Ray Saitz: Online applications save you the hassle of downloading
I’ve occasionally been warned to avoid using the word “download only” when referring to getting a program from the Internet. For many people, “just” downloading a program involves the complexity of downloading it, finding the downloaded file, and wading through confusing instructions to configure the application.
If this applies to you, or if you want to install free software from the Internet, then the solution may be to use online applications, which are utilities and programs that you do not download or install. They run in your web browser, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft’s Edge, and are accessible from any computer or device. If your computer crashes or you buy a new one, there’s no program to reinstall, so you can get back to work right away.
You’re probably already familiar with using online or web-based applications through Google and its extremely useful group of web applications. You can use Gmail for email, Docs, Sheets and Slides, which are office tools compatible with Microsoft Office, Translator for almost any language on Earth, Maps with helpful directions and Street View, and Drive for online storage and synchronization. .
On the Google home page (www.google.ca), click the nine dots in the upper right corner to open a list of links to many other Google web-based applications. Google has a page where a former bride describes how she planned her wedding using Google’s six online apps (https://tinyurl.com/5acw8hr8).
Microsoft allows you to create and edit MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook or OneNote files for free on Microsoft 365, formerly Office ( Free online applications are limited but perfectly usable versions of retail programs available with paid subscriptions for Microsoft 365 (
The other limitation is that you have to save your files to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage, but you get five gigabytes of free space to store thousands of documents.
Editing photos is fairly easy and free with Pixlr (where you can use Pixlr E, an excellent online photo editor, or Pixlr X, a free design tool. You upload a photo, work on it, and save the edited copy to your computer.
Two other useful free apps are Clip Converter (to download, convert and save YouTube, Twitter and Facebook videos) and Midomi (which identifies the name of every song you can play, sing or hum.
There’s virtually no end to free online apps, but the problem is finding them, so a guide like Invesp’s list of 109 useful websites and online apps (very helpful.
Or visit TinyWow (This is a collection of 200 online tools that do almost anything that online applications can do. There are free tools to create, edit or convert PDF documents, as well as image editing tools and other, remove background or the watermark from the image, make a collage, or eliminate the blurring of the image.
TinyWow has tools to handle almost any video problem or convert many video or document files to other common file types. However, let’s trust the applications that use artificial intelligence (AI). There are AI writing tools that will compose a paragraph, poem or essay on any topic you type, or even a description of a property. The image area also has an artificial intelligence image generator (which tries to create an image based on your search terms.
Of course, for a really interesting and slightly scary experience, try the perfect online AI tool called ChatGPT (, to generate a written poem or document using any given phrase. You can appreciate why so much has been written about the incredible threat this tool poses to education, general literacy and the future of written exams.
There are tons of apps you can use on your PC or laptop without “just downloading”.