My Collection of Business Tools I Could Not Live Without

By Alyssa Gregory

There are a lot of different applications, tools and services that I use in my daily work. If I counted up everything I use at least weekly, across all of my devices, I would probably hit somewhere around 55-60. I’ve talked about some of my favorite mobile apps and productivity tools before, but this post focuses on what I use — and need — every day on my main computer in order to run my business.

Here are what I consider the must-have tools and services as well as applications, in order to run my business efficiently. You may know of and use many of these yourself … or maybe you’ll be inspired to try something new.


I use these tools use to share information in the form of documents, spreadsheets, screenshots, etc.

Google Docs – A free, web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, form, and data storage service offered by Google.

Skitch – A free screen capture, annotation and sharing tool for Mac users.

YouSendIt – A free web-based service that lets users send, receive and track large files on-demand.


These services form the backbone of my communication processes.

BlueTie – Business email hosting with contacts, calendars and file-sharing capability.

HootSuite – Social media dashboard for managing multiple social networks.

Ring Central – A virtual phone and fax system for business communication.

Skype – A free communication service for video and voice calls, instant messages and file sharing.

Graphics/Web/Other Media

From designing to coding to creating audio files, here are the media tools that top my list.

Audacity – A free multi-platform audio editor and recorder.

Illustrator – A vector graphics editor by Adobe.

Jing – A screen capture, screencasting and sharing application by TechSmith.

Firefox (plus relevant plugins) – A free, open-source web browser by Mozilla.

Photoshop – A graphics editing program by Adobe.

TextWrangler – A free text editor for Mac OS X from Bare Bones Software.


These tools help me track and manage tasks, complete my standard daily to do’s, manage data and stay up-to-date.

Evernote – A free note-taking application that allows users to collect, sort, tag and annotate notes and other miscellaneous information.

Intervals – A comprehensive project management, task management and time-tracking tool.

iWork/MS Office – Office productivity suites. I lumped these together because I use MS Word and iWork Numbers daily with some of the other apps in the respective suites as needed.

NetNewsWire – A free desktop news aggregator for Mac OS X.

SugarSync – File backup and syncing software.

Your Turn

Of course, this isn’t everything I use, but it does include some of the tools, services and apps I consider most valuable; the ones that really help me to be as productive as possible.

What tools, services or apps could you not live without in your day-to-day work life?

Image credit: forwardcom

  • wildscribe

    Interesting to see what you have installed on your hard drive.

    I have a very similar set of tools, except I use Adobe Fireworks (A graphics program that does both vector and bitmap. Awesome for designing web pages and html email graphics.) and Coda, a PHP/CSS/HTML text editor by Panic software.

    For office productivity, I do most of my work on Google Docs and occasionally use NeoOffice, an version of OpenOffice that has been optimized for Mac OS X.

    Thank you Alyssa for another great post!

  • mwistrand

    You are the second person to recommend Evernote, so I will be sure to actually check it out.

    I use Netvibes heavily for organizing articles I have read, tasks I must complete, notes on said tasks, etc. If you have never used it before, I think it is worth at least looking into.


  • Belmond

    Nice collection. I suggest Dropbox (www.dropbox.com), an online storage service that lets you share foldes with others or have a “public” folder with web links that you can use to show your work to others.
    The client installs in Linux/OS X/Windows machines and performs a transparent almost-real-time synchronization of your files.

  • Meketrefe

    For Windows:
    – UltraEdit (www.ultraedit.com)
    – WinMerge (winmerge.org)
    – Search and Replace (www.funduc.com/search_replace.htm)
    – Firefox
    – Paint Shop Pro 4.12 (yes, prehistoric but works incredibly well even on Windows 7, http://www.oldapps.com/Paint_Shop_Pro.php?old_paint_shop_pro=5)
    – Photoshop
    – MS Office 2003
    – SimpleCheck 7.0 (sourceforge.net/projects/simplecheck/)
    – SharpReader (www.sharpreader.net)
    – NetPerSec 1.1 (www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,1735,00.asp)
    – Dreamweaver
    – Cygwin (www.cygwin.com)
    – ColorCop (colorcop.net)

  • http://www.yacare.fr McBenny

    As a developper I use :
    – Ultraedit (for more than 10 years now)
    – FileZilla
    – Photoshop (to open and simplify graphics)
    – Fireworks (to export final images)
    – Firefox (+firebug, +PHP and jQuery searches…) and about 5 other browser as a check
    – Ant renamer (absolutely astonishing !)
    – Xenu (wonderful to have a global image of your site and realize som minor problems)

    I also used to use netLimiter to test low bandwidth but it’s no more free.

  • Phil T.

    Strangely I started to write an article on this a few hours ago.

    I’d mention three things:

    -Dropbox, as Belmond mentioned. It just works so well I tend to forget it’s there.
    -Freemind – a Mind Mapping tool. All flavours (Win, Linux and Mac – I think). I use that a lot for brainstorming and information architecture sessions.
    -Aptana Studio, Eclipse based IDE, for code editing.

    Other than that most other ‘essential’ products has been migrated into ‘the cloud’. Google: mail, docs, calendar, reader.

    Oh, and Chrome as the web browser. I used to be a Firefox advocate but it’s just so slow and bloated compared to Chrome these days and now there are a lot more extensions, for Chrome, than there used to be (extensions I use: Share, Adblock, GReader notifier, GMail notifier, GCalendar notifier, Alexa toolbar, Chrome SEO, Pendule (web dev tools), Firebug lite, Flashblock and Dictionary lookup).

  • ITistic

    Glad to see you’re using Intervals. Not too often do I run into others that do, but we love it!

  • Tech Developer

    We love Intervals. Don’t know what we did before.

  • ZXT

    For Bloggers I suggest Microsoft Live Writer.

  • Anonymous

    great article!



Learn Coding Online
Learn Web Development

Start learning web development and design for free with SitePoint Premium!

Instant Website Review

Use Woorank to analyze and optimize your website to improve your website to improve your ranking!

Run a review to see how your site can improve across 70+ metrics!

Get the latest in Entrepreneur, once a week, for free.