I use all of the programmes below. Each of the highlighted headings are links that, when clicked on, will take you to the download area and description of the programmes. They are, in my view, stable, and on my machine as ‘must have’ pieces of freeware. This does not necessarily mean they are the ‘best’ of freeware. Before you comment – no they do not slow down my machine (an Asus A2H/L notebook with an Intel ® Celeron® CPU 2.40GHz with 512 MB RAM and 30GB drive). I should add that I am a stickler for daily computer disk maintenance. What maintenance takes in time is saved in the speed at which my machine subsequently operates. I use the hibernate feature and only do a full startup when new programmes are added or updates are downloaded. Each programme has been placed in a category for convenience. Minimal information is provided here – look at the site quoted for full information. Click the category below to go to the link for the software. Take particular notice of the size of the download – some programmes are large – don’t say you weren’t warned! If you are on a capped dialup it may be wise to go to your local Internet café and download to a flash drive or CD. I have also included in this posting some free newsletters I find useful. In a few cases more than one programme is used and recommended.
OpenOffice.org is a free and open source office suite, including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, vector drawing, and database components. It is compatible with Microsoft Office. It is available at www.openoffice.org (176 MB).
Cashbook Complete includes cashbook, invoicing, statements, contacts, budgets, projects, timesheets, graphs and a report writer. Imports bank statements. Free for personal use at www.acclaim.co.nz/download.htm (5MB)
Foxit is a free reader/viewer/printer for PDF documents. The programme is only 1.5 MB vs. Adobe at 28 MB. It runs instantly without installation. Get from foxitsoftware.com/download.htm
Sumatra PDF (800 Kb) is a slim, free, open-source PDF viewer for Windows. Sumatra at tinyurl.com/3baqno has a minimalistic design. It's small and starts up very fast.
PDF Creation online
Quickly and easily convert your documents into PDF on-line from anywhere in the world at pdfonline.com. Converts most common file formats to a PDF in minutes.
PagePlus SE is versatile and simple to use... With preset document layouts, automated templates, color schemes and artistic effects, this free download (19.5MB) from freeserifsoftware.com produces professional looking results.
PhotoPlus at freeserifsoftware.com/software/PhotoPlus/download.asp is a 36 MB free, powerful, user friendly, photo editing software program. You can enhance and alter the on screen appearance with a diverse toolkit of functions and effects. A full range of export options, plus powerful optimisation capabilities, round out this high performing photo editing software.
Image Management and Manipulation
Picasa (4.56 MB) at picasa.google.com/index.html helps you instantly find, edit and share all the images on your PC. Every time you open Picasa, it automatically locates all your pictures (even ones you forgot you had) and sorts them into visual albums. Picasa also makes advanced editing simple with one-click fixes. Picasa lets you email, print photos, make gift CDs, and post pictures on your blog.
ArtRage (2.74 MB) at ambientdesign.com/artrage.html is a fun and easy to use painting tool that lets you play with realistic paints on your computer. You can create your own paintings, load in photos and recreate them with oil paints, pencils, felt pens, or the other tools ArtRage has to offer.
Online Image Storage
Yahoo! Photos at photos.yahoo.com lets you arrange photos into albums and share them with nominated friends. You can E-mail pictures and send pictures as e-postcards. All for free.
Legacy 6.0 Standard Edition at legacyfamilytree.com allows you to preserve your genealogical information. Family trees can be recorded, displayed and reported in a variety of styles and formats. Legacy includes all standard genealogical reports, as well as calendars, timelines, questionnaires, research logs and a multitude of blank forms.
Ashampoo Burning Studio Free (5.6 MB) at snapfiles.com/get/burningstudiofree.html is a full featured CD/DVD/Blu-Ray burning suite that enables you to create data, music, video and audio discs. You can also create backups that span across multiple discs, rip music tracks from Audio CDs and create or burn disc images in ISO or BIN/CUE format. The task oriented interface makes it easy get started and spares you most of the technical details. Other features include automatic audio conversion from WAV, MP3, FLAC, WMA and Ogg files, disc copying, compressed file backup and restore, disk erasing, VCD/SVCD support, project burning and more. Free registration required after 10 days.
Audacity (2.5 MB) at audacity.sourceforge.net is a free audio editor and Audacity can record live audio, convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CD, edit many sound files.
* Cut, copy, splice, and mix sounds together.
* Change the speed or pitch of a recording.
* And more! See the complete list of features.
Firefox (5 MB) at mozilla.com/firefox has an intuitive interface and blocks viruses, spyware, and popup ads. It delivers Web pages fast. It’s easy to install and import your favorites. Useful features include tabbed browsing, Live Bookmarks, and an integrated Search bar.
Google at www.google.com stands out. Spend some time looking at the search rules. For random searching the Stumbleupon toolbar at stumbleupon.com is unsurpassed as an extension for your toolbar.
Thunderbird (6 MB) at mozilla.com/thunderbird delivers safe, fast, and easy email, with intelligent spam filters, quick message search, and customizable views.
The Natural Reader (9 MB) at naturalreaders.com/free_version.htm free version allows you to experience listening to emails, web surfing, reports or text on your PC.
Gmail is a great way to use an alternative email address. Find out about it at mail.google.com/mail/help/intl/en-GB/about.html . You have a massive (7 MB!) free storage capability. It is useful for holding files e.g. bookmarks and mail you wish to access from anywhere other than your own machine. Gmail is invitation only.
Voice over Internet (VOIP)
Skype (9.5 MB) at skype.com simple bit of software that lets you make free calls, via your computer, to your friends all over the world (if they also have Skype installed). It also allows cheap computer – land line or mobile calls from your computer at low per minute cost. Just plug in your headset, speakers or USB phone and start calling your friends. The calls have excellent sound quality and are secure. Best with broadband. The latest version also has video capability (requires a webcam).
Nvu (7.6 MB) at nvu.com is a web authoring system to rival programmes like FrontPage and Dreamweaver. Nvu (pronounced N-view, for a “new view”) makes managing a web site simple. Needs no technical expertise or HTML knowledge.
TinyURL at tinyurl.com is a free service that makes posting long URLs easier. By entering in a URL in the text field in the page address above, it will create a tiny URL that can be copied and pasted to your emails, web sites or blogs. No more long addresses to copy and paste.
Legacy Family Tree Maker (25.2 MB) at legacyfamilytree.com free version, includes all standard genealogical reports, as well as calendars, timelines, questionnaires, research logs and a multitude of blank forms and more.
Avast! 4 Home Edition (8.81 MB) at avast.com/eng/avast_4_home.html is a free complete antivirus solution for non business computers, fully able to find computer viruses, to create and check the integrity of programs installed, to test executed programs and opened documents, to test and check email and other functions.
The free SUPERAntiSpyware which checks for spyware and other malware on your system. NOTE thta the free version does not provide resident protection. For preventing spyware and other malware entering your system. Use as a backup to Windows Defender, software that helps protect your computer against pop-ups, slow performance, and security threats caused by spyware and other unwanted software by detecting and removing known spyware from your computer. Windows Defender features Real-Time Protection, a monitoring system that recommends actions against spyware when it's detected. It is automatically provided with Vista. Download from http://tinyurl.com/lk3sff
Everest Home Edition (4 MB) at majorgeeks.com/download4181.html is a freeware system information, system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for home PC users.
CCleaner (529 KB) at ccleaner.com is a freeware PC optimization tool that removes unused and temporary files from your system and cleans the registry automatically - allowing Windows to run faster, more efficiently and giving you more hard disk space.
JK Defrag (367 KB)
JK Defrag at kessels.com/JkDefrag is another free defragmentation programme that has excellent reviews.
PC INSPECTOR™ File Recovery (5.8 MB) at www.pcinspector.de/file_recovery/uk/welcome.htm .This programme recovers lost files and finds partitions automatically, even when the boot sector of your machine has become damaged or erased. Even when a file's header entry is no longer available, PC Inspector File Recovery can recover the file. It recovers files with the original time and date stamp.
7-Zip (821 KB) at www.7-zip.org is a file archiver with high compression ratio.
Optical character recognition (OCR)
Use SimpleOCR to add accurate character recognition capabilities to your custom software. Find it at simpleocr.com and NOTE – if you have Office 2003 it has a built in scanner and OCR component.
Selection of free newsletters
There are many other free newsletter sites but you can only handle so many.
Support Alert newsletter at techsupportalert.com each month reviews dozens of tech utilities in Gizmo Richards’ free Support Alert newsletter. Each month in Support Alert, you'll find some remarkable freeware as well as very best shareware and tech web sites. There is also a very useful low cost pay version.
Internet Fixes at internetfixes.com is a hard to describe site but the name says it all. A bit difficult to find your way around but the newsletter is useful.