You have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Since you can’t add more hours to the day, that means you must find a way to multiply your effort.

It might be time to get a virtual assistant.

Your virtual assistant might be a full time remote employee, but they don’t have to be. Virtual assistant services can be a good choice if you don’t have the budget or need for a dedicated assistant.

The point is to free up your time so that you can focus on your top priorities. However, hiring and managing your virtual assistant can take more time and energy than you’re prepared to spare. It defeats the purpose if you spend more time managing your assistant than they save for you, doesn’t it?

It’s important to find the right virtual assistant software to protect your time and get the most out of your investment. Your software can:

  • Help accomplish work tasks more efficiently
  • Automate repetitive work
  • Track your assistant’s work time and activity
  • Organize communication

The right software can even act as an assistant to a limited degree.

In this article, we recommend 40+ software tools to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant. Feel free to skip ahead to the sections you need.

Quick navigation

  1. Communication
  2. Video conferencing
  3. Accounting and bookkeeping
  4. Time and activity tracking
  5. Scheduling and appointments
  6. Project management
  7. Password management
  8. File sharing and document management
  9. Social media management
  10. Operations and process documentation
  11. Virtual assistant programs

Communication

It’s important to be able to reach your virtual assistant when you need them.

Emailing them is an option — but it’s not always the best one. Emails can get lost in the shuffle. Plus, an efficient virtual assistant probably doesn’t check their email constantly because that’s a productivity drain.

Sometimes you need a quick reply to a short message.

These programs can help.

Slack

Slack

Slack is a team communication tool used by more than 750,000 businesses.

The main idea behind Slack is that it replaces email communication and eliminates all the time wasting that comes with it.

Slack’s main feature are channels, which are essentially group conversations that revolve around a set topic.

Channels give your VA and the other people on your team have an organized way to communicate. You can include your assistant in the conversations they need to follow without cluttering their inbox with irrelevant chatter.

Adding your virtual assistant to the company Slack gives your team a way to contact them directly. If you’re out of office and someone needs a document or information, they can easily reach your VA for help.

Slack has other useful features like video calls and file sharing.


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Flock

Flock

Flock calls itself a team messenger and collaboration platform. It’s similar to Slack but places a heavier emphasis on productivity features.

A few standout features include voice notes, to-do lists, and reminders. These can help you delegate tasks to your VA more easily.

Chanty

Chanty

Chanty is a team communication and collaboration solution designed to help remote teams stay organized. It’s also a great way to stay connected to your VA.

It allows you to import team data and message history from tools such as Slack and Flock, which makes migration easier if you decide you need to switch.

Chanty integrates with dozens of popular apps, allowing you to improve your team’s collaboration and boost productivity. It’s less expensive than Slack and offers more storage and faster file transfers.

If you’ve ever been frustrated while trying to find old messages in Slack or Flock, you’ll like Chanty a lot better. It searches your entire history from the first day you used the program, so you won’t lose information because you had that conversation too long ago.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams

Formerly known as Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams is Microsoft’s communication solution for businesses.

It enables remote teams to chat, have audio and video calls, as well as schedule meetings.

You can use it to share files with your VA. This tool supports real-time collaboration on files.

This is a good option for people who already work within the Microsoft ecosystem.

WhoBot makes Microsoft Teams stand out. It’s an AI chatbot that helps you find specific information about other members of your team. You can ask it questions about organizational structure or even use it to find a subject matter expert in a specific area.

That’s powerful if your virtual assistant needs to reach out to someone else at your company for help.

The video calling features are robust and will come in handy if you need to invite your virtual assistant to any larger team meetings.

Speaking of video calling features, let’s look at the next category of virtual assistant software:

Video conferencing

Virtual assistants are rarely available face-to-face. That doesn’t mean you have to restrict your communication to chats and emails, though. Video calls are a great way to handle more complex conversations.

A lot of virtual assistants suggest having a weekly call to catch up and align on priorities. Video chatting is an ideal way to do this so you have the fullest possible range of communication.

There are plenty of video conferencing tools out there, especially since the pandemic forced offices to close.

The feature lists and pricing for these tools can be pretty similar. Ask your assistant if they have a preference and consider how a particular software fits in your current tech ecosystem.

Zoom

Zoom

Zoom is a video conferencing software solution that has exploded in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s used worldwide to collaborate, hold meetings, and host virtual events.

The Zoom platform consists of a number of products that include group chat, video webinars, virtual conference rooms, and an enterprise phone system.

It supports HD video and audio, recording, transcripts, and screen sharing.

The platform also has advanced privacy and security features (such as waiting rooms, passcodes, and user authentication) that ensure you’ll be able to discuss sensitive information during calls.

They put a heavier emphasis on security after “Zoom bombing” made headlines, and now the platform is better equipped with privacy and security features.

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is another popular video conferencing platform. It includes all the features you’d expect like conference calling, video conferencing, and screen sharing.

GoToMeeting is similar to Zoom in features and functionality. Large companies might prefer GoToMeeting because it supports much larger meeting sizes at a slightly lower price point.

You can use this platform to hold video calls on most devices and operating systems.

Google Meet

Google Meet

Google Meet is Google’s video conferencing software. It was designed to replace Google Hangouts.

Like most video chat programs, it’s easy to schedule and launch calls. You can choose to record or not, share your screen, and share files or links while you’re connected.

One feature that’s unique to Google Meet is the option of adding real-time, software-generated captions to video calls. This is a great accessibility feature and it adds an extra layer of clarity to your conversation.


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Zoho Meeting

Zoho Meeting

Zoho Meeting is another reliable video conferencing option.

This software puts a big emphasis on taking care of users’ security and privacy. It includes features like locked meetings, recording privileges, and audio and video sharing consent.

It integrates with Zoho’s suite of office and productivity apps. This makes it the perfect video conferencing solution for those that are committed to the Zoho ecosystem.

Join.Me

Join.Me

Join.Me is an online meeting solution that supports both audio and video conferencing. It’s aimed at businesses, virtual teams, and individuals.

Join.Me’s main selling point is its ease of use. Thanks to its one-click scheduling feature, everyone can start an online meeting in seconds — even the least tech savvy members of your team.

Some of its standout features include personalized meeting URLs and custom meeting room backgrounds. It also has a host of collaboration-friendly features such as screen sharing, presenter swap, and mobile whiteboarding.

Join.Me can be used on both desktop and mobile devices, allowing you to easily communicate on the go.


Accounting & bookkeeping

While no business owner enjoys doing bookkeeping, it’s a necessary part of running a business.

Accounting and bookkeeping solutions allow you to safely delegate this task.

For the items on this list, you should own the tool yourself and create a login for your virtual assistant. It’s unwise to ask a third party to handle your bookkeeping in their own software.

Choose a program that you’re comfortable using on your own. It’s important that you can access and understand your own financial data.

QuickBooks

QuickBooks

QuickBooks is the most popular accounting software. It’s aimed at small and medium-sized businesses.

Use this tool to track all your expenses, create invoices and quotes, and generate detailed reports. You can also sync it with your bank account to automatically track income and expenses.

All the information is stored in the cloud and encrypted to ensure that only you and the people you authorize can access your financial information. You can download reports on your own or ask your virtual assistant to send you updates at regular intervals.

Xero

Xero

Xero is an online accounting solution designed for small businesses.

You can use it to reconcile bank transactions, send invoices, accept payments, pay your bills, and create expense claims.

Xero also supports bank feeds. That means you can automatically import transactions and categorize them as you see fit.

It can produce financial statements and balance sheets at the click of a button, allowing you to automate your financial reporting. This is a handy tool for your VA to keep you updated on a weekly basis.

FreshBooks

FreshBooks

According to its website, FreshBooks focuses on serving small businesses.

It has plenty of robust features including invoicing, expense and time tracking, and reporting. You can also use it to accept payments and collaborate on projects.

FreshBooks has a web app, as well as accompanying iOS and Android apps you can use to track expenses on the go. If you need your virtual assistant to manage your field team’s personal expenses, this might be a smart choice.

Zoho Books

Zoho Books

Zoho Books is a cloud-based accounting and bookkeeping software aimed at small and mid-sized businesses. It’s part of the Zoho ecosystem, which we mentioned in the section about video conferencing tools.

Apart from tracking expenses, you can use it to send estimates, create invoices, and accept payments.

There’s also the option of sending automated reminders to customers who haven’t paid your invoices yet. This is a particularly useful feature that can save a lot of time.

Zoho Books has plenty of other useful features, including contact management, time tracking, and inventory management.

Wave

Wave

Wave brands itself as financial software designed for entrepreneurs.

It has all the features you’d expect from an accounting and bookkeeping solution. You can use it to track and manage income and expenses. It creates professional invoices with your branding.

Connect Wave to your bank account to import your expenses automatically. Alternatively, you can scan receipts using your smartphone and import expenses into the app that way.

Wave uses 256-bit encryption, which ensures that your data is safe at all times.

Time tracking

If you pay your virtual assistant an hourly rate, you need some kind of reliable time tracking tool to calculate their hours.

Good time tracking tools can also help you see how that time was used. This helps protect you from time theft.

Hourly or not, time tracking gives you valuable information that you can use to work more efficiently.

You can easily spot areas where your virtual assistant might need more information from you. It’s also obvious which tasks your virtual assistant is best at so you know to delegate similar responsibilities in the future.

Whether you’re new to time tracking or a time tracking veteran, check out Hubstaff.

Hubstaff

Hubstaff

Hubstaff Desk tracks time and productivity. Use it to automate your timesheets so that you pay people accurately without the extra headache of manually logging hours.

It generates detailed reports that give you more visibility into how your team works. You can see valuable information like activity levels and the amount of time spent on specific apps and websites.

Managers can easily see who’s working on what project through a simple dashboard. If you need to dig deeper, the robust time reports give you all the details you need.

Hubstaff Desk is a fantastic tool to help you keep track of your virtual assistant. Whether you pay hourly or not, time tracking shows you what tasks your assistant completed for you and how long it took. It’s a simple way for your assistant to prove that you’re getting what you paid for.

If you do pay hourly, you can manage timesheets and payments directly from the software. It even works for international payments through tools like PayPal and Transferwise.

Hubstaff Desk is also an excellent tool to help you manage your in-house team. Use it to maximize your productivity by automating much of your admin work.

Not looking for proof of work features? Hubstaff Time is a great time tracking and scheduling tool for all types of teams.


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Scheduling & appointments

It’s common for virtual assistants to handle scheduling. If your assistant manages your schedule, they’re not doing it in a paper planner.

Modern calendar software helps you balance your personal and professional time. Here are some of the tools you and your virtual assistant should consider to help handle your appointments.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar

Google Calendar is the free scheduling tool from G Suite.

It’s a popular tool because it’s easy to use and it’s automatically included with your gmail address. If you have multiple accounts (like a personal email and a work email) you can sync calendars easily to get a complete picture of your day.

To help keep people connected, you can create a shared calendar and allow people to sync it to their personal calendar. Use that feature to publish social events or meetings that your entire company is welcome to attend.

All events added to Google Calendar can be color-coded, which helps you understand your daily tasks and responsibilities at a glance.

You can also share your Google Calendar with other people. That makes it easy for your virtual assistant to manage your schedule.

Calendly

Calendly

Calendly is one of the most popular online scheduling tools.

Instead of sending dozens of back and forth emails to find open time for a meeting, just use Calendly.

All you need to do is send the recipient your Calendly link. They can then book a meeting at a time that works for them. It detects the recipient’s time zone and displays your availability in their time.

It supports advanced features such as time buffers, daily meeting limits, and minimum scheduling notice.

You can also use Calendly to collect credit card and PayPal payments. This is a great tool for consultants and salespeople.

SimplyBook.me

SimplyBook.me

SimplyBook.me is an online booking system for service industries.

With this tool, you can accept bookings on your own website or on theirs. Using their website is the easiest option, while connecting the tool to your own website protects your branding and professionalism.

SimplyBook.me supports email and SMS notifications. You can accept payments for bookings with PayPal or Stripe.

Other cool features include intake forms, coupons, and gift cards.

Setmore

Setmore

Setmore is a great booking software along the lines of Calendly and SimplyBook.me.

It supports SMS and email reminders to reach your customers more reliably. You can accept payments through integrations with Square and Stripe.

Setmore has both Android and iOS apps, allowing you or your virtual assistant to manage bookings from your smartphone. That’s a smart feature since you might need to manage meetings on the road.

X.ai

X.ai

X.ai is an AI-powered scheduling tool.

It uses artificial intelligence to find the best times to schedule meetings. X.ai can also reschedule meetings for you, as well as send follow-up emails.

Using X.ai can relieve your virtual assistant from some of these repetitive tasks. Rather than wasting time trying to figure out your scheduling conflicts, you assistant can simply oversee the software and focus on more productive activities.

The platform also offers branded emails, personalized calendar pages, and custom domains. That’s important if you want to protect your personal branding.

Project management

For many startups and entrepreneurs, a good project management tool is all the virtual assistance they need.

Project management software helps you answer all of these questions:

  • What do I need to work on next?
  • Who should I assign this task to?
  • Which projects are at risk of going over budget?
  • How can I help my team be more productive?

To pick the right tool for your team, think about what you need it to do now and what you’re likely to need in the next 5 years. Choose a tool that can grow with you so you don’t waste time migrating data in the middle of a growth phase.

Hubstaff Tasks

Hubstaff Tasks

Hubstaff Tasks makes Agile project management easy and intuitive. One of its best features is the sprint view which tells everyone on your team exactly what they should tackle next.

Once you’re set up, the automated features in Hubstaff Tasks give you back hours of productive time every week.

Set up your workflows so that tasks are automatically assigned to the right people. Use automated standups to cut down on meetings without sacrificing your access to information.

This is a good choice of software to grow with you. It’s free for up to five users, which is an attractive price for small teams. As you expand, the per-user price is lower than competitors with the same quality.

It’s simple to get set up and powerful enough to keep your growing team organized and productive.

Basecamp

Basecamp

Basecamp is a project management solution designed for remote teams.

Work is divided into projects. From there, you can work off of a to-do list or schedule. Communicate with teammates on the message board or built-in group chat.

This tool works on the web, plus it offers Android and iPhone apps.

The team at Basecamp doesn’t believe in any kind of employee monitoring. If you have similar beliefs, this tool might be a good option. However, if you rely heavily on data to optimize how your team works, you may find that Basecamp doesn’t have the robust reporting capabilities you want.

Asana

Asana

Asana helps teams get organized. The free version is pretty robust, though it can be difficult to use for teams with no project management experience.

The team management features are particularly useful. By creating teams within Asana, you can assign different permissions to each. Everyone has the access they need while you protect any sensitive data.

This is another good tool for a growing team. You can start with the free version to get the hang of it and expand to the pro version when you’re ready.

Password management

Your virtual assistant needs access to multiple accounts, but that doesn’t mean you have to give them the keys to the castle.

Wherever possible, create a separate login for your virtual assistant. Their password manager will keep track of it for them.

Password managers are designed to make all of your logins more secure.

Think about how many accounts you have right now. There’s social media, work tools, online stores, online banking, your utilities, club memberships…in fact, you probably can’t even list every account you own from memory.

The most secure way to handle passwords is to have a long, unique password for every account. The strongest passwords are random strings of letters, numbers, and symbols.

However, if you can’t even remember all the accounts you own, how can you possibly remember all of those difficult passwords? That’s why most people use the same couple of passwords for everything.

The downside is that if a hacker gets your password, they can access all of your accounts.

Password managers fix this by allowing you to securely store your passwords in one place. Since you don’t need to manually type in your password, you can use those random strings of numbers and letters without worrying about locking yourself out.

You just need to remember your password to get into your password manager tool. And since you only need to remember one password, it can be more complex and secure.

Here are our recommendations for good password tools:

LastPass

LastPass

LastPass saves all your passwords across all the devices you use. It allows you to share passwords more securely — though it’s always safest to create separate passwords for your virtual assistant.

Install LastPass as a browser extension and it will automatically fill in usernames and passwords for you when you visit a website you commonly use.

If you change devices, you still have access to your password vault. Just login to LastPass to automatically fill your usernames and passwords. You can always retrieve your login information to enter it yourself, too.

Dashlane

Dashlane

Dashlane works similarly to LastPass. It can create secure passwords for you, or you can save login information that you create yourself.

Use it to assign or share passwords with your virtual assistant.

As an added bonus, Dashlane will also autofill personal and payment information. That speeds up account registrations or checkout from online stores.

Dashlane syncs to all your devices so you can easily and securely access your accounts when you need them.

File sharing and document management

Are you still emailing files to your virtual assistant? That’s a waste of time.

There are plenty of file sharing solutions you can use instead to save both time and effort.

You can also use these solutions to collaborate on documents in real-time.

Dropbox

Dropbox

Dropbox is one of the most popular file storage platforms in the world. It’s currently used by more than 500,000 businesses.

Originally branded as a cloud storage platform, Dropbox has expanded to include a set of tools that enable businesses to optimize their workflow.

You can use it to store all your content in a central location, share files, and find any content you need quickly and effortlessly.

Google Drive

Google Drive

Google Drive allows you to store and share files, but it really shines as a collaboration tool. Teams can all work within the same document or spreadsheet without worrying about version control.

It’s part of the G Suite so it’s easy to manage access with your team’s gmail addresses.

Even though it works most intuitively within the Google ecosystem, Drive works on all major platforms and can be accessed using desktop and mobile devices.

Google Drive includes all of these excellent document management tools:

  • Docs for word processing
  • Sheets for spreadsheets
  • Slides for presentations
  • Forms for questionnaires and feedback
  • Other specialized apps like Classroom, Jam, Drawings, and more

Box

Box

Box offers unlimited storage, document management, and collaboration features. It’s suitable for both big and small businesses.

If you’re looking for robust security features, check out Box. It carefully guards your security and privacy. with 256-bit encryption. Plus, you can lock files and control access on an individual level.

This is great if you need your virtual assistant to have access to only specific files and data.

Zoho Docs

Zoho Docs

Zoho Docs is a document management platform that helps businesses create, store, and share a variety of different types of documents.

It supports more than 100 different file formats and enables you to collaborate on files in real-time.

Social media management

Virtual assistants often help manage social media accounts.

Social media management tools can help your virtual assistant:

  • Schedule social media posts
  • Engage with your followers more easily
  • Analyze the performance of your social media campaigns

While you can give an assistant direct access to your social media accounts, it’s more difficult to manage their access levels that way.

Each platform has a different interface that may be cumbersome to navigate. Twitter, for example, does’t have a built-in tool to schedule posts. Using a tool like the ones on this list can help your virtual assistant work more effectively while you protect your brand.

Buffer

Buffer

Buffer is a popular tool that helps you drive engagement on social media. They offer two main products: Publish and Analyze.

Publish allows you to schedule content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest all from one place. It’s especially useful if you want to visualize your overall social media strategy.

Your virtual assistant can use Publish to collaborate on content or seek approval before posting.

Analyze gives in-depth insights into your social media performance. You can see how you’re doing by platform or review your social media strategy as a whole.

This is another good way to utilize your virtual assistant. They can generate reports and call out any findings that you need to see.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite

With more than 18 million customers, Hootsuite is one of the most popular social media management platforms in the world.

Use it to schedule and manage content on all your social media pages. The calendar view is a powerful way to see how your social media presence fits together across multiple platforms.

Inbox is a great feature. It allows you to view and respond to messages from your social media followers across Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn from a single location.

With Inbox, you or your virtual assistant will find it much easier to keep track of inbound messages. Consider having your virtual assistant review your messages so that you only have to respond to the most complex requests.

You can also use Hootsuite to manage your social media ads across multiple platforms.

Hootsuite has advanced team collaboration features that allow you to assign specific tasks to each team member and ensure that everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to do.

Later

Later

Later allows you to schedule social media posts and analyze their performance.

Originally developed as an Instagram marketing platform, Later now supports Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

As a tool originally built for Instagram, it offers the better features for that platform than its competitors. You can use Later to create shoppable Instagram feeds and clickable Instagram landing pages.

The Best Time to Post feature tells you when you should be publishing your social media posts for maximum engagement. Use it in combination with good testing procedures.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is an all-in-one platform. It has tools to help with each step of your social media strategy, from initial planning to analyzing results.

One of the hardest things about social media management is the need to respond quickly to questions and feedback. This tool helps solve that problem.

Like Hootsuite, Sprout Social has a universal inbox that receives messages from all the platforms you use. It also has tools to help you monitor and manage reviews.

Use the content calendar to schedule posts and collaborate with your virtual assistant or your team.

This is a popular tool for businesses with large social media followings across many platforms because it does a great job of simplifying your social strategy.

Oktopost

Oktopost

Unlike the other social media management platforms on this list, Oktopost specifically targets enterprise B2B businesses.

It shows which posts are generating leads so you can calculate the return on your social media marketing investment.

Oktopost goes beyond basic social media management.

Use it to create content and generate engagement. Features like smart scheduling and content curation help you get more out of your social media plan.

The platform also includes features to help with employee advocacy on social media.

Oktopost is a full service platform with lots of advanced features you won’t find in tools like Buffer and Hootsuite. If social media is a major part of your business strategy, it’s worth a look.

Operations and process documentation

Process documentation makes a big difference. When you have clear instructions that describe exactly how to handle a job, you can delegate work faster and more easily.

Documentation should be easy to access and understand. Everyone on your team (including your virtual assistant) should be able to find the information they need without asking you for help.

Your virtual assistant can use these documents to get up to speed faster. They can also help you keep your documentation up to date as your procedures evolve.

The tools listed here are designed to help you maintain documentation and keep your business operations organized.

Process Street

Process Street

Process Street is a workflow management program.

That means you can create checklists and procedures to help guide your team through common tasks. You can build workflows that guide employees or assistants through an activity.

Your workflows can be straightforward like a regular to-do list, or they can use conditional logic to respond to different possibilities. For example, imagine you’re setting up a workflow for your virtual assistant to handle social media responses. It might look something like this:

  • Read the message thoroughly.
    • If it’s spam, delete the message.
    • If it’s a media request, forward it to the public relations specialist.
    • If it’s a customer support question, forward to a support agent.
    • If it’s a common question, move to the next step.
  • Use the appropriate template to respond to common questions.
    • Here are our business hours
    • You can view our product catalog on our website at www.example.com
    • We are currently offering this promotion

Process Street is a powerful tool to keep your company’s work consistent and accurate. It simplifies onboarding and gives your team a quick way to answer their own questions about how things should be done.

Trainual

Trainual

Trainual is another popular tool for procedural documentation. It guides onboarding for new team members, stores your company policies, and allows you to create playbooks.

Playbooks are just what they sound like. These guides explain each step of a work process so that your procedures are clear.

Trainual empowers you to turn your standard procedures into useful training programs. Rather than handing a new hire a long, boring document and asking them to memorize it, you can create an interactive program that teaches all the important stuff in bite sized pieces.

Since training can be asynchronous, this tool allows your team to basically train themselves. That’s important if your virtual assistant works in a different time zone that doesn’t neatly overlap with your own working hours.

You can also use the built-in templates to help you create your own personalized company policies. Then, use the software to distribute that information to your team.

Trainual is available on both desktop and mobile devices.

SweetProcess

SweetProcess

SweetProcess stores all of your procedures and policies in one place. You can easily see when a process has been recently updated. That makes it easier to stay on top of your process refinements.

Each time you update a document or process, the old version is saved in a complete version history. You can always look back at previous versions.

This isn’t just for your employees and your virtual assistant.

SweetProcess allows you to make all or some of your documentation public. Your customers can search for help articles that give them detailed answers on how to use your product.

It also offers some basic task tracking tools to help you keep track of what your team is doing. These features aren’t as robust as project management software, but they’re great for teams that do repetitive types of tasks.


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Virtual assistant programs

For the past few years, companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon have been hard at work creating virtual assistant software that can help both individuals and businesses handle their daily tasks more easily.

You can use these solutions to handle simple tasks more easily.

None of these tools are a total replacement for a human virtual assistant, but they can handle basic tasks like adding appointments to your calendar, giving you directions, and ordering office supplies.

Google Assistant

Google Assistant

Google Assistant is Google’s voice-activated virtual assistant software. You probably know about it because of the Google Home smart speaker, but it’s available on other Android-powered devices.

Quick Answers is one of the best things about this virtual assistant program. Google is, after all, the undisputed leader in search. Ask just about anything and you’ll get a top ranking answer.

You can also ask questions like “What’s on my schedule today?” or “When is Mom’s birthday?” The program will check your calendar and respond in plain language.

Create your own commands by making custom shortcuts. You can do this verbally, too. Just tell your assistant that you want to manage shortcuts and it will walk you through.

Google Assistant supports both text and voice commands.

Cortana

Cortana

Cortana is a virtual assistant solution developed by Microsoft. It can help you find information more quickly, book meetings, and even read out emails to you.

While originally available for a variety of devices, Microsoft has decided to limit the use of its virtual assistant to PCs in 2020.

Cortana can help you navigate your Windows computer more easily. If you’re looking for specific files or trying to find the right program, just talk to your virtual assistant and it will guide you.

Since this assistant is designed for your desktop, it’s more intuitive to use it for work.

Siri

Siri

Siri is Apple’s voice-controlled virtual assistant. It’s built in on most Apple devices which makes it a widely used tool.

You can use voice commands to send messages, get directions, or add things to your calendar. Siri can even post to your Twitter or Facebook profile using just a voice command.

One of the coolest Siri features is the ability to give yourself location-based reminders. For example, imagine you’re working late and you want to remember to pick up flowers for your wife on your way home from work. When you leave the office, Siri detects your location and serves you the reminder.

Since Siri connects with OpenTable, you can use it to make restaurant reservations. As long as the restaurant uses OpenTable to help with their bookings, you can simply tell your virtual assistant to make the reservation.


Amazon Alexa

Amazon Alexa

Alexa (also known as Echo) is the virtual assistant program from Amazon.

You can use it to perform various tasks, including creating to-do lists and finding information more easily.

Alexa connects to your Amazon account. That means you can play books from Audible or order products from Amazon with just a voice command.

Amazon has also created a business-focused version of Alexa, called Alexa for Business, which has skills specifically designed for productivity.

You can use it to do things like reserve meeting rooms and start conference calls.

Though Alexa is available on other devices like fitbits (and even eyeglasses), people most commonly use it at home or in the office. It becomes part of your smart home or smart office ecosystem and can control other devices with voice commands.

This makes the ability to create routines especially valuable.

You can start your morning with a wakeup alarm, a weather report, and a quick reading of the day’s news. Connect other smart home devices and you can also start your coffee pot or turn on the bathroom lights.

At work, you can set up a routine that goes through your daily schedule and your to-dos.

If only it could do the actual work for you, right? Maybe they’ll figure that out in the next generation.

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Wrap up

We’ve covered a lot of virtual assistant software solutions above.

Can you add anything to this list? Let us know which virtual assistant tools are your favorites in the comments below!

This post was originally published in June 2015. It has been updated for accuracy, and to include more relevant tools in December 2020.