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The UK's 50 best free online tools

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To-do lists

The old-fashioned to-do list, which lets the brain concentrate on the task at hand rather than on ones in the future, remains one of the world's best productivity tools. These sites let you keep track of your obligations and prompt you to keep up the pace.

RememberTheMilk - Recommended
This reinvents the to-do list with a snazzy interface that lets you make lists in configurable categories, all laid out on the front page as tabs. Adding to-dos is easy, although adding deadlines, notes and time estimates isn't.

You can add to-dos using natural language such as 'Call Ted next Thursday', sync with your calendar via the widely supported iCalendar format and set tasks such as 'pay credit card bill' to recur.

RememberTheMilk sends reminders via IM, email or text message, or a combination of these. You can also upload tasks via a special email address that the site gives you.

It's a well-rounded free product.

HiveMinder This site relies on tags, rather than categories, to group tasks. While you can't schedule tasks using natural language, there's a nice drop-down calendar and you can easily add tags to a group of tasks.

HiveMinder syncs with external calendars, publishes RSS feeds and lets you email tasks, but the only notification it offers is a once-a-day email. Tags are more difficult to track than categories and, while it has a more intuitive interface than RememberTheMilk, it doesn't feel as useful.

Ta-Da List Those who prefer minimalism will love 37 Signals's Ta-Da List, where you can build multiple to-do lists. It allows no tags, categories or time elements; just lists of tasks with tick boxes. You can make the list public, but it won't send you reminders.

BackPackIt BackPackIt lets you create five shared pages that can include to-do lists, notes and a shared wiki-style document. It will send you up to 10 reminders via email or SMS, but tasks, as in Ta-Da List, have no time element.

RememberTheMilk

Never forget a thing with a RememberThe Milk to-moo list

Video aggregation sites

Although YouTube is the best-known video-sharing site, plenty more sites feature free clips of crazy lipsynching, pratfalls and even the odd useful how-to video. People are uploading hundreds of thousands of clips every day. These sites find the best and coolest for you. Some let you bookmark and categorise favourites. RealPlayer 11.0 lets you download and share them.

VideoSift - Recommended
VideoSift is a video site based on community submissions and voting. It caters mostly to the taste of the geek-and-college crowd, but that should change with time. You can mark favourites, comment, vote on and share videos.

You can't become a fully privileged user until you submit a video that gets at least five up-votes – and probationary users don't get as many voting rights. But finding a good submission shouldn't be too hard a task, and this site is certainly cool enough to warrant putting in a little extra effort.

VDiddy VDiddy is the perfect first stop for some post-lunch entertainment. There's no login, bookmarks or commenting, simply a front page with the top 12 videos of the moment from 11 video-sharing sites. Hover your cursor over a thumbnail to enlarge it; click on it and it'll play in an embedded player.

Dabble Dabble lets you organise, collect, comment on and share video clips from around the web. Using a toolbar link, you can bookmark clips from any video site, tag them and make or view shared playlists. But Dabble can't bookmark videos embedded in a web page or bookmark a video before it ends.

Digg and VideoBomb Digg is also worth an honourable mention. It has a very active video voting site, but the top videos tend to linger for too long. VideoBomb accepts QuickTime, Flash and Windows Media video files.

Quick links

Best online word processors

Best online bookmark managers and password managers

Best online instant-messaging services and answer sites

Best online to-do lists and video aggregation websites

Best online mashups and user review sites

Best webmail services, online operating systems and desktop widgets

Get the latest broadband internet news, reviews, downloads and tutorials at PC Advisor's Broadband Advisor website

See also, Office 2007 alternative: best free online office software


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