Downloads to Boost Your Productivity (Part 2)

August 2, 2009 at 10:51 AM Leave a comment

E-mail, word processing and information software

Maybe you don’t need a full-blown office suite, but your work does require a component, such as a word processor, an e-mail program or a personal-information manager. Here are five productivity specialists.


Downloads to Boost Your Productivity // AbiWord (Image courtesy of PC World)

AbiWord, a dedicated, easy-to-use word processor, can handle any basic word-wrangling task you throw at it.

The interface is straightforward, so you won’t need to waste time getting lost in ribbons or multilevel menus. Simple icons and menus across the top of the page give you access to all of the program’s features, and there are many of them. The application performs mail merges; inserts page numbers, the date and time and other auto text; and provides some very nice table tools. On top of all that, it can insert and handle images.

Be aware that the program has some drawbacks; for one thing, it won’t support the newest .docx Office file format. Still, if you don’t need to work with .docx files, give this freebie a try.

Download AbiWord | Price: Free

EssentialPIM Free
Downloads to Boost Your Productivity // EssentialPIM Free (Image courtesy of PC World)

A personal information manager (PIM) can help you maintain your schedule and to-do list, keep track of your contacts and create outlines as you brainstorm.

EssentialPIM Free is an excellent PIM choice for anyone who doesn’t want to spend any money. Exceptionally simple to use, it offers just about everything you could want. Scheduling recurring events is a breeze and prioritizing your to-do lists is easy. The note taker is nifty, too, and the app even has a surprisingly good built-in e-mail client.

The program also imports data from Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express, allows you to configure its look and feel and provides printing options. The creators offer a for-pay version, which has additional features such as synchronization with mobile devices, Outlook and Google Calendar. But if you don’t need advanced features, the free version is a great bet.

Download EssentialPIM Free | Price: Free

Simple Sticky Notes
Downloads to Boost Your Productivity // Simple Sticky Notes (Image courtesy of PC World)

The name of this program says it all: It lets you create sticky notes on your PC similar to the paper Post-It notes that litter people’s offices. Just double-click the program’s icon in your system tray and it makes a note for you. Type in whatever you want to remember and you’re done. You can drag the note to any location on your desktop.

Want to change the font or the text color? You can do that and make the text bold or italic. How about changing the note’s color? Yes, you can do that, too, and you can change its opacity. You also can hide notes, print them and even automatically send their text via e-mail.

Overall, Simple Sticky Notes is straightforward and a snap to use — and it won’t waste your time.

Download Simple Sticky Notes | Price: Free

Downloads to Boost Your Productivity // Thunderbird (Image courtesy of PC World)

Chances are, you spend a big chunk of your workday going through your e-mail. Free office suites such as don’t have an e-mail client, while Microsoft Office does, in Outlook.

Thunderbird, a product of Mozilla, the same group that develops Firefox, offers a slew of high-end e-mail features, yet is extremely simple to use. In addition to all the standard e-mail features, it can encrypt messages, digitally sign messages and create filters for handling mail automatically when it arrives. It even supports RSS feeds and newsgroups, so you can keep up on the latest blogs, news and discussions. If you already have an e-mail client, Thunderbird will import your existing settings, so switching over is effortless.

Unlike Outlook, Thunderbird has no calendar, to-do list or other PIM features. If you need those, check out EssentialPIM Free, described above.

Download Thunderbird | Price: Free

Downloads to Boost Your Productivity // Xobni (Image courtesy of PC World)

If you already use Outlook but you want to improve your productivity and reduce e-mail overload, here’s the best way to do it. Xobni cuts through e-mail clutter, makes keeping in touch easier and streamlines searching for messages and contacts.

The program works as an Outlook add-on. When you need to use Xobni, it slides out from the right side of Outlook; when you’re done with it, the app hides away.

The program indexes all of your e-mail and its search is faster than the one built into Outlook. For each of your e-mail messages, it gives information about the person with whom you’re conversing, including a threaded list of every e-mail between the two of you. It also provides a list of every file you’ve exchanged, as well as the person’s phone number and “social network,” which is a list of people with whom the person has exchanged e-mail. Xobni integrates with the social networking sites Facebook and LinkedIn and it grabs information about your contacts from those sites, too.

You’ll find a lot more in this program, including analytics tools that report personal statistics such as the average amount of time you take to respond to people by day, month and week.

Download Xobni | Price: Free

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Downloads to Boost Your Productivity (Part 1) Downloads to Boost Your Productivity (Part 3)

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