10 best free lightweight productivity tools

Work faster - and smarter - with these surprisingly powerful free tools


There's more to productivity software than expensive and heavyweight office suites, which hog hard drive space and clutter your PC.

Our latest tiny tools include a financial package, flowchart creator, reminder tool, spreadsheet, word processing extensions and more, yet they won't cost you a penny, and most require less than 2MB of hard drive space.

1. Metalogic Finance Explorer 5.4.1 - 1.52 MB

Best lightweight productivity tools

If you're feeling a little short of cash these days then Finance Explorer may be able to help. This tiny program makes it easy to set up a budget, record your spending and so maintain a detailed record of exactly where your money is going. There are tools to help you track loans, share prices and other aspects of your finances. And a straightforward Explorer-like interface along with helpful online tutorials mean it's all very easy to use.

2. Diagram Designer 1.25 - 2.75MB

Best lightweight productivity tools

Full-scale diagramming software can be ridiculously expensive, but if your needs are simple then something like Diagram Designer could be a very useful alternative. The program provides a customisable set palette of objects which you can drag and drop onto the page; drag and drop lines onto the page and you can build basic flowcharts in just a minute or two; a spellchecker validates your text, and you can export your chart in various image formats with just a few clicks.

3. Stickies 7.1d - 1.59MB

Best lightweight productivity tools

Too much to do? Stickies can help. At its simplest you just write a few text notes in a window, which stays visible until you close it. But you can also attach them to websites, documents or folders so they only show when it's onscreen. Stickies can have alarms, to remind you of tasks. They stay visible once created, surviving reboots, and it's even possible to transfer stickies from one PC to another (via a network connection or email), so you can take them with you or share them with others.

4. Tiny USB Office 1.6 - 3.69 MB

Best lightweight productivity tools

Tiny USB Office is a powerful collection of small stand-alone productivity packages. There's a word processor, a spreadsheet, an email client, database manager, PDF creator, FTP client, flowchart designer and more. Some of the programs are very old - the spreadsheet opens with a "(c) 1999 message - but they still work, they're all free and have a total installation size of under 4MB, so could be ideal for running on older PCs.

5. WinScan2PDF 1.66 - 37KB

Best lightweight productivity tools

Getting a page from your scanner to a PDF file could involve installing a bulky graphics package, and a PDF creation tool, and hoping they'll all work together. Or you could just download WinScan2PDF. This tiny 37KB executable will launch your regular scanner software, ask for a file name and save the scan (one, or multiple pages) as a PDF file: no fuss or hassle, it just works.

6. TED Notepad 6.0.2 - 256KB

Best lightweight productivity tools

Do you regularly work with plain TXT files? Then you need TED Notepad.

The program supports templates to help you create documents more quickly; can insert the time, date, file names and paths with a keypress; and a powerful clipboard manager will quickly paste commonly-used snippets of text into the file.

You also get auto-complete to save typing; powerful search and replace options; all kinds of text manipulation features (reverse text, sort it, strip spaces, change text and more); and the program can neatly sit on top of other windows, or be sent to the system tray for convenience. Yet the entire installation is only 246KB and you can run it all from a USB key.

7. Fontster 1.05 - 2KB

Best lightweight productivity tools

Choosing the right fonts is an important part of creating any document - but which one is best? Fontster is a simple tool provides an easy way to browse hundreds of installed fonts, and see how they affect whatever text you like. And unusually, it's written as an HTML application, a 2KB HTA file, so should run anywhere that has a copy of IE5 or later installed.

8. ZoomIt Portable 4.2 - 840KB

Best lightweight productivity tools

If you ever give presentations - or just need to show someone a particular program on your PC - then you'll know it can sometimes help to be able to zoom in on a particular area of the screen, and ZoomIt makes this very easy.

Once launched, press Ctrl+4 will magnify the screen, you can pan around with the mouse, and it's even possible to draw freehand on the screen to highlight some area of interest.

Yet the program doesn't need installation, takes less than 1MB on your hard drive, and uses so little memory (under 4MB) that you can probably leave it running permanently without noticing.

9. Dolphin Text Editor Menu 2.9 - 1.64 MB

Best lightweight productivity tools

When your text editor isn't quite powerful enough then you could find, download, install and learn to use something else, instead. But it might be simpler to just use Dolphin Text Editor Menu, which runs in the background and adds extra features to your existing software.

To use it, launch Word, Notepad or your preferred choice, and work as normal. Then, when you need to use one of Dolphin's advanced features, press the hotkey and its menu will appear. The program can sort text, change case, remove duplicate or blank lines, reverse line order, strip HTML and BBCode tags, add specified text to the beginning or end of every line, and a whole lot more - and it works transparently within just about any editor or word processor.

10.Serva 2.0.0 - 1.53 MB

Best lightweight productivity tools

High-end productivity tools will often contain web server components to help you share your work with others - but there's no chance of finding a tiny tool with that kind of power, right?

Think again. Serva is a very compact server which supports a lengthy list of protocols (HTTP, FTP, TFTP, DHCP, BINL, DNS, SNTP, SYSLOG). Configuration options are fairly basic, but this does at least mean the program is very easy to set up, and the program is entirely portable so won't clutter your PC in any way.