Thanks to my 5 favorite AI tools, I’m working smarter now

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Tools for working drawings

Getty Images/Yuri Karvatsky

The generative AI boom may have started with the launch of ChatGPT, but the technology is now integrated into all kinds of productivity platforms designed to simplify our daily workflows.

Many people who hear about “AI at work” hesitate to think that technology will replace them. However, the tools I’m talking about here won’t work for you — rather, they can grow yours Work productivity.

These AI tools can help you complete small but essential daily tasks that — in the long run — save a lot of time. The result: you spend less time on admin and more time doing things you love or are more beneficial to your work.

Even before the current AI boom, I was covering and testing a variety of AI tools for ZDNET. After seeing what certain tools were capable of, it was hard for me to stop using them. As a result, I incorporate several of these tools into various aspects of my daily workflow.

So, here are my favorite AI tools that I find myself using every day. Importantly, only one of these life-hack technologies is an AI chatbot.

1. Bing Chat

The new AI-powered Bing on one screen

Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNet

Let’s start with the most hyped type of AI tool — chatbots. I have tested most of the AI ​​chatbots in the market and Bing Chat is my favorite. Here’s why.

BingChat With AI image generation and web-informed answers — enabling me to tap into so many different capabilities in one place without spending a dime! These free features are primarily what differentiates Bing Chat from other subscription-based competitors in the market, including ChatGPT, which requires a Plus subscription to access the Internet and real-time information.

Also: ChatGPT vs Bing Chat vs Google Bird: Which is the Best AI Chatbot?

The primary way I use the tool in my workflow is as a more conversational search engine. If I have a question about something, I turn to Bing Chat instead of Google. Instead of filtering through hundreds of results like I would following a Google query, I get a simple, conversational answer that directly addresses my question.

Even better: Bing Chat replies will include the sources from which the chatbot got its responses, giving me the option to verify the information provided and learn more about the topic.

Even if I don’t have a question, I like to ask Bing Chat for more information about what I need because, unlike Google, it will narrow down the best sources, making it easier for me to find what I’m looking for.

For example, I can ask Bing Chat, “Help me find the latest research on the effects of caffeine on sleep,” and Bing Chat will highlight specific studies and research within the text response and add additional sources in the footnotes. In contrast, Google will generate thousands of results that can be difficult to parse.

If you are a Google enthusiast, you can also go for Google Bard instead of Bing Chat But from my tests, Bing wins in terms of chat quality, probably because it’s powered by GPT-4, OpenAI’s most advanced large language model. Bing Chat also offers the option to choose from three conversation styles and create images within the chatbot — options that Google Bard doesn’t offer.

Although I don’t use these features in my own work, Bing Chat can help with proofreading grammar, rewriting text when you can’t get the word right, and even writing messages, proposals, or other types of content.

2. Canva Pro

Create a design in Canva screenshot

Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

Canva It has almost every AI tool you can imagine for graphic design, including its own AI image generator. However, if — like me — you create visual content every day, you don’t necessarily need the stylized output produced by an AI image generator. Instead, you need tools that make it easy and fast to create social media posts, invitations, flyers and presentations — and that’s where Canva Pro shines.

Before October, Canva Pro was already packed with an impressive set of tools for graphic design, including Magic Edit, Magic Design, Magic Eraser, Background Remover, and more — and so it was already a staple in my daily visual design toolkit. However, its offerings have become more impressive with the launch of its AI-infused Magic Studio.

Also: How to turn a photo into a professional headshot with Canva’s AI tools

The suite of tools in Magic Studio includes Magic Switch, Magic Media, Magic Design, Brand Voice, Magic Morph, Magic Grab, Magic Expand, and more, which complete a powerful range of tasks that automate almost all of your visual design needs.

My personal favorite tool, and the one I use every day, is Canva’s AI Background Remover. Basic words? Sure, but if you’ve ever had to isolate an item in a photo, you know how tedious the process can be using a tool like Photoshop, or how badly some automated tools can block this task.

With Canva, differentiating an image takes just the touch of a button — and the AI ​​delivers accurate results every time I regularly use hero images for my articles, product images for ZDNET “Best of Lists” and even this feature. Instagram post.

A Canva Pro Personal Account Costs $120 per year and includes a free trial.



Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

If you’ve ever transcribed a conversation by hand, you know it’s a time-consuming and tedious task.

The great news is that AI is here to help. Whether you are a student who records their lectures, a professional who needs to create meeting notes and highlights, or someone who records interviews daily, Otter.I A serious time saver.

With, you can import a voice recording and fully transcribe the conversation within minutes AI assistants include speaker designs, time stamps and reasonably accurate transcriptions.

As a reporter, I conduct a lot of interviews as part of my daily workflow. It can be extremely time-consuming to review the audio recordings of these interviews — which can be as long as 15 minutes or as long as an hour and a half — and then either transcribe the conversation word for word or just write down the time stamps of the sections that stand out to me. With, I can easily upload audio files and complete transcription in seconds.

I’ve used other transcription services in the past, but excels in terms of accuracy and efficiency. offers a free plan, but you’re limited to 300 monthly transcription minutes per conversation for all conversations you record on the platform, and you only get three lifetime imports with a free account. Therefore, if you record conversations that need to be transcribed elsewhere, the free plan may not be for you.

If you’re like me and need unlimited imports and advanced search, offers a subscription cost of $8.33 per month. Since time is money — and considering the time saves me, I consider it a worthwhile investment.

4. ChatPDF

ChatPDF homepage

Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

This completely free tool — so simple, yet so useful — is a great example of how AI can optimize your workflow instead of doing it for you. ChatPDF changed my life for the better when I was in college, but I also took advantage of it ChatPDF As a worker.

PDFs often contain a lot of information that can be difficult to digest; Reading scientific journals and research papers is especially time-intensive because of all the jargon.

Also: This AI chatbot can add any PDF and answer any question you may have about it

ChatPDF takes seconds to scan a PDF and is then ready to answer any questions you may have and provide a detailed summary. This is especially useful for increasing your understanding of any PDF and providing clarity on topics or pages that you may still be confused about.

As a reporter who covers the rapidly evolving topic of artificial intelligence, I often have to read new research on the subject, including many academic journal articles. Here’s my favorite way to take advantage of ChatPDF: After I’ve read a study in its entirety, I’ll use ChatPDF’s summary to confirm my own findings and probe further into points on which I was still cloudy.

I want to use ChatPDF to confirm that my initial impressions — after reading through the research — are correct. For example, I would ask something like, “Is this statement true: According to studies, consuming caffeine before bed negatively affects the longevity of REM sleep?”

Then ChatPDF will verify that it is indeed correct — and return the page that supports my conclusion. Or, the AI ​​will say something along the lines of “not right” and provide its conclusion as the page number is provided.

5. Grammatically

The Grammarlygo logo


grammatically Has been around for quite some time, and is an integral part of AI’s services. The platform is known for its ability to check spelling, grammar, brevity and more in your everyday writing for good reason — it’s good and helpful at that.

My favorite way to use the tool is Grammatically for Chrome Extensions are enabled so the AI ​​can work in the background to catch any mistakes I may have missed.

I went to school for journalism, and as a result, I’m fairly confident in my ability to avoid most grammatical errors, but sometimes when writing a quick email or message, I miss little details — and that’s where Grammarly can do its polish.

In addition to basic grammar support, the tool can provide more advanced support thanks to its integration of generative AI, which has added features and shortcuts that can provide shortcuts to your daily tasks.

For example, you can use grammar to create or rewrite text, provide ideas, identify gaps in your writing, change the tone of your text, create quick answers, outline, and more. You can even select a voice to help compose messages for different platforms like LinkedIn or email, with options for formality and tone.

Although I don’t use the write or rewrite features in my own workflow, I can see the value of applying it to other people’s daily writing processes.

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