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25 most useful websites you never knew existed

25 most useful websites you never knew existed
© Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com

Let's face it; when it comes to the internet we all get into a rut by going to the same sites all the time. But the internet is vast and it's easy to overlook sites that can help us do tasks more efficiently or learn new skills.

Many of these sites are workarounds for other programs' limitations. Some offer basic services you can use for free without having to buy expensive software.

Others are great productivity sites to get yourself organized from your email, to a group project, to personal travel.

Here are 25 great helpful websites.

Work productivity

Crop, resize, adjust photos, just like Photoshop

If you have basic PhotoShop needs but not a PhotoShop budget, Pixlr can help fill that gap. The free program allows you to crop, resize, filter, adjust colors and even retouch photos at a beginner to intermediate level. A new version of the web-based program has even been designed to look more like PhotoShop's interface.

Convert documents to PDFs

Unless both the sender and receiver used Acrobat Pro to create a PDF form, most people will still have to print it out, fill it in by hand, scan it and send it back. But PDFescape changes all that. If you get a PDF that you can't fill out on your computer, drag and drop it into PDFescape and convert the file to one you can edit. Best of all, it's free.

Create logos, graphics, illustration

Canva is a virtual graphic designer for small companies that can't afford to hire someone for the job. It's a website the provides the tools you need to create logos, banners or infographics for important reports. It's free, but you have to pay $119 a year for the premium business version.

Write notes that self-destruct after reading

Privnote is a web tool that lets you write notes that can self-destruct after a recipient reads them. You can also schedule self-destructs and have your notes expire after a set time. Simply write your note on the site, pick your self-destruct method, then send out the link as desired. It's as easy as that.

Teach yourself something new

For 20 years, Lynda has offered a video library that provides tutorials on all types of computer skills. Lynda has helped students, leaders, IT and design pros, project managers and more to develop software, creative and business skills. Subscriptions are available to individuals and companies.

Bundle and group emails, for easy reading

Is your inbox out of control? Mailstrom provides a simple way to clean it up. Mailstrom identifies bundles of related mail and makes it easy for you to act on them as a group. You can cut through hundreds or even thousands of emails at once.

Turn documents into print-friendly formats

PrintFriendly automatically reformats whatever you want to print from a website. Navigation bars and ads are automatically removed, while the text and images you want are tweaked so you can read them easily.

It works as an extension with most browsers, or cut the web address of the article you want printed and go to the PrintFriendly website, paste and print. All the junk will be removed.

Organize your tasks and to-do lists

This work productivity program helps you organize and prioritize your projects using boards, lists and cards. The program can be used by a work team or even a family planning a vacation. You can add comments, attachments, due dates and more right into Trello cards so you and your team can collaborate on any project from inception to end.

Take great screenshots

With Screenshot Guru you can screen capture high-resolution images of any web page. You can screenshot tweets, news articles, photo galleries and everything that's public online. The best part is you don't need any screen-capture software or browser extensions, plus the tool works with lengthy web pages that extend below the fold.

Computer or internet help

Give your computer some character

Let's say you're writing an email to someone in another country or producing a slide presentation that requires special characters. You can't find them on your keyboard, so what can you do? With Copy Paste Character, you have a variety of symbols, graphic shapes, punctuation and more that you can just copy and paste into your documents.

Check a website that's taking forever to load

Do you ever feel like, "is it just me?" Well, if it's an existential question you're asking, this website won't help. But, if you want to know why your favorite website keeps giving you the 404, you can turn to DownForEveryoneOrJustMe to find out if the site is actually down and even where.

Check your internet speed 

Does you internet connection seem slow today? You can find out by using Fast.com, which tracks your internet speed. Fast.com was actually created by Netflix in 2011 to rank providers based on internal measurements.

The goal was to bring transparency to speeds ISPs supply, so customers truly understand what internet speed they are getting. With Fast.com you can test internet speeds at any time of the day.

Security or connectivity

Check the security of your router

When securing your wireless network, it's easy to forget the router. Don't! Hackers can break into this device as easily as any other through a process called “DNS hijacking.” F-Secure Router Checker offers a free service that’s specially designed to scan your router for break-ins. Go to the website, click the “Check Your Router” icon, and you’ll receive a near-instantaneous report.

Easily delete your social media accounts

The site has a collection of direct links and instructions on how to easily delete your accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Google, Groupon and hundreds of other sites and services. With AccountKiller's color-coding system, you can see at a glance if a site will be easy or hard to leave. White means it is easy to remove, while the ones in gray or black are harder to deactivate.

Set up automatic triggers 

IFTTT actually stands for "If This Then That." IFTTT works with Alexa, smart lights, smart hubs, appliances, email services, social media sites, SMS messaging, phones and a whole lot more. After you've created a free account, you will see a list of Applets to choose from.

These applets are used for "recipes" that can automate your gadgets to do tasks. For example, if you tend to misplace your phone around the house you can sync the Alexa app with an app that locates your phone. Then, just tell Alexa to trigger the app and she will call your phone.

Web browsing and social media

Get temporary email addresses 

The site offers free temporary, anonymous email addresses that expire after 10 minutes. Why would you need that? Think about all those websites that won't let you get more information unless you enter a valid email address. If the site doesn't really interest you, you don't have to worry about receiving spam in the future.

Create Tweets that are 280+ characters

Do you need more than Twitter's 280 characters to share your thoughts, stories or opinions? Well, there is an option. TallTweets will cut your long tweet into multiple smaller tweets and publish them on Twitter in sequence. Or, you can choose to publish your long tweet as an image, which will be posted in its entirety in a single tweet.

Self-improvement

Learn foreign languages

With Duolingo, you can learn foreign languages for free. You can learn on the Duolingo website or app, but to access the ad-free version, Duolingo Plus, there is a $10 fee. The site keeps you on track by providing daily lessons that can help you learn a few phrases for a trip or hold entire conversations.

Check your grammar

A free download from the Chrome Web Store, Grammarly provides punctuation, grammar and spelling corrections for everything from emails to reports to social media posts. No more trying to figure out if you should use who or whom.

Give your brain a 2 minute recess

If you're feeling overwhelmed at work, or by life in general, there's a site that helps you just turn off your brain. When you log on to Do Nothing For 2 Minutes you are greeted with a beautiful photo of an ocean, sounds of waves and a 2 minute time clock.

You simply watch and listen to what's on the screen for 2 minutes without touching your keyboard or mouse. The goal is to give your mind a break and help you get centered. The benefits are stronger the more often you use it.

Shopping and entertainment

Get the best deals from Amazon

Who doesn't like a good deal, especially if you shop at Amazon? CamelCamelCamel is a free web service that provides you with an alert when the price of an item you've had your eye on drops. Create an account and you're all set.

Find good movies

If the algorithms Netflix and Amazon Prime use to make recommendations on what you should watch don't capture the full scope of your interests, turn to AGoodMovietoWatch. The website proudly claims to be "Curated by humans not algorithms."

If there is a movie you've been dying to see, go to AGoodMovietoWatch, do a search and if it's in its database, the site will let you know whether it is playing on Netflix or Prime. No more need to hunt for those secret Netflix codes.

Listen to radio anywhere

You can listen to live feeds from radio stations around the world, thanks to Rose Garden. The site connects to radio stations submitted by the station or the public.

Let's say you've moved to a new town where the local radio stations foolishly don't carry The Kim Komando Show. Just go on the Rose Garden site and submit the call letters of the radio station you used to hear the show on and the site will take you there or add the station.

Lifestyle

Plan your trip

By using the TripIt website, all you have to do is forward all confirmation emails you receive after booking a hotel, flight, car or any other reservation to plans@tripit.com and the tool will automatically build you a master travel itinerary. This is a great tool if you travel a lot. It's also available as an app.

Design your home

Whether you're building your dream house or doing extensive renovations to your current home, with Homestyler you can design a floor plan in 2D, populate it with doors, windows, furniture, appliances, and even people. Then you get to experience it in real time 3D space.

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