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The 37 best productivity apps

Favourite mobile, web and desktop apps

We present our favourite productivity applications for Google Android, BlackBerry and Apple iPhone as well as the best productivity utilities and online apps.

To maintain your usernames and passwords on your iPhone in one place, try 1Password. The mobile app syncs with the desktop version as well. If you wish, you can use it to store other personal information too, such as your credit-card numbers. • $19 Windows beta (free trial available); £5.99 version for iPhone

The powerful AndroZip File Manager works with archives, including 7ZIPhone, BZIP2, GZIPhone, RAR, TAR and ZIPhone files. You can use it to create GZIP, TAR or ZIPhone archives too. • Free

Astro File Manager for Android makes your phone act as a miniature PC. You can copy/move/rename files, back up apps, send files as attachments and compress files. • Free (with ads); $3.99 (Premium)

Some of the apps we outline here are fairly feature-light. Bento is anything but. Originating on the Mac, this productivity suite also allows you to turn your iPad into a 'proper' computer and create and share Excel files, databases, presentations, web pages and more. • £29 for three-user licence; free trial version available

Extend your default BlackBerry alert system via BerryBuzz. You can customise the LED colour alerts and vibration, keeping the LED flashing beyond the default 15 minutes and setting the phone to repeat alerts until acknowledged. • $6 per month

Too many calendars to check? CalenGoo syncs with your Google Calendar and even has a similar look. Other neat features include the ability to invite people to events, plus an integrated task list. • £3.99

Scan business cards using CamCard Lite and add the data to a new phone, Gmail, or Exchange contact. • Free; ($10 and $7 versions available)

Your work email is protected against viruses and spam, but it's likely that your personal webmail account isn't. Give Cloudmark DesktopOne a whirl. Available as a free download for non-commercial use, it's based on Cloudmark's corporate email filtering service. • Free

Need to plan a meeting or an event and don't share a calendar with invitees? The Doodle website and iPhone app is what you need. We used it to work out the most convenient date for a party we threw last year. It's also ideal for polls. • Free

The Dragon Dictation 2.0.2 application is a great alternative to having to type out lengthy emails on a clunky smartphone keyboard. You dictate your messages instead. Based on the Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice-recognition program, it's arguably more intuitive to have your iPhone than your laptop take a letter. • Free

Store and sync: the well-designed Dropbox syncing and sharing service lets you share folders across all of your computers. The apps for Android and iPhone (a BlackBerry app is on the way) make sure that your smartphone hosts those folders too. • Free

Create text, photo and audio notes with Evernote, then synchronise them to your PC or the web. From generating recipe ideas at the farmer's market to recording lecture notes, Evernote quickly makes itself invaluable. • Free

We like to imagine Gesture Search was thought up in response to someone waving their arms about in despair after losing a file. It lets you quickly locate a contact, bookmark, app or music track by drawing letters and digits on your Android touchscreen. • Free

Google Docs is similar in concept to Zoho and allows you to work on documents without needing them to be stored on the laptop or PC where you're working. Instead, in-progress files are stored in a web-based folder. A convenient time-saver. • Free

Time and task management can be tricky. The gTask task manager syncs with the desktop Google Tasks, which you can also access in the web version of Gmail and Google Calendar. So useful, it should be included on every Android phone. • Free

Recently shortlisted as one of the UK's Tech Media Invest 100, the UK-based HulloMail is an invaluable voicemail retrieval service that allows you to pick up messages using the web, your smartphone or email, saving you having to find a quiet spot to listen to that garbled message. • Free

Sometimes it's easier to show someone what you mean, rather than tell them. Jing allows you to do just this using email or instant messaging to share your webcast or a snapshot of what's on your screen. • Free

One of several useful screen-sharing apps we include here, Join.me is as straightforward as can be. Sign up, enter the email address of the colleague you want to show your screen to, then bring up the screen you want them to view. • Free

Dictate everything. Using Jott Assistant you can use your voice to set reminders, capture notes and to-dos, send email and text messages, then post to web services. • $3.95 per month Standard version; $13 per month Pro version

Manage your passwords using the mobile version of LastPass. It syncs saved login data, secure notes and saved forms with the desktop app, which runs on Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. • $12 annual subscription after a 14-day trial

If you need access to your PC from afar, you can do a lot worse than LogMeIn. As well as the desktop edition, there are smartphone versions in the form of LogMeIn Ignition for Android and iPhone. • Various prices (from free)

Too much messaging can make for unproductive days. MailSuite aims to address that with its ability to integrate your email accounts and to manage multiple Twitter accounts. Beta versions for all the major smartphone platforms, Mac, PC and web are all offered. • Various prices (from free)

myBrainShark allows you to make presentations over the net. The webcasting program is for sensible stuff such as product pitches and narrating white papers, but can also be used for podcasts, e-learning or slideshow narration. • Free

In a bid to embrace cloud computing and introduce easier collaboration, Microsoft has added Microsoft Office Web Apps to its latest Microsoft Office 2010 suite. This allows you to work over the web with colleagues, and to access and edit your Office files on the fly. • Free

Use Personal Assistant to track credit-card transactions, check your bank-account status, monitor frequent-flyer miles and itineraries, and get alerts when bills are due and itineraries change. • Free for basic version; $7 for premium version    

Most of us use Adobe Reader on a regular basis. It's often used for electronic documents such as instruction manuals and catalogues. Creating your own in Adobe Acrobat is not cheap; PrimoPDF offers a free, workable alternative. • Free

Don't waste time flitting between screens on your smartphone: QuickLaunch enables you to set up an unlimited number of shortcuts that bring you to any website, function, file or app on your BlackBerry phone with a single click. • $4.99

Remember the Milk: master your to-do lists with this feature-packed freebie. You can set reminders, switch between incomplete and finished tasks, and sort by priority, due date or task name. • Free

If you need to produce an in-depth survey on any topic, Survey Monkey is the app you need. A web-based survey creation and monitoring program, it offers powerful reporting and result filtering. You may recognise it from its regular appearances for PC Advisor's Reader Survey and Broadband Survey. • Free

Tapping away on a smartphone keyboard is notoriously tricky, even if you're an accomplished typist usually. Try SwiftKey. Android handset users report great things from this nifty offering. • Free

The BlackBerry Tether app allows your PC or Mac laptop to connect to the internet via your BlackBerry's 3G service. • $50 (£30)

Another Android-only offering, the Thinking Space mind-mapping app allows you to create maps to connect thoughts and ideas. It's great for organising and for forming new concepts. • Ad-supported free version; $4 for premium version

Vlingo comes into its own in every situation where you have to type on your smartphone, enabling you to use voice commands instead of fiddling with those tiny keys. It covers your phone's basic messaging functions, voice calls, Facebook updates and personal notes. On Android and BlackBerry, the app will even read your incoming messages to you. • Free basic version; premium version varies in cost by platform

Android users afflcted by airwave congestion can find a less crowded Wi-Fi channel using the WiFi Analyzer. It shows a graphical representation of Wi-Fi SSIDs' signal strength, along with information on which channels are being used. • Free

Wuala Sync. LaCie subsidiary Wuala offers an online storage service with a difference. You can trade in free hard disk space on other Wuala users' PCs, getting round the expense of cloud-based storage. The hived-off area of your drive is the only accessible part, and anything you want to store is automatically encrypted at your end before being uploaded. • First 1GB is free; a 10GB account is £29 a year

Zoho is not just a single app – it's a web-based office suite that you can use collaboratively with friends and colleagues. As well as calendaring and online meetings, it enables you to share and work together on documents, with people's changes highlighted in different colours for clarity. Mobile versions and tablet editions are also available. • Free

ZumoDrive is a web-based file storage, synchronisation and sharing service that mounts in the same way a network drive does. • Free

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