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Best New Productivity Apps for 2022

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There’s always a better way to get things done, and this year’s best new productivity apps prove it.

From powerful search tools for your web browser to exciting remote collaboration tools, these apps help you remember more, reduce repetitive tasks, and spice up your presentations.

While our annual list of the best apps includes all sorts of new creations, we rely heavily on the tools you could use on a computer or web browser. And almost all of them are free to use or free to try. If you’re looking to boost your productivity this year, here are some great ways to start.

Better browsing

Refined Search: Give your web browser a powerful command bar with Omni, a free extension for Chrome (and other Chromium-based browsers, such as Microsoft Edge) and Firefox. Just press Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+Kand start typing to search through your open tabs. You can also use keyboard commands to load bookmarks, search your history, clear your browser cache, and more. [Chrome, Firefox]

Omni offers one-stop search across numerous apps.

Everything in one place: By using your browsing history, Eesel acts as a powerful launching point for productivity. This free extension replaces your new tab page and helps you find Notion pages, Google Docs, Trello boards, Spotify playlists, and more from a unified search bar. You can also sort frequently used pages into folders for quick access, or launch specific pages with keyboard commands. [Chrome, Firefox]

Orion offers some useful browser tools. And when it comes to extensions, it is multilingual.

A browser breakthrough: Orion is a new browser focused on speed and privacy, with built-in tracker blocking and a promise to never collect data about your behavior. It also offers some useful tab management tools, such as an overview button and a customizable toolbar. The most useful trick, however, is the ability to run both Chrome and Firefox extensions, despite being based on the same Webkit engine as Apple’s Safari. [Mac, iOS]

If you want to read faster, give Bionic Reading a try.

Fast reading made easy: The next time you dive into a long article and have little time to read it, give Bionic Reading an attempt. This browser extension and conversion tool uses bold text at the beginning of each word to help your eyes. While it may look strange at first, it feels faster. You can even take a test to compare Bionic Reading with standard text. (Note that while similar tools like Jiffy Reader have risen to prominence this year, we give credit to Bionic Reading for being the original.) [Chrome, web]

Heyday remembers your stuff across multiple services so you don’t have to.

Total web page recall: Have you ever searched Google for web pages you’ve visited before? if, heyday can be a great time saver, searching your browser history to turn up relevant pages as you browse. You can also connect Heyday to services like Twitter, Dropbox, and Google to get even more helpful suggestions. It’s like giving your web browser an extra brain. [Chrome, Firefox]

Ambie’s soothing sounds and images are designed to help you stay focused.

Organizational Upgrades

Stay focused: Great ambient sound apps are scarce on Windows PCs, that’s why Ambie is so refreshing. It includes dozens of high-quality background sounds, plus the ability to save your own custom mixes. A major update this year added focus timers and a simple notepad, making this a one-stop concentration store. [Windows]

Arrange your day: bento takes a new approach to keep you on track, asking you to divide tasks into small, medium, or large sizes. Each task gets its own special focus timer, along with some soothing ambient sounds to help you stay in the zone. This app has a one-time purchase price of $8. [iOS]

Tweek offers a minimalist alternative to to-do lists in their traditional form.

Plan your week: If you are overwhelmed by traditional to-do lists, tweek is a welcome antidote. Type directly into this weekly calendar view to create new tasks with minimal effort, check them off, or drag them around. Tweek’s mobile apps have been completely rewritten this year, making them faster and easier to use offline, and they sync automatically with the web version. [iOS, Android, web]

With Matter, email newsletters don’t compete with all your other email.

Consolidate your reading list: Clean up your inbox and stop wasting time on Twitter with the help of Matter† This app automatically pulls in your newsletter subscriptions and follows interesting reads from your Twitter. Plus, you can save articles from the web for later or import your reading list from Pocket or Instapaper. It might be the last app you can read later. [iOS, web]

Microsoft Journal is a handy notebook for stylus-equipped Windows PCs.

To take more natural notes: For stylus equipped Windows PCs, Microsoft Journal provides an easier way to take handwritten notes. Scribble over an item to remove it, draw a circle around it for the selection tool, or draw a star to mark important items for later. You can also copy your handwriting and paste the text directly into apps like Word. It beats having to juggle clunky on-screen tools. [Windows]

Part notepad, part clipboard manager, Jot & Paste lets you save text snippets for later use.

An instant memory bank: Like a cross between a notepad and a clipboard manager, Jot & Paste lets you save text snippets that you want to come back to later. Press Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+Enter to open a simple notepad, type what you want to save and then press Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+L to display a list of your saved notes, which you can quickly paste into any text field. [Windows, Mac]

Your work – no giant images of your colleagues – is central to Switchboard.

Smarter collaboration

Next level video calling: For a more innovative alternative to Zoom, check out switchboard, which gives your team a blank canvas on which to create sticky notes, share files, and view web pages. The faces of participants are relegated to little chat bubbles at the top of the screen, while the actual work you do together takes center stage. [Web]

With Who Brings you can distribute the items needed for parties, trips and other gatherings.

Pack as a group: Ditch the spreadsheets and email chains for your next big outing and use Who brings instead of. With a simple shareable link, anyone in your group can add items to the list or claim responsibility for bringing something. You can even indicate how much of something you should take with you and divide the tasks among the people. [Web]

Tell Reclaim about your projects and it will use AI to block them on your calendar.

Protect your time: Are you overbooking yourself with too many appointments and meetings? Reclaim for Google Calendar can help by making time for in-depth work. Just specify how much time you need and when you need it, and the app will automatically find an available time slot, all right from Google Calendar. It is an extension of Reclaim’s Freestanding web applicationwhich also allows you to make time for positive habits. [Google Calendar]

For video-loving presenters, Pitch is a compelling PowerPoint rival.

An upgrade of PowerPoint: While many companies have tried to use videos to spice up presentations, none have nailed execution as well as Pitch† Each slide can have a special video clip, which you can drag and drop to any part of the screen. This makes the video look less like a lecture and more like a natural part of the presentation itself. [Mac, web, iOS, Android]

A more polite meeting planner: In what seems like a magical act, Boomerang discovered how to embed the availability of your live calendar directly into Gmail or Outlook. The “Bookable Schedule” feature allows you to send scheduling emails with an embedded live view of your open time slots, so the recipient just clicks on the time that works best for them. Better than having to send people to an external web page to schedule them. [Web, iOS]

Adobe Express allows non-designers to compose materials that look beautifully designed.

Visual Enhancers

Graphic Design For Dummies: Even without serious graphics, you can create slick posters, business cards, or social media images in minutes with Adobe Express† Start with a template or from scratch, then use the simple drag-and-drop interface to add fonts, images, and stock art. Formerly known as Adobe Spark, this app was renamed this year and added a slew of new editing tools, such as instant background remover and video to GIF converter. [iOS, Android, web]

Screenshots, embellished: If you take screenshots for social media posts or presentations, pika offers an easy way to make them more beautiful. Just upload or paste an image and Pika will immediately frame it with background gradients, shadows and rounded corners. An optional $10 per month “Pro” plan adds features such as text and watermarks. [Web]

Delete unwanted elements: No Photoshop skills are needed to remove photobombers, watermarks or other ugly elements you can use now cleanup.photos instead of. This AI-powered magic eraser lets you draw over the parts of an image you want to remove and then fills the empty space automatically. A $5 per month upgrade unlocks full-resolution photo downloads. [Web, iOS via the Clipdrop app]

Useful Tools

The ultimate webcam app: You don’t have to wait for iOS 16’s “Continuity Camera” Feature to start using your phone as a computer webcam. Camouflage is available today and works on various platforms; you can use an Android phone with a Mac or an iPhone with a Windows PC. With a major update in May, Camo became the first virtual camera app to work with FaceTime and Safari, giving you unlimited use for all your video calls. [Windows, Mac, iOS, Android]

Free document signing: Adding your signature to a PDF file shouldn’t require an expensive subscription or fiddly login process. Of SignFree, you can upload a document, sign your signature with a mouse or trackpad, add printed text if needed, and download the results. The service is free to use, with optional subscriptions for additional features such as Gmail integration and signature requests. [Web]

A tool for every occasion: PhotosArt quick tools website is full of useful little utilities for your photos, videos and documents. Remove backgrounds from photos, convert PDFs to Word documents, quickly crop videos and more – all for free, without having to log in. [Web]

blur it: To avoid revealing sensitive information in your next Zoom conversation, try Zerobur† This free Chrome extension lets you blur web page elements with one click, perfect for showcasing a product or website that contains email addresses or other personal information. [Chrome, Firefox]

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