Free alternatives to Microsoft Word, Photoshop, and more – USA TODAY
Kim Komando helps us to discover the free alternatives to Microsoft Word, Photoshop and more.
For years, people have grumbled about the price of software. Adobe products have always been expensive, and many customers were agitated when the company shifted to âCreative Cloud,â which meant a monthly or annual subscription. Meanwhile, Microsoft Office is a staple for computers everywhere, but the price tag often irritates people who just want a decent word processor.
Luckily, there are lots of free substitutes, and there are plenty of reasons people may turn to them. Some folks just canât afford mainstream software. Others are starting new businesses and donât want to invest in expensive programs that they can essentially get for free. Still, others are trying out new media for the first time, such as digital photography, digital audio or video, and they want to learn the basics before buying expensive packages.
Whatever your reasons, youâll find a wide range of software alternatives. In years past, âalternativeâ programs usually meant âlousy.â Youâd end up with something buggy, watered-down, and incompatible with other services. Nowadays, thatâs no longer the case. Many programs are nearly as sophisticated as their expensive inspirations, and some users might argue that these offerings surpass them.
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For decades, Microsoft Office has dominated homes and businesses around the world. The Office suite has everything you need: a word processor, spreadsheets, presentations, and email.
But many customers and college-bound students are surprised when their new Dell or HP doesnât have Office installed. Theyâve already shelled out money for a new computer, and now they have to spend another $150 for the software to make it useful.
Thatâs where LibreOffice comes in. This free, open-source software has what Microsoft Office has, plus some perks, such as templates and extensions. The word processor, called âWriter,â can handle documents from Microsoft Word, and the rest of the LibreOffice suite can upload and modify files from their corresponding Office programs.Â Learn more about LibreOffice.
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Microsoft publisher, Adobe InDesign
If youâre a professional designer, youâve probably invested in heavy-hitting software like InDesign, because that has become the industry standard. But if youâre good at making brochures or newsletters, and you donât want to subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud, consider Scribus. The program gives you all kinds of easy-to-use design options, from business cards to magazines.Â ReadÂ more about Scribus.
Outlook is very handy for electronic communication, and entire organizations turn to this program to support their email servers. But Mozillaâs Thunderbird is a free, powerful, lightweight email service that easily rivals its Microsoft counterpart.Â Read more about Mozilla Thunderbird.
Quicken and Quickbooks Pro
Business owners are going to want the best accounting software. For complex number crunching, youâll want something powerful and intuitive, and Quicken and Quickbooks Pro are pretty much that.
But for personal finances, you may enjoy AceMoney Lite, a free program that handles investment tracking, bill reminders, and general checkbook balancing. This program is designed for individual households, so you donât get bogged down in abstruse functions you donât need. Click here to get AceMoney Lite.
Thereâs also GnuCash, which is great for home budgets but can maintain serious bookkeeping as well. If you need a free program for invoicing, accounts receivable, payroll and shipping, GnuCash is equipped to tackle all of these as well.
Letâs face it: Photoshop is an overwhelming program, and unless youâre a graphics pro who is really particular about your photos, or you want to manipulate your images in clever ways, thereâs no reason to have all those powerful features.
A free alternative is GIMP, which enables you to heavily edit photos, create original artwork, and even help design websites. GIMP will never be as respected as Photoshop, but the software is very impressive and similarly complex.
If itâs too complex, thatâs not a problem. More on free photo editors that are beginner-friendly.
As more people record their own songs and podcasts, fledgling recording artists all want to know: How do they edit their work to make it presentable? Most people arenât satisfied to post raw sound files to the internet, but Pro Tools and Audition are expensive.
The reigning champion, after all these years, is still Audacity. This free, open-source software has helped many people make the transition into digital audio. It doesnât have nearly the options of Pro Tools, but youâll learn the basics of setting levels and mixing tracks. For simple projects with strict budgets, Audacity is a great option.
Avid and Premiere
What do âThe Kingâs Speech,â âBruce Almighty,â and âRoad to Perditionâ have in common? They were pieced together with a video editing program called Lightworks. Many Hollywood editors swear by it, and although they used the professional edition, the basic version of Lightworks is available for free.
Considering how expensive video editing software can get, Lightworks is a shocking alternative to blockbuster programs like Avid or Premiere.Â Read more about Lightworks.
What are some other deals you can find on software necessities? Be sure to listen or download my podcasts, or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts. Â