My name is Sydney and I’m an AppStorm writer, a freelance web designer, a beagle mom and a software enthusiast. I’m flexible when it comes to operating systems. My current setup is a Windows 8 desktop PC, a 13″ MacBook Pro running Mountain Lion, a jailbroken iPhone 4 and a decked out installation of Chrome synced between my computers. I spend a lot of time in my browser and I’m a huge fan of text expansion and shortcuts.

These are the apps that I couldn’t write without.

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I love calendars. And when I say I love calendars, I mean I LOVE them. If there is a calendar app for a platform I use, I have used that app. One of my favorite calendar programs happens to be a desktop app for Windows called VueMinder. I used the free trial last fall and quickly fell in love with VueMinder and bought a Pro license.

VueMinder boasts itself as “the best calendar program for Windows” and I tend to agree. Let’s find out what sets VueMinder apart from other calendar apps.

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I have been on the lookout for the perfect email client for years. I manage multiple email accounts and need a lightweight program with lots of features, including rules and filters. EmailTray advertises itself as a full-featured, lightweight smart email client for Windows so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Let’s find out what EmailTray can do and if it can stand up against the big boys like Outlook, Thunderbird and Postbox.

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Balsamiq Mockups is a wireframing app available for Windows, Mac and Linux, as well as a new subscription-based web app. It’s designed for you to quickly and easily create mockups and collaborate with colleagues and clients.

You can test drive Balsamiq Mockups for 7 days, or buy the full version for $79. Let’s see how easy it is to create wire frame designs with this program and if it’s worth the price tag.

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Breevy is a text expander, giving you the ability to automate repetitive keystrokes and phrases, and launch apps and websites. It’s an alternative to PhraseExpress, which we have covered before, and to TextExpander on the Mac. Breevy is available in a regular and portable version and is $34.95, but comes with a 30 day free trial.

Let’s find out whether Breevy is worth the price tag and how it stacks up as a text expansion app.

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If you work with PDFs a lot, you have probably had to convert one to another document format at some point. Depending on how the PDF was created, this could be tricky or it could be easy. There are many converters available with price tags ranging from free to quite expensive.

Wondershare PDF Converter can convert PDFs to most document formats, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, EPUB, images, HTML and text files. The software comes in two versions: regular at $59.95, and pro at $79.95.

Let’s see if this PDF converter is worth the price.

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Google is one of my favorite web companies because of all the incredible free apps they offer. They are my go-to for email, calendar and photos, and now they are my first choice for online file storage.

After many months of its rumored existence, Google Drive was finally launched on April 24, 2012. Now that it’s been a little over a month, it’s time to see how Google Drive stacks up against its competitors.

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Gmail is the most popular free email provider and many of us are dependent on Google’s mail service. Whether you want a backup for just-in-case reasons, or you want to move your existing messages to another Gmail account, Gmvault is the program for you.

Let’s see just how easy it is to back up and restore your Gmail account with Gmvault.

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Looking for a better solution for team collaboration than Skype or Google Talk? HipChat is an affordable, cross-platform, cloud-based private chat service for your team or company. With group chat rooms, private messaging, file-sharing and video capabilities, HipChat is a solid application that will help your team communicate more efficiently than before.

Let’s see what HipChat has to offer and how it will help increase your team’s productivity.

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I have eight email accounts, plus Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, which means I have many different browsers open at any given time to keep track of everything. What if I told you there is a one-stop shop that collates all of your email and social media accounts into one handy-dandy desktop application?

The app to rule them all is Inbox2, a free, open-source social email application that integrates your email accounts with your social media accounts. Let’s find out how well Inbox2 stacks up as a social email app.

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