The Internet is loaded with free software, but it seems to me, that most free software is either security related, or system related. There’s nothing wrong with that of course; but because freeware offerings are heavily weighted in favor of these types of applications, productivity applications tend to get lost in the fog.
As a consequence, you might think that you have to wander the aisles of your local computer store to find good quality productivity software. But, you don’t.
There’s a wealth of tried and tested free productivity software out in the wild blue of the Internet, that will meet virtually every need you’re likely to have.
Take a look at the following recommended free downloads and I think you’ll find that these applications will more than do the job.
Working with words:
OpenOffice.org 3 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.
If you want to go light on a word processor then AbiWord is for you. AbiWord, an open source application, has been designed to integrate perfectly with the operating system it runs on, and there are many, including Windows, Linux, Mac OS X (PowerPC).
There’s no need to worry about document compatibility issues with AbiWord since it can read, and write, all industry standard document types, including Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Office Open XML (MS Word 2007), Rich Text Format (RTF), HTML web pages, and many more.
WordWeb is a handy utility that gives you the definition, synonyms, and antonyms of any given word without requiring you to go online, though it can connect to the Internet for expanded functionality should you want it.
If you’re a writer, a student, or you just want to find the right word to get the right message across, then the free WordWeb Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows application will be invaluable.
Included are Merge, Split, Reorder, Encrypt, Decrypt, Rotate, Crop, Reformat, Header, Footer, Watermark, Images to PDF, PDF to Images, Form Fields Delete/Flatten/List, PostScript to PDF, PDF Information, Scan to PDF, and Create Transparent Image options.
Create PDF files faster with the only free PDF creator to support one-click, drag-and-drop PDF creation. Convert to PDF from any file you can print, including Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formats.
Interested in producing a family newsletter, a business newsletter, a company newsletter or an employee newsletter? Want to produce a clean, bright design that will enhance your newsletter’s message? Want to do it for FREE?
This neat little Desktop Publishing application includes a range of preset document layouts, automated templates, great color schemes and artistic effects, which will allow you to produce professional looking results.
Satisfy your creativity with drawing applications:
An Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format. Inkscape supports many advanced SVG features (markers, clones, alpha blending, etc.) and great care is taken in designing a streamlined interface.
It’s very easy to edit nodes, perform complex path operations, trace bitmaps and much more.
Blender 3D – Open Source Animation to the Max
Blender is an incredibly robust 3D software animation program. It’s been designed for modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging, skinning, animating, rendering, particle and other simulating, non-linear editing, compositing, and creating interactive 3D applications.
Google SketchUp is software that you can use to create 3D models of anything you like. Build models and add them to Google Earth. Most people get rolling with SketchUp in just a few minutes. Dozens of video tutorials, an extensive Help Center and a worldwide user community mean that anyone who wants to make 3D models with SketchUp, can. Redecorate your living room. Design a new piece of furniture. Model your city for Google Earth.
You can build models from scratch, or you can download what you need. People all over the world share what they’ve made on the Google 3D Warehouse. It’s a huge, searchable repository of models, and it’s free.
Working with photos:
At its most basic, it’s a photo manager and viewer. Fire up Picasa, and you can browse through all of your photos, organized by folder, as well as by the year they were stored on your hard disk.
But all that is just a start. It also has a full complement of editing tools, and lets you create CDs full of photos, as well as photo collages, screensavers, and posters. It will upload your files Google’s Web albums photo site, publish your photos to your Blogger blog, and plenty more as well.
With XnView you can import more than 400 graphic file formats then convert them to other formats such as GIF, BMP, JPG, PNG, multi page TIFF. As well, you can export more than 50 graphic file formats.
XnView doesn’t stop there however; it also provides you with more advanced features such as Web page creation, contact prints, multiple conversion (format and transformation), slide shows, screen capturing and twain support for scanners and digital cameras.
Web site creation:
If you’re looking to create that first web site using a WYSIWYG visual web page creator, and you want to do it for free, including web hosting, then this free service from Weebly will fill the bill admirably. With Weebly you control virtually every essential aspect of site design – and built-in integration with Google AdSense, allows you to deliver text and image ads that are specific to your site and your site content, if you choose.
Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. Definitely the best of breed.
A multimedia player that supports numerous audio and video formats. It also plays streamed video and audio content, live and recorded, authored worldwide.
Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. You can explore rich geographical content, save your toured places, and share with others.
Mind mapping software:
FreeMind is an open source mind mapping software that enables you to visualize ideas, projects, concepts, brainstorming, internet research or any other task that can benefit from a structured overview. You can create nodes with child and sibling nodes and add icons, clouds, notes and custom formatting for better presentation.
The nodes can be expanded or collapsed, or interactively linked to local files, other maps, online resources and more. You can also insert encrypted nodes or create encrypted maps for sensitive projects. The finished maps can be exported to HTML, clickable XHTML, Open Office document, image file and other formats.
Control your cash:
AceMoney Lite is a freeware personal finance manager. It has all the features of its big brother except multiple accounts management. As AceMoney, AceMoney Lite helps people organize and manage their personal finances quickly and easily. It supports all the features required for home or even small-business accounting needs.
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