The Excel Magician: 70+ Excel Tips and Shortcuts to help you make Excel Magic

Are you working with Excel and want take your Excel skills to the next level? Or do you want to learn Excel and don’t know where to start? Check out these 70+ tips and shortcuts that will help you make Excel Magic.

Online tutorials & videos

The following online tutorials are mostly free and will teach you quite a bit about Excel. In fact they are better than some of the expensive classroom training courses.

    1. Online introduction to Excel: If you are just starting to use excel, this is the perfect resource for you. Here you will find dozens of audio courses that take a step by step approach to learning excel.
    2. DataPig Technologies: The guys from Data Pig Technologies made a comprehensive collection of videos that explain almost every aspect of Excel. From basic Excel concepts to VBA programming. And most of the videos are free!
    3. Online Charts Tutorial: Jon Peltier is an Excel-charting superstar. You can use his online tutorial to get you started on Excel charting and also as a reference.
    4. Basic Formulas Guide: This excellent tutorial will help you master Excel formulas in no time.
    5. Common uses for Formulas: This collection of samples will help you understand what can be achieved by using excel formulas.
    6. An introduction to Pivot Tables: The Pivot Table is an amazing tool, but people often shy away from it because Pivot Tables seem complicated. The first page of this PDF contains a clear description of Pivot Tables and how they can be used.
    7. Creating a Pivot table: A 7-minute video shows you how to create and work with Pivot Tables.
    8. Pivot Tables in Excel 2007: Excel 2007 Pivot Tables are much easier to use. If you use excel 2007, check out this slightly promotional yet excellent introduction to Pivot Tables.
    9. Practicing Pivot Tables: This step by step tutorial from Microsoft will help you sharpen your Pivot Table skills.
    10. Microsoft Excel help / 2007: When all else fails, Microsoft Excel Help is a good source to try.

Books

In order to harness the full power of Excel, shell out a couple of book bucks. The following books are packed with information and real-world know-how.

General Excel Books

    1. Excel Bible 2003 / 2007 version: The “Excel Bible” was written by the renowned Excel expert, John Walkenbach. It explains everything from basic formulas and functions to data validation, and Excel programming. If you have only $30 to spend on Excel training, buy this book.
    2. Excel Charts: This book is a comprehensive, yet easy to understand, guide to Excel charting. It’s a useful resource for both beginner and experienced excel users.
    3. Excel Formulas: Formulas are the lifeblood of spreadsheets and “Excel Formulas” from John Walkenbach will teach you everything about them. This book covers all things formula, from custom worksheet functions to financials formulas and more.
    4. Pivot Tables and data analysis / 2007 version: One of the most useful yet most feared features in Excel… the Pivot Table, is tackled gracefully by Bill Jelen (aka Mr. Excel) and Michael Alexander. Well worth the read.
    5. Excel Programming: By far, the best guide to Excel programming. The book also outlines a programming methodology for Excel. The only downside to this book is that it assumes a bit of programming knowledge.
    6. Report programming with Excel: If you plan to build a reporting system based on excel, this is the book for you. It shows how to use Excel to build a reporting/data analysis environment and shows how to properly work with SQL databases.

Excel Tips and case studies

    1. Excel case studies: While not for the beginner, this book contains valuable, real-world advice on how to make Fxcel do what you want it to do. Make sure you check out the “Making things look good” chapter.
    2. Excel Tips: A highly recommended Excel tip book from Mr. Spreadsheet himself.
    3. Some more Excel Tips: A compendium of Excel tips. This is not the first book you should own, but I often find that I return to this book when I’m stuck.
    4. This isn’t Excel it’s Magic: Bob Umlas is probably the foremost expert on formulas. The things this guy does with formulas will make your hair stand on end. If you are serious about Excel, than buy this book.

Specialized Excel books

    1. Principals of finance with Excel: This highly recommended book will help you understand the applicability of Excel in financial environments. It is loaded with real world examples and can help both the financial expert and the techie.
    2. Statistical Analysis with Excel: Using plain English and real-life examples, this book provides information that helps with statistical analysis. The book covers samples and normal distributions, probabilities and related distributions, trends and correlations, as well as statistical terms like median vs. mean, margin of error, standard deviation, permutations, and correlations.
    3. Business Analysis with Excel: Running a business is complicated. Understanding issues like cost of goods, inventory, sales forecast, tax statements is crucial to success. Business analysis with Excel explains these issues and shows how to tackle them using Excel.
    4. Sales Forecasting with Excel: This book shows you how to use Microsoft Excel, to predict trends and future sales based on… numbers. Use data about the past to forecast the future. Excel provides all sorts of tools to help you do that, and this book shows you how to use them.
    5. Excel for Chemists: While most of this book is a general introduction to Excel, it is filled with Chemistry oriented examples. The book also contains a complete chapter that shows how Excel can assist chemists in research.

Forums, News Groups and Mailing Lists

No matter how tough or silly your question is, the experts in the following sites/mailing lists will answer it. They will do it for free and usually within a couple of hours. Don’t be shy. Join these communities and ask.

Note: The online Excel community is one of the nicest communities that I have ever had the pleasure of joining.

    1. Mailing Lists: Wow. This is the jackpot. The Excel-G mailing list is monitored by the best Excel experts in the world. They answer every question. If you post an interesting enough problem these Excel gurus will compete among themselves to answer first and give the most elegant solution.
    2. Mr. Excel Message Boards: A very friendly forum whose members will usually provide you with an answer within 3-5 hours. A bunch of Microsoft MVPs (including the Mr. Excel gang) monitor the forums. And, of course, it has a pure html interface which makes it easier to use.
    3. Excel News Groups: If you prefer USENET groups to mailing lists or Message boards, than you’ll love the Microsoft Excel groups. Most questions asked will be answered within 12 hours.
    4. ExcelForum.com: ExcelForum.com provides a web interface to the Excel News groups. If you do not want to be bothered with the USENET interface, this site will is a useful alternative.

Excel Experts

Some Excel projects are too big/difficult to tackle alone. Here is a (short) list of some of the best hired guns in the Excel Field (If you know other top-notch Excel experts, drop a link to their site in the comments).

    1. Jon Peltier: If you have a charting project/problem, I would recommend working with Jon. Jon brings to the table over 20 years of Excel experience A PhD from MIT and is a Microsoft Excel MVP.
    2. Chip Pearson: Mr. Pearson is a renowned Excel expert and while his fees are not low, he is one of the best. If you need an urgent solution or have a critical project, I would consider asking Chip for help.
    3. Mr. Excel Consulting Services: The Mr. Excel team is probably the largest Excel consultancy in the world. Their ranks include numerous excel MVPs and they have an amazing amount of Excel Knowledge.
    4. JMT Consulting: A consulting service from two respected Excel MVPs: Masaru Kaji and Andrew Engwirda.

Excel Blogs and Tip Sites

Tips sites and Excel blogs will usually send you a daily Excel tip. Many Excel professionals register to these sites and read the daily tips to keep their Excel skills sharp. They also serve as repositories for thousands of Excel case studies.

    1. Daily Dose of Excel: A blog managed by Dick Kusleika and authored by many Excel Experts and MVPs. “Daily Dose” is updated several times a week and profiles tips, tricks and news from the excel Industry. Highly recommended!
    2. ExcelTip.com: Over the years ExcelTip amassed hundreds of tips and solutions to real world problems. You can either use the categories or the search function to find the information you want. You can also register to a tips newsletter. The site is managed by Joseph Rubin.
    3. Official Microsoft 2007 Blog: The Official Excel Blog. Written by the Excel product managers/programmers. It contains a lot of information and how-to articles about Excel. The level of articles on this blog varies from “useful to everyone” to “only for hardcore excel services programmers.”
    4. Vital News Excel Tips: Very similar to ExcelTip, this site contains hundreds of tips sorted into categories and offers a weekly newsletter.
    5. Chip Pearson Newsletter: A new service from Chip Pearson. Each issue of this newsletter contains a thorough examination of a technique or of an Excel function. For those of you that wish to gain deep knowledge of Excel, this is an excellent resource.
    6. Excel User: Excel User contains a “Visitor Question” section and many high quality articles. This site was created and maintained by Charles Kyd.
    7. Andrew’s Excel Tips: Andrew Engwirda writes one of the best Excel blogs. What separates Andrew from the flock is his vast amount of Excel and programming experience.
    8. Codswallop: Although we are not a strictly an Excel-centered blog, we plan to bring a lot of Excel goodies in near future. Don’t hesitate … subscribe now!
    9. Smurf On Spreadsheets: Simon Murphy is an Excel programming master. If you are into Excel Programming, this blog is perfect for you.
    10. The Ken Puls Blog: Ken’s blog is neither Excel centered nor frequently updated. However, when Ken does blog about Excel, it’s pure gold. Definitely worth checking out.
    11. XL Dennis: Dennis Wallentin writes about developing Excel centered solutions with the .Net framework.
    12. Excel Hero: Daniel Ferry’s blog is full of Excel tips and advanced topics intended to inspire you and make you the Excel Hero at your workplace.

Excel Templates

Templates can be a huge time saver and odds are that the spreadsheet you are trying to build already exists. We’ve divided Microsoft’s huge template repository into useful categories so you’ll be able to find the right template for you.

Business Related Templates

    1. Budget Templates: Whether you are managing your personal budget, your Wedding budget or your gardening budget, you’ll find a template for it here.
    2. Balance Sheets: You can find almost any kind of balance sheet here.
    3. Expense Reports: Unexpected expenses can have a nasty effect on your bottom line. Use these templates to record and control expenses (including traveling expenses).
    4. Business Forms: Here you can find all types of different forms, from a traveling advance request form to a car mileage log.
    5. Inventory Templates: Manage and track you inventory with these templates.
    6. Invoices, Work Orders, Packing Slips: This is a real time saver. Whether you work in retail or services, you will find the right invoice/work order template here.
    7. Purchase Orders: Not only will these templates help you get the exact the items you need on time and delivered to the right place, they also come in a variety of colors.
    8. Receipts: A variety of receipt templates.
    9. Time Sheets: Use these templates to track employee work time. You can choose a template that will sum the employee and overall working hours on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis.
    10. All kinds of Reports: Different financial and management reports.

Other Templates

    1. All Kinds of Lists: Phone List, Grocery List, Reading List, Gift List and much more.
    2. Planning Templates: Business and personal planning templates.
    3. Schedules: Schedule templates for your employee shifts, business and personal events.

AdditionalTemplate Sites

    1. Vertex42 Excel Templates: Dozens of Excel templates. Some even come with a user manual.
    2. OZGrid Excel Templates Page: Another big and famous collection of templates.

Excel Tools

Excel is the ultimate killer app. But there are cases where even Excel needs a little help. Here are some Excel Add-ins that can double your effectivness.

    1. Asap Utilities: Probably the best known Excel productivity add-in. Asap utilities contains advance selection options, advanced browsing capabilities, better formula handling and much more.
    2. Send Mail: This cool little freebie from Ron de Bruin that allows you to send an email with the contents of a workbook, a single sheet or even a selection area.
    3. Excel Sentry: Use the Excel Sentry to prevent your business data from falling into the competition’s hands. The Excel sentry allows you to encrypt your spreadsheet in such a way that only you or your employees/coworkers can use it.
    4. XL Statistics: A free statistics package that expands the existing Excel functionality.
    5. Palo: A free (open source) OLAP server for excel. On-line Analytical Processing servers usually cost hundreds of thousands and sometimes even millions of dollars. Jedox (the company that made Palo) is giving it away. Definitely worth checking out.
    6. PDF to Excel: One of the most stubborn sources of data for Excel is PDF files. Whether they are scanned or not, PDF2XL will extract the data for you.
    7. FlorenceSoft: This cool little app allows you to easily find the differences between two different sheets.
    8. Excel Password Remover: Do you have a terribly important sheet you encrypted and then forgot the password? The Excel Password remover is your locksmith.
    9. Tree Plan: A set of data analysis tools from Mike Middleton.
    10. DPlot: Create 2D and 3D graphs and plots with DPlot. Especially suited for Engineers and scientist that need expanded charting and plotting functionality. DPlot contains unique chart types such as, the Polar Chart, The triangle plot and more.
    11. DigDB: Another well known Microsoft Excel productivity add-in.

Additional Excel Resources

  1. Excel User Conference: The Excel user Conference, run by Daemon Longworth (MVP), is by far the best venue to advance you Excel skills. You will learn high-end Excel tips and tricks from the best Excel experts (all the instructors are Microsoft MVPs). Plus, everyone is extremely friendly and you’ll get a bunch of laughs and even a couple of beers.
  2. Charts by Jorge Camoes: A site dedicated to Excel charts and charts add-ins. Also runs a chart centered blog.
  3. Excel funny videos: Who said Excel wasn’t fun?
  4. Excel games: And to top the list. I present Excel… the gaming platform.

Now it’s time to Excel.

Conversion Central: 101 Tools to Convert Video, Music, Images, PDF and More

Few things are more irritating than having to deal with a format that is incompatible with what you need it to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s a media file, document, or shoe size; it’s just plain frustrating. To make your life easier, check out this list of 101 tools that will allow you to convert just about anything.

Converter Girl
Original Art by Bob Ostrom

 

An important message: This list of converters took a very long time to prepare and I hope that it will be of use to you. If you find it useful and would like us to prepare more lists like this, please take a look at our commercial software. It’s not suited for anyone, but if you work in a business environment and receive a lot of data in PDF format then our PDF to Excel distiller might be just what you are looking for. Thank you.

Mega Tools

There are lots of specialized tools out there, but sometimes you just need one good tool to get the job done. These mega tools are great for general conversions.

  1. Zamzar: Zamzar does all sorts of conversions, ranging from documents and images to music and video. In addition to its versatility, this tool boasts the ability to do all of your conversions without downloading software.
  2. SUPER: This aptly-named tool offers a simple and efficient way to convert any multimedia file to any format you need. You won’t need to download any additional codecs or deal with any time or function limitations.
  3. CZ Document Converter: CZ Document Converter is a powerful batch document converter. It supports every popular document file you may need, including PDF, HTML, DOC, XLS, and WPS.
  4. Media Convert: This tool is another great all-around converter. It can take files from your computer or a webserver and convert them into pretty much any format. The tool is web based and full of versatility.
  5. Image Converter Plus: Image Converter Plus can professionally convert graphic files, photos, drafts, finance documents, and any image format. It supports more than 120 graphics formats and more than 800 dialects of these formats. You can convert files in a batch while also altering and enhancing images.
  6. Quad-Lock Unit Converter: The Quad-Lock Unit Converter does conversions for more than 650 units. With this all-inclusive library, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.

Media

If you use an MP3 player, download movies, or even just rip CDs, there’s a good chance you’ve had to deal with the frustration of having a format that’s incompatible with your device or software. These tools will make it all better.

Audio

    1. Audacity: Audacity is a great tool that can be used to convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs. Check out their site to see what else this audio powerhouse can do.
    2. RM to MP3 Converter: If you’ve got a bunch of Real Media files, but want to be able to listen to them on other players, check out this tool. It will convert RM files to MP3s individually or in batches. You can even save them with space-efficient VBR.
    3. OSS Audio Converter: This tool is an audio format converter with a high level of customization. Using the OSS Audio Converter, you can select the coding method for VBR compression, fine-tune settings, and choose a range of frequencies to filter.
    4. All Converter: Use All Converter to switch your files between popular formats like MP3, APE, AAC and many more. Files can be converted in batches, even if they’re not the same media or convert-to type.
    5. Audio Converter: Audio Converter has lots of formats for conversion, including AIFF, Vorbis OFF, MP3 and more. You can convert files one by one or do them in batches, all while editing options like volume normalization and silence removal.
    6. Intelliscore Polyphonic WAV to MIDI Converter: With IntelliScore, you can convert MP3, WAV, and WMA files to MIDI. It has lots of additional features, like vocal track removal and sheet music.
    7. Free WMA to MP3 Converter: With this tool, you can take any Windows Media file and turn it into an MP3 that can be used with a variety of different players.
    8. Zune Multi-Extension Support Mod: With this hack, Zune users can covert formats that the player doesn’t normally recognize, like AAC, DVR-MS and MPEG.
    9. FreeRIP: This freeware application allows users to convert files between MP3, FLAC, WAV and more.
    10. dBpoweramp Music Converter: The dBpoweramp can be used to rip CDs and convert audio files to pretty much any format you might need. This can all be done without altering tags.
    11. Acoustica MP3 to Wave Converter Plus: Acoustica’s converter makes it easy to convert MP3 files to WAVs so that you can create custom CDs or edit audio.
    12. Direct Audio Converter and CD Ripper: Music lovers can use this tool to convert music files to popular formats while keeping folder structures and tags intact.

Video

  1. Koyote: This tool can covert FLV, DIVX, AVI and other formats to an iPod video format. That means you can download YouTube videos and put them directly on your video iPod.
  2. MediaCell Blackberry Video Converter: If you want to view videos on your Blackberry, check out this tool. It converts all popular video files to Blackberry video while maintaining a high standard of quality.
  3. Videora: With Videora, you can convert pretty much any video file into an iPod format. The tool includes an auto-resize feature that chooses the best resolution for you.
  4. VidDownloader: This simple tool allows users to save streaming video and convert then to DivX AVIs.
  5. Avi2Dvd: Avi2Dvd is a freeware program that converts AVI files to a format that works for DVDs, VCDs, and SVCDs.
  6. iSquint: Mac iPod users who want a way to convert videos to something that works for their device will be happy to find iSquint. This tool converts videos to the correct format and also optimizes their resolution.
  7. Any Video Converter: Using AVC, you can convert any video format to any other video format. The tool supports AVI, DIVX, FLV and more. You can create custom profiles that for devices like the iPod and PSP.
  8. Tube Sock: Tube Sock is for Mac OSX users who want to download, convert, and copy YouTube videos to their iPod, Mac, or PSP.
  9. Zune TVWatcher: Use this tool to convert recorded TV shows to a Zune-ready format.
  10. Grand Theft Auto Mission Converter: Use the Grand Theft Auto Mission Converter to convert GTA1′s INI mission to GTA2′s .MIS mission.
  11. Mplayer: Mplayer is an open-source video player, but it also has an interface called mencoder that allows users to convert between lots of formats, including TiVo’s tystream.
  12. Lathe: With Lathe, you can convert TiVo files to play on a variety of media devices, including Archos, PDAs, smartphones, and more.
  13. Hey!Watch: You can upload videos from your hard drive or online video sites to Hey!Watch, then use the tool to convert the files to pretty much any format you’d like.
  14. PodTube: Mac YouTube enthusiasts will love the convenience of PodTube. It allows users to point to a URL, then let the program get to work by downloading, converting and adding the file to your iTunes library.
  15. iTube: iTube is just like PodTube, but it’s made for Windows users.
  16. HandBrake: HandBrake is a free, open source application that rips DVDs to a number of different formats, including those supported by Apple TV, PS3, Quicktime, and more.
  17. MediaCoder: MediaCoder is a batch media transcoder. It can be used to convert to and from different formats as well as compress files.

Images

Graphic designers, professional photographers, and point and shoot enthusiasts can all benefit from using these easy image conversion tools.

  1. Photo To Sketch: This program takes your photographs and converts them into black and white sketches or watercolor paintings. Using this functionality, you can make your own coloring book.
  2. Image Thumbnailer and Converter: Image Thumbnailer and Converter makes it easy to create thumbnail images, convert formats, adjust sizes, set folders, and create web pages automatically.
  3. GIMP: The GNU Image Manipulation Program is a great program for easily changing the format of images.
  4. Smart Converter: This multipurpose program allows users to convert, view and edit images, even in batch mode. You can apply over 100 image effects, watermarks, and use loads of supported formats.
  5. Easy Graphic Converter: Convert image files to lots of different formats while at the same time taking advantage of features like previews, 50 different effects and filters, simple editing and more.
  6. Advanced Batch Converter: Use Advanced Batch Converter to change the format of multiple graphics at once. You’ll also be able to do minor editing. This program supports about 90 file formats.
  7. Image Icon Converter: Convert images of various formats into Windows icons using the Image Icon Converter. You can also use this program to convert icons into popular image files and do basic editing.
  8. Image Converter .EXE: Take things a step further with Image Converter .EXE. This tool allows you to change the format of multiple files at once, plus apply affects to the files at the same time.

Documents

These tools make it easy to read and print all sorts of documents, so you can avoid having a difficult discussion with your boss about why you just can’t open his MS Works 1996 file.

PDF

    1. Adobe Online PDF creator: For quick PDF conversions, check out the official Adobe online PDF Creator. This tool converts a number of different formats, including DOC, JPG, WMF and more.
    2. ExpressPDF: If you need a high quality PDF output in a hurry, consider using ExpressPDF. Users can upload documents, choose an output quality, then receive an email with the new PDF. This is all done without downloading any software, so it’s great if you’re in a pinch on a borrowed computer.
    3. CC PDF Converter: Install this tool as a printer subsystem. It will enable you to print pretty much from any Windows application to a professional quality PDF document. It will also allow you to set the copyright terms for your PDF file.
    4. Scan to PDF: ScanToPDF is a simple tool that allows you to convert your paper based documents into PDFs. Just insert the pages into your scanner, press the scanning button and the paper document will be converted into a PDF file.
    5. Cogniview’s PDF to Excel Converter: If you get a lot of numerical data you need for your work in PDF format, Cogniview’s PDF to Excel Conversion tool is the best solution for you. Open your PDF file, mark the data you need and it will be instantly pasted into an excel spreadsheet.
    6. Solid Converter PDF to Word: With the Solid PDF Converter, you can open up PDF files in Word and edit text in the original document. Solid PDF will identify and maintain the formatting of the original document (tables, bullets and so on) which makes it perfectly suited for PDF to word conversion.
    7. Easy PDF Converter: The Easy PDF Converter tool, like many others, converts various document formats to PDF. What sets this program apart is its ability to convert an entire batch of files in one click, eliminating the need for lots of user input.
    8. PDF Converter Professional: Using PDF Converter Professional, you can convert static PDF files into fillable forms.
    9. PDF to Image Converter: You can convert PDF files to lots of popular image formats using PDF Image Converter. The program will convert detailed elements like text, color, images, ellipses, and more.
    10. RSS 2 PDF: Use this tool to convert your RSS or OPML newsfeed into a PDF file quickly. It creates a readable, formatted file that you can view offline.

Word Processing

    1. Docx Converter: The Docx Converter makes it easy to read Word 2007 files without having to upgrade your software. It extracts text and formatting from DOCX files and turns them into simple HTML files. You can even download their desktop widget for the tool.
    2. 3A PDF to Word Batch Converter: If you have a PDF file that needs text editing, you may have a hard time getting it to do what you want. Use the 3A PDF to Word Batch Converter to convert PDF documents into Microsoft Word, where you’ll be able to edit as much as you like.
    3. WordFast: This language translation tool can be used on any language that’s supported by Microsoft Word. You can also use it with external dictionaries and machine translation engines.
    4. MS Works Converter: With this converter, you can turn Microsoft Works files into Excel files, even in batches.
    5. Doc to Image Converter: This simple converter allows users to save Microsoft Word files as image file formats including JPEG, TIFF, BMP and more.
    6. Babel Fish: If you’re looking for a light, web-based translator, Babel Fish is for you. The translations aren’t always perfect, but you should be able to get a good idea of what’s being said. You can translate a block of text or an entire webpage.

Excel

    1. Excel to PDF Converter: This spreadsheet converter is very simple. All you do is select “Save as PDF” in Excel, and the converter will create a document that can be read by PDF viewers.
    2. XLS Converter: You can use this converter to take data from Excel files and turn them into formats like HTML, TXT, and CSV. It can be run in command-line mode, plus Excel isn’t required for it to work.
    3. ABC Amber Excel Converter: With the ABC Amber Excel Converter, you can turn Excel files into PDF, HTML, RTF, DOC and more, all without the use of the MS Excel program. This tool offers command line support and batch conversion as well.

PowerPoint

    1. Presentation to Video Converter: If you’re tired of manually clicking through PowerPoint slides during presentations, you can convert them into a video that eliminates the need for your interaction.
    2. Convert PowerPoint: With Convert PowerPoint, you can turn PPT files into PDF, HTM, TXT and more. This application can be run on a command line.

Drafting

    1. Universal Document Converter: Use this converter as a virtual printer to export any document to a raster PDF or image file. Doing so ensures that your document will be change-protected and viewed accurately. Universal Document Converter works with Adobe PDF, PowerPoint, AutoCAD and more.
    2. AutoDWG DWG to PDF Converter: If you’ve been sent an AutoCAD drawing, but don’t have the software to open it, use this program to view it as a PDF. It has lots of options, including merged files and batch creation.
    3. DWG2Image Converter: Convert DWG and DXF files to popular image files like BMP and JPG using the DWG2Image Converter. This program works without the use of AutoCAD.
    4. Any DWG: Any DWG has lots of specialized tools that allow you to convert between lots of file formats, including DWG, PDF, DXF and various image types.
    5. Raster to Vector Converter: Use this converter to take raster formats and create vector formats like DXF, ASCII, and AI. It will refine curves, create fine lines, and more.
    6. Universal CAD Converter: This handy tool makes it easy to turn AutoCAD drafting files into pretty much any format you like, converting between DWG, DXF, PDF and DWF without using AutoCAD. You’ll also be able to convert any of these formats to images.

Other Great Document Tools

  1. QuickBooks Conversion Tool: If you’re switching your accounting software to QuickBooks, be sure to check out this conversion tool that imports your information from Peachtree, Microsoft Small Business Accounting, or Microsoft Office Accounting.
  2. Print2Flash: For users that need to convert large amounts of PDFs or other printable documents, Print2Flash is an excellent choice. You can use it for batch processing and document options.
  3. Google Docs: Google Docs features the ability to save documents in a number of different formats once you’ve opened them inside their software.
  4. Bookmark Converter: If you want to switch browsers, but don’t want to lose your bookmarks, use this program. It can be expanded to a remote version with multiple users and command-line conversion.
  5. Convert Doc: This tool is simple and easy to use, offering users a way to convert thousands of files into various file formats quickly. It also remembers your settings, so it’s great for users who do complicated conversions on a regular basis.

International Standards

These conversion tools are useful whether you’re traveling, baking, or just buying some nice Italian shoes on eBay.

Measurements

    1. Metric Converter: If you often need to do complicated metric conversions, use this tool to get the job done.
    2. FCC Conversion: This FCC webpage converts degrees, minutes, and seconds to decimal degrees in latitude and longitude, or vice versa.
    3. EZ Unit Converter Wizard: This unit converter is highly customizable. You can add or delete the units that you’d like to use, with more than 130 units to choose from.
    4. Unit Conversion: This tool does calculations for lots of different units, including Celsius to Farenheit and pounds to kilograms.

Currency

    1. Google Search: You can use Google to calculate currency conversions as well as units like gallons and liters. It’s great because you can get an answer by using a nationality if you don’t know the name of the currency.
    2. Universal Currency Converter: XE’s UCC performs forex rate calculations with live currency rates. They offer conversions for the top 85 currencies in the world as well as special units and precious metals.

Clothing Sizes

    1. International Show Size Conversion Charts: These charts convert shoe sizes from Europe, Mexico, U.K. and more.
    2. Ring Size Conversion: Use this ring size tool to determine what your size is in the U.K., France, Switzerland and more.
    3. Women’s Clothing Conversion: With this tools, you can find out what size clothing you should buy for France, Italy, and a number of other countries.
    4. Men’s Clothing Conversion: This tool works the same way as the women’s tool, but it comes in men’s sizes.

Time

  1. Time Conversion Tool: This utility from NASA makes it easy to convert from calendar dates and times to Julian dates, or vice-versa. You can also convert between featured world time zones and figure out what day of the week you’re looking at.
  2. Time Zone Converter: Use this tool to convert time zones between two cities. It accepts dates for the past or future.

Web Development

These tools are great for converting between different script languages, databases, and more.

  1. User Script Compiler: With User Script Compiler, you can convert your Greasemonkey scripts into Firefox extensions.
  2. Advanced PDF to HTML Converter: Use this program to convert PDF files into HTML to make it easier for users to view them. It will preserve all graphics, hyperlinks, bookmarks and lines.
  3. Access to Visual Basic Object Converter: Use this program to quickly convert Access Objects to Visual Basic.
  4. Gmail: Using Gmail, you can convert most document formats into HTML. It’s as easy as sending an attachment to yourself and selecting the option to view it as HTML.
  5. IRun RTF Converter: The IRun RTF Converter makes it easy to put your documents online by converting RTF files to XML or HTML. You can even generate HTML with CSS.
  6. HTML to ASP Converter: This tool converts HTML code for use with ASP.
  7. XML Converter Standard Edition: This converter takes data from MySQL databases, MS SQL Servers and more and turns them into XML documents.
  8. IDN Conversion Tool: With the IDN Conversion Tool, you can translate an IDN or nameserver from native characters to RACE and Punycode or vice-versa.
  9. C to Java Converter: This converter automatically translates C code source files into Java classes. It supports standard ANSI C runtime and L&R C libraries.

Mobile Tools

These tools let you create ringtones for your device and convert while you’re on the go.

  1. Google SMS: If you need to get a short language translation or currency conversion on the fly, use your cell phone and Google SMS to get an answer. All you have to do is send a text message and you’ll get the information you need.
  2. Ringtone Converter: This tool allows you to convert ringtone files from one format to another, like MIDI to Motorola. Ringtone Converter works with most makes and models, plus you won’t need any cables to get the tone on your phone.
  3. Mobile Unit Converter: Do quick metric conversions on your Smartphone or PDA using Mobile Converter. It works for decides running Windows Mobile 5.0.
  4. Coding Workshop Ringtone Converter: With the Coding Workshop Ringtone Converter, you can convert ringtones from one format to another. It supports most makes and models of phones. You can also trim and compress files as you convert.
  5. Converter: Use your Palm to easily look up unit conversions like miles to kilometers on the fly.

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Using Mind Maps for Creativity, Note-Taking and Productivity

Bubbl.us mind mapping tool screenThat headline makes a bold promise, doesn’t it? Creativity, note-taking and productivity? Mind Mapping really is that useful. Read on and I will explain!

What Are Mind Maps?

Mind Maps are a visual diagram with lines and bubbles representing ideas and relationships between them. The core idea sits in the middle with related topics branching out from it. Ideas are further broken down and extended until your page looks like an impressionist painting of a spider colony.

That is my description. Here is a video direct from the source!

Why Are Mind Maps Useful?

There are lots of reasons Mind Maps beat other note-taking methods, not least of which I find drawing Mind Maps fun, here are some more serious reasons.

  1. Mind Maps are fast to create and no effort is wasted
  2. Hierarchy and categorization are visually and clearly defined
  3. Rather than writing out lots of superfluous words only the key ideas are represented.
  4. As well as using words you can draw symbols and diagrams to illustrate ideas
  5. You can read back a Mind Map at a glance, jumping right to the part you need

What are Mind Maps Useful For?

In the headline I mention three categories that Mind Maps can be used for, let’s look at some examples:

There is an interesting description of three categories of Mind Maps at the “Beyond Mind Mapping” blog.

Mind Mapping Software

Traditionally Mind Maps were drawn with coloured pens and paper. Tony Buzan recommends you use at least three colours. Of course computer technology has become a more popular method, bringing in searching, import/export and archival benefits, and since the rise of the web the ability to collaborate over distances.

More packages are listed and reviewed at a blog all about Mind Mapping software.

Summary

You might tell I am a Mind Map fan! Do you ever use Mind Maps? Have any links you can share? Let us know in the comments …

Announcing the Creative Commons PDF Converter

The CC PDF Converter is a free (open source) application that enables you to create PDF documents from almost any application (Word, Excel, Internet Explorer and more). The CC PDF Converter also allows you to easily embed a creative commons license in your PDF file.

If you find any bugs or have any suggestions, I would really appreciate it if you leave them as comments on this post.

I can also be contacted through my email (see the About the author page).

One last thing… If you enjoy the CC PDF Converter and you also need to extract data from PDF files to Excel than I would be honored if you could take a couple of minutes to check out our commercial product. It is a professional PDF to Excel conversion utility which is used by over 10,000 companies around the world. If you decide to get PDF2XL you’ll be saving a ton of time on PDF data conversion and helping us create more open source tools for PDF users.

The Freelancer’s Toolset: 100 Web Apps for Everything You Will Possibly Need

Running a business for yourself means you have to be inventive and always on the lookout for a new and better way to get things done. Innovation junkies, take note: the Internet has a lot to offer. From invoicing to marketing, these are tools that freelancers need to know about.

Organization

If you’re busy with lots of client work, it’s easy for things to get out of hand. Don’t let your work get away from you; organize information and projects with these tools.

  1. Backpack: Get your projects organized by using Backpack. Create to-do lists, notes, files, images and a calendar with reminders that can be sent via email or to your mobile device.
  2. Central Desktop: Collaborate, communicate and share files with clients and coworkers using Central Desktop.
  3. iOrganize: With iOrganize, freelancers can organize work by keeping notes, ideas and bookmarks in one place.
  4. Viapoint: Viapoint makes it easy for freelancers to store emails and files by client or project.
  5. Stikkit: Use Stikkit’s “little yellow notes that think” to keep in touch, plan and collaborate with clients and coworkers.
  6. Webnote: Webnote users can take notes using a web browser, then save and return to the notes on any computer. This is especially helpful if you’re working on-site with a client and have to use a computer other than your own.
  7. Netvibes: Spend less time searching and more time working by customizing your browser’s start page with email, feeds, messaging, job boards and much, much more.

Calendars & To-Do Lists

Client meetings, important events and a never-ending list of things to do can wear you down if you can’t make them manageable. Use these handy calendars and to-do lists to keep your schedule from taking over your business.

  1. Remember The Milk: Remember The Milk reminds you to take care of important tasks, so you’ll never forget when a project is due.
  2. CalendarHub: Use CalendarHub’s web-based calendar to keep track of deadlines and set goals for your business.
  3. Google Calendar: Google Calendar is a web based tool that allows users to organize their schedule, so you’ll always know exactly what you need to be working on.
  4. Planzo: Planzo’s online calendar keeps freelancers connected to events and things to do. It lets you share your events just about anywhere, get a daily digest and receive text message reminders.
  5. Spongecell: Spongecell is an online calendar made for freelancers with lots of meetings and engagements. Plan events, spread the word and allow guests to add content to your calendar.
  6. Neptune: Neptune’s web based to do list tool helps you keep track of the things you need to take care of every day. It lets you email yourself new tasks, get an email report every morning and upload files to store with your projects.
  7. Ta-da List: When you’re busy with lots of projects, it can be hard to keep track of what you’ve accomplished. Make web-based ta-da lists for yourself or other people, then share them and check items off as you go.

Your Money

Money is what keeps your freelance business going, but managing it can be tedious and time consuming. Sure, it’s fun to see money come in, but does anyone really like sending out invoices? Use these tools to make the process of managing your income easier and more enjoyable.

  1. Wesabe: Use Wesabe to keep tabs on where the money in your business goes, helping you to make better financial decisions.
  2. InstaCalc: InstaCalc is a web based calculator with lots of bells and whistles including spreadsheet capabilities, unit conversions and programming commands. It’s great for freelancers because you can send clients links to any of your calculations, put a calculator on your website or create charts and graphs from your calculations.
  3. XE: If you’re working with an overseas client, you may need to handle foreign currencies. Use XE’s currency converter for accurate calculations with up-to-the-minute currency rates.
  4. Dimewise: Use Dimewise’s web-based convenience to manage your business transactions wherever you are.
  5. FreshBooks: FreshBooks offers a program for “painless billing,” so you’ll never have to spend hours sending client invoices out. Designed with service-based businesses in mind, this software provides a method to manage and send invoices, handle work orders and generate reports with ease.

Storage

Do you have too many client files clogging up your hard drive? Use these services to take a load off.

  1. openonmy: openonmy’s website offers storage for files up to 1GB. These files are made to be accessible from any computer, so you can open them up even when on-site with a client.
  2. Xdrive: Xdrive offers 5GB of online storage. Use their service to share files with your clients and coworkers.
  3. YouSendIt: Have you ever had to clean out your inbox just so you’d have room to send out an email? YouSendIt puts and end to that trouble by sending files up to 2GB to your clients.
  4. Flickr: Save space on your hard drive by uploading your photos to Flickr. It’s a great way to store, share and organize photos for your business.
  5. Box: Create an online file-sharing location for you and your clients on Box.
  6. MediaTemple: Keep your important client files safe on MediaTemple’s servers. They offer innovative hosting solutions for all kinds of websites.
  7. DivShare: Use DivShare’s file hosting service to email files to clients or store them in a folder for shared access later.

Project Management & Productivity

Do you wonder where all of your time goes? Do your clients want frequent status updates? Keep tabs on your time and projects with these tools.

  1. Harvest: Harvest offers web-based time tracking software with simplicity. Track your progress and inform your clients using Harvest’s reports.
  2. Side Job Track: Side Job Track, designed with freelancers in mind, provides software that lets you track and manage project information. Features include job tracking, invoicing and reporting.
  3. Basecamp: Basecamp offers a way to improve project communication. Use it to keep your teammates and clients informed about what’s going on with your projects.
  4. ConceptShare: ConceptShare provides online design collaboration. Invite clients and coworkers to view your design and make comments on your work.
  5. ProjectStat.us: Instead of fielding constant calls about the status of a project, let your customers view the status of their project online with ProjectStat.us.

Writing & Design Tools

Being creative can get expensive. Purchasing icons, stock photos, book publishing and the like can add up fast and eat into your profit margin. Check out these free and inexpensive tools designed to make the lives of freelance writers and designers cheaper and easier.

  1. Writeboard: Have you ever had a client or coworker revise a document and end up wiping out your work? Use Writeboard to share and collaborate while saving separate versions each step of the way.
  2. Lulu: Lulu gives fledgling writers an easy way to get published. Each product is printed as it’s ordered, so you don’t have to build an expensive inventory.
  3. MailBuild: Built for web designers, MailBuild allows users to set up a template for client email campaigns.
  4. MyFonts: Do you want to see how fonts will look on your design before committing to a purchase? MyFonts provides a source for trying out and buying new fonts.
  5. IconBuffet: Find and trade stock icons for your web designs on IconBuffet.
  6. stock.xchng: Add photos to your writing or web design at low or no cost. stock.xchng provides tons of stock photos, many of them royalty-free.
  7. Google Docs & Spreadsheets: Don’t bother spending hard-earned money for the latest version of MS Word. Create, upload, share and edit word and spreadsheet documents online using Google Docs & Spreadsheets.
  8. PDF to Excel: While not a web app, Cogniview’s PDF to Excel converter can save you mucho tiempo when you are faced with locked PDF data relevant to you business. With this tool you can extract inventory data, pricing and product data and prospects list from PDF file to Excel.
  9. MorgueFile: MorgueFile’s high resolution photos are has-beens in the stock photography world, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do a great job spicing up your work.

Security & Privacy

Don’t let your work get stolen or compromised. Can you imagine how your business would suffer if you lost files due to a virus? Or worse, if the financial information of your clients got exposed to spyware? These services help you stay safe and secure.

  1. SpamSieve: Fighting spam takes time away from your business and opens your system up to intruders. Use SpamSieve to keep spam out of your Mac email client.
  2. Escrow: Don’t get burned by clients that make fraudulent payments. Use Escrow to protect yourself and your clients from payment fraud.
  3. Cloudmark Desktop: Cloudmark protects your Outlook inbox from spam, phishing and viruses, so you’ll never have to worry about compromising business files when reading your email.
  4. PayPal: Give your clients a way to pay without sharing their financial information by using PayPal.
  5. Moneybookers: Open your business to the worldwide market safely. Use Moneybookers for secure worldwide payment and acceptance.
  6. Spamato: Keep your business email secure by using Spamato with Outlook, Thunderbird or Mozilla Mail.
  7. Spybot Search & Destroy: Make sure your confidential client information is safe from prying eyes by scanning for spyware with Spybot Search & Destroy.
  8. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition: Protect your business files with a good antivirus program. AVG Anti-Virus offers a free solution for protecting your computer from viruses.

Mobility & Contact

When running a business, it’s essential that you’re able to keep in contact with clients, vendors, coworkers and other important acquaintances. Use these tools to communicate with ease.

  1. Campfire: Campfire is a web-based chat tool that’s ideal for online meetings with clients or coworkers.
  2. Meebo: Don’t miss out on a client just because you don’t use the same instant messaging tool. Get access to every major messaging service on Meebo’s website without having to download anything.
  3. FaxZERO: Online communication is popular, but sometimes you just have to send a fax. But who wants to invest in a fax machine and phone line for something that happens only on a rare occasion? Instead, use FaxZERO to send a fax anywhere in the US or Canada for free.
  4. eBuddy: Don’t miss out on important messages while you’re away from your base of operations. Log on to eBuddy to sign on to online messengers using your mobile device.
  5. K7: FaxZERO lets you send out a fax for free online, but what if a client wants to fax something to you? Enlist the help of K7, a service that assigns users a phone number that accepts fax and voicemail messages, which are then sent to your email.
  6. GoToMeeting: Use GoToMeeting to keep in touch with clients and coworkers via online meetings.
  7. LogMeIn: Don’t let your business suffer because you can’t take your computer on the road. Use LogMeIn to get access to your computer’s desktop anywhere.

Marketing & Networking

You provide a great service and offer awesome rates, so why isn’t the world knocking down your door with business? Perhaps it’s because they have no idea you exist. Get your name out there and find new clients with these tools.

  1. LinkedIn: LinkedIn offers online networking at its best. Find opportunities and contacts based on your work and the people you already know.
  2. askCHARITY: Take advantage of askCHARITY’s database of key media contacts to get the word out about your business.
  3. Craigslist: Craigslist is an invaluable tool for any freelancer. Find clients, sell your work, buy supplies, network and more using Craigslist.
  4. Coroflot: Use Coroflot to post an online portfolio and find design jobs.
  5. ProfessionalOnTheWeb: ProfessionalOnTheWeb hosts a directory of portfolios. Make sure yours is there when clients search for help.
  6. Elance: Use Elance to get connected with clients that need your services on a project.
  7. 37signals Gig Board: Use the 37signals Gig Board to find freelance jobs in programming, design and more.
  8. WebProJobs: Find full-time and freelance web professional jobs on WebProJobs.
  9. Job Pile: Job Pile aggregates popular freelance job boards, so you can spend time working instead of searching.
  10. YouTube: Use YouTube’s viral video to get the word out about your creativity.
  11. CafePress: CafePress offers on-demand printing for promotional items as well as a place to sell your design.
  12. Spot Runner: Use Spot Runner to build a TV advertising campaign.

Business & Legal

Paperwork isn’t always fun, but it is necessary. Forms and agreements can provide legal protection and help you avoid disputes down the road. Check out these tools that help you protect yourself and spend less time on the boring stuff.

  1. MyNewCompany: Get legal and tax protection for your freelance business by making things official. Use MyNewCompany to incorporate or form an LLC online.
  2. Help Me Work: Get the stability of corporate life while still working as an independent consultant. Help Me Work takes care of taxes, client billing, paychecks, benefits, retirement plans and more.
  3. Designers Toolbox: Get set up with all the legal forms your design business may need with Designers Toolbox.
  4. Creative Commons: Use Creative Commons to specify how much or how little legal restrictions you want your work to carry.
  5. AIGA: Protect your business with AIGA’s standard form of agreement for design services.
  6. Nolo: If you’ve got a legal question about your business, head to Nolo. Experts there offer legal advice for independent contractors and consultants.
  7. Creative Public: Head to Creative Public for forms, contracts, pricing guides and more for your design business.

Client Contact & Feedback

Your clients are what keep you in business, so it’s important to check in with them and make sure they’re satisfied. Use these programs to keep in touch with your clients and find out what they have to say about your work.

  1. Breeze: Send out email campaigns to your clients with Breeze’s easy tool.
  2. Wufoo: Use Woofoo to make forms, surveys and invitations for your customers with ease.
  3. Relenta CRM: Keep track of customer relationships using email, contact, document and activity management with Relenta.
  4. Highrise: Don’t lose track of your customers: keep in touch with Highrise’s online contact management system.
  5. ScratchnScribble: Use ScratchnScribble’s service to have handwritten or printed greeting cards sent to your clients.

Website Tools

Clients are looking for your business online. Will you be there? Check out these applications to make sure your business has an excellent online presence.

  1. Big Cartel: Set up an online store to sell your products using Big Cartel’s service.
  2. WordPress: Blog about your business and industry with WordPress.
  3. Inblogit: If you’re a design professional, your blog should be attractive. Use Inblogit for blog functionality with more flexbility in design.
  4. Icebrrg: Create web forms with Icebrrg so that your website can generate customer inquiry and feedback.
  5. XHTMLized: If you’re too busy to build a website yourself, use XHTMLized. They take your design and turn it into a web page that is browser and search engine friendly.
  6. XHTMLiT: XHTMLit offers freelancers another time-saving solution for converting design into HTML.
  7. Userplane: Make your website interactive for your clients by bundling chat, messaging, video, search and live presence with Userplane.
  8. Ning: Let your clients network with each other by creating your own Ning social network.
  9. ExpressionEngine: Impress your customers by having a website with lots of features. Use ExpressionEngine to publish just about anything on your website.
  10. FlashDen: Build a great-looking website that your clients will want to visit. Buy Flash, audio, video and fonts to make your website look good at FlashDen.

Printing & Packaging

When your products look good, your business does too. Presentation makes a difference, so be sure to make a good impression by using these innovative printing and packaging tools.

  1. Jewelboxing: Impress your customers with Jewelboxing’s customized, professional-grade DVD and CD packages.
  2. Qoop: Qoop prints everything freelancers might need: business cards, apparel, promotional items, posters and more.
  3. Moo: Moo prints note cards and mini cards from your photos and design. These can be used for promotional materials or business cards.

Tools to Give & Take

These tools pack a double-whammy of functionality. Use them to get the resources you need or as an alternative revenue stream.

  1. Google AdWords: Use Google AdWords to advertise your business or make money by putting AdWords on your website.
  2. Prosper: Using Prosper’s people-to-people lending website, you can borrow money for business expenses from real people. If you have extra cash, use Prosper to earn interest by lending to others.
  3. Text Link Ads: Generate interest in your website and attract clients with Text Link Ads or earn money by selling space for others on your site.
  4. PayPerPost: Use PayPerPost to have a blogger write about your product or service. Alternately, you can earn money by writing about someone else’s business.
  5. Guruza: Find answers to your business questions or earn money by giving expert advice on Guruza.

Miscellaneous

From office suites to creative stimulation, these tools have a lot to offer for freelancers. Check out these applications that cover anything and everything else you might need for your business.

  1. Zoho: Zoho’s Office Suite includes a variety of software solutions for freelancers: a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, wiki writer, notebook, project management, CRM solution, database creator, calendar, web conferencing, email and chat.
  2. Veetro: Veetro offers another all-in-one solution that specializes in the tools freelancers need the most. This program combines money, document, task and customer management with email marketing, reporting and blog publishing.
  3. Work: Are you clueless about what it takes to run a business in your industry? Work offers guides that show you how.
  4. Pandora: Get your creative juices flowing with Pandora’s fully customizable internet radio.

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