Image credit: 37.media.tumblr.com
Confession time: I’m not a particularly computer-savvy person. I’m sorry, it’s true – if things start to go wrong on my computer, my first reaction is to panic, and my next reaction is to call my boyfriend for help. And, when it comes to math, money, and budgeting, I’m honestly pretty hopeless. And, I know there are plenty of others out there like me. We can’t always have a computer or math genius on hand to help us out, so I’ve compiled this list of what I think are the most helpful programs to make life simpler.
1. File Moving: Laplink PCmover
If you recently (or maybe not so recently) bought a new PC and you need to move your files from your old one to your new one, put down that flash drive right now. There’s no need to waste hours copying your files onto flash drives or CDs or saving them to a Dropbox or whatever. Laplink’s PCmover program does all of this for you, in a fraction of the time. It can also copy programs and personal settings, so you won’t have to re-download your programs or go hunting around for old CDs.
2. Mac/Windows Integration: VMWare Fusion
So you finally bought a Macbook, your dream computer, only to discover that the software you need to use only works on PC. Don’t facepalm just yet.
The very same problem happened to a friend of mine who studied engineering in college – she arrived to class on her first day with her shiny new Macbook Pro, only to discover that the software required for all of her classes would only run on a PC. Do you think she panicked? No! She got VMWare Fusion. This software allows you to run Windows on your Mac, and switch effortlessly between operating systems. You can then use software on your computer that is compatible with either operating system. Sounds fancy, but it’s actually really affordable. Now you don’t have to pick sides in the age-old Mac vs. PC battle. Whew! What a relief.
3. Talk to Text: Dragon
Ever feel like your typing can’t keep up with the speed of your thoughts? That’s exactly the kind of problem that Nuance’s Dragon Naturally Speaking is made to solve. This speech-recognition software allows you to control your computer just by speaking, and you can do everything from opening and closing programs, navigating the web, writing emails and documents, and more. Plus, it’s one of the most accurate speech-recognition software options available, and is available for both Macs and PCs.
4. Data Recovery: Recuva
There are few things worse than that sinking feeling when you realize you just deleted an extremely important file, or when your hard drive crashes and your backup files aren’t up to date. But don’t worry, there’s a program for that, too: Recuva. This program can help recover corrupted, deleted, and erased files from hard drives, flash drives, cameras, and more. You can download the Mac or PC version here. Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?
5. Personal Finance: Mint.com
Ok, so this one isn’t exactly a software program, but it has rave reviews all over the web, so I had to include it. Mint.com is an online budget tracking platform that lets you keep track of where you’re spending your money, set budgets and goals for yourself, and visualize your progress. The program can integrate with all major banks and institutions and automatically track your spending, give you updates, and let you see what’s happening with all your accounts at once. Since it’s online, you can access your Mint account from your computer or phone. And it’s free!
One reason some people hesitate to use Mint.com is that you have to enter your online banking information in order for the program to gain access to your accounts. But, according to Jennifer Schultz of the New York Times, the site is about as secure as they come, using the same encryption techniques as financial institutions. Also, you can’t move or use your money through Mint.com, you can just see your money and account activity.
6. Taxes: TurboTax
The IRS makes doing your own taxes so complicated that even my PhD father can’t figure it out without help. I mean, come on. But it has to be done, and you probably don’t want to pay someone else to do it. Luckily, TurboTax can make the whole process a lot less painful. Instead of confusing forms and tiny print, TurboTax asks you simple questions about your life, does all the complicated calculations for you. The simple online version is free, and for the other versions you can usually find a good discount.