I found Zoho back in 2007 when I was looking for an online notebook app, and I think it’s time to update the review I wrote then. Zoho’s come a long way in the past three years. It’s now my go-to app for working in the cloud.
I should mention a few personal rules I have. First, I don’t put anything very personal or identifying anywhere online, no matter the security and privacy settings. Some may argue that such documents are also vulnerable on my laptop since it’s constantly connected to the internet, and they’d be right. There are risks however you go, but you have to decide what’s most comfortable for you.
First of all, Zoho now has an entire family of apps. They’ve got a word processor, spreadsheets, calendar, a PowerPoint alternative, a meeting scheduler a la Outlook, the ability to create personal wikis, a task manager, a quick and handy notes feature, a links page, contacts, Notebooks and a dashboard that lets you see everything at a glance. There are also a number of paid apps for businesses: accounting apps, tech support desk apps, and a Marketplace with apps designed by third-party developers.
This is a feature-rich, fast-loading, cleanly laid out system for virtually anything you want to while working online.
Working with Zoho
- Notebooks. You can create multiple notebooks, or just multiple pages within one big one. You can make it private, or share it with specified users. You put almost anything into a Notebook – audio clips, pictures, spreadsheets, docs, presentations (anything from another Zoho app). You can even stick a website into your Zoho Notebook. It’s amazingly powerful.
- Excel compatible spreadsheets. There are several things I used to log daily on Excel sheets. I went into Zoho’s spreadsheet module and uploaded my files from my desktop (you can create new spreadsheets and import them into Notebook, but to upload, you need to use the spreadsheet module). You can just work with your spreadsheets in the Spreadsheet module, or add them into Notebook. When I originally wrote this review, you couldn’t freeze panes in Zoho’s spreadsheet module, but now you can.
- Importing websites into Notebooks. In Notebook, if you click “Add Web Page” near the top of the left sidebar, you can import an entire, functioning website into the frame and have it there to use. You can actually use the website from within Zoho. As far as I know, this doesn’t work when the website is secured (https). But any other kind of website will go in there. You could get rid of all bookmarks and just keep your websites in your notebook. This is especially helpful for keeping Zoho apps in your notebook, such as your task manager, calendar or links page. (Then again, they’re all just a click away in the sidebar, so you don’t need to do it this way.)
Obviously, you could do a lot of your online work from within Zoho’s collection of apps. I worry a lot (some would say excessively, but what do they know) about privacy, however, so there’s only so much stuff I’ll put on anyone else’s server space – for example, notes about my online business plans do not go on Zoho. I use Zoho as a sort of processing station. I collect all sorts of stuff into it – notes, links, quotes, ideas. Then I remove stuff as I’ve processed it. But if you’re less of a privacy hound than I am, you could:
- Put together a Notebook full of ideas for that novel you’ve been planning.
- Brainstorm this year’s plan for taking over the interwebs, and collect all sorts of stuff.
- Create a Notebook to help you decide which washer/dryer set to buy. Collect links to reviews, notes about sales, prices you’ve found, pictures, etc.
- Create a Notebook for any specific project. Like, planning a vacation or throwing a party.
I’m sure there are lots more uses for the Zoho apps. What have you found?