Free software: five free alternatives to paid software

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Purchasing computer software can be necessary, but it can also cost a fortune, with frequent updates to new versions hitting your hip pocket. What if there was a free alternative? Here are five:

Free alternative to Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office is one of the most common software suites. Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and Powerpoint slides are all Microsoft Office files, and you will probably come across them quite often.

New computers sometimes come with Office software for free – otherwise buying the suite will cost you over $179. One of the best free alternatives is Open Office, a suite that includes Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw and Base (alternatives to Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Draw). Open Office is compatible with Microsoft Office, and even comes with a few features that aren’t available in other paid software suites.

Open Office is available for Windows, Mac, Linux and can be downloaded.

There are plenty of tutorials for using the software available here.

Free alternative to Adobe Photoshop
Photoshop is more or less the most powerful image-editing software out there, but it comes with a powerful price tag as well. Buying the full version upfront will cost you upwards of a thousand dollars. If your pockets aren’t that deep, Adobe also offer a monthly subscription, but you can get all the basic features for free with Pixlr, an online photo editor.

Pixlr is available on Windows, Mac and mobile, and can be accessed simply by visiting With the editor’s simple and straightforward layout, you’ll be able to edit your images and save the end result to your computer.

Free alternative to paid video players
There are dozens of different types of video files on the internet. Generally, they all do the same thing – play video – but the different types all have their own unique pros and cons.

Some allow for better quality, others save space on your computer and a few have no pros but stick around anyway. The biggest disadvantage of this situation is that often video-player software will only play one or two types of files, so to manage them all, you will need a host of programs or a paid program.

Luckily there is a free alternative. VLC media player can handle almost any video file you throw at it, and it’s available for free on Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix, iPhone, iPad and Android.

Download VLC media player.

Free alternative to Microsoft Outlook
Microsoft Outlook is a very common email client, but if want to purchase it or upgrade, it will likely cost you from $100 to $150. Luckily Mozilla, the company responsible for Mozilla Firefox, has a great free email client available called Thunderbird.

Thunderbird performs all the basic functions of Outlook, and there are even some features it includes that are left out of Microsoft’s popular client.

Download Thunderbird.

Free alternative to Windows
If your computer is feeling a little sluggish, you might be able to swap from Microsoft Windows to a free Linux-based operating system (OS). Ubuntu is one of the most user-friendly options available and it is entirely free. It can breathe new life into an older computer, as it is designed to run on older or low-end systems.

One great feature of Ubuntu is that if you want to try it out, you can put it on a DVD or USB drive and give it a test run on your computer. If you don’t like it, you can just take out the disc and go back to Windows.

You may find that some programs you use aren’t compatible with Linux, but as it’s a haven for free and open-source software, you’ll probably be able to find a free alternative. Visit the Ubuntu website to learn more.

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Written by ryanbo


Total Comments: 3
  1. 0

    I believe that Open Office is no longer available – it has been replaced by Libre Office.

    • 0

      I have been using Open Office for years and a quick Google search shows it’s still available (Apache Open Office) The Microsoft product became too expensive for me….it was fine years ago.



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