16 no-cost tools to improve productivity, collaboration

Turbocharge your workday with free downloads and Web services like Ecofont, MakeSomeTime, and Tinychat.

Collaboration Sites and Services

The five collaboration services we looked at can easily connect you with contractors, coworkers, or relatives. They cover business chat, secure screen sharing, microblogging, and more.

LogMeIn Express

  • What it does: Enables secure screen sharing; perfect for troubleshooting a relative's or friend's PC from afar.
  • Why we like it: Nothing to install. The sharer downloads and runs a tiny app and then gives a 12-digit code to the person taking control remotely.

MiNeeds

  • What it does: Connects you with local service professionals--from attorneys to house cleaners to wedding planners.
  • Why we like it: Just post your "need" and then wait for bids to roll in. Compare offers, view each professional's credentials, and read reviews left by other customers.

Tinychat

  • What it does: Creates "disposable" chatrooms for on-the-fly meetings with coworkers or planning sessions with friends.
  • Why we like it: Easy to use. Simply create a name for your chatroom, and invite people via Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail.

Yammer

  • What it does: Offers Facebook-style functions for individual businesses. Employees communicate in a variant of a private social network.
  • Why we like it: Ample collaboration features, including microblogging, file sharing, and groups within the network.

Zoho Discussions

  • What it does: Adds a feature-rich discussion forum to any blog, product page, Website, or other online destination.
  • Why we like it: An easy way for bloggers, small-business owners, and other Website owners to communicate with readers.

About the authors: Adam Pash is the editor of Lifehacker. Rick Broida writes PCWorld's Hassle-Free PC blog.

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Adam Pash and Rick Broida

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