The days of floppy disks and CD-ROMS are well an truly over. Not only can we download most of our software online now, but the growth of the open-source market means we can usually find free alternatives to popular tools. These don’t always have the same features and functionality as their costly counterparts, nor are they as aesthetically pleasing. They do, however, get the job done and provide a cost-effective solution if you can’t afford the full-blown copyrighted software.
Photoshop is renowned for being brilliant but prohibitively expensive. GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an open-source alternative that has many of photoshop’s key features. You can use GIMP for image retouching, image composition and image authoring across several operating systems, including Windows, Mac and Linux.
Paint.net is a Windows-only paint program that offers foundation image editing features and is perfect for touching up digital photos.The software enables users to introduce layers, special effects and a range of other tools, as well as make use of the limited undo feature.
Audacity is a free cross-platform audio recorder and editor. As well as recording live audio, you can use it to convert tapes and records into digital files or CDs, edit different sound file formats, splice, cut, copy and mix sounds together and change the speed of recordings. Audacity is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X and Linux platforms.
VLC Media Player is a comprehensive multimedia player that will play practically any file format you throw at it. Music, video, devices, disks, webcams and different streaming protocols are all welcome and VLC often comes to the rescue when you get your hands on those awkward files that none of your other existing software will play. The media player runs on all platforms.
Word Processing and Office Packages
Open Office is one of the most popular open-source office packages around. Available for Mac and Windows, the software is compatible with most other major office suites, and contains Writer, a word processor, Calc, a spreadsheet, Impress, useful for creating presentations, and other office-related tools.
Libre Office is another productivity suite containing word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and database tools that are available for Mac and Windows. Mac users might also enjoy Bean, a word processor for OS that is designed to be as simple and uncluttered as possible.