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Best Free Software for Work and Office: Productivity Enhancements

written by: Tolga BALCI•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 2/28/2010

We installed the basic programs to get started working with our computers in our previous article. But is that all? Definitely not! We can enhance our productivity with these free software applications.

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    In a previous article, we covered the basics with the best free software for work and office. But to further increase our productivity, we will need additional programs. We will increase our number of desktops, organize ourselves, create post-it notes (sticky notes), and finally display our calendar and to-dos on the desktop for easy access.

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    Microsoft Desktops If you have used Linux or Mac OS X, then you are already familiar with working with more than one desktop. If not, then think about having more than one desktop: reading e-mail and having web browsers in number one, word processing and related programs in number two, image editing in number three. This is not a forced scenario for the sake of giving an example; we are working with lots of programs open at the same time. At work, I have Microsoft Outlook, at least two AS-400 windows, one spreadsheet, and a web browser open at any point in time. If I want to check a document or open a PDF file, then my taskbar becomes full and I get lost. When using more than one desktop, I can easily group applications in different categories.

    Desktops is a tiny 62 Kilobyte download from Microsoft Technet. It is a simple executable file that you can place anywhere and run. It places itself on the taskbar and you can switch between desktops (or your workplaces if you will) by clicking on the taskbar icon or with the hotkey combination you selected when you installed the program (my personal combination is Ctrl + F keys).

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    Chandler You may be tempted to think that a task and calendar management program such as Mozilla Sunbird will be enough, but there are so many things that we have to do that we do not create a task for that still take up a significant amount of our daily life. At this point Chandler comes in and puts your calendar, to-dos, and ideas in one place. You can write down anything that you want to do, group items in categories (Work, Home, Personal etc.), assign priority (Now, Later) or mark them as completed, set reminders, send as e-mails, share on the web, and integrate with any program that is compatible with iCalendar (such as Google Calendar). The program is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS. I have installed the program on my Linux computer that I use at home and it immediately became one of my must-have applications.

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    PNotes Let's face it: We do not like to switch back and forth between different programs to see what we have to do. Instead we take a post-it note and snap it to some place convenient to keep our eye on. What if we had freely customizable notes that we could snap to our desktop and see with a single mouse click? Here are Pnotes (Pinned Notes or Portable Notes), the customizable post-it notes that you can use freely: use colors to separate work-related notes from personal ones, change their transparency, fonts, set reminders, dock them to a place on the screen and group them together.

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    Rainlendar Lite

    Rainlendar is a calendar and task management software that is displayed on the desktop. If you want to use it together with your favorite calendar software, I can say that it is compatible with the same programs that are compatible with iCalendar. You can see multiple calendars at the same time, you can have multiple months displayed at once, customize it with skins, backup your items, print them or search in them, and do everything that you would do with your calendar and to-dos such as setting reminders, recurrences, alarms etc.. However, the program's pro version has additional features such as shared calendars, Microsoft Outlook integration and Google Calendar Support (direct editing, online and offline).

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    All of these programs will ultimately help you in managing your daily life. I recommend you take a look at each program and decide on which one will suit your tastes better. Personally, I can say that Desktops and Chandler will possibly be your top two programs that you will get used to in a very short time.

Best Free Software for Work and Office

You don't need commercial software to get started with your work and office tasks. We have searched the Internet for the best performers, and here are our top free selections to boost your productivity.
  1. Best Free Software for Work and Office: Productivity Essentials
  2. Best Free Software for Work and Office: Productivity Enhancements