The best apps for ultimate productivity Windows 11

Eli
12 min readFeb 20, 2022

Staying focused nowadays isn’t an easy task. With constant notifications on your phone and pc, social media always updating, and just the general distractions that come up when you finally do decide to get some work in. Especially at times like now, when working from home isn’t a rare task anymore, getting 25 minutes of work in is easier said than done.

20% of people struggle with procrastination according to research done by Dr Joseph Ferrari, so it is correct to assume one in every five of you readers could do with some tips and help to assist you with getting on with the tasks at hand and being able to get done a lot more in shorter time spans, so in this article, I’ll give you some of the best windows apps to help you be as productive as possible and eliminate any distractions that might take away from your work.

Shortly Ai

You can get your first free uses here https://shortlyai.com?fp_ref=kilabyte

Shortly Ai is a website made to make writer block a thing of the past. It’s perfect for bloggers or writers. If you ever get stuck, mind blank unsure what to write, you just give it a small brief, select the output length and let it do its magic!

Shortly offers four free tries which are easily accessible without even email confirmation or a credit card used. After your free trial, it costs $65 (approx. £47.81 GPB) a month with a pay yearly plan, or $79 (approx. £58.11 GBP) a month if you chose to pay monthly.

Even if you have no use for Shortly Ai, I would defiantly recommend you use the free trial and check it out, as It really is an awesome Ai to test out. If you are not exactly sure how it works or what to do, you can check out my tutorial here; https://kilabyte.org/how-to-get-ai-to-blog-for-you/.

Mailbird

Check it out herehttps://getmailbird.com/

Mailbird has to be the best email management tool I’ve ever tried. I’ve been able to connect multiple email addresses to it and switch between them easily and quickly, with an option to show all emails from all inboxes. It has some slight customization features, which in my opinion could be a little improved, but the best features are the app integration and sidebar. From Instagram to Asana, you can enable any of their multiple inbuilt apps, with a togglable sidebar to seamlessly multitask whilst keeping on top of all your emails.

By far my favourite addon is Evernote, which I’ll talk about in the next section. Mailbird includes all of the email features you’d expect of an email client, only better! With custom sound notifications, Snooze, an option to connect with LinkedIn, multi-language support, scheduled-send, email tracking, and of course, keyboard shortcuts & dark mode (the features that make or break an app 😄)!

The two things I think the app is lacking are, a mobile app and an inbox with sections (like Primary, Social, Promotions etc.). Unfortunately at the moment, they do not have a free plan, although they do offer a free trial of 14 days. After your free trial you can buy a personal plan at £2.42 (approx. $3.29 USD) a month billed annually, or a business plan at £3.75 (approx. $5.10 USD) a month billed annually. They also offer an option to buy once, and I would defiantly recommend the business plan.

Evernote

Get organized for free https://evernote.com/

Evernote is what I would say, “your ultimate tool for productivity”. It’s got everything you might or will need to get working, from notes, reminders, to-do lists, document scanners, web clippers, google calendar connection and more, Evernote I the ultimate productivity tool to keep you organized!

It has a really nice interface with some customization features and amazing to-do list management with options to add deadlines, task managers, and even an option to add people on your to-do list, so you can get more done together! It has a web clipper to save articles, web pages and web captures from anywhere online directly to Evernote so you can refer back to it later. It’s available on mobile and computer so you can take notes and manage your tasks wherever you are!

I can go on and on listing out all the amazing features Evernote offers, but I don’t want to go to fr off from this article, so maybe I’ll publish an article showing you around Evernote and the things you can do with it. I actually plan all my blog posts, brainstorm ideas and manage my website tasks all with Evernote and it’s really helped me keep everything on track.

Evernote does offer a free plan that I would defiantly recommend you try out, but if you want further features the personal plan starts from £4.58 (approx. $6.23 USD) a month on the paid yearly plan, or you can get the professional plan at £6.25 (approx. $8.50 USD) a month if you pay yearly.

Snapdrop

You can use this completely free and online tool here https://snapdrop.net/

Snapdrop is the Windows and Android alternative to Airdrop. If like me you constantly go from mobile to PC and it can be annoying trying to transfer files between them unless, of course, you use Apple products. Apple has an amazing and easy to use feature called Airdrop, which I’m sure you’ve heard of before. If not, it’s a feature inbuilt into macOS, iOS and iPadOS, that enables you to quickly and easily share files to nearby Apple devices. But unfortunately, that is limited to Apple devices, but if you are trying to send to a Windows PC from your iPhone (or between any two devices of any OS), it can be an annoying process.

So the best alternative I use is Snapdrop, you simply open their website on any devices you want to share between, and so long as they’re connected to the same network you can quickly share your files between them for free, completely online!

Otto

You can add this to chrome here https://ottoapp.me/

The Pomodoro Technique has been around for over 40 years, it was developed by a student called Francesco Cirillo when he was struggling to study. He found he kept on getting overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead, so he got a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato (Pomodoro in Italian), and broke up his study time into 10-minute sections.

Since then the Pomodoro technique has become a well-known way to study and work, breaking long tasks up into short and manageable times spans, split up with five-minute breaks in between allowing the ultimate productiveness at work. There are many programs, plugins and apps out there, made for the Pomodoro technique, but Otto is the one I have been using.

Otto offers a really nice and easy to use interface with a completely free Pomodoro timer. It’ll automatically block websites based on the time spent on them, so you don’t end up getting distracted from your work, it lets you add your own sites you want to block with an amazing time usage feature. So you can set it that if you spend over one minute on Twitter (or any other site), it will automatically block it. And when your 25 minutes are up, it will automatically notify you with a quick ring and notification and then start the break countdown.

Otto also has an Insights feature, so you can see how focused you’ve been and how often you get distracted, to help motivate you and show you what to work on. Although, for advanced insights, you’ll need Otto Pro which you can buy for a cheap $10 one-off fee. I would defiantly recommend you check it out, as just the free option offers everything you’d need!

Beeftext

Get this awesome program here (you won’t regret it xD) https://beeftext.org/

Beeftext is something I only came across recently, and I don’t know why I never found something like this until then. It works similarly to Apple’s text replacer feature, you can choose any characters to automatically be replaced by a word/phrase after inputting them. Their website and program are slightly underwhelming, but it functions amazingly and is in constant use.

You simply select the text you want to be replaced, and then select the replacement you want. So for example, I have “!sig “ (obviously without the quotation marks) to be automatically replaced with:

Many thanks, Night Wolf.
---
👨‍💻 I do web development http://nightwolf.tech/
✍️ I run a blog https://kilabyte.org/
✉️ Feel free to contact me :)
👉 info@nightwolf.tech
📸 @nightwolf.tech
📹 @kilabyte_blog

As you can see I put “!” before all the text just in case I ever actually need to use “ sig” by itself. I also set “!@” to be replaced with my email “info@nightwolf.tech” and “!@k” to be replaced with “ info@kilabyte.org “. So far I’ve set 14 text snippets that I constantly use to be auto replaced, which includes email addresses, email templates, signatures and just some other random text snippets.

I actually think I came across Beeftext through someone else’s Medium article, although I can’t seem to find it, if you know which publisher it is, please let me know so I can credit them. 😉

Tabliss

Turn Chrome or Firefox into a productive environment https://bit.ly/gettabliss

Multiple studies have shown that your environment strongly affects the behaviour, perceptions and productivity of people. So of course, if you’re looking to be as productive as possible, a good place to start would be in your environment. Google Chrome’s home and new tab page are very bland and unmotivating, which is why I use Tabliss.

Tabliss is an amazing free Chrome and Firefox extension that completely changes your work environment. Adding it to chrome will automatically switch your new tab and google or firefox home page to the Tabliss environment, and from there you can completely customize it to your liking.

As shown in the image above, I set the background to a beautiful wallpaper collection from Unsplash that changes every 15 minutes, I also added some quick links at the top which are accessible using numbered shortcuts (1 for the first link, 2 for the second and so on). I left the clock that’s there by default, and added a search bar beneath it, setting the font to a Monospace typeface. At the bottom centre I added a motivational quotes widget with a handwritten font, on the left is a to-do list and a weather widget on the bottom right.

It even offers an option to add custom CSS, and all of this is made completely free by an Australian developer!

Pocket

Save your read later items here https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/pocket-save-read-grow/id309601447

If you’re like me, you are constantly adding things to your iPhone Reading List. But unfortunately, as Safari is no longer supported by Windows, there isn’t a way to access your Reading List from Windows. Well, at least not until I came across Pocket, Pocket is a simple and easy to use alternative to Apples Reading List.

Pocket is a simple iPhone app with a free plan that does everything you’d need of it. If you ever come across anything on your phone you want to refer back to later, just hit the Share button as you normally would, and then select “ Pocket” and it’ll be saved to your reading list. And then if you just log in to the website from any device, you can find all your saved websites.

It also offers multiple other features, including suggested feeds, audio articles, and more! The free plan includes everything you’d need, but if you want any extra features, like highlights, text search, premium fonts and more the premium plan is $44.99 USD a year (approx. £33.09 GBP), or a monthly membership of $4.99 USD (approx. £3.67 GBP) a month.

The next few items arent really enough to be added on their own so I thought I’d just add a small section at the end with a few programs always using but aren’t directly productivity-related.

— Special Mentions —

PowerToys

Streamline your system nowhttps://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/powertoys/install

PowerToys is an open-source program created by Microsoft with some awesome features to help you get much more out of Windows, and to be honest, I think they phrase what it is a lot better than I do;

Microsoft PowerToys is a set of utilities for power users to tune and streamline their Windows 10 experience for greater productivity.

It’s constantly being updated with new features, but here are some of the really awesome ones it already has:

  • Always on Top — A feature to pin any selected window so it’s always above all other open windows
  • Color Picker — An excellent tool for designers and developers, it’s a system-wide colour picker with multiple colour formats including HEX, RGB, HSL and more, and even offers a feature to display the colour name
  • FancyZones — It’s like an add-on to Windows 11’s windows snapping (also works on Windows 10 of course), it lets you automatically snap the selected windows to a preset zone on screen
  • Image Resizer — An extra right-click option so you can resize images without any dedicated software
  • PowerToys Run — Basically a Windows alternative to MacOS’s spotlight search bar
  • Video Conferencing Mute — Globally disable your camera and webcam with a simple keyboard shortcut

Those are just some of my favourite features, but there are some amazing features for you to try out for yourselves! To download PowerToys, just click on the link above and follow the on-screen instructions.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are something every PC user should be using, and after just a few times of using them, it should be muscle memory. Here are some of the most frequently used Shortcuts I use, starting from the most obvious ones, and moving onto the lesser-known shortcuts. Highlighting or saving this section might be useful for you to refer back to later 😉

  • Ctrl + D → On Windows File Explorer it deletes selected items, on Web Browsers it Bookmarks
  • Ctrl + E → Search
  • Ctrl + F → Find
  • Ctrl + H → Web Browser history
  • Ctrl + J → Web Browser Downloads
  • Ctrl + Shift + Esc → Opens Task Manager
  • Ctrl + Shift + N → Web browser incognito mode
  • Win + Shift + S → Take a screenshot
  • Win + E → Opens File Explorer
  • Win + W → Opens Windows Widgets
  • Win + 1 → Opens the first item on the taskbar (2 opens second etc.)
  • Win + I → Settings
  • Win + A → Opens Windows Basic Controls
  • Win + G → Opens Windows Game Bar (If enabled)
  • Win + L → Switches User
  • Win + V → Opens Clipboard (Need to enable history on first use)
  • Win + D → Minimize/Maximize all Windows
  • Alt + Tab → Change Window
  • Alt + Enter → Opens Selected Files Properties
  • Alt + Left Arrow → Back a Tab
  • Alt + Right Arrow → Forward a Tab
  • F2 → Rename a File

I hope after trying out these programs and tools, you can now get back into your work as productive as possible! In my opinion, Mailbird is probably one of the best programs I’ve downloaded, especially as it’s got Evernote, WhatsApp and multiple other tools integrated into it.

What’s one tool or trick you use to maximize your productivity? And if you found that shortcuts guide above helpful, subscribe to the weekly mailing list as I’ll soon be posting an ultimate guide to keyboard shortcuts! ✌️

Originally published at https://kilabyte.org on February 20, 2022.

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Eli

🍱 bento.me/eli 👋 Hi I'm Eli, I’m 17 👀 I'm interested in anything tech 🌱 I'm currently doing a full stack web dev course 💪 Eager to learn new things!