By Alyssa Gregory

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)

  • 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!

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