10 Free Programs, Apps and Plug-ins Every Outreacher Should Have

There’s a free program or service for just about everything these days, but most of them turn out to be a letdown. There are some generally helpful tools like Open Office or Microsoft Security Essentials, but those are common knowledge. What about the ones you may not be aware of but are no less useful? Well, have a look; these are the absolute top-notch tools for blogging that won’t cost a dime.

1. Flux – “Better lighting…for your computer”

 If you’re staring at a computer screen all day chances are your eyes are shot by the end of an eight hour shift. Thanks to Flux, you no longer have to strain your eyes. It allows your screen to adapt to the time of day, making your screen look like the room you’re in. Once the sun sets, your computer will adjust its lighting, allowing it to have a warmer glow. This is also useful during the day since you are able dim the lighting to that of either candle-light, a halogen or fluorescent bulb.

Available for: Everything

2. Boomerang – Easy Email Reminder

Boomerang-for-Gmail1This is a quick and easy plug-in for outreachers using Gmail. Sending follow-up emails is an essential part of the PR process. All too often, you’re bound to not get a response the first time around, but Boomerang allows you to control when you send and receive email messages.

Available for: Gmail

3. OmmWriter – Create your own ambient writing nook.

media-ommwriter-logo-1Trying to write that article but can’t seem to focus? Trouble connecting with your inner-creativity due to a distraction-filled environment? OmmWriter allows you to create your own private writing room no matter where you are. The creators claim to have carefully selected audio and visual backgrounds, and have consulted with a color therapy expert to induce the most peaceful and creative experience possible. There’s even an audio track (number seven) that simulates the sounds that an unborn child would hear inside a mother’s womb. Try it, it’s amazing.

Available for: Everything

4. Dropbox – Sharing Made Easy

Dropbox-LogoTired of emailing important documents to yourself? Need to send a file to a friend? It’s time to ditch the USB port. Any file you save to Dropbox instantly saves to any computer or phone you want, as well as the Dropbox website. The catch is that for free you can only save up to 2 GB, but this has still proved a handy tool for most. It works offline as well, so you’ll always have your files, whether or not you have a connection.

Available for: Everything

5. Desktop iCalendar Lite – Customizable Calendar, To-list, Organizer and More

Everyone could benefit from a little organization. Desktop iCalendar Lite allows you to manage your events, to-do list and calendar in a simple, sleek way. All are fully customizable allowing you to edit each skin’s color and opacity.

Available for: Microsoft

6. KeePass – Keep Track of All Your Passwords

Keeping one password for all of your accounts is a downright bad idea. Don’t do it, unless you want a hacker to gain access your entire digital life. Yikes! So how do you keep track of each different password in a completely safe and free way? KeePass is an open source password manager, helping you to store it all in one secure, encrypted database that is locked with one master key. For more info, see the Features page.

Available for: Everything

7. Vine – “Lifting the burdens of film-making”

vine_logo_lrgNow we can all be Spielberg! Vine is a relatively new phenomenon but is making big waves. It’s a mobile video editing app and part of what makes it so special is its innate simplicity. You can shoot and edit up to a full six-seconds of footage, which then loops again and again. I know what you’re thinking, “That’s it?!” Well, it’s often compared to Twitter in that its limitations are part of what make it work so well. Ellis Hamburger wrote, “The limitation gives the service the metabolism it needs to succeed.” You never know, creating short, addictive, looping videos might just be what your blog needs. Enjoy the six seconds of fame.

Available for: iPhone

8. Rapportive – How well do you really know your contacts?

rapportive-logoRapportive is the clever add-on that replaces the advert sidebar in your Gmail with loads of useful information about your contacts. It has photos, bios and links to all of their various social media accounts such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Facebook, etc—all in one convenient location. As an outreacher it’s important to know the person you’re contacting, so you’ll want to gather as much about them as possible.

Available for: Gmail

9. Diigo – “Web Highlighter and Sticky Notes”

imagesIs your Bookmark Bar getting a little full? Diigo allows you to “annotate, archive and organize” everything you find of interest on the web. Now you can highlight text or attach sticky notes anywhere and when you return you’ll find them there waiting for you!

Available for: Everything

10. Zemanta – Editorial Assistant

zemantaWriting a blog post is a draining experience involving lots of research. Let Zemanta help. This plug-in creates a sidebar that reads your post and finds other related posts, usable public-domain images and hash tags.

Available for: Everything

There you have it, the best tools available for bloggers on the web. Don’t go crazy and download them all at once, pick a few, try them out and leave a comment below. Do you know of any other tools that weren’t on the list?

About the author

Jon Auffarth