Best productivity apps in 2021 – Master List
Last updated on: December 15, 2021
Whether you’re a student, a business owner, or a freelancer, odds are that you’re looking for some productivity apps to boost your workflow and minimize procrastination.
So, to kickstart that, we’ve covered various tools in neat little categories. Consider them your “better workflow starter kits”. You can search the apps by your preferred platform or device, or by the type of users they’re aimed at.
Table of Contents
How we chose the apps on these lists
There is a slight difficulty when choosing top-of-the-line apps on official stores, such as Google Play or the Apple App Store. Namely, they will rarely (if ever) display any kind of top list of their apps since the rating algorithm can be easily manipulated. The only exceptions are the annual lists, such as the App Store Best of 2021 list published by the Apple company.
So, to prevent any kind of misinformation or false advertising, Apple has disabled the option of sorting by ratings or reviews. Instead, you can look at categories that narrow down your search (which is what we did).
On the other hand, Google keeps changing and improving its rating system. According to TechCrunch, Google’s current ratings reflect the newest app releases. Pretty fickle, right? Just like with the Apple company, Google also published the list of the Best apps of 2021, although there are only a few productivity tools on the list.
So we set out to read numerous articles, app store reviews, and expert opinions, all to find those that most will agree on. And it was a lot of legwork.
This is why we hope that after reading this master post, you will have come out with several new tools under your productivity belt.
Best productivity apps across platforms
Our first category takes a look at the best productivity software across all major platforms. Since it is difficult to find an app that is not cross-platform today, we’ve focused on selecting those that have become a productivity staple for one platform.
Best productivity apps for macOS
For macOS users, we chose the following productivity apps.
Clockify for macOS
Shortcuts is a shortcut app and an application launcher. In 2021, Apple introduced this app for macOS, adding that it allows you to migrate all of your existing shortcuts to it, additionally integrating them with Siri.
ClickUp is an all-in-one productivity app designed to manage everything—from your daily to-dos to complex projects, even your business’ entire workflow. Teams of any size and across industries rely on ClickUp for its powerful customization abilities and feature-rich experience to optimize processes, monitor project updates, and collaborate with the team, no matter what project style you use. With hundreds of advanced tools, over 1,000 integrations, and a user-friendly, drag and drop interface, ClickUp makes work management a breeze.
Notability is a note-taking app with .pdf reading and annotating. Its wide range of options lets users edit notes, scribble, add stickers, photos, and GIFs, as well as record and listen to audio. You can also have group notes, and many templates to choose from.
Fantastical is the calendar app that has been recognized as the Mac App of the Year, on the App Store Best of 2020 list. Plus, Fantastical works as a project management tool as well. So, by having an overview of your calendar, you can review your tasks, schedule events, access the files you need for meetings, and make templates from current events and tasks.
Magnet is an organization app every multitasker needs. It lets you snap multiple open windows to different sections of your screen, which gives you a much better overview of everything you’re currently working on. This way, you avoid the frustration of looking for that one window you lost in the crowd.
Best productivity apps for iPhone and iPad
For iPhone and iPad users, we chose the following productivity apps.
Calendars by Readdle offers sleek and sophisticated calendars for your iOS device. They’re equipped with the fastest syncing out there, drag and drop options, calendar view preferences, custom keyboards, offline mode, etc.
If This Then That
IFTTT (If This Then That) plays an integral part as a time-saving app. You can use it to make your own integrations between different apps already on your phone. It can connect your to-do list to your GPS so you’re reminded of a task with a specific location, or have a time tracker start the moment you open a work-related app, etc.
Cozi is a great app that organizes your home life. For working parents and guardians, this specifically-designed solution helps juggle everyone’s tasks and stay on top of the schedule. It keeps the schedules transparent to everyone, and it’s customizable enough to match every family member.
iCloud is the best cloud storage solution for those who have multiple iOS devices. From the Apple Watch to the Mac, this service can sync all of your data and content across every piece of Apple tech you own. It starts with 5GB of free storage, but for a small monthly fee, you can get at least ten times more.
CashApp is a personal finance app you can use on your iPhone or iPad. It remains the #1 app in this category due to its ease of use and trust established over the years. In addition to the basics (sending and receiving payment), as well as receiving paychecks and filing taxes, you can buy and sell your crypto and stocks safely in the same place.
HotSchedules is a team app that lets employees coordinate shifts between themselves. They can pick up and swap shifts, and use in-app chat to consolidate information. Managers can oversee all the necessary data to improve business performance. It boasts a time-save of 75% when making schedules, and is among the top productivity apps for trades.
Best productivity apps for Apple Watch
For when you really need to do things on the fly and don’t want to rummage for your phone, we chose the following productivity apps.
Done is a to-do app intended to make habit-forming an easy process. With all of your daily rituals (taking vitamins, checking emails) on an app on your wrist, you can easily keep track of them. Checking them off from your Apple Watch with a single tap will be beneficial for your productivity. You can export the data in .csv format, backup with iCloud and Dropbox, and password protection.
Due is an Apple Watch app that creates slick and simple reminders for your daily activities. It’s highly customizable, and as of recently, features a calendar-style date picker. Due works offline, and also syncs to all of your other devices via iCloud.
Citymapper is an app designed to be a companion to those who spend a lot of time commuting. It will give you the quickest access to information on traffic jams, transportation departures, maps, etc. While it’s only available for certain cities in several countries, it is being developed and expanded.
Spark is a very sleek, accessible email app. It adapts all the smart solutions from the iPhone counterpart – automatic sorting, previews, and big bright icons to help navigate the tiny screen.
Just Press Record
Just Press Record is an on-the-run solution for your note-tang needs. You can use the app to record, playback, edit and transcribe the data, all from inside it. It syncs incredibly fast to your iPhone or iPad as well, for later use.
Best productivity apps for Android
For those who use Android OS, we chose the following productivity apps.
File Manager is a file management app that shortens the time you spend looking for different apps and files on your phone. It holds a high place in the productivity section of the Google Play Store due to its responsiveness, the robustness of features, and the user-friendly interface. You can access your storage from your PC, perform storage analysis, save files in the cloud, and also manage apps.
Forest is a focusing app that, in a way, gamifies your productive time. When you start a task, you plant a virtual tree. The longer you work on the task, focused, the more the tree will grow. If you get distracted by other apps or the Internet, the tree can die.
MixNote is an app for note-taking and to-do lists. However, it also has a high privacy feature, autosave, and even lets you shake your phone to record phone calls. You can even place your notes and to-do lists on your home screen.
Rabit is among the top-rated apps on Google Play’s Best of 2021. It’s a colorful habit tracking app with a rich design. Rabit keeps your motivation going by having you plant seeds and grow a garden, but only if you manage to fulfill your daily habits. It features Goals, Routines, Reminders, and more.
Google Assistant is perhaps the best option Android users will get for a voice assistant. With over 4 million active downloads, the app lets you perform a wide range of actions by voice command only: taking notes, making phone calls, internet browsing, setting up reminders, etc.
Email by Edison
Email by Edison offers to consolidate all of your emails in one place. You can view all of your subscriptions in a single tab, have an AI assistant, a rich search engine, customizable notifications, etc.
Best productivity apps for Windows PC
For Windows PC users, we chose the following apps.
Power Toys is an open-source project that brings a plethora of features to your Windows OS. You can download the feature-packed software, and enable any of the multiple time-saving solutions like window layouts for multitasking, bulk file renamer, keyboard manager, shortcuts guide, and more. It’s an all-in-one solution that can replace multiple different tools.
Snagit is an invaluable app for when you want to record more complex feedback. It can quickly capture and markup any content. There is screen recording, screen capture, templates to choose from, making GIF instructions, and even panoramic capture.
Seer is handy for when you want to quickly find certain files in otherwise cluttered folders. The app offers a quick preview of files like images and pdfs, without you actually having to open them. This can be a huge time saver if you need to fetch a file as soon as possible.
Pushbullet is a smart solution for those who find that switching between devices breaks their focus. The app connects all your handheld devices to your computer, so you can see your phone notifications on the desktop, or send yourself a phone photo without having to email it to yourself or send it to the cloud. If you want to be able to access all your devices no matter where you are, then this app is for you.
Join.me is a great little app for organizing impromptu meetings, as well as larger, planned-out ones. Instead of finding a platform, and then the other persons’ contact info, you can use the app to simply create a virtual room with a shared screen or webcam. You then share the link to everyone who needs to join and – voila! It’s simple and easy.
Best productivity apps for the Chromebook
Chromebook devices run the specific Chrome OS, a Linux-based operating system. The apps are focused more on performing via the Google Chrome browser. This is why a lot of the data will be stored in the cloud. And, why we choose the following productivity tools.
TickTick is a task management app that lets you manage your tasks, create task lists, and collaborate with colleagues or friends. The free version of this tool provides you with two reminders per task and a calendar view. Besides, you can sync your account with other devices you frequently use.
LastPass is the only tool you’ll need to manage all your passwords. Be sure to remember your master password on LastPass and the app will automatically save other passwords. Aside from this feature, LastPass has options like a digital wallet, username generator, and dark web monitoring.
Feedly is an app that allows you to save, share and send pages you want to read later. To avoid wasting time on article after article, you can simply click the small icon the app places in your browser, and the page gets saved for later.
DejaOffice CRM is a customer management app designed for small businesses or freelancers with a large client base. It is completely free, with a slew of features – airplane mode, phone sync, multiple task styles, advanced contact management, etc.
Best productivity apps for Linux
For Linux OS users, we chose the following apps.
DeepIn Screenshot is the simplest and the most functional screen capturing tool for Linux. You can easily drag a box to capture whatever section of the screen you want to markup, save, edit or share. There are several different saving and copying options, and you can choose a default one every time you take a screenshot.
Peek is a quick and easy tool for creating gifs, mp4, and other format videos. Simply start the app, resize the window to your liking, choose a format, and click record. As soon as you’re done, just save the video. It’s a tool with a singular purpose, but much easier than using different tools for recording and conversion of videos to gifs and vice versa.
Freemind is a high productivity tool that lets you create mind maps on your device. Then, you can break them down into tasks or organize them for a project. It’s a perfect alternative for those who are not into project management through cards or boards.
Okular is a reader app whose strongest selling point is the ability to preview and open any document format. You can also easily extract embedded files such as graphs and images. From .doc and .odf, to .pdf. It saves you the hassle of finding the right document converter. Particularly useful if you’re working with people who use different operating systems.
GnuCash is a Linux app designed for all of your accounting needs. The UI is simple, it’s easy to learn, and the app is completely free. You can also see your stock or bond accounts, there’s double-entry accounting, data import, financial calculations, and much more.
Clockify is one of the few time trackers that offer a native Linux app. So if you are looking to track your billable hours or just want to know where your time goes while working on a Linux-based OS, Clockify is a time tracker for you.
Best productivity apps for the Chrome browser
For those who use the Chrome browser, we choose the following productivity extensions.
Clockify also has a Chrome extension that provides an easy-to-manage yet powerful time tracker. Additionally, it has idle detection, Pomodoro feature, editing task descriptions by simply selecting a text on your webpage, and more.
Grammarly is the most widely used add-on. It’s useful for firsthand proofing of texts and emails, as its automatic correction saves a lot of time on looking up grammar and spelling uncertainties. It can also assess your text’s level of formality and tone to help you spruce it up.
Timewarp is an add-on that lets you set up different redirections in case you visit an unproductive website during work. You can have the add-on redirect you to a more productive site, show you a motivational quote, or display the time you’ve spent on it.
Otto is a Pomodoro-like timer that takes the concept for a fun spin. Otto is a blue blob character that works out in your browser as you work on your tasks. If you get distracted and visit a website you blacklisted (like social media), his health drops down.
Best productivity apps for the Mozilla Firefox browser
For those who use Mozilla Firefox, we choose the following productivity extensions.
Momentum is an add-on that lets you turn your new tab into a productive dashboard that displays your most useful websites, important information, to-do lists, tasks, etc. It keeps everything you need in one place, without the need for infinite browsing and checking.
Web Search Navigator
Web Search Navigator is an add-on for those who find it slow and tedious to switch between mouse and keyboard when browsing the Internet. Instead of constantly moving from one to the other, the app lets you set up commands on your keyboard to navigate search results through the keyboard completely. It surely improves your speed.
Gesturefy is a neat little add-on that speeds up certain web-browsing actions. It allows you to record specific mouse gestures (e.g. swiping to the right while holding down the left click), which you can then assign to specific actions – reload a page, go back, close a page, etc.
Todoist is also a fairly popular add-on that works as an in-browser list of all your tasks. This add-on takes it a step further by letting you customize as much as you want, assign different labels, and even add entire web pages as tasks.
Awesome Screenshot and Screen Recorder is an extension for screenshots and screen recording. You can record your entire desktop or just sections of it, annotate and edit screenshots, and easily share to all major collaboration platforms (Jira, Asana, GitHub, Trello).
💡 Just like with Chrome, Clockify offers a Firefox extension as well so you can conveniently track your time in Mozilla’s browser with just one click.
Best productivity apps for specific users
This second category is dedicated to apps based on the types of users that would most benefit from them.
Best productivity apps for teams
Here are apps that cover a wide range of functionalities — for use within teams.
Typio Form Recovery
Typio Form Recovery is a great safety net for when your wifi gives out. It is a Chrome extension that works as an autosave tool for any website, online form, or Google document you and your team may be filling out. The add-on backs up and restores any writing you may have lost through broken connection, page reloads, or other disturbances. Especially useful for remote teams.
Clockify provides an efficient, yet feature-laden solution for teams because it’s free no matter how many people are in the team. You can track time, manage tasks on projects, create full project transparency and make timesheet reports for clients and team revisions. Use it to enhance productivity or identify the wasted time.
Evernote Teams is a collaboration/project management platform that boasts a large number of templates you can use to make a perfectly customized dashboard for your team. That way you have a tailored project management platform for your business or industry. Just some of the templates include publishing campaigns, non-profit project management, user studies, product roadmap, and much more.
Pumble is a free communication channel that ensures effective collaboration within the team. You’ll be able to chat with your colleagues within groups or channels, but also by sending private messages. Some of its best features include user and workspace admin tools and 24/7 web support. In addition, Pumple is available for an unlimited number of users.
Zoom is a highly user-friendly tool suitable for teams of all sizes. This app has been recognized as the iPad App of the Year 2020 on Apple’s list and as one of the Best Everyday Essentials apps by Google. With Zoom, you can create smaller rooms alongside bigger conference calls. You can host webinars, teaching panels, more private team chats, and have simple audio calls. This is the kind of communication tool that bends to your team’s size and needs, rather than have the users adapt to it.
Basecamp is a straightforward team collaboration platform. It lets you create pages for your projects and tasks and assign as many people as you need. There are also group chats, message boards, and automated check-ins to ensure deadlines are met.
💡 If you’re still on the fence about which teamwork app to choose, you can take a look at our detailed coverage of the topic here: Online Collaboration Tools for Any Business
Best productivity apps for small business
When it comes to this category, we’ve looked at apps, tools, and services that are free or affordable for a starting business.
Google Workspace is a favorite among many startups and collaborating freelancers. It’s free/affordable, all the apps reside and store data in the cloud, so there’s no overburdening to your servers or tools. Additionally, the software has everything you need to run the basics of a small business – productivity tools, team management and project management tools, and hundreds of integrations.
Happeo is a workforce management software. Its pricing depends on the needs and size of your company, and being excellently integrated with G-suite, it is quite an affordable solution for the benefits it brings. Feature-wise, it gives you access to personalized timelines, social intranet, collaboration tools, etc. Especially useful for HR teams.
Less Annoying CRM
Less Annoying CRM is a solution made explicitly for small businesses. Ranking #1 on usnews.com, its purpose is to provide up-and-coming businesses with hassle-free, basic CRM tools that will get them off the ground at an affordable price. Among its features, there’s phone and email support, contact management, collaboration management, and lead tracking.
Let’s Build is a multi-purpose solution ideal for those who own construction businesses and the like. It has a very handy mobile app that allows workers to remotely (or on-site) access all the necessary plans, correspondence, and data.
Gusto Payroll shows great robustness in its plans. While not the cheapest option, it still offers automated payroll, tax filings, all the employment forms, health insurances, benefit packages, and more.
Best productivity apps for developers
The following apps are designed specifically with developers in mind. And while there are plenty more of them, these seem to be the most praised ones among a variety of users.
BBEdit is a professional HTML and text editing app. It’s designed for Mac OS, and with software developers in mind. It offers a lot of options – a built-in FTP client, color coding within the code, collapsible blocks of codes, etc.
Git is a distributed version control system that allows you to track changes in the source code with projects of all sizes. It’s particularly useful in that the changes and the version history during development are not stored in a single place, but distributed among participants on the project (similarly to SVN). This allows for greater speed, transparency, and flexibility.
Searchcode is a free code searching tool. This app makes looking for code extremely fast and it has a smart case search feature. You can use it on any browser of your choice.
Musicforprogramming.net is a programmer-centered website offering a wide range of different music to listen to when coding. There are more than 60 playlists, and each is filled with specific types of songs. The whole web page visually resembles a code editor, so as to not distract you from work.
Plan.io is a project management tool designed for software developers. Its main features involve tracking issues and bugs, an optional Scrum framework, a Wiki for anyone with ideas and processes to share, and much more. With this tool, you have a project management platform focused on the programming workflow.
Monit is another open-source solution, but this time, it’s made to monitor your server’s health. Aside from tracking any server changes, it also lets you set up simple testing responses for commonly seen problems (e.g web page timeouts), so you don’t have to do it manually. There is also automatic maintenance and repair.
MacroRecorder is an elegant solution for automating your coding processes. To avoid repetitiveness in your tasks, you can use the app to record mouse gestures and keystrokes, edit them, and save them for future use. It proves to be a great automated software testing tool as well.
Best productivity apps for entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs are bound to have a big issue with managing time and their schedules. They’re often overburdened with different tasks, especially when starting off. Every entrepreneur should steadily learn how to manage long work hours and avoid burnout at the same time. The following apps can help mitigate some of that stress, too.
Doodle is an app that helps you easily set up meetings. It can automatically convert time zones for online meetings, calculate the best times based on participants’ schedules, and much more. It’s like a designated meeting and correspondence pocket assistant.
Personal Capital is an online platform that helps you oversee all of your finances. Especially useful for investors and startup owners. It is a feature-packed free budgeting application with investment tools and features.
Otter is a voice recording app that lets you record thoughts and notes, meetings, feedback, emails, etc. You can take notes and transcribe the audio, share it with others and mark up important sections. Its high functionality makes it a really good contender to other voice recording apps out there.
Camcard is a nifty little tool for those who network often, attend conferences and various meetings. The app allows you to take a photo of a person’s business card and have the data automatically uploaded to your phone contacts, or the app’s own organizer. This way, you have all the important contacts digitally stored, instead of hoarding cards.
TripIt is an invaluable tool for all entrepreneurs who travel frequently. This app helps you keep all the details of your business trip in one place. Then, you can share your calendar with your colleagues or partners. Plus, TripIt also allows you to add important documents to your travel plans and provides you with an airport map so you can easily get around.
Best productivity apps for students
The apps in this group focus mainly on providing help with schoolwork organization, focus, or habits.
Notion is an app that’s become a strong contender to Evernote. It’s a different kind of project management tool that emphasizes task lists, document storage, and scrapbooking. With large storage, you can keep all of your notes, photos, and schedules in one place where they can be easily retrieved. What’s more, if you have a .edu email at your school, Notion gives you a free upgrade from the basic plan.
Flipd is a focusing, meditation, and digital detox app that is bound to be integral to any stressed student. It helps you mitigate stress and practice focus and mindfulness through various modes, some of which are self-care, sleep stories, meditations, and unplugging.
Habitica is an app that turns habit tracking and forming healthy new habits into a game. You create your own personalized avatar, take on quests and tackle challenges with your friends. By completing habits you set for yourself (studying, reading, taking tests), you earn experience points and currency with which you can level up your avatar and dress it up into exclusive items.
My Study Life
My Study Life is a cross-platform app that covers all of your student needs. It lets you create a daily schedule, organize tasks and subjects, and take note of upcoming exams. As an organizational tool, it works wonders with its free plan, and can completely replace a paper planner.
Best productivity apps for people with ADHD
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s mainly characterized by the person affected not being able to focus on one thing for a longer period of time. Emails, phone notifications, sounds outside the workspace, and even other tasks can become an enormous distraction.
Here are some of the apps that could help mitigate unproductivity whose main cause is ADHD.
Remember the Milk
Remember the Milk is a to-do list app that is designed with busy people in mind. Since you may have plenty of tasks that you can’t afford to forget, this app could be really helpful. As some experts advise people with ADHD to find a highly customizable to-do list to keep their attention from switching, Remember the Milk has this option as well.
Tranquility Reader is a nifty solution for when various web pages pose a distraction threat. This browser add-on eliminates ads and links that might steer you away from the actual contents of the page. If you find it difficult to stay focused due to distracting images and banners on a page, Tranquility Reader can eliminate them for you.
Focus@Will is a focusing background noise app that boasts having a specific ADHD channel. The unique backlog of music presets this app offers is bound to help you find a tune to boost your productivity. If the ADHD channel doesn’t help you, there’s also an option of doing a questionnaire to find the perfect one for you.
ScheduleOnce is a great app if you work with a lot of clients, or offer a service. Since it can be difficult to keep track of appointments and bookings, and you run the risk of double-booking a meeting, this app can help alleviate some of that responsibility. You can custom-create a booking page for yourself (or your business) and have clients schedule themselves with your premade openings.
Next Meeting is an iOS and Mac app that reminds you of your next meeting. Instead of having to remember them, or keep numerous post-its, Next Meeting keeps a tiny window open in the corner, as you work. Once you set up your schedule for the day, you can click the top right icon to see a drop-down menu of all your tasks, but it also displays the remaining time before the next meeting, right at the top of the screen. You’ll never miss another one.
Unroll.me is an app that mitigates the damage constant email notifications make to your focus. It is able to opt you out of newsletters you no longer want to receive and accumulate all the ones you do into a single daily email. That way, you only get one notification of all the news instead of a dozen. It’s also a great way to declutter your inbox and avoid doing it manually and getting carried away.
Clockify Pomodoro Timer
Clockify Pomodoro timer keeps you away from distractions and helps you focus on work. When working in 25-minute sessions followed by a 5-minute break, you’ll be able to aim your attention only on tasks during these work sessions. Thus, you’ll avoid distractions with ease.
All of the apps you’ve seen here are just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve covered the ones we’ve found to be most recommended by various users, or suggested by leading names in business and education. Keep in mind that your productivity is in your hands, and these apps are here to be a helping hand.
✉️ What do you think of our list? Any apps you believe deserve a spot here? Share your opinion with us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we might feature it in the next update!