If you’ve spent money on a new PC, the last thing you want to do is pay out yet more cash on buying software. Thankfully, there are many free applications on offer which will do the things you want and not cost you a penny. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because these applications are free they are in some way second best: you can get some really top-quality programs at no cost.
Most people need an office suite, whether they need to type documents, crunch numbers in a spreadsheet or create presentations. LibreOffice is a complete open-source office suite that gives you all of the functionality you need at zero cost. What’s more, it’s compatible with the latest Microsoft Office document formats, so you’ll have no problem exchanging documents with other people or working on files you’ve brought home from the office.
All computers need protection from the threats that lurk out on the internet, but there’s no need to pay for an expensive internet security suite in order to get it. Avira has a smart interface offering automatic updates and scans to ensure your protection is always up to date, plus it won’t have a severe impact on your system’s performance.
Downloading the desktop version of the popular messenger application WhatsApp lets you keep in touch with your contacts from your computer as well as from your phone. There are versions for Windows and Mac systems, and it syncs with the mobile version on your phone so you always see the most up-to-date feeds.
Microsoft is justifiably proud of its new Edge browser supplied with the latest versions of Windows, but good as it is, Edge still can’t beat Chrome when it comes to web browsing. It’s fast, stable, easy to use, can sync your settings between devices, and you can extend its capabilities with a plethora of add-ons.
Many of us have accumulated large libraries of music and videos on our computers, and these can be hard to manage with some of the standard tools. MediaMonkey can manage more than 100,000 files without grinding to a halt, rip CDs, download music and podcasts and more. There’s an Android version too which can sync with your PC to share media between devices.
Professional photo-editing apps are expensive and tend to be loaded with features that the average person will never use. Paint.NET is a free alternative that’s easy to use and offers all of the tools you need to crop, zoom, modify and edit photos as well as letting you exercise your own artistic skills by drawing and painting on the screen.
PDF files have become an industry standard for sharing documents because it ensures the recipient sees them exactly as they were sent. Whilst most people turn to Adobe Reader to open these files, Foxit Reader offers a fully featured alternative that can not only view PDFs but create and edit them, add annotations, share them in the cloud and protect you from any security vulnerabilities that might be embedded in files you receive.
As with photo editors, video-editing programs tend to be expensive and complex. Lightworks, though, is a powerful award-winning video editor that’s completely free. It can handle the latest high-definition formats, including 4K, and there are plenty of tutorials on its website to help you get to grips with the program’s features.
Setting up a new PC and installing all the software you need can be a bit of a chore, but not if you use Ninite. This clever program lets you select the free programs you want to use – including most of the ones we’ve listed here – and will automatically download and install the latest versions for you.
While a program like Avira will help protect your PC against infection, it’s always best to have a second line of defence in the event of a problem. Malwarebytes is designed to detect and eliminate any rogue files that may have crept onto your PC, including zero-day threats that may escape other programs.