Free software dominates the PC industry. Paid packages may seem like the best option in general, but it’s the simple apps that make the life of a normal PC user.
Windows owes a big thank you for the dedication and skill of the open-source community. They see a problem, find something they want to do, and go ahead and do it, offering the software and the blocks that put it together in the world when they’re done. Thank you, friends. Switch and improve the next generation of software. Other free apps were born out of competition between the giants of the business, but we don’t complain when we get great free software.
The free PC software below will make your life better by making your PC more efficient. We prepare you to try new things, create more, break the limits of the format, have fun. Let’s go for free: we’ve explored the web, gathered our colleagues, and silenced a multitude of competitors to compile this guide to the best free software ever made for Windows and, in many cases, even Linux.
Photo editing: GIMP
About Photoshop that you can get without paying a small fortune to use Photoshop itself, Gimp is packed with features and is capable of a wide range of photographic manipulation and artistic endeavor. It is also much more refined than it was a few years ago, with the frequent accidents of a bygone era. Only the slightly extravagant interface remains to remind you that this is open-source software.
Natural paint: Krita
Now 20 years old, Krita is a toolbox for natural painting, perfect for everyone, from artists to cartoonists and beyond. It includes essential elements such as stabilized brushes, a contextual palette, an enveloping texture mode, and a complete animation interface. There are nine individual brush motors, each customizable and organized to help you quickly grab the right tool. Choose the paid Gemini version on Steam ($ 9.99) if you are swinging a convertible tablet and want to support the project.
Video editor: Lightworks
If you’re looking for professional-quality video editing, Lightworks – legitimately used to cut real Hollywood movies, like The Wolf of Wall Street – is an incredible choice for zero dollars. You’re limited to 720p output on the free level, but everything else is present and correct, from advanced non-linear editing to a multitude of color grading and effects tools. The learning curve is steep, but there is a vibrant community ready to help you if you need suggestions.
Music player: MusicBee
No matter what the size of your music library, MusicBee can manage it, with minimal RAM footprint, making this beautiful customizable player/manager perfect for even the lowest laptop. You can edit your sounds with surround scaling, ASIO and WASAPI support, and a 15-band equalizer, and even use these old WinAmp plug-ins if you need to. This pile of trash you call an MP3 collection will also be completely labeled and organized …
YouTube Downloader: Freemake Video Downloader
Downloading from YouTube is not strictly kosher, but nothing is permanent on the main Internet demonetization platform. It’s worth preparing if there’s a video you can’t live without, especially if your data plan doesn’t cover the streaming of your Spiderman / Elsa children’s favorite weird getaways when you desperately want to ‘they are silent for two seconds. Freemake’s multithreaded app is super simple, super-fast, and it can suck up YouTube videos as well as content from Vimeo, Facebook, and beyond.
Audio editor: Audacity
Active development means that this faithful audio has recently seen a bunch of new features added, and there are others in the works. Not that it necessarily needs a lot of changes: despite a rather robust interface, say, the power of Audacity for multitrack audio manipulation is unmatched in free media, and it’s also an extremely stable way of recording from a microphone. Of course, now that it can natively play MIDI files, you will be too busy looping canyon.mid to make a new recording.
Video player: VLC Media Player
VLC is a brilliantly honest free software. When its creators were offered tens of millions of dollars to stifle the application in advertisements, they refused: it is open-source, proud of it and the envy of the world of multimedia players, thanks to its solid compatibility with almost all multimedia formats. It can even manage flows on several protocols and it is fully extensible. That said, everything important is built in from the start – no codec pack required.
Audio streaming: Spotify
Despite the fact that it takes place around an increasingly competitive streaming playground, Spotify is still the king of the jungle gym. It has the largest library, best interface, and its OGG format files sound almost flawless, despite its lack of official high-resolution audio support. Admissions can be a bit repetitive and cumbersome if you don’t pay for a paid account, but that’s the price of free.
Vector image editor: Inkscape
You don’t have much choice if you need to create scalable vector graphics on a budget. You can request a subscription to use Adobe Illustrator, or you can download Inkscape, very mature, and full of features. There is no real happy intermediary. Good job, then, that Inkscape is so capable, with support for blurring, gradients, multi-path editing, and exporting to any format you may need.
Video manipulation: handbrake
When you need a video in one format but it is stubbornly in another, you have to transcode. Handbrake supports a massive list of input and output formats, with profiles included for a multitude of popular devices, and is happy to convert frame rates and add effects along the way. Its key feature, however, is batch processing: drop a video collection, deactivate it, and it will tell you when it has completed a file with your freshly converted media.
Software removal: PC Decrapifier
Whether you’re cleaning up a new PC from its preinstalled bloatware or downsizing an existing machine to get rid of things you really don’t need, the PC Decrapifier gets the job done quickly and it makes it easy. no other package is as knowledgeable about the horrible software that manufacturers so carefully include, and the safety of their excision – although you don’t use it often, it is certainly one of those portable apps that you will need on your stick toolbox stick.
System cleaning: CCleaner
Windows is, among its many other jobs, as a discounted janitor. Sure, it gives a good show: it’s full of tools, and it claims they will clean up your operating system, but it’s not clear. It doesn’t go as far as it could and often leaves dirt around the edges. For the rest, you need something heavy, like CCleaner, which can remove registry artifacts, files remaining after uninstalling, and much more.
Antivirus: Bitdefender Antivirus Free
No matter how you cut it, no matter how careful you are, you can’t get by without installing an antivirus. If you’re free, choose something with a low system load, minimal amounts of notification spam, and a decent engine behind it. The latest Bitdefender update fits the bill: it is ultra-efficient against malware and lightens resources, with a simple interface that takes care of the task. Try Avira instead if you want a little more control.
Anti-malware: Malwarebytes free
Admittedly, the free tier of Malwarebytes doesn’t do much – it’s not a preventative measure, it won’t distract you from the wealthiest corners of the web, and it can’t do anything against zero-day malware threats to unless you make the money pony. What it does, however, is precisely what you need to run it once you think you’ve gotten under a terrible malware threat, and it will kill this annoying infestation until that she is indeed dead.
Password manager: Dashlane
If you have never used the same password for several sites because you do not trust your memory, you are in the minority, and if you found this password yourself, chances are that he is not sure somehow. The use of Dashlane suppresses the fallibility of the human brain. Remember a master password, and you’ll never even need to know the complex and almost unshakeable passwords it automatically generates and types into web forms on your behalf – even Dashlane himself doesn’t know them. not.
File destruction: eraser
You probably already know that deleting a file doesn’t actually delete it. It is only when his little corner of disk space is reused that his data really disappears, and even then, there can be a trace of it to be recovered legally. The eraser ensures that the files you want and really delete are completely destroyed, using specially selected byte patterns on multiple passes to remove all digital memory from these existing files.
System protection: unchecked
The most common cause of malware infestation is likely to be inattention – clicking on an apparently innocent installer, accidentally skipping the page where it offers to install a brilliant browser toolbar, and then cursing itself. Unchecky doubles up: it unchecks these dirty boxes (as you would expect from its name), and also sniffs untrusted installers, alerting you when you are about to accept an offer of questionable value.
File recovery: Recuva
No matter if you accidentally deleted a file, formatted a drive, or suffered some horrible crash, Recuva can try to scan your drive and recover your data in one piece. It’s not foolproof, but if you have the time (and your hard drive has enough life) to let it run a deep scan, you’re more than likely to see results. It will also perform a secure replacement if you are looking to do the opposite.
Backup: EaseUS ToDo Backup Free
Selective, automatic, and simple. The EaseUS backup solution is probably the sanest we have seen. You can plug in an external drive (or point it to a NAS), and just set and forget – it periodically creates an incremental backup of your selected folders (or those it chose using its smart backup function), without no more involvement on your part. If you want to make a more specific backup, you can, and restoring later is incredibly easy.
PDF reader: Sumatra PDF
Adobe does not need to have a PDF reading monopoly. The format is much more widespread than it once was, and there are smaller, faster, and more versatile readers than, uh, reader – SumatraPDF being the best of them. It has a deliberately simple user interface because you are supposed to focus on reading rather than buttons, and also includes full support for rendering of most formats of e-books and comics, as well as XPS and DjVu files.
Email client: eM Client
One of the cleanest email packages on the market, working with POP3, SMTP, and all other email delivery technologies, the free version of eM Client really only limits the number of accounts you can use – all other features correspond to its pro-level. This includes PGP integration, so you can sign or encrypt your messages securely, as well as advanced contact management, importing from other messaging applications, and a chat client that supports protocols for the most common instant messaging.
File synchronization: Dropbox
Keeping files synchronized between your many PCs and an online player is a simple way to stay organized and secure, and it’s not without its options. Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Box, even Mega, they all give you a local folder that automatically mirrors one online. We favor Dropbox for this task, mainly because it seems to be the most responsive and sensible way to magically clone your stuff. This is why Dropbox was designed: limited storage space is damned.
Media burner: CDBurnerXP
Optical media is a progressively more marginal form of storage, but it’s not dead yet, and the flexibility to do more than Windows’ own built-in burning tools is essential. CDBurnerXP, which shows its lineage in its name, can burn anything – you can even use it to burn HD DVDs if you can find the hardware – and it can also create and convert ISO files. Ideal for backing up backups.
Franz does not actually offer its own messaging system, but it does just about all other protocols. Configure your Franz account, add the services and usernames you want to use, and they will be replicated to the machine to which you will then connect. Get your Slack, Hangouts, Skype, and even WhatsApp all in one place, and stop running away from this person who won’t be traveling on the network that other friends are using.
The big advantage of being the biggest name in your domain, as Evernote surely is, is integration. There are so many other web services linked to it that you often don’t need to take notes directly – just drag the content you are interested in to onto your Evernote, and it’s there when you want to remember it, organize it in notebooks, etc. use it later. You can synchronize the basic free account with two devices.
Utility configuration: Ninite
Efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to Ninite. If you are assembling a new machine and want it to be filled with free apps, Ninite can provide them, including most of the apps shown here, in one convenient installer. Just check the boxes on the site, download your custom executable and launch it to get the latest versions of the most popular applications installed with just one click. No choice, no option, just clean up your favorite stuff.
Virtual machines: VirtualBox
It’s pretty remarkable that VirtualBox is free, especially since it belongs to a company as large as Oracle, but the frequently updated virtual machine environment is essential if you want to tinker with Windows installations in the sandbox, test Linux distributions or do all kinds of shenanigans that it might be useful to go back or stay separate from the rest of your PC. It is highly configurable and you can even configure your own virtual networks.
System information: HWiNF064
If you have a problem with your PC – or even if you don’t have one – it’s helpful to know exactly how it works. HWiNF064 is a diagnostic tool that can be used for everything from a brief overview of your system components to a deep dive into the tiny operations of your PC. You can also use it for real-time monitoring, keeping an eye on the condition of problematic components, and predicting failures based on its results.
Compression: 7 zips
We find it quite amazing how many people have the endless free trial of WinRAR installed when 7-zip does the archiving and unarchiving job with such skill and doesn’t care about reminder screens. In addition, the .7z format, which uses AES-256 encryption and a very high compression rate, is both smaller and generally faster than using.ZIP or.RAR to overwrite your files.
While many of the more advanced features of full office suites are missing, these are usually things you shouldn’t be using an Office package for anyway. Google docs, along with sheets and slides, offer a winning combination of solid core functionality, constant accessibility, integration with online storage, and companion mobile apps, which (clumsily) provide you with the same functionality on your phone. You can import and export in the format of your choice – what don’t you like?
One of the many successors to the original Microsoft Office StarOffice alternative, OpenOffice (passed to Apache after the former owner, Oracle, abandoned the project) contains a full suite of software, ranging from basic word processing/spreadsheet/triumvirate presentations with software specially designed for vector drawing, presentation of mathematical formulas and database. If you don’t pay for the Microsoft suite, it will do the job.
LibreOffice is, somewhat naturally, just like OpenOffice – although the two packages have followed different development lines since mid-2013, they are based on the same code and keep the same naming convention (and, in most case, a very similar interface) for their six central applications. It is up to you to decide which free office branch you follow; ignoring the frequent quarrels that separated the two (and the other StarOffice fork NeoOffice), they are just as capable as each other.