Best New Productivity Apps for 2022

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

Improved 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+K and 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 leveraging 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.

Quick reading made easy: Try Bionic Reading the next time you’re diving into a long article and you’re short on time to read it. 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 to standard text. (Note that while similar tools like Jiffy Reader have gained prominence this year, we consider Bionic Reading to be original.) [Chrome, web]

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

Total webpage recall: Ever search Google for webpages you’ve visited before? If so, Heyday can save you a lot of time sifting through your browsing history to find 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, which is 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]

Rule 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’re 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 help from 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.

Take more natural notes: For Windows PCs with a stylus, Microsoft Journal offers 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 store snippets of text that you want to come back to later. Press Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+Enter to open a simple notepad, type in what you want to save, then press Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+L to display a list of your saved notes that you want to save. 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, head to 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’s Bringing instead. 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 blocking 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’s an extension of Reclaim’s freestanding web app, which also allows you to make time for positive habits. [Google Calendar]

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

An upgrade from PowerPoint: While many companies have tried to use videos to spice up presentations, none have nailed execution quite 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 scheduler: In what seems like a magical act, Boomerang has figured out 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 graphic design, Adobe Express lets you create slick posters, business cards, or social media graphics in minutes. 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 rebranded this year, adding a slew of new editing tools like instant background remover and video to GIF converter. [iOS, Android, web]

Screenshots, embellished: If you’re taking screenshots for social media posts or presentations, Pika offers an easy way to beautify them. 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]

Erase Unwanted Elements: No Photoshop skills are needed to remove photobombers, watermarks or other unsightly elements now that you can use instead. 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: No need to wait for iOS 16’s “Continuity Camera” feature to start using your phone as a computer webcam. Camo is available today and works on a variety of 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 doesn’t require an expensive subscription or clunky login process. SignFree allows you to 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: PicsArt’s Quicktools website is full of handy little tools 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 Zeroblur. 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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