tech, simplified.

Starting a store used to require bricks and land. Sharing your opinion required a newspaper. Streaming video needed a TV station.

The internet's changed all that. Sharing your opinion only takes seconds—and sharing a video only takes a bit longer since uploading videos takes longer than publishing text. And selling stuff? You can sell your old iPhone—or start a full store—with just an account.

There's only one small complication: accepting payments. Money is still harder to move around than plain bits, and even if you sell stuff on eBay you'll still need a separate PayPal account for payments.

But wait: could you use Stripe? Or would Braintree or Recurly be a better option for your store?

Our latest app roundup answers that. Here's the best online payment services—and what makes each great.

Spreadsheets are powerful tools, ones that used to require installing a full Office suite on your computer. Today, they're a commodity, with free spreadsheet tools on almost every platform.

The original spreadsheet app that most of us started out with—Excel—is still one of the best, though. It includes more functions and tools than most other spreadsheet apps, and its wide range of add-ons make it an incredibly powerful tool.

And now, it's free too. Excel Online is slimmed down version of Excel that runs in your browser, yet still includes the core features you need to crunch numbers. It supports 468 functions—all but 3 of the functions included in Excel 2016 for Windows—along with charts, formatting tools, and more. And, with add-ons, you can even add extra features to make it closer to desktop Excel.

If you've never used Excel before, or just are curious about what the web app version offers, here's the guide to Excel Online you need. It walks you through every feature included, so you can make spreadsheets, surveys, reports, and more right from your browser for the low price of free.

It's real Excel, online.

PDF Expert 2 for Mac: The Simplest Way to Edit PDFs

I never thought I'd buy a PDF editor again.

Perhaps it sounds silly, but one of the (many) reasons I switched to the Mac was that Preview is such a great PDF reader and editor. It lets you rearrange pages, merge PDF files, add annotations, and even sign them with your real signature. What more could you want?

Well, real editing for one. Annotations only get you so far—if things really need changed, you'll still need a real PDF editor like Adobe Acrobat.

No problem. I had a copy of Adobe CS5 from university, later upgraded to CS6. The included copy of Acrobat did what I needed.

I didn't have the most extensive PDF editor needs. For the most part, all I needed to do was:


Acrobat did the job, but it never made it fun. Even though Photoshop CS6 included retina graphics, Acrobat X never got the update which means your PDFs and the toolbars in Acrobat itself look pixelated on modern Macs. Yes, you could upgrade to Acrobat Pro DC, but it costs either $14.99/month or requires a full $49.99/month Adobe CC subscription. That's far more than someone who needs occasionally edit text and add links to PDF documents should need to spend.

So, I kept using my Acrobat X. It worked. I'd open a PDF, tap the Tools button to open the sidebar, then select Link. That'd turn my cursor into crosshairs that could select anywhere on the page—and then would open a dialog where I could choose the link style and click Next to actually paste in the link. Adding a link took 5 clicks, at least, and adding the next link would still take at least 2 more clicks.


Last year, Readdle software brought their PDF Expert app to the Mac after years of it being popular on iPad. The first version was basic—it was only a PDF reader with annotation features, something Preview already does well. Yes, it was faster ... but I didn't use PDFs enough to make the switch.

This year's version 2 of PDF Expert, though, changes that. It's still a fast PDF reader, one with tabs to keep multiple documents open at once, a Page Thumbnails view that lets you quickly scroll through the whole PDF document at once (similar to the new Kindle Pageflip view), and annotation features to markup PDFs, add text and notes, and sign documents right from your Mac's trackpad.

Along with that, version 2 includes editing features. Not every editing feature Acrobat includes, mind you, but enough to cover exactly what I'd need from a PDF editor.


Just tap the Edit button on the top right, and toolbar will show 4 tools: Text, Image, Link, and Redact.


The link tool does exactly what I needed—and in only 3 clicks, without any annoying popover dialogs. Best of all, PDF Expert remembers what tool you were using last, and opens it automatically when you re-open the app. That makes it even quicker to add the links to a PDF.

And, it's fast. Even with a handful of PDFs open, it quickly renders thumbnails and displays everything with the crispness you'd expect from a modern retina app. It somehow feels a bit more like Preview would if Apple redesigned it today.

PDF Expert doesn't include every possible PDF editing feature. Perhaps the most glaring omissions today are a lack of OCR features to recognize text in scanned PDF documents (something the team has mentioned on Twitter they'd like to add) and tools to shrink a PDF's file size (a reason I'll need to keep Acrobat around for the time being). It also cannot make PDFs.

If you need a tool for that, PDFpen Pro at $129.99 is PDF Expert's closest competitor. It's a native Mac app from the team that makes Text Expander, and includes all of those features including a tool to make PDF forms in its Pro version (or, you can pay $74.99 for a tool closer to PDF Expert, with the addition of OCR features).

But for basic edits—and especially for viewing and annotating PDFs—PDF Expert for Mac is a great tool. It's fast, beautiful, and at $59 is a third of Acrobat's annual price and 50% cheaper than PDFpen's cheaper version, is one of the most cost effective ways to edit PDFs if you don't need every possible PDF editing feature.

And its dark UI looks pretty sharp, as well.


It's easy to save all of your files in the cloud, log detailed info about every contact, chat with colleagues around the globe. What's difficult is finding any of that info right when you need it.

There's no Google for your private info—but with Zapier integrations, you can build your own tools to search inside your apps—and much more—right from Slack or any other chat app.

Here's how to build your own bots to search, create projects, play games, and much more inside Slack with Zapier.

Become a Spreadsheet Export with Zapier's Ultimate Guide to Google Sheets


Spreadsheets are essential and hidden, relied on and unloved. They're the unseen tool behind a surprising number of business processes, blamed for financial crises and praised for making number crunching and statical analysis available to everyone.

They're the original killer app, the main reason so many bought their first personal computer. And today, spreadsheets can run on the phone in your pocket or in your browser, for free, and they're still as handy as ever for crunching numbers.

Google Sheets especially so. As an online spreadsheet, you can gather data from websites and pull it right into your spreadsheet, link it with forms, and write scripts to send emails and more right from your spreadsheet. It's a powerful tool, enough that we've written an entire book about it at Zapier.

I'm running out of words about spreadsheets because I've used them all in the book. So stop reading this, and go grab a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Google Sheets. It just might make you fall in love with spreadsheets—or finally kick your Excel habit and switch to the Google Apps side.

It started out as just another feature in Google Sheets, a tiny form tool to gather data and save it into your spreadsheet. It's gained features over time, and today stands alone as Google Forms.

Google Forms is the newest app in the Google Apps suite, the only with a material design-style interface. And it's filled with more features than you'd expect, including a new Google Quizzes tool.

I dug into Google Forms and tested every single feature in it—and tried out its top add-ons as well. Here's everything you need to make amazing forms in Google Forms.

Switching to Google Apps isn't so hard if you just need the basic, built-in features. But what if you need more advanced tools—perhaps a specific Excel add-on for a class, or a way to analyze your data with machine learning?

Turns out, Google Sheets is powerful enough for that, too. There's add-ons to quickly format your spreadsheet, pull in research, and crunch numbers with industry standard tools like Risk Soulver.

Here are 50 of the best Google Sheets add-ons, each one tested to make sure it works great in your spreadsheets.

Backing up your computer was never easy, but at least back in the day all your data was on one computer. A few ZIP disks, CDs, or DVDs later, and you had a complete extra copy of all your documents, photos, and other files. External hard drives made it even quicker.

Then, all your files started moving to the cloud, and your phone became your primary computer, and complete backups suddenly became nearly impossible to make.

Nearly, but not entirely. You can still back up every picture, status update, playlist, document, and more from all your apps and devices today.

Here's how.

Learn About Project Management with Zapier's New Book


Your great idea could turn into something amazing, but it'll take a lot of work to get there. Ideas come out of thin air—real things take blood, sweat, toil, and tears.

And management. Lots of management.

It's easy to think your great idea can lead you to success on its own. But more often than not, you'll need a detailed plan to take turn that idea into reality. That's where project management comes in.

Project management isn't just a category of apps. It's an entire universe of ideas and strategies to break your project down into achievable steps, put them into a workflow to ensure they'll be consistently completed well, and set a timeframe to get everything finished.

You'll need a project management system, and tools to help you follow that system. And you'll likely need some advice from those who've managed projects before.

Zapier's latest book has that and more. In The Ultimate Guide to Project Management, you'll learn about the best project management systems, software, and strategies to make your next project a success. It's the first thing you should read before taking on your next project.

Read The Ultimate Guide to Project Management online or download a copy today.

Spreadsheets are the original killer app for PCs ... and they're still one of the most used business apps today. But they're not just number-crunching tools. With any spreadsheet—and especially Google Sheets—you can re-format text, translate it, pull in data from online sources automatically, create complex HTML tables in seconds, and much more.

Here's some of the best ways to use spreadsheets as a writing assistant, with tips I've used for years to run editorial calendars, outline posts, and make comparison tables in less time.