The best free & cheap PC software
Don’t pay for another piece of expensive software before you read this.
Owning a computer can be awfully expensive. Whilst industry-leading software can often be costly, there are many free (or at least much cheaper) alternatives that won’t hurt your wallet. We have put together a list of some of our favourites:
Let’s start right at the top with your operating system (OS) – the underlying software that allows your computer to function and run apps. It’s what allows you to interact with your computer and tell it to do what you want. The most popular desktop OS in the world is Microsoft Windows, which is found on most PCs. Apple OS is used on Macs.
You are not however tied to using Windows – if you don’t want to pay to upgrade to the latest version, give Ubuntu or Linux a try. If you are already familiar with Windows, you will find that both of these platforms look and work in a very similar way to what you’re used to. They are both open-source and absolutely free.
We do not recommend letting yourself or your family loose on the internet without some sort of ant-virus protection – no matter how careful you are.
Most ant-virus companies offer a free, lightweight version of their software that you can use and update indefinitely without ever having to part with your cash. AVG, ZoneAlarm, Bitdefender, Avast and others offer free editions.
Microsoft Office may be the most famous and widely used, but there are several ‘own brand’ office suites that cost less and are fully compatible with their Microsoft counterparts. If you don’t want anything other than Microsoft, there are some sites on the web that allow you to purchase an Office subscription for a much cheaper price.
You can use Google Docs if you are always online and happy to keep everything stored in the cloud. If you prefer to keep your documents saved on your own PC, then there’s WPS Office, LibreOffice and OpenOffice. They are all free, they all contain equivalents to Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc. and they can all save documents in Microsoft formats (for example “.doc” for Word documents).
Top tip: Read this guide on taking a screenshot on PC.
Adobe Photoshop began life as a specialist tool only really used by professional graphic designers and those in the media. Over the years however it has become much more popular with casual users.
If you can’t afford to buy Photoshop outright or sign up for a monthly plan, you can always try GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). It’s a free image editing tool that can do much of what Photoshop can.
If you want to create and edit vector images, Inkscape is a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator.
If you can tolerate the ads, then the free version of Spotify is probably the best way to listen to all the music you want without any silly limitations.
There are other free services out there, each with there own unique gimmicks – such as curated playlists and social functionality. These include Pandora, Last.fm, Jango and SoundCloud.
Did we miss out anything good? Tell us in the comments.