Cool Tools for Design Mojo

There are so many apps, utilities, services, and helps available nowadays that’s it’s often difficult to filter through the dregs to find the ones that are right for you. We featured a few of them that we found useful several years ago in our post Cool Tools for Small Businesses (that are Free or Cheap), so I figured it was about time to do an update and add to the list with some of my own favorites. So herewith are some of my go-to tools to help my to-do’s get done.

Snagit

Granted there are a lot of screen capture tools out there, but Snagit has been my constant companion for more years than I even know. No, it’s not free (there are some free ones out there), but it’s full-featured, fast, and easy to use. Oh, and besides screenshot images, it also captures video, with or without computer audio. Can you say training videos? Sure you can. Plus it has rudimentary image and video editing built in. Saving as standard MP4 files means you can also drag it into your favorite video editor and do your tweaking there. Once started, it will lie in the background waiting for you to activate it (I set it to use my “printscreen” key). Check it out at TechSmith.com.

Color Mania

Having a color-picker close at hand makes a number of jobs easier. Need to determine exactly what the hexadecimal code is for the logo on that website you’re trying to make changes to? Check! Fire up Color Mania and drag the eyedropper to it. It shows you not only the hexadecimal, but the RGB+Brightness, and the Hue, Saturation, and Value. You can zoom in on the picker to get exactly the set of pixels you want to sample. You can also save and load color palettes for use in your design projects. And best of all, this little beauty is free! Check it out, along with a host of other handy utilities, at Blacksun Software.

Screen Calipers

Screen real estate has grown dramatically since I first started using this little tool (who remembers 640×480 layouts?), but its usefulness has not diminished. What is it? It’s basically a screen ruler that allows you to read the size (in various units) of whatever you want to measure on your screen. You can rotate it to any angle you need to measure, pull the caliper to the edges, and read the measurement in the display. Screen Calipers has come in handy frequently over the years and I highly recommend it. There is a free version, but the paid version is well worth the cost and helps the developers keep doing their thing — and that’s a good thing. Swing over to Iconico.com to check it out along with their other cool offerings.

Milanote

This last entry is one that I have only recently become acquainted with, so I have not had nearly enough time to explore all its possibilities. Having used several other information-organization type apps in the past, I am intrigued by the possibilities of Milanote. Somewhat similar to Trello, which I used for several years, Milanote uses Boards and Cards to help you categorize and arrange the information you need in your creative endeavors. Unlike Trello, however, it allows you to drag them around and arrange them just about any way you want to. So the visual excitement of this app is over the top enticing. You can add notes and to-do lists, of course, along with images and files. You can also save text, images, and links directly from web pages or send them from your phone. The free version is limited to 100 entries, but my early guess is that once I reach that point I am going to like using it enough to pay the $10/mo the pro version costs. Your mileage may vary. See what you think about Milanote.

That’s it for now. What cool tools do you use to fire up your Mojo?

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