15 Windows 8 Apps for Staying Productive at Work and Play

Windows 8 comes with built-in apps such as Mail, People and Calendar, but that's just scratching the surface. If you really want to step up your productivity both in the office and at home you've got to tap into the Windows Store for these 15 productivity apps.

Evernote Touch
Evernote

As many know, Evernote is a cloud service for storing and organizing everything from photos to scanned documents to Web pages. Your content can be tagged for easy searching, and it can be synced across PCs, tablets and smartphones no matter what the operating system. Evernote for Windows 8 has a user-friendly UI designed for Windows RT tablets and Windows 8 touch-screen tablets, convertibles and ultrabooks. The app is free but you can upgrade to a premium version for $5 a month that removes ads and lets you upload 1GB of data per month.

[ 10 Must-Know Tips to Become an Evernote Power User ]

SkyDrive
SkyDrive

Personal cloud storage is a must these days for backing up and accessing your "stuff." SkyDrive, Microsoft's consumer cloud storage service, comes loaded on Windows RT and Windows 8 (no need to visit the Windows Store). All of your files and folders will sync with other devices on which you've installed SkyDrive. But the real benefit of SkyDrive for Windows 8 is that it integrates with the OS. When viewing a picture using the Photos tile you can quickly upload the photo to SkyDrive. Similarly, Office 2013 files and Office Web Apps save automatically to SkyDrive.

[ Clearing Up Microsoft SkyDrive Pro Confusion ]

My Trips
My Trips

My Trips is an excellent companion app to TripIt.com. It will set you back $2.99 but in return you will get a robust travel app that displays a list of your upcoming trips, as well as flight, hotel and car rental information, departure and arrival dates and times, and confirmation numbers. After you've synced My Trips with your TripIt.com account, My Trips works offline, which is useful if you're up in the air with no Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity. The app can also be a Windows 8 Live Tile showing details of your next flight.

[ 10 Essential Windows 8 Travel Apps ]

Kindle
Kindle

Ah, reading -- both leisurely and productive at the same time. On that front, the Windows 8 Kindle app delivers a rich and colorful reading experience for e-book addicts. The app includes all the features Kindle lovers have come to expect -- you can highlight text, bookmark, write notes and hold down words for definitions. There are also some extra goodies, namely, you can pin the book you're reading to the Windows 8 Start screen for quick access and the app supports WhisperSync so that the current page your reading shows up on any device.

Skype
Skype

For staying in touch with friends and colleagues via videoconferencing, the Windows 8 Skype app takes full advantage of the Windows 8 UI and touch capability. Skype can be snapped to the side of the Windows 8 Start screen so you can multi-task while talking (if that's appropriate) and the app is integrated with Windows Messenger so you can IM with your Messenger and Outlook.com contacts as well as your Skype contacts. Once you sign in, the Skype app is always on without draining the battery of your Windows 8 device, so you can always take calls.

[Videoconferencing in Action: From Skype to 3D Holograms]

Todo
Todo

It's best to keep it simple with your to-do lists and reminders. Enter Todo, a great checklist app for minimalists (like myself) who think that Evernote and OneNote burden the user with too many features and options. With Todo for Windows 8, your to-do lists update on the app's live tile and you can easily set frequent tasks like "pay credit card bill" or "walk dog" to repeat daily, weekly or monthly. The app includes an option for sub-tasks and will move completed tasks to a separate folder. But Todo's best feature is its clean, simple interface.

[ 25 Practical Windows 8 Tablet Apps for Business Users ]

Box
Box

SkyDrive -- or perhaps Dropbox -- may be the cloud storage choice for consumers, but on the business side, it's all about Box for cloud-based work productivity. Box doesn't merely store images, videos and files, but lets you and your colleagues securely share this content and collaborate through "workspaces" where users can assign tasks, post comments on specific documents and be notified about documents related to them. To keep IT happy, Box includes administrative and security controls. The Box app for Windows 8 takes advantage of the Windows 8 Search and Share Charms to find and transport content easily.

[ 25 Practical Windows 8 Tablet Apps for Business Users ]

Audible
Audible

I used to frown on audio books. Books should be read. But we have busy lives, so if someone wants to listen to a book while commuting I won't lecture. Audible, owned by Amazon, has a solid Windows 8 app for audio books, magazines and newspapers. The UI for the Windows 8 Audible app is mediocre. It uses a cramped sidebar for search and the main page only has three categories: New Releases, Best Sellers and Audible Essentials. But once you tap Play, little else matters. You can bookmark and take notes, but mostly you just listen.

YouSendIt
YouSendIt

If your job entails sending big files -- like too big for email big -- the YouSendIt app for Windows 8 will keep you productive. The free app lets you upload files of up to 50MB (you're allowed a total of 2GB) to an unlimited cloud storage locker and then sends a link to the file to the recipient. You can upgrade to enterprise class ($14.99 a month) and get online file tracking, 128-bit SSL encryption and other security controls. The Windows 8 app is user-friendly and the files you send are synced across all devices and platforms.

Toolbox for Windows 8
Toolbox for Windows 8

Toolbox is designed to be a one-stop shop productivity platform for Windows 8. With this Swiss Army Knife-like app, you can quickly access six different tools at once, giving you the flexibility to view and use a lot of info in one shot (the same concept as the Windows 8 Start screen live tiles). The app currently has 11 tools, including Web Browser, Weather, Notifier, World Clock, Notes, Calculator and Facebook.

OneNote
OneNote

OneNote is Microsoft's note-taking app for Windows 8 that gives Evernote a run for its money. Features include to-do lists with check boxes, options to email notes to friends and the ability to send information from other apps directly into OneNote. Cross-device compatibility will never be a problem given OneNote's availability on iOS, Android, Mac, Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

mSecure
mSecure

You need to stop writing your passwords on a piece of paper. The mSecure Windows 8 app stores personal info such as passwords, usernames, and credit card and bank account numbers and locks them with ultra-secure 256-bit encryption. mSecure uses simple Windows 8 templates for entering and viewing data and you can organize data into groups, mark favorites and sort by name or by type. The Windows 8 mSecure app is free for storage but to sync across devices you must pay $9.99. mSecure is available on iOS, Mac OS, Android and Windows 8/RT.

Google Analytics Live
Google Analytics Live

Monitoring Web site performance is part of the job these days in many professions. With the Google Analytics Live Windows 8 app you can take all those tasty data metrics with you. This app provides overviews of unique visits, page views and other site traffic stats for today, yesterday, last week and last month. The app costs $2.99. You do not need to sign in with your Google account password every time you use the app, you only log in once when the app sends you an authentication API and then you can use the app anytime.

Nook
Nook

Back to reading as a means of being both leisurely and productive at the same time. If you prefer the Nook to the Kindle, the Windows 8 Nook app is for you. Microsoft owns a stake in Barnes & Noble and it shows in this app. It looks beautiful, the navigation is as thorough as it is easy and it includes all the features you'll find on the actual Nook tablet. The Kindle for Windows 8 app seems basic by comparison. One big advantage is that, in addition to 3 million books, the Nook app has access to all major newspapers and magazines.

[ 10 Popular iPad Magazines ]

Tape Recorder Pro
Tape Recorder Pro

That tape recorder you've been using since the Clinton administration is still going strong, but maybe it's time to go digital. Don't worry, you can still keep the same look and feel with the Tape Recorder Pro Windows 8 app. This voice recorder/player app ($2.99) combines old school features (digital versions of the Rec, Play, FFwd, Rew and Eject buttons, volume meter, digital cassette tapes) with the new school (unlimited tape storage, ability to export audio to WAV, MP3, WMA, and MP4 audio files). You'll never have to buy AAA batteries again.

[ 25 Practical Windows 8 Tablet Apps for Business Users ]