7+ Best Free Tools to Manage any Project with Ease

Mark O'Neill 03-11-2015

The Internet has made it a lot easier to carry out many tasks, such as watching dogs on skateboards, looking up cat memes, and shooting Gonzo out of a cannon. But if you wanted to include more serious pursuits that the Internet has made easier, then managing projects 10 Powerful Excel Project Management Templates for Tracking Free project management templates are the best. Get these key Microsoft Excel spreadsheet templates for tracking any project. Read More would be at the top of the list.


Teams spread out over vast geographical locations, or just various areas of a large building, can now work with ease on a project online, and have it completed efficiently, without any overlap, confusion, or colleagues slacking off for a sneak cigarette and leaving their work to someone else.

But what tools help teams complete their projects efficiently? Check out the ones below.

Manage Your Research Notes With Evernote (Freemium)

It’s no secret that I love Evernote How to Use Evernote: The Unofficial Manual Learning how to use Evernote on your own takes a long time. This is why we've put together this guide to show you how to take full advantage of the most important Evernote features. Read More . It’s the one service I happily pay money for, without crying first (we Scottish have a close relationship with our pennies). Evernote is useful for many things, but the thing it is most useful for is compiling research notes.


When putting your notes together, you need to collect your source material – files, images, audio and video clips, scans of handwritten notes, and print material. This can all now be stored in the desktop software installation of Evernote, all indexed with every word searchable, courtesy of OCR technology The 5 Best OCR Tools for Extracting Text from Images When you have reams of paper, how do you get all that printed text converted into something that a digital program will be able to recognize and index? Keep a good OCR software close by. Read More .


Tag each file, categorize it into its own Notebook, and create Contents, Indexes, and more. Even better, use the free Web Clipper Evernote's New Web Clipper Is The Ultimate Content Saving Tool Evernote's Web Clipper isn't new. But if you haven't heard, or perhaps didn't like the Evernote clipper in the past, this is the right time to look into it again. Read More to snip the parts of the Internet you need. Finally, use their Work Chat to communicate with your co-workers.

Alternative: OneNote (Free)

Microsoft OneNote has always struggled to break free of Evernote’s shadow. But it has its own set of hardcore fans, who use OneNote for everything Turn Outlook Into a Project Management Tool With OneNote Integration OneNote can do more than you think. We'll show you how to turn your Outlook to do list into a powerful project management tool using the OneNote plugin for Outlook. Read More .


You can access OneNote via Microsoft Office’s free online version, or install the free full version of the OneNote desktop client OneNote Is Now Truly Free With More Features Than Before Evernote no longer rules the roost of note taking apps. Microsoft recently announced OneNote would be more free than ever before. Let us show you what this means in terms of features and functionality. Read More . Both require sign-in to a Microsoft account to keep all your notes synced across devices, just like Evernote. Also, like Evernote, you can clip from the Web!


I have tried OneNote, but I always keep going back to Evernote. However if Evernote went under a bus tomorrow, I could easily see myself switching to OneNote. It is a very competent alternative.

Manage Your Team Communications with Slack (Freemium)

Slack is the communication tool of choice The Ultimate Way to Make Slack Work with Your Favorite Services In addition to communication, there are many ways to bring information inside Slack, but there are few integrations that let you control external services from within Slack -- until now. Read More for MakeUseOf staff, as we discuss publishing strategy, story ideas, and the meaning of life. Slack is a web and desktop app, How To Use Slack For Project Management With These Simple Tips With Slack's clever set of features and distraction-free user interface, the platform can double up as a project management tool for you. Learn how to set it up as your online personal assistant. Read More where you can create different rooms (channels) and have topic-based chat sessions. Look upon it as old-style Yahoo chat rooms on steroids.


Do you have a remote team? Or colleagues scattered on different floors of a high-rise block? Then throw them all into a Slack chat room, and communication will improve enormously as a result.


Audio alerts can be set up for keywords mentioned in chats, which is extremely useful if you want to keep tabs on a particular subject. You also have access to a selection of very useful automated bots, which make your Slack chat rooms even more productive.

Alternative: Basecamp (Paid)

When it comes to online team collaboration 10+ No-Signup Collaboration Tools You Can Use in 10 Seconds Collaborating online can save you and your team both time and money. Collaborating quickly can save a bit more. These tools are ready to go when you are. No registration required. Read More , Basecamp is the big daddy of them all, having been around since 1999. Lots of people love it to manage their products, but it is kind of eclipsed by the likes of Slack, due to its pricing structure.

You can enjoy a 60 days free trial and then book packages starting at $20 a month. Compare that to Slack’s cheaper prices and its modern interface, and you can see why Slack is gaining the upper hand (as well as the fact that Slack is totally killing it with their software and mobile apps).



Basecamp themselves offer an inside look at a real project to let you see what it looks like. You also have plugins, the vast majority of which are mobile device-based. Others include a Chrome extension and an Outlook plugin.

Manage Your Copying of Pages & Documents With Scanbot (Freemium)

I can remember all too well the 1990s, when I was at college. When I needed to copy any coursework, I had to stand in line at the Xerox photocopier, which was always breaking down, or paper got jammed.

iOS Details

Now, over 20 years later, the days of the Xerox photocopier seem to be over. Today, anyone with a smartphone can download a document scanner How To Build Your Own Smartphone Document Scanner Have you ever tried to take a photo of a document with your smartphone camera, hoping to convert it using OCR software into a PDF or Word document later on? Perhaps you’ve attempted to take... Read More , and turn their device into their own personal copying machine. Copies are surprisingly high quality and they can be exported from your phone as an image or a PDF file.

Lots of document scanners promise the world, but the best by far is Scanbot. When you start it up, it tries to auto-detect the document and if it does, it automatically starts scanning. If it fails to find the document, then you need to manually scan.

Scanbot promises to deliver each scan at over 200 dpi, which is the same as desktop scanners. Throw in cloud service uploading and a QR code scanner, and you have one hell of a scanner.

Alternative: Genius Scan (Freemium)

Before I found Scanbot, my scanner of choice was Genius Scan. It is a great alternative if you don’t want to use Scanbot. It too tries to auto-detect your document. Scan quality is great, and you can get the resulting scan as an image or a PDF.


What differentiates Genius Scan from Scanbot is that Genius Scan integrates with both Box and Expensify. This is extremely useful if you want your documents sent over to one of those services. Although cloud exporting is part of the paid Pro package ($7). A small price to pay, if your business depends on those two services.

Bonus Alternative : if you have an iPhone and an Evernote account, then give Scannable a try.

Manage Your Citations & Footnotes with EasyBib

If you are writing a project online, then you need some way to format and manage your citations and footnotes. You will have a lot of reference material to refer to, and it all needs to be formatted exactly right.

To give you an idea of what they are supposed to look like, let’s take a look at a random Wikipedia page. Click on that and scroll all the way to the bottom – to the footnotes.


That’s citations and footnotes. And you need a fast and effective way to make them. The best one I have seen so far is EasyBib.


Just choose your source – for the purposes of this article, I will naturally choose MakeUseOf. Enter in the details of what you want in the citation.


Once all of the information has been entered, click the button to create your citation, and you will be presented with a preview of what it will look like, along with export options.


Alternative: Citation Machine

Citation Machine is an excellent alternative, but it falls down due to its number of categories, which are very broad in scope. Easybib has over 50 categories, whereas Citation Machine has only 13. However, for many people that may be enough. 50 may just be overkill.

Choose your formatting style, source, and paste in the details. Again, Mihir’s article is used as an example.


Then add in the necessary details.


Citation Machine will then put together your citation/footnote.


Manage Your Document & Image Annotations With Skitch (Free)

If your project involves sending images to one another, then it may become necessary to annotate the image to get your point across. Annotating The Powerful Benefits of Web Annotations for Research & Recall Writing on the pages of books has long been considered one of the best ways to engage with the text — and new apps are making it possible to do the same with the web. Read More is simply to draw or mark up an image or document. So if a colleague sends you an image of say a widget, and you think part of it should be altered, you can use annotation tools to draw a big arrow at the part needing changed.


The big boy in this arena is most definitely Evernote-owned Skitch Skitch 3.0.4 Update For iOS Brings Maps & ‘Open In’ One of Skitch's coolest uses is to annotate maps to share directions, and that has got a huge boost in the new Skitch 3.0.4 update for iPhones and iPads. Read More , which leaves rivals far behind in the dust. The tool easily enables you to make screenshots, add text, arrows, and rectangles, as well as pixelate and crop the image. Annotations can be done in a variety of colors if you are trying to distinguish each one.

Alternative: PicPick (Free & Paid – Windows Only)

There are many annotation alternatives to Skitch, all with varying degrees of appeal and features. But the one that more or less does a good enough job is PicPick. PicPick is an image editor, which provides a range of features including annotation tools, such as arrows, text, and shapes. Images can then be uploaded to social media, cloud storage, email, and many more.


PicPick comes as a free and a paid version. The paid version includes technical support, lifetime upgrades, and no ads.

Manage Your Document Collaborations With Google Docs (Free)

When managing a project, different versions of related documents will be flying back and forth. When you have ten different drafts, emailing them to everyone in the team will soon wreak confusion and chaos. Which one is the final draft? Do we have to press that red button or not? Are these the latest nuclear launch codes?

7+ Best Free Tools to Manage any Project with Ease gdocs

That’s why it is MUCH more productive to use an online collaboration tool. The best in this category is, without a doubt, Google Docs. I have talked before about why Google Docs rules the roost Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing Online solutions are becoming the norm. We decided to see how Microsoft Word stacks up against Google Docs. Which one will do the better research paper? Read More , and for project work, Google Docs makes things a hundred times easier. Team workers can leave comments, earlier drafts can be accessed, you can chat inside Google Docs, and when giving out the share link, you can make your document read-only, if there are some people who are not allowed to tinker with the masterpiece.

Alternative: Office OnlineOffice 2016 (Free & Paid with Free Trial)

If you have an Office 365 subscription An Introduction to Office 365: Should You Buy Into the New Office Business Model? Office 365 is a subscription based package that offers access to the latest desktop Office suite, Office Online, cloud storage, and premium mobile apps. Does Office 365 provide enough value to be worth the money? Read More or otherwise upgrade to Office 2016 Upgrade to Office 2016 for Free Today with Your Office 365 Subscription Microsoft Office 2016 for Windows has landed and it brings many smart new features. If you have an Office 365 subscription, you can get it now for free and we show you how below. Read More , you will also be able to enjoy real-time document collaboration Team Working: 10 Tips For Effective Real-Time Online Collaboration Read More , directly in the gold standard for text processing. If this made you curious, Office is available as a free trial Save on Microsoft Office! Get Cheap or Free Office Products Reluctant to spend a few hundred bucks on a glorified word processor? You can get Microsoft Office for cheap and alternatives for free. You've got many options and we offer a summary. Read More .

MS Office 2016 -- Collaboration

Meanwhile, the collaboration feature is also available to users of the free Office Online suite Don't Pay for Microsoft Word! 4 Reasons to Use Office Online Instead Microsoft Office Online offers free web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Here's why you should give it a try today. Read More . Both Office 365 (free trial) and Office Online require a Microsoft account.

Alternative: Dropbox Paper (Free)

Paper is Dropbox’s attempt to move in on Google Docs’ territory. It has only just come out and is invite-only, but when I applied for an invite, I got it within 24 hours. So it looks like Dropbox is working on getting people in as fast as possible.


What I like about Paper is its minimalist features. You add a title, then your text, and you can add comments, Google Docs-style. Obviously your work is constantly synced to your Dropbox account, and you can invite people to view the document. I can really see this going places, as everyone is on Dropbox these days.

Manage Your Tasks With Trello (Free & Paid)

Tasks lists are a dime a dozen online. Remember The Milk was one of the earliest task list services, and this set the trend for those that followed. Trello tries to take the concept of the task list Trello - A Unique, Simple & Powerful Project Management System From A Good Home Does the name Joel Spolsky mean anything to you? If so, you’re going to want to read this post, because it showcases Spolsky’s latest and greatest project. And if not, you should know this is... Read More and make it even greater.


Everything about your project can be laid out so you can see each element with a single glance. Tasks can be color-coded, users can comment on each task, and images can be attached. You can make different lists, then drag-and-drop cards between lists. Plus everything is automatically updated in real-time. And you can use Trello for more 10 Unique Uses of Trello Other Than Project Management Trello is a list lover's delight. Its Kanban-style approach was not meant just for project management. Don't believe us? Look at these ten unique uses of Trello. Read More than task or project management.

Alternative: Wunderlist (Free & Paid)

Wunderlist is an aesthetically pleasing list, with an easy way of seeing what needs to get done. List your tasks How to Use New Wunderlist Folders to Boost Your To-Do List Wunderlist got a big update with two new features essential for a good to-do app: organizing and quickly adding tasks. Do these help it become the productivity app of your choice? Read More , star the ones that are most important, and set due dates and reminders. Even better, add notes and hashtags to give your tasks context and meaning.


You can share your lists and collaborate with project colleagues, but this falls under the Pro plan, which costs $5 a month. If you upgrade, you can assign tasks to colleagues, add files of any size, and choose from more backgrounds to personalize your Wunderlist account.

What Do YOU Use For Your Project Management?

Let us know in the comments which tools you use for managing your projects.

Related topics: Collaboration Tools, Evernote, Google Docs, Microsoft Office 2016, Microsoft Office Online, Microsoft OneNote, Project Management, Trello.

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  1. tough gal
    October 1, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    I've sewn for years and only drafted simple patterns a handful of times! Kudos to you for taking on the project! If you are new to sewing, maybe take the time to read your manual - nothing worse than being in the middle of a project when a problem pops up and puts your progress on Patterns are such a great learning tool if you wanted to try going the conventional You're going to surprise yourself - you've got a natural talent for this! Happy sewing!!!

  2. Scarlet
    September 13, 2016 at 7:13 am

    I need project management tool with fully customization, keep track of my employee activity, scheduling, follow up, team allocation and more security privileges. My requirements all are satisfied with the project management tool, Apptivo. So I completely switched onto it. My personal choice is this tool.

  3. Deepak
    December 4, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Shouldn't this be called: "free and fremium tools to manage your WRITING projects"?

  4. Anonymous
    November 8, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    There are so many similar tools our there, but in order to make your only choice, you'd definitely pay attention to the primary features offered. We need document approval and a workflow module and that's why we chose Slack is good enough for corporate communication, but its workflow functionality is poor - just as an example.

  5. Anonymous
    November 5, 2015 at 7:06 am

    Damian, you can do this easily through You can sort by board or by date. Sorting by date would be what you call "focus".

  6. Anonymous
    November 4, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    I like the list of apps in your article but as a Project Manager I do want to mention one huge flaw with Trello.

    If you are running several projects and you have 1 to 2 tasks in each project you would like to focus on for the day. There is no easy way of doing this with Trello.

    There is no "Focus" board if you will.

    I can't look at one board to see what I should focus on for the day. I am forced to open each and every project one at a time to see what task I should be working on for each project.

    This is a major oversight in my view because anyone who is running more than one project would need a master focus list to know what they have committed to doing on any given day.

    Trello is great but they really need to add the ability to star a card that will then show up on a master board. All stared cards across several project would then be located in one list for easy execution.

    Just my opinion.