The truth of the matter is that not only are those applications test versions that will become unusable after a given time once activated, but also the hardware producers most likely get paid good money to entice their customers into retaining the pre-installed software and ultimately buying the full product.
Let’s face it: have you ever removed the pre-installed packages right away? More often than not, we are simply going with the flow and stick with those products, because we perceive them as ‘standard’, ‘universal’ and ‘well-known’ brands. And above all: we are too busy (read: lazy) to actually look into the matter and make our own choice. It’s much more convenient to use what is there, isn’t it?
The same goes for your smart phone: depending on the brand you buy, it will always come with a set of pre-installed offers that we get overwhelmed by – just look at the number of icons on your phone screen! If we take the time and make an effort, we might end up organising these things into the main screen with the icons and apps we use regularly, and a series of other collections that hold only the stuff the phone came with and we are keeping ‘just in case’ it comes in handy at some time.
Trust me: they never will. And even if they do, it’s a simple matter of downloading it again from the cloud! And the cloud will remember that you already had this particular thing and will reinstall it without fail. Better yet: it will be the latest version of that thing you discarded 5 years ago…
Learn your lesson: remove whatever is not useful and stick to the apps and programs you are actively using. You’ll be able to find them more easily, and you will limit the distractions from having to look at icons that lead to stuff you never use, and you’ll be wondering each time what it might be good for, losing time and focus each time.
Once you have realised that what is pre-installed may not always be what it’s cracked up to be, you may be ready to move to the next level: choosing what it is you actually need and want. The pre-installed options are often quite good, but by no means are they always what you really, really need.
Take the pre-installed calendar app, for example: it may be perfect for the standard user, but does it actually do what you need it to do? Or do you find yourself regularly trying to circumvent it’s settings by coming up with ways to make it do what you would like it to do? Does it allow for easy incorporation of multiple email providers? Does it allow to use pop accounts and online email addresses side by side in the same way? Does it allow you to set your own tags or create folders to keep your stuff in properly, just the way you want?
In many cases, you might find that another, less prevalent app is a much better fit to what you are trying to achieve to make your life as simple as possible.
Quite apart from the choices you have made, you’d be surprised to hear that there are apps and programs out there that can do things you would never have thought was possible without a lot of training and coding knowledge. There are packages like OpenOffice out there for free or a small one-time fee that do the job (or even more) of an expensive software package like MS Office, allowing you to save some money.
Then there are online collaboration software options like Asana or Podio that allow for collaboration in small groups; many of these have functionality that goes much beyond what Outlook has to offer! Even though Sage is still being pushed as the best, small businesses may not need all that much ado, and you might be much better off with Xero or QuickBooks, or even a spreadsheet solution of your own creation that fulfils your needs and sticks to what is simple.
For more specialist tasks you’ll find well-designed freeware like Audacity for sound file manipulation, or different types of newsreaders for your information needs, timers, note taking apps for your stylus like Plumbago, painting software, all manner of software to keep track of how you work, etc. There is a whole world of options out there, for you to look for, find and use.
A word of caution
Some of you may now ask: “Isn’t it dangerous to download stuff from the internet? Won’t there be viruses, malware or spyware?” and you’d be right to be worries. However, there are online marketplaces like MajorGeeks.com or cnet.com, or any reputable software magazines online that have links to such downloads and usually vouch to some degree for the validity of the download. Some risk remains, though, and it is always recommended to have some level of protection on your hardware, be it a virus scanner or a general security package (many of which you can find online. Hint).
Understand that I’m by no means endorsing the specific products mentioned above. It is important to keep in mind that you need to test that work on the platforms you are using. When you choose an app that you wish your collaborators to be using as well, make sure the app works properly on all required platforms: be they on laptops, smart phones on iOS, Android (and even Windows) platforms, potentially UNIX as well.
This being said, I would advise to spend some time on the prowl for solutions and evaluate them, rather than just going with the default. You may be surprised what you’ll find…
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.