Free software for Windows

Raffaello Tesi

Here’s a list of free computer programmes, which let you set up a computer with useful software without having to pay licence fees. Some of the programs are free as in beer, some others are also free as in freedom, some are open source. All of them are like Jennifer’s love: they don’t cost a thing.

Well, of course, if you use Windows you have to pay for its licence, so forget Jennifer: let’s say you don’t have to pay more than that.

  • Zipping: 7-zip (
    The free alternative to WinZip. And also open source.
  • Anti-Virus: AVG Free Edition (
    A good antivirus. Free for personal use.
  • Backup utility: DirSync Pro (
    Because making a backup of your files is the best way not to get desperate when your hard disk gets broken! This program has a lot of synchronising features. I prefer to create a mirror copy of the files on my memory stick. Open source.
  • Office suite: LibreOffice (
    Replacement of Microsoft office, that is Word, PowerPoint and Excel without any problem of compatibility, since it can save in its own format or in MS Office formats (.doc, .xls, etc.). And you can also save directly in .pdf. Open source.
  • Create .pdf files: PDFCreator (
    For converting documents into .pdf files from any programs (it installs itself as a printer).
  • Text editor: Notepad++ (
    After sticking for many years to TextPad, I found the open source answer in Notepad++. It has even more features!
  • File search: Agent Ransack (
    A great tool for finding files and information on your hard drive. It can search also for text inside the files and it has regex support. Freeware
  • Music player: Winamp (
    The good old Winamp music player. It can also play Real Audio and Video files (you have to install Real Alternative separately), as well as QuickTime (you have to install Quick Time Alternative separately). For these formats you need to install the Tara’s Real Audio Input Plugin (more info in the Winamp forum). Freeware.
  • Video player: VLC media player (
    It plays virtually any kind of video file seamlessly. Open source.
  • Telephone/chat: Skype (
    The internet phone. Although I use it mostly for chatting with friends. Freeware.
  • Internet browser/e-mail reader: SeaMonkey (
    This is my all-in-one Internet application (browser plus e-mail reader). Up-to-date version of the good old Netscape and the less old but same good Mozilla. Open source.
    If you don’t need an e-mail reader, you can go for Firefox.
    In either case, don’t foget to install the Adblock Plus plugin, it blocks automatically all the ads that show up in pages
  • Image manipulation (easy): Irfanview (
    For fast image manipulation (resizing pictures and stuff like that). Freeware.
  • Image manipulation (complex): The Gimp (
    Image editor. For more complex manipulations. The open-source answer to PhotoShop and similar.
  • Audio editor: Audacity (
    Digital audio editor. If you need to record your voice, music, radio, whatever you want. Open source.
  • Video editor: VirtualDub (
    For video editing and putting subtitles. Open source.
  • Auto-shutdown: Sleeper (
    Watching a film late at night? Listening to a chill-out web-radio to fall asleep? Running some script that’ll take a while to end? Here’s a small piece of software that will make his job pretty well. Open source.
  • Time-tracker: Hronos )
    A simple way to track the time you spend on the different applications you have on your computer.

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