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13 killer Chrome apps to replace your desktop software

Can you get all your work done without ever leaving your Web browser?

By Erez Zukerman, PC World
December 10, 2012 12:51 PM ET

PC World - When Tim Berners-Lee invented the first Web browser in 1990, it was just an application made to read HTML pages passively. Fast-forward to today, and theA modern Web browser has become a powerful platform in itselfalmost a miniature operating system, capable of running complex JavaScript code and interacting with Flash plug-ins.

Tech argument: Chrome vs. Firefox vs. IE vs. Opera

Indeed, Web pages have evolved into Web apps, to the point where we can do much of our productivity work in a browser window without ever having to invest in traditional desktop software.

But how much work can youA really do from a browser? Could you replace all of your desktop apps with Chrome extensions, and be none the worse for wear? After testing a bunch of Chrome apps, I found mixed results: Web apps simply arent designed to be complete replicas of their desktop counterparts. Although these apps have gotten a lot better in the past couple of years, you might encounter a few peccadilloes, and desktop software may still be the better choice for your unique needs.

That said, if you haven't been keeping a close watch on the growing power of Chrome extensions and Web apps, you might be pleasantly surprised by our top alternatives to popular desktop software.

Word processing: Google Drive Documents

No matter what you do for a living, you've probably spent some time using a word processor in the past week, probably even in the past 24 hours. Unless you're doing some very complicated work, you could ditch your word processor for Google Drive right now without missing a beat. Sure, the interface is different: You'll find no Ribbon of commands and functions at the top of the screen, and you'll see far fewer buttons. But Google Drive's Documents let you do all of the important things, such as format text, create titles and lists, embed images into your documents, and more.

If you often find yourself emailing Word files back and forth, Google Drive might be even better than its desktop counterparts: You can just invite another person to view your document, and you can both edit the document at the same time, watching each others cursors at work. Add Skype to the mix, and it's just like working in the same room, even if the other person is a continent away.

Other writing: Writer and Scratchpad

Compared with Words large Ribbon interface, Google Docs feels quite minimalistic. Still, sometimes even a slim toolbar can be distracting. WriterA is a Chrome extension (inspired by Writeroom for Mac) designed to provide a simple, clean, distraction-free writing environment; its just a black screen with monospaced text and a word count at the bottom. You dont have to worry about saving your documents: Writer will do that for you, automatically. You dont have to open an account, and you dont have to configure anything. Just write.

If you do want to customize the font or open a permanent user account, Writer will let you. But for those times when you just want to get some text down with a minimum of button-clicking and distraction, Writer is an excellent (and free) tool.

Originally published on www.pcworld.com. Click here to read the original story.

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