The Best Free Productivity Apps for the iPad

How to get projects done on your Apple tablet

If you're going to get the most out of your iPad, chances are you're going to end up spending a little money in the App Store. But lurking between the iWork suite and cool apps like Things are a host of free productivity apps that will let you squeeze out the most from your iPad without squeezing your wallet. 

These apps include great ways to take notes, whether you want to type them out, record them, or write them by hand. They also provide great ways to enhance your productivity on the iPad, including a free photo editor, a dictionary, and even a way to easily transfer files from your PC to your iPad. You can even use the world's most popular Office suite on the iPad.

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Sign Up for iWork for iCloud via an Apple ID
What We Like
  • Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are free downloads.

  • Compatible with Apple pencil.

  • Good real-time collaboration features.

What We Don't Like
  • Numbers spreadsheets are difficult to edit on small-screen iPads.

  • Pages documents export to Word format, but changes occur.

Apple made the iWork suite of productivity apps free to anyone buying a new iPad or iPhone, which instantly makes them some of the best free apps for getting something done on the iPad. The iWork suite includes Pages, a word processor; Numbers, a spreadsheet program; and Keynote, which is great for creating and viewing presentations. If you would rather skip Microsoft Office, the iWork apps are a great alternative.

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Free List of 150 Free Evernote Tips and Ideas

Yuri Arcurs / Getty Images

What We Like
  • Robust free Basic plan.

  • Siri-compatible for voice entries.

  • Supports David Allen's GTD system.

What We Don't Like
  • Only 60 MB of uploads per month with free plan.

  • Free plan syncs with only two devices.

  • Notifications require a paid plan.

Easily the best note-taking app on the app store, Evernote will not only store the notes you tap onto the onscreen keyboard but also the ones you record with your voice. You can even store photos and synchronize your notes with your Mac or Windows-based PC. Evernote will also use your iPad's GPS functionality to geotag notes to make them location-based.

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Using Dropbox on iPhone

Ian Lamont / Flickr

What We Like
  • Time-based comments.

  • Collaboration through shared folders.

  • Document scanner to scan and save receipts.

What We Don't Like
  • Slow upload speed.

  • Search feature needs work.

  • Free account limited to 2 GB of space.

If you're going to be productive with your iPad, you'll probably need to get some files from your PC or Mac onto your tablet. That's where Dropbox comes into the picture. Perhaps the easiest way to gain access to your word processor documents and spreadsheets, Dropbox gives you up to 2 GB of free space before you need to upgrade to a premium account.

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Remember the Milk

Milk pouring into a glass

krisanapong detraphiphat / Getty Images

What We Like
  • Receive notifications by email, text, IM, or Twitter.

  • Organize by due date, lists, or tags.

  • Integrate with Gmail, Google Calendar, Twitter, and Evernote.

What We Don't Like
  • No support for attachments.

  • Mobile app reminders and subtasks are not included in the free account.

Scribbling in a quick note, not enough? If you need a full-fledged task manager capable of creating to-do lists, Remember the Milk is the app for you. The easy-to-use interface makes note-taking simple, and the cloud-based design means you can type up the note on your PC and then view it on your iPad.

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Use Your Handwriting

Learn how to approach the variety of interesting challenges that old documents and records can present, including tips for reading old handwriting such as that seen in this old handwritten letter.

Linda Steward / Getty Images

What We Like
  • Write with one finger to produce colorful notes.

  • Press a note to assign an alert.

  • Helpful hands-on tutorials.

  • High-priority To Do items blink.

What We Don't Like
  • Loud pop-up ads.

  • Slow performance and syncing.

  • Many features require a paid subscription.

Speech-to-text isn't the only quick and easy way to leave yourself a note on the iPad. You can also go the old fashioned route and write it by hand. Use Your Handwriting lets you scribble in a quick note to yourself instead of typing it out on a keyboard. And with Use Your Handwriting's ability to note when you are getting close to the edge and moving over to give you more space to write, you'll actually find yourself getting the word out a lot quicker than you might think.

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Mint Personal Finance

Here are two reports found a personal finance software. 

What We Like
  • Alerts for late fees and going over budget.

  • Weekly summaries via email.

  • Two-factor authentication for security.

What We Don't Like
  • No longer includes bill payment.

  • Can't import data from Quicken.

  • Doesn't generate reports.

If you want to get a handle on your personal finance, Mint is a great place to start. It grabs financial data from sites like your bank and your credit cards, arranges it into categories, and puts it all in one place. It's a great way to set a budget for certain activities such as going out to eat. You can also set financial goals like saving a certain amount of money each month. Best of all, the service is free. And as a cloud service, you can log in via the web or via your device, which makes it easy to check your finances from your PC or your tablet.

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Kalkulilo (Calculator)

Calculator, graphs and financial figures calculating budget

Elly Walton / Getty Images

What We Like
  • Powerful scientific calculator.

  • Statistics, trig, integer, base/radix, and time modes.

  • Color-coded keys.

  • Simple calculator included.

What We Don't Like
  • Ad-supported.

  • Steep learning curve.

Whether you need a little bit of multiplication and simple division, or you are trying to turn 248 into a binary number, Kalkulilo has you covered. This simple productivity app can be a lifesaver if you need access to scientific functions, and programmers will like the different logical operators like AND, OR, XOR, and other features. Kalkulilo even has a statistics mode that will calculate mean, median, variance, standard deviation, and range.

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Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook logo


What We Like
  • No Office 365 subscription required.

  • Supports most email accounts.

  • Customizable swipe gestures.

  • Integrates with Dropbox.

What We Don't Like
  • Cluttered interface.

  • Can't attached iCloud files.

Outlook users on the desktop have been shortchanged on the iPad, where Microsoft's mail program had a very limited feature set. But that recently changed, and Outlook has gone through a big makeover, with the end result making it one of the better email apps on the App Store. And best of all, it is free. If you love Outlook on your PC, you'll want to check it out on your iPad.

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Wikipedia App or Add-in for Microsoft Word
What We Like
  • Intuitive user interface.

  • Reliable, easy-to-use app.

  • Plays audio files.

  • No ads.

What We Don't Like
  • Lengthy load time for some pages.

  • No night mode.

  • No in-page search capability.

If your job entails doing research, you probably get a lot of mileage out of Wikipedia. But as great of a quick resource as Wikipedia can be, it's not always easy to find the information. That's where Wikipanion can help. A great search tool for Wikipedia, this app lets you quickly navigate the page to get the information you need.

of 14 page

What We Like
  • Modern-looking interface.

  • Includes audible pronunciations.

  • Word of the Day.

What We Don't Like
  • Many in-app purchases.

  • Intrusive ads.

  • Not optimized for iPad.

How many people can brag about carrying around two million words in their tote bag? That's the type of ability the app will give you. The app doesn't require an internet connection to check out words, so you'll always have quick access to check your spelling, find the meaning of an unfamiliar term, or just look up synonyms in the thesaurus. You can even tap the microphone and speak the word you are looking up.

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The out-of-pocket maximum on your health insurance plan could go up in 2017

Geri Lavrov / Creative RF / Getty Images

What We Like
  • Save articles for offline access.

  • Highlight feature is useful for research.

  • Listen feature that reads articles.

What We Don't Like
  • One big list with no sub-lists.

  • No reminders.

  • Can't share your list with other Pocket users.

Ever come across an interesting article or website but didn't have time to really enjoy it? Pocket is the best way to save these websites for later because with Pocket, you don't need an internet connection to read a website. When you pocket an article or video, it saves it across all of your devices, making it easy to find again no matter where you are or which device you have on you.

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Mindjet Maps

Mindjet logo


What We Like
  • Visual maps for organizing and prioritizing.

  • Handles huge mind maps with lots of images.

  • Night mode.

What We Don't Like
  • No longer compatible with Dropbox.

  • Developer is slow to respond to support requests.

  • No longer receives regular updates.

This neat little app handles simple flow charts and organizing tasks, and the easy interface makes mapping out the chart a breeze. Type the task into the hierarchy and then swipe in the direction where you want a related task to appear. You can even synchronize your flowcharts and visual maps through Dropbox.

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Photoshop Express

The online photo editor Adobe Photoshop Express Editor from


What We Like
  • Loaded with photo-editing features.

  • Compatible with other Adobe products.

  • Supports multi-touch gestures.

What We Don't Like
  • No way to add text or make selections.

  • Monthly fee for extra features.

The iPad's camera has come a long way, with the newest Pro model sporting a camera that could rival most smartphones. But even with a great camera, you may need a little editing to get the best picture. Photoshop Express gives you a number of cool tools to boost the quality of your photos and features a collage tool to help layout your photos.

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Close-Up Of Liquid Bottle With Text

Jessica Bindernagel / EyeEm / Getty Images

What We Like
  • Collect, retain, and create new information.

  • Animations and chats provide helpful hints.

  • Good way to understand related documents.

What We Don't Like
  • In-app purchase for multiple documents in one project.

  • Workspace becomes crowded.

  • Designed for right-handers.

You can use LiquidText to view documents from PDFs and PowerPoint presentations to web pages and then pull out bits and pieces to form a unique document. This functionality makes it great for working on presentations or research projects on the go. You can also save your work in a variety of cloud-based storage options like Dropbox or iCloud Drive. The pro version allows you to work on multiple documents at a time.

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