My PalmOS Applications Picks

These are all freeware apps that I run on my Handspring Visor Platinum. They are in no particular order. I also have some setup suggestions and a few links.

Everyone Must Have


LauncherIII lets you organize your applications into tabs, beam applications and generally keep things under control. Think of at as your "desktop". Assign it (under Preferences) to your "Home" button. The customizable tool area is a great convenience. I have mine set to include the tiny "trash can" icon.


Today brings your appointment book and to-do list items together in a customizable display. Link it to your device's hardware To-Do button or set it to launch whenever you start. The author has been writing frequent upgrades. Today now includes a small launcher and even stronger linking into the basic PIM applications. The latest version has skins. I think the "Pocket PC 2002" skin looks great, especially if you have at least a 4 bit greyscale display (e.g. Handspring Visor Platinum).


Take your pick. Both require a hack manager.

ClockEveryWhere puts a clock, well, almost everywhere. Your choice of digital or analog.

ClockPop attaches a large-digit clock to your choice of hardware button. A nice feature is that you can hold down the hardware button while the device is off to display the clock. When you release the button, the device automatically returns to the power-off state.


CSpotRun is a simple and efficient reader for PalmDOC documents. You can rotate the screen for easier one-handed reading/scrolling. MemoWare has lots of free documents for this and other document readers. Make sure you get documents in the correct format (PalmDOC).


SnapCalc is a popup four-function calulator with copy/paste. Requires a hack manager.


A5 gives you a weekly view that combines your Datebook and Todo entries. Making entries in these two databases is much easier through A5.

Great For Teachers

All of the HiCe apps are cool, but the most fun is Sketchy, the mini-animator. These apps were developed as a suite of collaborative tools for students.

BigClock gives you customizable alarms, clocks and timers, all with big displays. I use a countdown timer to make sure I end my classes on time.

Random Numbers

I always have a die roller with me when we need to play games or randomize activities in class. My favorite now is Loaded Dice because of its big numbers and simple interface. You can "load" the die to reduce repeats. Others are Dice! and Gamer's Die Roller.

If you are used to using icosahedral dice, or if you just have an obscure need for random numbers, you need PickANumber.

Uni-Matrix keeps your weekly schedule in one convenient view. Intended for students, but also works for teachers or anyone who needs to keep track of weekly recurring events. Managers can use it to schedule events into up to sixteen rooms.

Power Apps

DB (Pilot-DB) is a database system that features sorting, filtering and linking between databases. A very powerful system that rewards the time taken to learn it. There is a development site and a tools site. This is turning into one of my most-used apps.

Plucker is an amazingly cool way to get web content onto your PalmOS device. The Plucker reader goes on your PalmOS device, and your desktop machine (Linux, Windows 9x, OS/2) grabs the pages based on a script, compresses them and queues them for HotSyncing. Plucker version 2.0 is now out and includes a new graphical Plucker Desktop. It is up to you to find the web content you want (Hint: BBC News low graphics version) or you can point Plucker at local webpages. There is also a Plucker version for OS/2.

Progect is an excellent project manager. It has become one of my very favorite apps. Very powerful and easy to use.

MegaWiki joins just about all of your documents with a hypertext system. Just put a set of brackets around a word or phrase, double click and jump. This is an amazing thing. MegaWiki requires a hack manager. If the documentation is too obscure for you, try joining the MegaWiki Yahoo Group.

Back in 1974 I used a time sharing system on a mainframe to run BASIC. Now I can run a much better BASIC, SmallBASIC while I ride the subway to work. This is a cool thing.

ThumbSketch lets you make small technical drawings. Object oriented.

Kalk is a very full featured RPN calculator.

The ASCII pop hack will pop up an ASCII chart and let you paste characters into your underlying application. Requires a hack manager.

Hack Managers

You should install just one hack manager.

EVPlugBase is a hack manager with a nice interface. Development has stopped on this hack manager.

X-Master. "X-Master is a free 100% compatible successor to HackMaster which fixes some bugs and offers various improvements, both technical and in the user interface." Works under English and Japanese versions of PalmOS..

My Kind Of Fun

IR Beaming

Send notes and drawings between PalmOS devices (via IR) with Beamer

Uni-Chat, by the author of Uni-Matrix is a text only beamer that does not require a persistant connection " you can just float around with your Palm and enter the text and then when sending point it once to the receiving device." Very cool and reliable.

Matrix (the movie) fans need to get Matrix (a sort of PalmOS screen saver). Take the red pill and have fun.

ZenGarden Tend a dry garden, but of course there is no save...

Setup Suggestions

Get powerful PIM functions at the touch of a button

This setup will let you start your device by pressing the Calendar button, which will show you Today. Press the same button again to get A5. The button will toggle between Today and A5. You can leave the other hardware buttons set to the PIM functions (Address Book, To-do, Memo) and put your favorite apps in Today's launcher. You can tap through from A5 into your preferred datebook. You can always access your favorite launcher by tapping the "Home" silkscreen button.

  1. Install A5 and Today on your device.
  2. assign A5 to your hardware "Calendar" button:
    1. From your launcher select "Prefs".
    2. Select "Buttons" from the Prefs pull-down menu.
    3. Tap on the drop-down list next to the picture of the calendar button and select "A5".
  3. If you use a datebook other than "Datebook" (e.g., Datebook+), enter the "creator ID" of that program in A5's "Items" dialog from the "Options" menu. The creator ID for Datebook+ is "HsDB". You can use LauncherIII's info display to find the creator ID of any program.
  4. Select "Map to Date Book-button" under Today's "Preferences".
  5. Activate Today's launcher (pull down the "Options" menu and select "Preferences". Click on the "Launcher" button and check the "Show Launcher" item. Use the five drop-downs to assign applications to Today's launcher.

Get a large clock display and an appointment list at the touch of a button

This will let you access a large format clock and a list of your appointments for today by holding down the "Memo" hardware application button. A normal press of the button will still bring you to the app that you have assigned to that button. If your device was off, it will turn off again when you release the button.

  1. Install ClockPop on your device.
  2. Open your hack manager to access ClockPop's settings.
    1. Tap on "Memo" under "Trigger Button".
    2. Check "Appointments" and anything else (e.g. Battery Info) that you want ClockPop to display.
    3. Tap "Done".

Get a choice of calculators with a single stroke

You can put two calculators on the "calculator" silkscreen icon. Tap to get your favorite (powerful) calculator and swipe from the calculator icon to the screen to pop up a simple four-function calculator.

  1. Install a calculator on your device. (I use Kalk.)
  2. Assign your calculator to the silkscreen calculator icon:
    1. From your launcher select "Prefs".
    2. Select "Buttons" from the Prefs pull-down menu.
    3. Tap on the drop-down list next to the picture of the calculator button and select your calculator.
  3. Install Snapcalc on your device.
  4. Open your hack manager to access Snapcalc's settings.
    1. Next to "Activate by" tap "Swipe"
    2. Select "Calc" in the "From" pulldown
    3. Select "Screen" in the "To" pulldown
    4. Set any other options you like. I use "1+2x3=7" so I get proper precedence for algebraic expressions.
    5. Tap "OK".


A great place for free software is FreewarePalm. Their site could use a good search engine, though. MemoWare has lots of free documents for PalmOS readers. Make sure you get documents in the correct format for your reader.

DocReader runs on Windows and will let you make PalmDOC files. (Readable, for example, by CSpotRun, above.)
Makedoc does the same thing but runs on OS/2.
OS/2 users will be interested in PalmPilot and OS/2.

Handheld Learning "is dedicated to the use of handheld technologies in education for leading, teaching, and learning."

11 October 2003