Over the years, I have brought all kinds of free software and open source software to your attention. There are many software options that can make your life a lot easier AND you don’t have to pay for them!
The Geek Girl’s Software Pack includes what I consider to be a solid set of free software that every computer user should have installed on their system – whether they are computer beginners or experts!
OpenOffice provides excellent Word, Excel and PowerPoint equivalents that are fully compatible with the Microsoft file formats. It is easy to use and has extensive support, including free templates. It also comes in a portable version for your flash drive.
I’ve said it several times and my opinion hasn’t changed – Pidgin is one of the best multi-client chat protocol programs on the market. I can chat with my friends on AOL, MSN, Yahoo, GChat, and many more – without having to run 2-3-4- or more chat clients at a time. It is also customizable and open source, so you can tweak to your heart’s content or use free plugins to add additional functionality. Pidgin is also available as a portable application.
IZArc provides support for most compressed and encoded file formats in a easy-to-understand interface that doesn’t annoy with popups or oddly phrased questions. It is powerful and puts the control back in your hands when it comes to compressing or encoding files.
doPDF is the replacement PDF creator to my first love, PDFCreator. doPDF, unlike some other PDF creators, is Vista compatible and has a straightforward interface that makes it easy to create PDF files from almost any file on your computer. It doesn’t require Ghostscript and the installation is fast. Click print, select the output directory and watch your PDF open in seconds!
FileZilla is a fast, feature-filled FTP program. Not only is it a quick install, but when you upgrade, it uninstalls the old version for you, but saves your settings! It also comes in a portable version for your flash drive.
Music lovers will love Media Monkey. It is a great alternative to iTunes or Windows Media Player – and it comes with skins, good support and a customizable interface. I use Media Monkey to manage my growing music collection as well as transfer files to and from my iPod. Plugins and the upgraded (pay) version make this program even more powerful – but out of the box, it is more than enough for the typical user. Read my full-length review of MediaMonkey – “Organize And Manage Your Music Collection With MediaMonkey” –at MakeUseOf.
CCleaner keeps my computer running fresh and clean – with clean and easy to use interfaces and the strength of an industrial sized computer junk cleaner! I only run CCleaner once or twice a week, which is often enough to help clear off the cookies, temp files, etc. and keep my laptop running smoothly.
Foxit Reader won a place in this lineup because it is fast, easy to use and powerful. It does exactly what it’s description says – reads PDF files – and does so quickly! By the time Adobe Acrobat Reader had loaded, I had already finished reading the same file in Foxit Reader! Foxit Reader also comes in a portable version.
IrfanView is probably all of the photo editing/viewing software that most of us need – you can crop and resize photos easily.This is one of the few times where most of us would say, “less is more.” If you need more functionality, there are free plugins that can be installed.
I record my podcasts with Audacity. This program is provides the functions I need to create a podcast – but it is wrapped in an easy-to-use interface and comes with excellent customer support. You can also use Audacity to record internet radio, other sounds and create ringtones. Audacity also has a portable version, so you can create podcasts and recordings anywhere!
And last, but definitely not least, is Firefox. I mention Firefox a lot here at ultimate geek girl because frankly, Firefox ROCKS! It is customizable with plugins and add-ons, it comes in a portable version for your flash or external drive, and it has a large community of followers that offer support from around the world!
Anything you’d include or exclude on this list? Let us know in the comments or send me an email!
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