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8 great free web tools you didn’t know you needed

Sling big files, send private messages, improve your writing, and more.

8 great free web tools you didn’t know you needed
[Source images: Theerakit/iStock; Misha Shutkevych/iStock]

The wondrous, whimsical World Wide Web is still wonderful after all these years. And there are still plenty of helpful and powerful sites out there to discover. Here are eight that deserve a place on your bookmarks bar.

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Send huge files—no signup required

For those times when you’ve got a gnarly file to send and email just won’t cut it, there’s WeTransfer. In a few clicks, you’ll be good to go: Select your file, designate your recipient, and . . . well, that’s about it. There’s no need to formally sign up for the service, and you can send files up to  2GB that’ll be available for up to seven days.

No-fuss screen captures

Need to grab a snippet (or more) of a web page? Look no further than the excellent Nimbus Capture tool. Available as an extension for the Chrome, Firefox, and Opera web browsers, Nimbus makes short work of screenshots. Select a section of a site, what’s visible in your browser window, or even the entire page. There are several additional options as well, and you can’t beat the price.

Plenty of photos, volumes of videos

A nice stock photo or video can add just the right amount of pop to your next project. And when it comes to finding high-quality, no-cost options, Pixabay is the reigning king of content. Boasting more than 1.5 million images and videos, the site does a great job of weeding out most of the amateur nonsense while still offering options for just about any type of subject you might need.

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Notes that go poof

There’s no shortage of solutions nowadays when it comes to communicating with people, but if you’re looking to send something quickly, privately, and with the option of having it self-destruct after it’s been read, then take Privnote for a spin. Sporting a familiar sticky-note interface, it lets you simply scratch out your message, choose how long it should be available, and set an optional password. You’ll get a private link to the note that you can send to your recipient via copy-paste or email.

Pack your programs

If you just got a new Windows PC or just need a quick way to get up and running with a bunch of popular software, swing by Ninite to see what’s available. The site lets you pick and click web browsers, messaging apps, media programs, utilities, and more, and then packages everything up into a single installer that runs on its own. Grab a coffee (or a nap) and come back to a fully stocked machine.

Convert anything to anything else

Even in our futuristic world of 2020, it’s pretty painful to deal with the myriad document, image, video, and sound formats floating around out there. Let Zamzar work out the details the next time you need to convert something. The site says it supports more than 1,100 formats—which sounds downright excessive—but at the end of the day, it’s an easy way to convert a WAV file to an MP3 file or a QuickTime file to an MP4. Just upload the source, pick the new format, and hit the Convert Now button.

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How tight is your site?

Your website is your number one salesperson. How’s it performing? Run it through HubSpot’s free Website Grader tool to see how you can improve page size, load times, scripts, SEO, security, and more. It’s a good way to get a quick opinion as you’re tinkering with your designs, offering easy-to-understand recommendations for ensuring your online presence puts its best foot forward.

Master your messaging

Even if we don’t think about it, most of us spend much of the day writing. Make every word of that company-wide email count by running it through the web-based Hemingway tool first. It’ll give you a readability score and highlight which phrases and sentences could use a little polish, all in real time. Just be forewarned: You will spend meaningful time trying to fix things. It’s human nature, after all.

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