Technology doesn’t have to be expensive or hard to use. It doesn’t have to take up space on a computer — it can reside in the cloud.
Some of the best and easiest-to-use software is free and can be found on the Internet. Any piece of technology that saves time or money or makes life easier is worth exploring, even if it isn’t used directly for selling real estate.
Here are some of my favorite free services. These apps are not just for Realtors, and have a large and sometimes very loyal user base, which is why they are continually upgraded and new features are added:
IFTTT — IFTTT is a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement: If this (trigger), then that (action). IFTTT is free and it is very cool. The possibilities or recipes are endless. For example, I can set it so the action of taking a picture using Instagram triggers Evernote to create a note.Article continues below
The site is filled with free recipes, examples and ideas, and there are 52 channels. A channel is an application like Gmail, or Evernote or Foursquare. A check-in on Foursquare could trigger a note to Evernote or a post to Blogger, or an Instagram photo could automatically be sent to Dropbox.
LastPass — I forget passwords and hate to write them down. Some of the sites I use require that I create strong passwords that I forget, and others require that I change my password on a regular basis. I gave up on remembering and tracking all of that a couple of years ago and use a free version of LastPass. One master password gets me into the “vault” where my passwords are stored, but there is so much more.
The LastPass extension is in my Web browser and I have LastPass set up to sign me into some of the websites and services I use on a regular basis. There is a mobile app, but I have found that I can use the Web browser on my phone or iPad and access my passwords that way, too. My passwords are available to me anywhere that I have Internet access.
Skitch — Skitch isn’t as great as it used to be. The last update took some features away, but I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that the features will be brought back. Skitch works on mobile phones and on computers. I use it on my phone and tablet for sketches or to draw on screen prints.
On my computer I use it for making screen shots that I can draw or type on. Very handy for bloggers and Realtors. Skitch is now part of Evernote so I can automatically store my Skitch creations in Evernote. On phones with the Android operating system, Skitch is a button built right into Evernote and a stand-alone app. There is a Skitch website where Skitch images can be posted and shared.
Google Drive — Google Drive is similar to Dropbox but not the same, and I use it differently. Google Drive is where I write and store all of my articles for Inman News. Dropbox doesn’t have a built-in word processor.
The word processing program built into Google Docs is as good as Microsoft Word (at least for my uses) and seems to be superior to anything I can find for word processing on the Macintosh. Google Drive works with Google Docs, and I can start a new document right in Google drive on any device no matter where I am. I can’t lose it because it gets saved in the cloud.
Ribbet! — When my favorite Internet-based photo editing site Picnik closed down, I was upset. I know that Picnik has been integrated into Google Plus but it isn’t a stand-alone program anymore and parts of it are missing. Ribbet! is the new Picnik. The free version is wonderful, and the premium version is amazing and free at the moment. The site is great for editing photos and for adding effects, captions and frames. Ribbet! is a wonderful tool for creating images for blog posts or for real estate marketing.
Pixlr–o–matic — photo editing software available on mobile devices and on the Internet. There are several related products on the Pixlr site, including Pixlr, which has many if not all of the features found in Photoshop elements, and it is free. Pixlr-o-matic is fun and I can even make a poor-quality photo look artistic by applying some filters and maybe a frame. It works with pictures that have already been taken or can be used with the camera in an Android, iPhone, iPad or a webcam on a computer.
Chrome browser — advertised as a “fast free browser.” I love Chrome. It even works on computers that are so slow they make me want to cry. Chrome doesn’t slow my computer down even when I have 30 tabs opened and it never crashes. Check out the Chrome Web store and find browser add-ons for everything I mentioned in this article except IFTTT.