Great software doesn’t always cost a fortune. There are a multitude of free PC programs available free of charge that can make your life easier and improve the way you work and play on your computer.
You might be wondering why developers would give away their software, that in many cases costs thousands of dollars, absolutely free… well, this happens for a good reason. The companies and developers that make these wonderful programs hope to build interest in their products by giving them away for free, or at least a “lite” version. Their intent is to get you to fall in love with their particular software in hopes that you will upgrade to the full version. Many times all the developer is looking for is a “donation” for the full version. In some cases they will sell advertising on the free version in order to generate revenue. Often ties all the developer is looking for is the recognition from developing the program.
The types of programs that you can download for free range from word processing to graphic design and everything in between. Below we will take a look at some of what I think are the best free PC programs that can rival any of the expensive programs.
It seems that you cannot pick up an electronic device that doesn’t have a camera built into it. And with the instant access to digital pictures and the love affair we have with sharing them, social media sites like Facebook and Instagram see users in the millions… but often the picture taken needs a little bit of “tweaking” to make it perfect. It used to be that if you wanted to adjust the color, add a cool filter or just crop a photo, you had to invest in a professional, difficult to use program like Photoshop, which costs hundreds of dollars. Well, those days are over.
Here are a few photo editing programs that will get the job done and have a pretty short learning curve.
GIMP, short for GNU Image Manipulation Program. GNU indicates it started as part of the GNU Project to create free, open-source software. Since its debut in 1996, GIMP has been continually updated, recently hitting version 2.8.6. GIMP can do many of the tasks and has a lot of the same tools as Photoshop. Although GIMP is not well suited to the novice user, it does offer an alternative to the extremely expensive Photoshop. GIMP offers layers, special effects, basic brushes and tools similar to Photoshop.
When it comes to the basic edits, PicMonkey has it all, and you don’t even have to log in to the site to use them. Crop, rotate, resize, and sharpen; it’s all there. The special effects have funky names in keeping with PicMonkey’s personality, and there are templates for making collages of multiple photos… there’s even a PicMonkey Facebook app.
According to PicMonkey’s website, PicMonkey makes creative tools for photo editing and graphic design because we want you to rock the universe. We want your images to show your creativity, your style, your spot-on brilliance.” PicMonkey will allow you to edit a photo on any desktop browser that supports Flash.
Fotor is everywhere and offers a simplicity any image editing newbie will appreciate. The options for images are clearly spelled out (not just with esoteric toolbar buttons), it’s easy to compare the before and after images, and the available effects are the usual fun. (There’s even tilt-shift and collage building.) It’s perfect for use on handhelds and tablets, as well as the desktop.
Word Processing / Office Suite
When you think word processing you likely think Microsoft Office. Well, here are a few programs that you can download, for free, and perform many of the tasks that Office can.
Apache OpenOffice is a practical alternative to Microsoft Office – even if you need it for professional use. It can do just about anything Office can.
Apache OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.
Jarte is a word processor based on the Microsoft WordPad. It can be run directly from a USB flash drive.
The Jarte word processor relieves that problem by including only the features likely to be needed by real people. Jarte is designed for students, writers, small business people, and home users. But what really makes Jarte special is the unique way it makes the features that are included easily accessible.
According to the Jarte site, “Jarte may be the best word processor available for mobile PCs. Jarte takes up very little space on your SSD or hard drive, it runs quickly and efficiently, and Jarte’s compact display is perfect for small screen PCs. Jarte supports touch screen gestures, such as finger swipe scrolling and pinch zoom, for use on tablet PCs such as Microsoft’s Surface Pro. Jarte is an ideal word processor for mobile PCs!”
Security / Antivirus
Going without antivirus protection is just not an option in these days of cyber-attacks. According to PC Magazine on line, “Even if you don’t care about your own computer, leaving it unprotected could let cyber-crooks turn it into a zombie minion and force it to participate in DDoS attacks. Right now, if you have any computers without an antivirus, you need to install protection,” and nothing could be truer… but you don’t have to pay a fortune for great protection.
avast! 4 Home Edition is the most trusted name in antivirus, actively protecting more than 200 million PCs, Macs and Androids.
I use the free version of avast! on all of our devices from our home PC to our tablets and smart phones. avast offers a free version that includes the essentials to keep you protected in addition to two other paid versions that offer more bells and whistles. I have found that the free version does a wonderful job and provides the level of security that I require.
Coming in second to avast, in my opinion, is AVG Anti-Virus. AVG Anti-Virus offers free anti-virus protection that blocks viruses, spyware and other malware, Link protection, anti-spam features and a firewall that blocks hackers so you can surf and shop the web safely.
So, if you are looking for some powerful software to add to your computer and don’t want to spend a fortune for it, have no fear, there are plenty free options out there that will surely meet or exceed your needs.