Five small footprint productivity tools that pack a powerful punch

With the right app you can get high performance without taking up a large amount of resources.

There's a huge shift going on in the business world. That shift is from the standard desktop metaphor to a very web-based model. But for those that still want to hold on to the desktop model while saving some space and increasing speed, there are plenty of small footprint applications that allow just that. From nearly every corner of the business workspace, you can enjoy the small footprint; even within the realm of productivity. No matter the need, there's probably a tiny tool waiting for you to try out.

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In fact, I've found five such tools that fit the bill for various needs. Although the tools might not offer feature-for-feature replacements for their bigger brethren, they all do a stand up job (while taking up very little space).

Five Apps

1. Abiword

Abiword has been around for quite some time and has never really had the attention it deserves. Outside of being the default word processor for some of the lighter-weight Linux distributions, Abiword has hung out in the shadows of Microsoft Word and LibreOffice Writer. But if you're looking for a stand-alone word processor, with a small footprint, Abiword is the tool you want. It has a simple to use interface, plenty of features - most important of which is the ability to open and save in .doc (though not .docx) formats. Abiword is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac.

2. Gnumeric

Gnumeric is another little-known, cross-platform, small footprint productivity tool. In this case, the tool is the spreadsheet. Most users are happily surprised at how powerful this spreadsheet application is and that it doesn't sacrifice speed and reliability. Gnumeric can open most all popular spreadsheet files (including 100% functionality with MS Excel). Other features include support for financial derivatives, 154 functions not found in Excel, inter-sheet dependencies, and much more. Gnumeric is available for Linux and Windows.

3. Jarte

Jarte is a free word processor based on the Microsoft Wordpad word processing engine and offers more features than the built-in Windows version. With features like a tabbed interface, ability to open .rtf, .doc, and .docx files, touch screen support, and click-less operation. Jarte can be run portably, has spell checker, template support, and can export to HTML or PDF. There is also a Jarte Plus version ($19.95 USD) that adds keyboard shortcut support, a printable PDF manual, customizable quick bar, background spell checking, auto correct, and much more.

4. Evince

Evince is the default document viewer for many a Linux distribution - and also happens to have a version for Windows. Evince is primarily a PDF document viewer, but can also view multi-page TIFF documents, Postscript files, and even has planned support for MS PowerPoint files. Evince also features: Search, thumbnails, document indexes, printing, encrypted file viewing, bookmarks, full screen and presentation viewing modes, and much more.

5. Pegasus Mail

Pegasus Mail is one of the Internet's longest-serving PC mail system (since 1990). One of the biggest benefits to Pegasus Mail (besides having a small footprint) is that it is immune to ALL other exploits that affect other email clients. Pegasus Mail features: Multi-pane viewing, Bayesian filtering, multi-user/identity support, full-formatting editor, SSL support, MailMerge, and much more. Pegasus Mail is available for Windows only (and even has a DOS version available).

Bottom line

If you're looking for productivity applications that won't devour your C: drive or your system memory, look no further than the apps listed here. Sure they might not fill every office need, but what needs they do fill, they fill them well.

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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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