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20 Indispensable Browser Based Apps

There’s nothing better than a good browser based app. Browser based apps require no downloading and no installation, so you can start using them whenever and wherever you like. What’s more, each one of these apps is accessible from any computer in the world, provided that it’s connected to the internet, so there’s no need to take expensive and heavy hardware with you when you’re out of the office. Some of these apps can be used on your mobile phone too!

There are browser based alternatives to almost every traditional piece of software you frequently use, whether it’s for word processing, image editing, listening to music, screen sharing, storing files and folders, or even making to-do lists. Here, we bring you 20 indispensable web apps, which once you’ve tried, you’ll never want to live without again. Most of the apps explored below are free, so there’s nothing stopping you from giving them a go.

GizmoCall (free)
GizmoCall is a fantastic, free, browser based alternative to using the telephone. All you need is a computer that’s connected to the internet, a headset and a Flash-enabled browser. PC to PC calls are free and rates for calls to landlines and mobiles are very cheap, starting at 1.9c per minute. You can even set up a caller ID with your own phone number, so people know it’s you calling.


MegaMeeting (from $45 per month)1
2 Like GizmoCall, but for video-conferencing, MegaMeeting is entirely browser based, so you don’t have to download or install anything. You needn’t worry about compatibility issues either, as it works on Windows, Mac and Linux-based machines. With MegaMeeting, 16 people can partake in a video conference at any one time, with an unlimited number of non-participatory spectators.


Basecamp (from $24 per month)4
5 Basecamp is, quite simply, the best browser based project management app available. With Basecamp, which is endorsed by Warner Brothers, Adidas, National Geographic and other high profile companies, you can write communal and personal “to do” lists, store and share files (up to 75GB) effectively between team members, write on your group’s message boards, add milestones to keep track of what’s due and who’s responsible, and track your own and others’ time.


Remember The Milk (free)7
8 If you’re the type of person who’s constantly scribbling down lists, lest you forget everything, welcome to the 21st century and Remember The Milk, a great app for making personal and professional to-do lists. Not only can you create lists and tasks wherever you are by using your computer or mobile, you can attach them to real maps, get reminders and share your lists with others. Catalogue your lists and tasks in the way that feels ‘right’ for you, so that you never lose a to-do list again.

Remember the Milk9

Meebo (free)10
11 Meebo is a fantastic browser app for instant messaging. Integrated with MSN, Yahoo!, Facebook, AIM and more, it lets you combine all of your online friends into one buddy list, talking and sharing in real-time across every major IM platform. It’s got 100 million users and that many people can’t be wrong.


Zoho (free)13
14 Zoho offers everything, from an email service to an online presentation tool, document management, note taker, wiki site, organizer, chat, and various business apps, including CRM solutions, web conferencing, collaboration software and much, much more. What it’s best known for, however, is its word processor, Zoho Docs, which rivals Microsoft Word and Google Docs. The best thing about Zoho Docs is that your documents are saved online and accessible anywhere in the world, although there is an offline mode too.


Lala (free)
If you’re looking for free music online and don’t want to incriminate yourself or download any dodgy viruses by mistake, look no further than Lala. It couldn’t be simpler to use, just search for the music you want by genre, artist, album or song title, and play it straight from your browser. There’s a huge selection available, including all major new releases.


Picnik (free)16
17 There are literally millions of people looking for cheaper alternatives to Adobe Photoshop for editing images. Picnik is better than cheap, it’s free, and although it doesn’t do lots of different things; it does a few things very well. The last five pictures you edit using Picnik are automatically saved for you to re-edit on your return if you so wish and it’s seamlessly integrated with sites like Flickr, which will store your photos online for you.


Dimdim (free)
Dimdim is a free, open source web meeting platform which puts commercial applications like Webex and GoToMeeting to shame. With Dimdim, you can host meetings with up to 20 people for free. You can synchronize presentations, web pages and more at the touch of a button, sharing voice and video at the same time.


30 Boxes (free)19
30 Boxes is a browser based calendar and one of the best online tools for keeping yourself organized. Its strength lies in its simplicity. Once you’ve signed up, you’re presented with a large calendar which covers the screen. All you do is click on a day and add notes for yourself.

30 Boxes20

Gmail (free)21
22 With so many free email providers around, it can be hard to choose which one to go with. Everyone seems to have a favorite but, in our humble opinion, the best is Gmail. It offers intuitive sorting and searching, organizing of emails in conversations, a great spam filter, starring and custom coloring of emails and plenty of storage. The best thing about Gmail, however, is that it’s so easily accessible from, which, chances are, you’ll already be visiting regularly.


280 Slides (free)
280 slides is the ideal browser app to use for creating polished visual presentations. It’s perfect for people who travel and don’t want to take their computers with them. Once you have created a presentation online, you can secure it on 280 Slide’s secure server, download it in PowerPoint 2007 format, email it to a friend or colleague, or embed it in a web page. It’s easy to add pictures and videos to your presentation from places like Flickr and YouTube.

280 Slides

MindMeister (free)24
25 MindMeister is a simple, but incredibly effective app for brainstorming with colleagues, wherever they might be. It’s accessible from any computer or smartphone. Use MindMeister to create mind maps in your browser, which colleagues can add to and edit simultaneously. Besides business users, students can use MindMeister when working on group projects, and individuals can use it just to plan their day or week ahead. You can work on your mind maps offline if you wish and then go online to share them.

Mind Meister26

Mockingbird (free)27
28 Mockingbird, an app for web developers and designers, lets you create mock-ups of websites in minutes. You can drag and drop user interface elements into mockingbird, rearranging and resizing them as you go to create the perfectly balanced page. You can add as many pages as you like, linking them together to show clients or associates how users might navigate through your site. Share your mock-ups by generating a link or embedding them in your own website or blog.


PDF to Word (free)30
31 This fantastically simple browser app converts even the most intricate PDF’s into DOC/RTF equivalents for you to edit in Microsoft Word. If you’ve ever tried copying and pasting an entire PDF into Word before, you’ll know that you often end up with something which barely resembles the original. PDF to Word gets really great results in seconds, using a wide variety of layout tools including paragraphs, columns and margins.

PDF to Word32

Fonolo (free)33
34 Don’t you just hate calling customer support numbers? Not only do you have to hold for hours on end, you’ve got to navigate your way through various levels of number pressing before you’re connected to the right person. Well Fonolo does all the hard work for you; connecting you to exactly the person you wish to speak to without all the “Press 1 if you’re a home customer, press 2 if you’re a business customer, press 3 if you’re a tired of being told to press a number customer!” You get the idea.


Youblisher (free)36
37 Youblisher is an excellent, free app for converting endless PDF documents into a more interesting and digestible format. Upload your PDF’s and let Youblisher turn them into an impressive, flippable publication, which looks just like a real pamphlet or magazine.


Mitto (free)
Have you got hundreds of different passwords for hundreds of different websites, bank accounts and who knows what else? I do, it’s an absolute nightmare, constantly setting up new passwords for sites I use on a weekly basis. Mitto is a secure online password manager, which lets you store all of your passwords safely. Organize your passwords exactly how you want to, so you know where to find them, and access them anywhere in the world, via your computer or mobile phone.


FlockDraw (free)39
40 FlockDraw is a great way to share ideas or waste lots of time in a fun way, whichever suits you best. It’s essentially a paint tool with which you can paint and draw instantly without the need for any downloading or installing. Not only can you draw by yourself, you can do so with friends or colleagues simultaneously, which is perfect for when you’re collaborating on ideas.


Dropbox (free)42
43 Dropbox is an ingenious tool for storing and sharing files between any number of computers, phones or team members. Once installed, a Dropbox folder appears on your computer’s desktop. Drag files into the folder and they automatically appear in the Dropbox folder on each one of your computers, laptops and smartphones. What’s more, every file is automatically added to another Dropbox folder on the Dropbox website, which is accessible from any computer in the world. You can invite associates to access your Dropbox folder, for quick and easy file sharing.


So what are some browser-based apps that you use daily and can’t leave without? Which apps from this list have you not discovered yet? Do you plan on trying some of these apps? We would love to hear your thoughts, comments, suggestions and links below. Please fill out the comment box and share your thoughts with us.

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SmashingConf Barcelona 2016

Hold on, Tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? Like SmashingConf Barcelona, on October 25–26, with smart design patterns and front-end techniques.

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Tom Walker has made a living out of his two main interests in life: writing and design. He works with a supplier of laser printer toner, ink, paper and other printing accessories in England. His other writing on the subjects of art and design is on CreativeCloud.

  1. 1

    Thanks for sharing. Some of them I don’t even heard of. This should come in handy someday.

  2. 3

    Like Peach, I hadn’t heard of most of these although I do use the excellent Dropbox. I’m off to download ‘PDF to Word’ and ‘Mitto’ just now…

  3. 5

    Some great services here that I was unaware, PDF to Word should come in handy.
    Would you say that GismoCall has better features than Skype?

    • 6

      To tell you the truth Gareth, I’ve heard good reports about GismoCall but haven’t personally tried it myself. Skype is awesome though! :)

  4. 7

    Never seen a list like this…thought it was unique :)
    submitted to digg .

  5. 9

    I’m using Dropbox for a while now, it’s a very handy tool I don’t want to miss anymore.
    *thumbs up*


  6. 11

    What a list Tom! I was aware of a couple of these, but no where near touching this list. I’m going to giving a few of these a spin today as I do (and I’m sure a lot of your readers) a lot of collaboration online.

    So thanks for putting this together — I’m looking forward to never pressing 1 again for English. Ha.

    – Shawn

  7. 13

    For designers, take a look at . It is an online file storage, collaboration and presentation service that has great support for professional image formats like psd, ai, tiff, pdf, etc. It is really easy to use for your clients as well.

  8. 15 is another good, free file sharing/storing site.

  9. 17

    I would favor Skype even though it’s not technically web-based, it is somewhat in the same vein as the above apps and is crucial for working with remote employees.

    Also, take a look at Intervals, a web-based time, task & project management app that our web design agency built. It combines several of the above apps into one.

  10. 19

    Very useful list of apps, I use some of them already and I will be trying a few you suggested, thank you much! :)

  11. 21

    “Browser based apps require no downloading”

    Uh huh.

    I think you need to learn what downloading is.

  12. 23

    Wow, this is an excellent list! I have already been using Basecamp and Dropbox for a while, but I will look into the others and recommend them to others! Web-based apps are definitely the future of software. No installation, you don’t lose everything if your hard drive dies, and you can access your data from anyway at any time!

    • 24

      Great points you bring up. I’m definitely starting to use more web apps for my daily work. It’s definitely a time saver, especially if you like to move your office around, and work at the coffee shop, or anywhere else. It’s great to not have to always carry an external hard drive with you. That’s why Dropbox is amazing! :)

  13. 25

    Lala apparently doesn’t work outside the US so I’ll recommend Grooveshark for the rest of us.

  14. 27

    Thanks Kuswanto! :)

  15. 28

    I appreciate it. BTW, keep it up with your blogs mate, you are doing a good job.

  16. 29

    Hey Tuhin, I’m glad you liked Tom’s guest post. Nice to hear that you are already using some of these apps already.

  17. 30

    Thanks Mel. Glad we were able to show you some new apps that you haven’t yet discovered.

  18. 31

    Really, that’s great. I’m sure DropBox has won lots of awards already and will continue to do so in the future. It really is awesome, and definitely can be a lifesaver.

  19. 32

    Hey, thanks Aidan. You are really doing an excellent job with Onextrapixel, I’m loving your articles. Keep up the great work. :)

  20. 33

    Mockingbird is a great wire-framing tool. I’m also trying to add it to the workflow as well.


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