Lifehacker

                    Also, it gives you the option to create Templates that you can use to layout your page properly, so all you’ll need to do is to fill in the information.

                      Source: MakeUseOf

                      This is a particularly handy feature that stood out to many of the people who shared their love of OneNote with me. Steve Lionais, longtime user and Co-Founder & CEO of Dr-Bill.ca, claims that this feature helped him build his business by affecting his memory in a powerful and helpful way.

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                      “This [feature] is what makes OneNote great memory retention app,” he said of the templates. “I find that I remember things more when they are arranged in a certain way. OneNote allowed me to do that for my meeting and presentation notes, so I don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to find the next point!”

                      However, what really makes OneNote the winner of this round is its ability to allow you to embed media files from other sources like Youtube. In addition to including the link, OneNote launches a media player, allowing you to watch the video or listen to the audio file directly from the page where you saved it.

                        Source: Windows Central

                        Mobility

                        Evernote and OneNote can be used both on desktops and mobile devices. At the same time, they provide their users with the ability to sync the content from one device to the other.

                        Judging which of the two productivity apps is best here is quite tricky because it greatly depends on several factors. One of these is the operating software you use.

                        Many of the power users we asked were using iOS, and that put some points toward Evernote. Greg Reese of AmeriEstate.com found himself frequently using the built-in camera option (and other iOS integrations) to manage his daily duties as President.

                          Evernote’s camera also integrates with Post-It, Moleskin notebook pages, and business cards. When you take a photo of any of these, the camera will capture the information and format this for Evernote so that it’s quick to find it when you search.

                          OneNote, on the other hand, dominates the Android environment. In addition to the app, Android users will also find a OneNote floating badge on the side of the home screen. So you can take notes on the go very quickly.

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                            Source: MS Power User

                            Another factor to consider is the cloud storage you use. For you to sync OneNote across different devices, you’ll need to first set up an account with OneDrive, which is Microsoft’s cloud storage service.

                            “This is something that Evernote users like me don’t have to worry about,” according to Matt Willens, Head Attorney for Willens Law Offices. “Whether you use a free account or one of their paid plans, you can immediately sync your devices without having to get a separate cloud storage account.”

                            The drawback here is the amount of storage and number of devices that you can sync. Free users are only given 60MB of storage space and can sync up to two devices. If you need more storage space, you’ll have to get the paid plans.

                            Which app is better for improving memory and productivity?

                            The honest—and most straightforward—answer is:

                            It depends on you.

                            While Evernote and OneNote have their strengths and weaknesses, how well it will help improve productivity and memory greatly depends on what works best for you.

                            If you find that you’re able to work best and remember things more using visual cues, OneNote will be the best productivity app to use. However, if you consider the speed and ease of finding the information you need as your top priority, Evernote will be your best option.

                            Since both productivity apps have free versions, you can give both a try and see where you’re most comfortable. In the end, the right productivity app to use is one that complements the way you work and do things rather than dictating to you how you should get them done.

                            Featured photo credit: Yura Fresh via unsplash.com

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