It’s hard to imagine how we ever ran our lives before smartphones. Having everything you need to run your life – from banking, studying, and even socialising – in your pocket can be such a timesaver for busy students.
However, wading your way through apps to help you organise your life can be a minefield, and run the risk of actually making you more disorganised as you find that “life-changing” app isn’t quite the answer to your organisational prayers you thought it was.
Here are 50 of the best, separated into categories to help you work out what’s best for you, and what’s going to help you make the most of student life.
1. SoundNote – top of the bill has to be SoundNote, an app that not only records what you’re writing and drawing in a lecture, but records the lecture too, enabling you to fill in the blanks if you zone out for a while, or don’t catch what’s been said.
2. EverNote – so much more than a note-taking app, EverNote allows you to clip web pages to look at later, take pictures, and organise your digital scrapbook. Perfect for assembling information for essays on the go.
3. Mathway – probably not that useful if you’re doing a maths or physics degree, but rather more aimed at those of us who don’t necessarily have the mathematical answers at our fingertips. Type in your maths problem, and this app will solve it for you.
4. Timetable – good at forgetting when and where your lectures are? Outstanding at forgetting to attend regular clubs and societies? Timetable will take the stress out of organising your time.
5. CitationMaker – the bane of any essay-writer’s life has to be grinding out a bibliography, something that can often take as long as the essay itself. This free generator will save you hours, with several formats available.
6. Scribd – this subscription service is a gift to any student, but a godsend to music students. With access to over 500,000 books, essays, audio books and musical scores, a subscription to Scribd is a no-brainer.
7. CliffsNotes – these study guides are perfect for plot and character summaries for works to support your main areas of study if you’re a literature student.
8. Chegg – drawing a blank? Not sure how to move forward with a piece of work? Chegg will give you quick access to tutors and textbooks online, saving you valuable time.
9. Dropbox – sharing files? Looking for somewhere secure in the cloud to store your coursework? Dropbox is ideal, especially if you’re collaborating on projects, as you can give access to folders to your colleagues.
10. Oxford English Dictionary – self-explanatory, but every student needs access to the gold standard for dictionaries to check that words really do mean what they think they do in context!
11. Zoom – if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can – almost – run our lives online. Zoom has been a godsend for socialising, catching up, and even attending lectures. Free for 45 minutes, with paid accounts for longer catch ups.
12. WhatsApp – you might think of WhatsApp primarily as a social tool, but the group function makes it ideal for study groups, tutor groups, and generally organising big nights out!
13. Discord – originally intended as a platform for gamers, Discord is useful for finding those that share your interests, particularly in the context of academic work. Perfect for watching videos together and group study sessions.
14. Slack – a useful project tool, Slack is useful for pinning messages, sharing files and RSS feeds, and assigning tasks within study groups.
15. Reddit – more often thought of as a fantastic waste of several hours reading entertaining threads about nothing useful, Reddit has a sub-reddit for almost anything. Need a new insight on a study area? You’re bound to find it here.
16. MeetUp – make new friends with similar interests with this app that lets you make great new connections while at university.
17. Wisedrinking – never sure how much is too much? This app will make an educated guess for you, based on your gender, body weight, and when you last ate. It’s not reliably scientific (for goodness sake don’t decide you’re safe to drive, for example), but can help you decide whether to have that last pint or not.
18. SocialX – limit your social media usage on a night out (or any other time!) with this app that helps you track and reduce the amount of time you spend on your social media platforms, leaving you to focus on studying or enjoying a night out!
19. Skout – one of the oldest smartphone apps, Skout has been making meeting new people easier since 2007. Useful for making connections during Freshers’ Week in particular.
20. Smartwatcher – similar in usefulness to Circle of Six, Smartwatcher lets you connect with friends when you’re walking home from class.
21. Zombies, Run! – the zombie apocalypse combined with a fitness app; what’s not to love here? Collect supplies and build up your base, but if zombies come after you, you’ll have to run faster!
22. Strava – for runners who like to keep a map of their route, Strava is the market leader. Compatible with a variety of smart tech for keeping fit.
23. BodyFX – with a range of dance-based workouts from beginner upwards, these are ideal for rainy days when you just can’t be bothered to go outside.
24. YouTube – not just for exercise of course, but a source of everything from Yoga workouts to seated workouts for days when you’re carrying an injury but still want to keep up with your exercise regime.
25. Couchto5K – self-explanatory, but the perfect way to start running if you’ve never run before. Periods of walking will make the running seem easier, and within a relatively short space of time you will reach your running goals.
26. Headspace – this app will help you find some space for focus, relaxation, and general mindfulness. The guided meditations will help with anything from anxiety to improving your sleep patterns.
27. Calm – with some similarities to Headspace, calm has the added attraction of sleep stories, and a mental fitness training programme, which can help you stay on an even keel when your course gets tough.
28. Remember the Milk – developed with users with ADHD or autism spectrum disorders in mind, Remember the Milk can help you tackle feelings of being overwhelmed, and breaks down tasks into small steps which aid executive function.
29. Pharmacy2U – it can be difficult to register with a new GP immediately when you start your course, making it harder to pick up repeat medication. Apps such as Pharmacy2U, which arrange for delivery of medication to your home, take the headache out of getting hold of your prescription.
30. WhiteNoiseLite – if you’re a poor sleeper, or migraine sufferer, then this is the app for you. You can even mix your own sounds for a personalised sound experience.
Food and Shopping
31. Too Good to Go – this app will give you access to good food at bargain prices, as shops and businesses get rid of what they have unsold at the end of the day. Surprise bags can be collected at pre-arranged times on the app. Not ideal for restricted diets, but perfect for omnivores on a budget.
32. Olio – another eliminating food waste app, Olio will also connect you with your neighbours as well as local food businesses. You’ll also find non-food related items on this app that people no longer want. The difference here is that the food available is free. Perfect for when your finances run very thin.
33. HyperJar – it’s often cheaper to pool your finances when you’re living in a student house, but how to do you make sure that everyone is paying their fair share? HyperJar is ideal for multiple payees as each jar can be split for up to 100 contributors.
34. GreenJinn – this app will give you cashback on items you would buy in the supermarket or be likely to try anyway, and covers all the major food retailers, and a few others besides.
35. Shoppix – upload or forward e-receipts for almost all retailers to this clever app, take surveys and quizzes, and get paid in Amazon vouchers for your efforts.
36. ClearScore – although borrowing beyond your student loan may seem a way off, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your credit rating now. This free app will pull together information from your accounts about how you are managing your money, and what financial products are available to you.
37. Snoop – this app will pull all your accounts together and keep an eye on your payments. If they can spot a better deal for you, they’ll tell you! Excellent for getting an overview of your financial situation.
38. Monese – part bank, part financial solution, Monese is the ideal product for you if you don’t have a fixed address or a credit history. A ‘disruptor’ bank like a lot of those with no branches, Monese offers you flexibility and benefits for your money.
39. Plum – just in case you do find yourself with spare money, Plum is perfect to get you into the saving habit early. You can pay into pension pots, do a little stock market trading, or just save to an easy access pot. Offering round ups and ‘rainy day’ deposits, Plum is ideal for penny savers.
40. FreeNow – one of the newer cab apps on the block, and tends to have plentiful discount offers and reward schemes. Allows you to save drivers as favourites (handy for safety), and pre-book cabs.
41. Uber – even if you don’t use Uber for rides, it’s handy for food delivery, and pre-booking bikes.
42. Trainline – still the best one-stop option for booking train tickets, particularly far in advance of journeys. With useful insurance and reservation options. Don’t forget to add your railcard!
43. Fiverr – with an app as well as a slightly clunkier web interface, Fiverr is rapidly throwing off its previous ‘race to the bottom’ reputation. Got a skill? Sell it here. And you can charge more than a fiver!
44. Streetbees – a reasonable payer for five minutes of your time, throughout the week topics will appear in the app, and ask you questions through a chatbot. Pay is usually around £1 for each topic, and adds up quickly.
45. BeMyEye – you may have heard of mystery shopping, and this is a good way in. Particularly handy in university towns, where there are likely to be plenty of tasks available. You will need to be prepared to take photos of shop displays with your phone and answer questions.
46. MobileXpression – want a £10 Amazon voucher? This requires you to download software which measures your phone or tablet usage, but has no access to any of your personal information or photographs. After two weeks, you’ll receive your voucher.
47. Microsoft Office – now available in app form, you can even update your documents from your phone or tablet, and work on them later on your computer. A potential time – and grade! – saver if you suddenly remember a crucial point for your essay in the pub.
48. Audible – got a reading list as long as your arm? There’s a good chance that there’s an audiobook version of most works of literature, and a good few reference books too. Now you can tackle the washing up and study at the same time!
49. BBCNews – still the international benchmark for neutral reporting, the BBC News app will alert you to breaking news stories and also local news for your part of the world.
50. Royal Mail – with options for buying postage online and even booking parcel collection, finding time to go to the post office is a thing of the past.
We hope some of these at least are useful to you, and that we’ve perhaps even found one or two apps you haven’t heard of before. Do leave us any others we’ve missed in the comments, or let us know if there’s an area you’d like us to cover!