Free and low-cost software is seriously awesome. Oftentimes, these programs can not only perform as well as a high cost program but can do the job better. I really like programs that are open-source – users know the things they don’t like and can edit them to fix it how they want. Here’s my list of great free programs:
FastStone Photo Resizer – I can quickly resize entire folders of photography. This comes in handy when I’m trying to quickly get a folder up to share. If I need to crop a photo first, I look towards IrfanView, another free program, to do basic edits of a photo before I turn into something a bit more advanced. I admit if Im trying to prep my photos for something major, I do in Photoshop, but I used IrfanView to prep the photos I gave my mom for X-Mas.
Mozilla Thunderbird – I’ve got Microsoft Outlook, but I don’t like it nearly as much as Thunderbird. Thunderbird doesn’t require as much RAM and is simple to install and use. Some folks may think it doesn’t look fancy enough, but it sends emails, recieves emails and has great tech support. Plus it is from the makers of Firefox, what could be better?
FileZilla – I swear by this FTP program. It is not resource intensive, can process huge numbers of files at once (I process about 150-300 files at a time usually), and can easily store ftp connections for future use.
doPDF – Forget downloading Adobe Acrobat Pro just to print things as a PDF. This program is very small and allows you to print anything as a PDF. It installs as a printer so just print as you normally would and choose doPDF as the printer instead of something else. I find it really helpful when I’m shopping online – I can print my confirmations and shipping info and store online instead of wasting paper. Or I can use it when I’m doing school work and send my professors PDFs instead of documents that can easily get corrupted.
IZArc – I was really bent on using WinZip – it was all I knew and I hadn’t found anything else to replace it. Until I found IZArc. This program is quick and works just like WinZip plus it’s free!
twhirl – I’m all over twitter, but I like the instant messenger like look of twhirl when I’m on my computer. Of course, there are lots of different twitter programs, this one is just the best and easiest one I like. I can change the colors easily and don’t follow so many people that this becomes burdensome.
Google Earth – What’s a cooler way to check out what the earth looks like and explore monuments and ruins than to use satellite imagery? Google Earth is pretty awesome for what it does. I like being able to see the overhead views of where I am and then zoom in as much as the program allows. Plus you can easily email others what you’re looking at. Very helpful if you’re trying to use topography for a project.
Picasa – I just started to use Google’s Picasa software but I really like it. It’s easy to organize all my photography and upload to the Picasa website. One day while in class I used it to regroup and upload 3 different albums to their website – awesome!
Avast – My choice of anti-virus programs. It’s professional grade and has worked better for me than McAfee or Norton. Catches problems as you browse the web and has a nice graphic interface to help you browse for problems on your own or set up regular checks. Always free for home users with free registration.
JAlbum – JAlbum is a pretty neat program with downloadable extras to create slideshows for your website. I used this for several batches of photos to create really cool displays of photos I had taken on trips. Really basic to use and self-explanatory for the most part.
Arachnophilia – When I need to work on my website, this is one of the several programs I know I can rely on. Having used it since I was in high school, it has remained pretty much the same – easy to use. It has tools to help those that are beginners or advanced. I like that it is now a Java based program so it’s usable on many machines.
Sunbird – Another Mozilla project, this allows you to create and print your own calendars as well as share with other people. Very simple to use, I even used it to do project calendars for my paid job. If you would rather not have a stand-alone calendar program, try the extension for Thunderbird called Lightning.