These are my 5 favorite AI tools for work


Getty Images/Galeanu Mihai

The generative artifical intelligence (AI) boom might have started with the launch of ChatGPT but the technology is now integrated into in all kinds of productivity platforms that aim to make your life easier. 

AI tools can help you complete small tasks every day, which adds up to lots of saved time. The result is you can spend less time on admin and more time doing things you enjoy.

AlsoThis new AI tool will summarize YouTube videos for you in seconds

I’ve been covering and testing AI tools for ZDNET for a long time — even before ChatGPT blew up in popularity. As a result, I’ve incorporated many of these tools into my daily routine. 

So, here’s my favorite AI tools that I use in my everyday workflow. And, intrestingly, only one of these life-hack technologies is an AI chatbot.

1. Bing Chat 

The new AI-powered Bing on a screen

Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

Let’s start with the most-hyped AI tool — a chatbot. I have tested most AI chatbots on the market, and Bing Chat remains my favorite. 

Bing Chat allows you to tap into many different capabilities in one place, including AI image generation and web-informed answers. 

Also: ChatGPT vs Bing Chat vs Google Bard: Which is the best AI chatbot

I use the chatbot for when I’m stumped for ideas, such as fresh dinner recipes or date-night activities.

Other uses include proofreading my grammar quickly before I send a message or rewriting my thoughts when I can’t get the exacts words right. 

Lastly, if I have a question about anything at all, I generally don’t ask Google anymore because I’d have to filter through hundreds of results. 

Instead, I use Bing Chat, which provides a conversational answer to the question I ask. And if I want more information on the topic, I can click on the citations. 

2. Canva Pro 

Create a design in Canva screenshot

Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

Canva has some incredible AI features for graphic design, including an AI image generator. 

In my opinion, if you have any visual content-creation needs, Canva Pro is a better option than a traditional AI image generator, such as DALL-E 2 or Midjourney

Also: 7 ways you didn’t know you can use Bing Chat and other AI chatbots

If you need to create visual content every day, you won’t necessarily need the kind of stylized output that comes out of an AI image generator. Instead, you need tools that make creating social media posts, invitations, fliers, or presentations easier — and that’s where Canva Pro shines. 

Some key features of Canva Pro include Text to Image, Magic Edit, Magic Design, Magic Eraser, and Beat Sync. 

AlsoHow to turn any photo into a professional headshot with Canva’s AI tools

My personal favorite is its AI Background Remover. All it takes is the touch of a button to isolate an image — and it produces accurate results every time. I often use this feature to create hero images for my articles. 

Membership for an individual account is $120 per year. However, I think it’s a game-chaning tool that includes many great editing tools for photos, graphics, and images.

3. Otter.ai


Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

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

The great news is AI is here to help. Whether you’re a student who records their lectures or someone who records interviews on a daily basis, Otter.ai is a serious time-saver. 

With Otter.ai, you can import a voice recording and have it fully transcribe the conversation in minutes. The assistant includes speaker designations, time stamps, and a pretty accurate transcription. 

AlsoHow to use ChatGPT to write Excel formulas

As a reporter, I have used other transcription services in the past, but Otter.ai shines in terms of accuracy. 

This tool does have a subscription cost of $8.33 per month for features like unlimited imports and advanced search. Since time is money — and considering all the time you can save, it’s a worthwhile investment for me. 

Otter.ai also offers a free plan, but you’re limited to 300 monthly transcription minutes at 30 minutes per conversation for all conversations recorded on the platform itself. However, you only get three-lifetime imports with a free account. Therefore, if you record the conversations that need transcribing elsewhere, the free plan might not be for you. 

4. ChatPDF 

ChatPDF homepage

Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

This completely free tool would have changed my life for the better when I was at college, but I also take advantage of ChatPDF as a working professional. 

PDFs usually contain lots of information that can be difficult to digest. Reading scientific journals or research papers can be difficult because of all the jargon. 

AlsoThis AI chatbot can sum up any PDF and answer any question you have about it

This free AI chatbot scans the PDF in seconds. It’s then ready to answer any questions you have and it provides detailed summaries. 

Since discovering ChatPDF, I’ve used it to double-check my findings and to align my conclusions with what’s actually written in the PDF.

5. Grammarly 

GrammarlyGo logo


Grammarly is a tool that’s often overlooked. The platform is known for its ability to check for spelling, grammar, conciseness, and more in your everyday writing. Although it excels at these tasks, the tool can do so much more. 

Grammarly has adapted to the world of generative AI and has added new features that can add shortcuts to your day-to-day tasks. 

AlsoGrammarly is adding generative AI now, too: What you need to know

With GrammarlyGO — which is still in Beta, but available for use — you can use Grammarly to create text. You can select a voice, which includes options for formality and tone, to help compose messages for different platforms, such as LinkedIn or Email. 

Although I mostly use GrammarlyGO for help with polishing up my text on the run, it has a ton of features worth exploring, especially since it’s free and easy to use. 


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