These are the applications I use as a Virtual Assistant as I’ve been asked to do many things by clients & have sourced a number of free online apps.  These have enabled me to split PDFs & also combine separate pages into one doc; change the saved format of a file to something different; crop & filter images; tidy-up a photographed signature for inserting into documents; obtain random passwords; send a one-time email with a password link & suggest apps to clients to improve their productivity or make their life easier which then demonstrates my authority as a VA.

From my conversations with new & start-up VAs, you have the same concerns, so here’s a list of the essential apps I use on a daily or weekly basis:

Web Browsers – all three simultaneously:

  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Explorer (when I can find it on my laptop)

Google GSuite

For accessing all my own emails. My website host provides webmail, but I like the GMail interface & for £3.30 per month have this for my VA Centre & Direct PA Services email accounts. It’s so convenient to open-up all my GMail inboxes in different tabs & quickly switch between them.

MS Office 365

Since purchasing a new Windows 10 laptop, it was time to upgrade to Office 365. Personally I’m not a fan & dislike the OneDrive function of auto-saving documents, however it’s the default for most people & I need access my own & my client’s emails via the web-app. Unlike GMail, if opening-up more than one Office 365 inbox, you need to do-so in a different browser or private / incognito / inprivate window.

LastPass

password manager which recognises saved sites & will auto-populate login details, but only when you’re on a secure network. If using an open network (why would you?), for protection of sensitive information, you remain logged out of LastPass. Also save document information such as passport & driving licence details & securely share passwords with others.

DropBox

I prefer DropBox to OneDrive & for long enough, managed with the free version, however due to increased amounts of documents, now have DropBox Plus at £7.99 per month. Search for this as DropBox will try & push their Business paid plan.

SimpleNote

I used to have Evernote, until you required the paid version to share amongst different devices. SimpleNote is much more basic, but free & syncs across all my devices. The app sits in my taskbar & with different notes, I use it to capture information which is then quickly & easily available.

OneNote

Part of the Microsoft Office Suite.  I don’t keep paper copies of many documents so take a photo of receipts (as proof of allowable expenditure) & save with details to OneNote.

NotePad

Part of Windows (find it in Accessories) & is always open for jotting down notes & writing blogs. NotePad strips out most formatting, so its particularly useful for copying text from web pages or other documents, pasting into NotePad & then copying/pasting to where I need it when the text will then (mostly) match the required formatting.

Snipping Tool

Part of Windows, Snipping Tool is very useful for capturing a snapshot of your computer screen & saving as an image.  Use the whole screen, Windows snip, rectangle or free-form options.

Trello

Great for managing different workstreams & also for sharing amongst teams. I may be a VA, but do work with other freelancers in a virtual team on one particular client’s programme & we use Trello to keep up-to-date with what everyone is doing & what needs to be done.

Nord VPN

Using a VPN masks your IP address & adds an extra layer of security when online, or you can chose to connect to a VPN in a country of your choice. This method won’t allow access to Amazon Prime Video, or BBC iPlayer, but does currently for NetFlix. The most useful however, is when abroad, connecting to th UK via Nord VPN changes my search engine results etc to be more pertinent for my UK client work, rather than bringing-up Spanish websites. Use a VPN when you’ve no option but to connect to an unsecured public wifi signal.

Avast

My current virus killer & online protection, however, due to constant Avast ads popping-up encouraging me to purchase further services (their Premium subscription apparently doesn’t allow access to all their apps), it’s becoming annoying & at renewal, I may change provider. I did try Avast VPN too, but it kept disconnecting & my connection really slowed down.

AdBlock

Not popular with sites that rely on advertising, but the AdBlock browser extension (free, or make a contribution to the developers), blocks many unecessary & annoying ads. Sometimes it’s necessary to pause AdBlock to access some sites properly.

Trainline

To check train departure/arrival times for scheduling a client’s rail travel & also mine when attending meetings or working onsite.  There are other similar sites, but I tend to default to Trainline.

Skyscanner

I’ve used the Skyscanner app (since it was in beta years ago) to check & compare available flights. With filters for airports, airlines, departure times & prices, it’s easy to see what’s available & then click-through to book.

World Time Buddy

One of many apps available, but I use World Time Buddy to check times in other countries when scheduling international calls.

Feedly

Is an app which compiles all your favourite blogs & news articles etc in one place.  Select the feeds from the webites you want to follow, categorise under different headings & when there’s a new post or article on your selected sites, Feedly will pull in all the information together.

Booking.com

For booking clients’ accommodation & also my own. It’s my personal choice, but I like Booking.com’s interface much better than Hotels.com, Late-Rooms, Last-Minute or similar etc.

MailChimp

Currently for managing my own automated emails & newsletters & also clients. I’ve also used MadMimi (simple, so great for email marketing beginners) & AWeber. There are many others & ConvertKit is currently very popular, whilst MooSend is also worth a look.

Paint

A Windows programme for quickly cropping & compressing images. I used to like Windows Picture Manager, but this was replaced by Paint in Windows 10.

MS Office Suite

I’ve used all the packages (except Access) extensively & love Excel for recording just about everything.

Canva

Is an online photo & picture editor with a free version & there are other options too, such as PicMonkey & for techies, Gimp .

WeTransfer

For sending large files not accepted by most email clients.  Upload to WeTransfer & the recipient will receive an email & time limited link to download the files.

HootSuite

Comprehensive dashboard for managing & scheduling social media posts. However, as one client already had her own Hotsuite account connected to Twitter & I couldn’t, I use BufferApp instead to schedule her Tweets.

Skype

For one-to-one or group calls & conversations. I’m not a massive fan & there are other alternatives, but Skype is well known to everyone & included with Office 365.

WordPress

Website builder for creating my own site & blog, but then the experience enables me to update & add posts to clients’ websites too.  WP Beginner – beginner’s guide to WordPress is an excellent resource for tutorials on how to just about anything in WordPress.

Whilst travelling

WhatsApp

On my smart phone for free messaging & also calls with clients when I’m out of the UK. WhatsApp is also good between rental hosts when I don’t have a particular country’s sim.

Google Maps

We bought a TomTom, but have used Google Maps more (both web & mobile apps), for directions & also searching for amenities nearby.

Google Translate

Invaluable when you don’t speak the language & again, there are both web & mobile Google Translate apps available.

Duolingo

Duolingo is a very good free language learning app (paid version available) & Tiny Cards assist with practice.

Air B&B

I’ve used Air B&B many time for our month-by-month accommodation, but I’ve also booked via Rentalia & regularly search others such as Holiday LettingsHome Away & Trip Advisor.

Facebook

I use Facebook not just for posting my updates & photos & keeping in-touch with family & friends, but also for searching for nearby facilities (e.g. hairdressers, dog groomers) as not all businesses have a website.

Messenger

Messenger is good for keeping in touch with family & friends, by text & free calls too.

If I need to do something, I Google it!

I’ve taught myself a lot by Googling, reading the results & watching tutorials on Youtube.  There are suggestions in the newsletters I receive & blogs which I follow, so I make a note of them – you’ve guessed it!  In a spreadsheet.

Download my list of more than 200 useful apps & programmes here.

Be curious, take a look & sign-up for a free or trial account to an app or product which appeals.  Most have tutorials & whilst you don’t necessary need to be an expert (though it’s good to be one), having an awareness of a wide spectrum of resources avaialable will increase both your knowledge & confidence when working with clients.

Access my Useful Programmes spreadsheet here.