A couple of months ago, I talked about which device–laptop, smartphone, or tablet–I preferred to use for particular tasks. Today’s topic in A Month of Favorites asks for “5 Most Useful Digital Lifehacks,” so I’ll tell you about a few of the apps I use and rely on every day. There’s a link-up hosted at Estella’s Revenge–be sure to visit to find more suggestions!
Disclosure/disclaimer: I use a Windows desktop PC, a MacBook Pro laptop, an iPhone 6, and an iPad mini. Some of these applications run cross-platform, but I’ll note if mobile ones are iOS-only. (I’m sure you Android users have your own exclusive favorites, too.) Also, when there’s a paid upgrade or subscription plan available for an app, I’ll usually buy it, but you may not find it necessary.
Audible (all platforms, free)
The app is free. The audiobooks can be purchased individually or bought with credits on a subscription plan. I never had any desire to read by ear on tape or compact disc, but the downloadable audiobook, sent to my smartphone and played via a connection to my car stereo, has changed my daily commute. And since I spend a good two hours a day, five days a week, commuting, audiobooks have thoroughly transformed my reading life.
Mr. Reader (iOS-iPad only, $3.99)
If you read blogs on an iPad, it’s absolutely worth the four bucks to read them via Mr. Reader. The app syncs with ten different feed services (including Feedly, Feedbin, and InoReader), supports folders and at least a dozen article-sharing options, and offers changeable, customizable reading views.
One of my favorite things about Mr. Reader is that I can selectively mark all as read based on the “age” of a post–from 2 weeks to 3 hours old; if I’m behind on my blogs, I can weed down to the most recent posts I think I can get to. I also like the fact that, most of the time, I can comment on posts without leaving the app by switching to the “web” view. (The exceptions, as you might guess, usually occur with Blogger sites.)
Dropbox (all platforms, basic free, paid plan available)
Because I do so many tasks on different devices and across various operating systems, I am a cloud-storage devotee. Thanks to Gmail, Google Drive gives me 25 GB free storage in the cloud. Apple offers me another 5 GB free storage in iCloud Drive. But I pay for the annual Dropbox subscription that gets me 1 TB (that’s a terabyte, y’all) storage.
I back up all my photos to Dropbox in both their original and edited versions, and that 1 TB should be enough space for many more years’ worth of those. I have Dropbox backup and sync set up for many of my other favorite apps, including Byword (text drafting in Markdown) and Day One (journaling), so I can access those files anywhere I want them.
Other perks of Dropbox are secure file sharing–e-mail someone a custom link rather than the file itself–and lack of format favoritism. Google and iCloud make more features
available to files in their own formats; Dropbox doesn’t care where your files come from.
Evernote (all platforms, basic free, paid plan available)
I don’t think I maximize the potential of Evernote, to be honest, and I don’t really use it much for raw note-taking. But if Dropbox is my virtual storage locker, Evernote is my file cabinet.
Evernote is where I keep reference materials, including items I want to use for blog posts. It’s a bookmarking service for articles and sites I want to go back to visit…just once or twice. It’s my recipe binder. Its business-card scanner means I can literally keep cards in my phone and not cluttering my desk. It’s a handy PDF reader, and if you subscribe to the paid plan ($5.00/month), you can also annotate PDFs within the app. And it’s a great place to jeep your grocery list, especially paired with…
Grocerytrip (iOS, $2.99)
Tag a list or recipe in Evernote with “grocerytrip,” and this app will pull it into a shopping list, organized by aisle. Most of the time, it puts items into thecorrect aisle, too–but you can move things around if they’re not where you want them, and the app will (usually) “remember” that for next time. It’s remarkable how much faster you can get through the supermarket when your list is arranged by where you find stuff.
I’m always interested in learning about cool and helpful apps, so tell me about some of your favorites!