I am regularly asked to recommend a piece of software to fulfil certain tasks by customers, friends and family so they can pop out and buy it. I normally end up pointing them in the direction of a free download online that I have been using for years. So today I am going to share with you my list of top downloads that (in my humble opinion) all computer users should have installed.
Whilst it lacks the advanced features of a programme like Adobe Photoshop, this little beauty is capable of a fantastic amount of image manipulation. In addition to standard features like colour filling and line/shape drawing Paint.net has a host of other features like it’s magic wand for selecting certain colours and colour graients. There are also a whole series of after effects to enhance your photos or stylize them further. The majority of the tools in this programme have a variety of settings so the effect can be as subtle or blatant as you please.
You can download Paint.net here.
Out of all of my usual recommendations the one that is usually met with the most shocked expressions and scepticism is AVG Free. Sadly it seems the idea of getting software for free and getting software of sub-standard quality are intrinsically linked in our brains as consumers. However as AVG have been specialising in computer security software for over 20 years it shouldn’t surprise you to learn this is an excellent piece of software to protect your computer with. Granted a paid version is available with extra features is available but to me the benefits to not justify the purchase.
You can download AVG Free here.
Open office is a free alternative to Microsoft Office which quite simply has never let me down. It contains a word processor, spreadsheet programme, presentation maker, 3D graphics package, database programme and an equation editor. Of course this is not a Microsoft products so the names are different, for example what you have come to know as Word is called Writer and Excel is Calc. Ironically Open Office bears a much closer resemblance to the Microsoft Office I grew upo using and is certainly a lot more intuitive than Microsoft’s latest offerings. This coupled with the fact the most recent version is fully compatible with Office 2007 file types and has had a much needed speed increase means there has never been a better time to download yourself a copy.
You can download Open Office here.
Firefox and Chrome are alternatives to using Internet Explorer as your internet browser. It amazes me how many people I speak to think that clicking the little blue ‘e’ on their desktop opens the internet and are completely unaware of any alternatives (this probably goes a long way to explain how IE still controls three quarters of the browsing market. Which you should choose if you decide to go for as an alternative is debatable as whilst both Firefox and Chrome offer greater speed Firefox has known stability issues and Chromes latest build has a couple of security vulnerabilities.
You can download Firefox here and Google Chrome here.
Advanced System Care
ASC is the best way I have found to speed up a PC by far. Not only is it easy to set up and use but it doesn’t put too much of a strain on your system resources so you can leave it chugging away in the background whenever you please. You simply tell it to do the kind of scan that best suits you and them it comes back with the results and asks for your permission before it removes any potential problems. I have been caught out a few times when I have gone back to a website and found my username and password forgotten by both me and the computer as a result of a clean but I can’t blame ASC for it really. The only real gripe I have is the frequency with which I have had to re-install it doe to updates, but it is a small price to pay for the quality of the software.
You can download Advanced System Care here.
Whilst all of these downloads are free all of the developers involved in making them available to us still need to eat. So if you can spare a few quid to show your appreciation please do and if you can’t be sure to recommend them to your friends/family so the word can spread.
If you have anything to say about any of the programmes above or have any other suggestions please let us know in the comments below.