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DR. FRANK BUCK: Digital tools grab bag

The internet is chocked full of free tools to make your life easier. 

For example, in this space we looked at “5 free sites to make PDF less painful.” If you missed that one, you can read it here: This week, here is an assortment of five tools ranging from design to voice transcription.

Canva. Whether you are creating an invitation for a birthday party, a report, a social media post or just about any other design project, Canva makes it easy.

Go to and create a free account. Yes, there is a paid option, but what’s included in the free version is amazing. Start a project from scratch if you wish. What’s easier is to take an example they provide and modify it.

Let’s take a look at just one example. 

How many Facebook pages have you seen where the cover is a picture of the family? The only problem is the heads are cut off because the dimensions of the original picture don’t match the frame for Facebook. 

Go into Canva. Choose “Facebook Cover.” Drag the photo into the frame. Resize the photo and drag it around inside the frame until you get the right look. While there, add some text. It’s easy to do. Click a button to download. Now, when you upload to Facebook, it’s going to be a perfect fit.

Block Posters. If you are a teacher, you're likely making classroom posters.

Machines exist that will make a large poster, but they are expensive. Here is a free solution. You can design your poster on Canva. The resulting size will be 8 ½ x 11, the size of a standard piece of paper. Be sure to download it as a jpeg.

Go to You don’t even have to create an account. Upload your one-page creation. Block Posters composes a multi-page PDF of your original. The result will be around a dozen “puzzle pieces,” each one on an 8 ½ x 11 block. Print the PDF and paste the pages together. It’s all for free!

Shortening a YouTube video. How many times have you wanted to show a group just a portion of a YouTube video? How can you make the video start at just the right moment and end at a desired spot?

 Go to Enter the URL for the video. Find the points at which you want to start and end. Enter those into the site. The site produces a link. When you or anyone uses that link, the desired clip plays.

Live Transcribe. This app is designed for the hearing-impaired. 

The app, available for Android, transcribes speech into text and displays it on the phone’s screen. The hearing-impaired person simply keeps an eye on the screen. Watch this three-minute video that demonstrates the app: Download it for free here:  

 Otter Voice Notes. Next time you need to transcribe a meeting, give Otter a try. 

The app uses speech recognition to create transcripts automatically, even identifying multiple speakers and picking out keywords. Those transcriptions are then stored online so you can access them from anywhere. 

Otter is free for up to 10 hours of recordings per month. Here is a two-minute video on how it works:  Get it for iOS here: Get it for Android here:

Not every tool is for everybody.  But often, one tool makes a significant difference in a person's time management and productivity. Maybe one of these five free digital tools could be a game changer for you.

Frank Buck is the author of “Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders.” "Global Gurus Top 30" named him #1 in the Time Management category for 2019 and 2020. Dr. Buck speaks throughout the United States and internationally about organization and time management. You can reach him through his website: Follow him on Twitter @DrFrankBuck.