Chrome apps can make you more productive, whether you're using a full Chromebook laptop or just running Google's Chrome Web browser. Whether you want to create and edit documents, take notes, maintain a to-do list or manage a business meeting, there's a Chrome app that can help you do it. Some of these apps require an active Internet connection, while others have robust offline functionality. And since they run in the Chrome browser, you can use these apps on virtually any computer, no matter what operating system you're using. Read on for six of the best Chrome apps for work.
Business Hangouts (for meeting remotely):
Google's Hangouts is a good videoconferencing app for small businesses, since it's free and easy to use. Business Hangoutsfor Chrome takes the basicHangouts platform and adds extra features for business users, including a registration tool to help you manage attendees, and an email system that makes it easy to send invitations, reminders and follow-up messages once your business meeting is complete. When you create a meeting, you're prompted to invite attendees via email, SMS text message or social networking apps. Plus, Business Hangouts also lets you create meeting rooms that anyone can join, even if they don't have a Google+ account.
Google Docs (for creating documents):
Google Docs is a free alternative to Microsoft Office, especially for small businesses on a budget. It's a full-featured word processor that lets you create, edit and annotate documents. With the Chrome app installed, the Web-based Google Docs app is just one click away. Installing the Chrome app also gives you full offline access to the entire application, so you can write and edit from anywhere, even without an active Internet connection; changes will be synced across all your devices next time you connect to the Web. In addition to Docs, there's the Sheets spreadsheet editor and the Slides presentation maker. All three apps let multiple users work inside a single document, so you and your co-workers or colleagues can see edits as they're made in real time, and communicate via text chat.
Chrome Remote Desktop (for remote computer access):
Chrome Remote Desktop lets you access files and programs on your work PC from a mobile device. It acts like a direct portal back to your work machine, as long as your computer is turned on and running the Chrome Remote Desktop app. Once setup is complete, the app lets you view your Windows, Mac or Chromebook desktop right on the display of your Android smartphone or tablet. You can open files just as you would on your desktop PC, and run desktop programs such as Microsoft Office or Photoshop. That could really come in handy for business users who want reliable access to their work computer from anywhere.
Google Keep (for taking notes)
Google Keep is a straightforward app for taking notes, creating to-do lists, saving images and more. The Chrome version of the app brings Google Keep to your desktop, so you can view your notes on your work PC. It lets you quickly add a note, create a checklist or add an image with a few clicks. And if you want to add a reminder to a note, just click the bell icon and select the time you'd like to receive an alert. You can easily add items to an existing to-do list, or check an item off with one click. And because Google Keep has built-in text-recognition software, you can search for text written or printed in saved images. If you add a note to the Google Keep app for Chrome, it will automatically be synced across all your devices, including your Android smartphone, so you can maintain your to-do lists on the go.
Yet Another Meeting (for organizing and running a meeting):
Planning and hosting an effective business meeting can be tricky, but this Chrome app can help. Yet Another Meeting (YAM) is a browser-based application that lets you create and schedule meetings on a shared calendar; all you need to use the app is a Google account. With just a few clicks, you can even invite other users to collaborate on the planning process. During your meeting, YAM has easy-to-use tools for brainstorming, document review, diagram drawing and more. It also lets you list tasks to help your team get to work as soon as the meeting is finished. Once your meeting is finished, you can use the app to distribute meeting minutes and follow up with attendees. And because it's a Web browser-based tool, everything updates in real time.
Wave Accounting (for managing accounts and taxes):
Wave Accounting is a full-featured finance app right in your Web browser. The free Chrome app lets you track your expenses manually, or automate the process by connecting your bank or credit card accounts. It also includes tools to help you issue invoices to your customers using one of several premade templates that you can customize with your logo and brand colors. Wave can also generate professional accounting reports and balance sheets, and it lets you accept credit card payments so customers can pay online when you send an invoice. The app can also help you track your personal finances so you know where your money is going, which is a perk for small business owners.