I’ve tried to categorise some of the best software programs that I use under various headings. To download any of them, plug the name into Google. Some are free but you have to pay for others. If you have any others to suggest, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
- SKYPE – The most well known communications program around. Talk or video chat to your friend. Make official phone calls. Video conference with each other. Cheap rates too (cheaper than most landlines).
- CD BURNER XP – Despite its name, works well with Vista and Windows 7. Simple and easy to use interface. Even better than many of its equivalent ‘pay for’ software. Remember, it’s for burning discs (music and data), not for burning DVDs.
- DVD STYLER – This piece of software is for burning DVDs. Simple and easy to use interface. Even better than many of its equivalent ‘pay for’ software. Those of you who have Windows 7 will also have Windows DVD Maker – which is basic but works well too.
- FREEPLANE – free mindmapping programme.
- CAYRANET – Cayra.NET is a free mindmapping program. Mindmapping can be helpful when brainstorming or planning as it is easier to visualise ideas and to move them around.
- FREE MIND is another good program that does the same thing.
- BLUMIND – A new comer but very impressive. Great for building idea visualisations.
- DIA FOR WINDOWS – Dia is software for creating diagrams. It can be used to create relationship charts, flowcharts and network diagrams. There are symbols for diagrams in all sorts of areas from simple Logic circuits, to map symbols. These are all laid out in separate but easy-to-select menus
- INKSCAPE – This is a vector graphics program for creating drawings or manipulating photos. You can do some stunning stuff. A little complicated to learn at first but some excellent web tutorials on YouTube. Certainly recommended if you don’t fancy spending £500 for Adobe’s Illustrator!
- GOOGLE SKETCHUP Particularly good for 3D modelling – desigining your new kitchen, garden and so on. This program’s contineud FREE existence continues to upset developers of commercial equivalents.
- EDISON ENERGY SAVER – Edison is a tool that you can use to determine maximum energy saving from your computer, depending on use. You can configure a working day (when you leave the office), so that your system will go in to deep sleep so it conserves as much energy as possible. Go on…. help save our planet. You’ll probably save around £50 per year per PC!
- PC DECRAPIFIER – If you have bought a new computer recently and would like to get rid of some of the unnecessary and unwanted software, then this software is a tool for the job.
- ANT RENAMER (free) – Rename a large number of files all in one go.
- KEN RENAME is another good program that does the same thing.
- MICROSOFT MONEY The best money management program around. It can download statements from your bank account (if your bank account is microsoft money compliant – many banks are but some are not). The last update was in 2005 and remains perfect for today’s use too.
FREE SOFTWARE IN GENERAL
- DOWNLOADS.COM – The place to go to get downloads of a variety of software tools for achieving different things. Does Macs as well as PCs.
- TUCOWS.COM – Another site for getting downloads. Does Macs as well as PCs
- MAGIX MUSIC MAKER – A great piece of software to start creating computer generated music. Easy to use and you can even edit midi files from your keyboard.
- HIT ‘N’ MIX Software that can amazingly analyse a song and split it up into its component parts – eg vocals, bass etc. You can then play around with each component.
- NETWORK MAGIC – Takes the pain out of hooking up your home (or other) PC network wirelessly (including printers, scanners etc). Not free.
- LOG ME IN FREE An application that allows you to control another PC remotely over the web. Need to install it on both computers.
- SIMPLE OCR – An accurate and free simple OCR application. It includes a built in word dictionary which helps a program reach the recognition accuracy of 99%. It negotiates documents with images, retaining the pictures are required, and can be set up for batch OCR. It shouldn’t be free but it is.
- OMNIPAGE – is a paid for version with high accuracy.
- THINKFREE OFFICE (free) – Don’t have Word, Excel or PowerPoint? Create and edit documents from any PC with an internet connection. Store your documents on ThinkFree’s computers so you can edit them wherever you are. But you must have an online connection!
- LOTUS SYMPHONY – A full strength office software suite carrying a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation applications that are more than a match for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. And it’s free. PS Before Microsoft, Lotus used to be top of its field!
- SCRIBUS – If professional desktop publishing software is out of reach, Scribus is certainly worth a look – and it’s free. Templates available and an online manual.
- SERIF PAGEPLUS – Good for small desktop publishing jobs
- SCRIVENER – Rather than concentrating on page layouts, as is the case with most of the work processes, this application focuses on structure – chapters and passages can be rearranged simply by dragging and dropping items into a virtual corkboard.
- SNAGIT – This is a great little program for capturing screen images and addition notations. If you need to write a document to tell others how to do something (say) on a computer, this is a great way of illustrating it. Use Snagit to: take a photo of your computer screen, create quick demo videos to share with anyone, enhance images with stamps, text, and effects, organize your screen captures with easy auto-storing and tagging features and share your images and videos to presentations, social media sites, and more.
- PAPERPORT An excellent document management software. Costs over £100 but well worth the investment. Start scanning and storing all your bits of papers – bills, invoices, documents and so much more. Works well with a duplex (double sided) scanner like Fujitsu’s Fi-6130.
- EVERNOTE – Evernote lets you create notes, snap photos, and record voice memos that you can then access any time — from your iPhone, computer, or the web. If you find you’re always cluttered with post it notes, try evernote.
- STICKIES (free) – A program that creates electronic notes that can be stuck to the Windows Desktop just like post-it-note
- EVERYTHING – EVERYTHING is a search tool which indexes every single file on your PC. It can whittle down results in real time as you type. Basically, it finds files and folders much faster than Windows’ own search. if Everything’s developer ever decides to start charging, we will be at the front of the queue of paying customers.
- AUTOSTITCH – Excellent utility to help you join several pictures to make a single panorama.
- AVG A great free anti-virus program. All computers should have an anti-virus program.
- SPYBOT SEARCH & DESTROY Software that looks for key loggers and nasty cookies that may be spying on your private data.
- ADDICTIVE TYPING FOR FIREFOX – Learning to type properly makes a huge improvement to using computers but it can be tricky to get started. Addictive Typing Lessons is an add-on for the Firefox browser containing all you need to learn this important skill. Once installed a small picture of a keyboard appears on the right of the bottom of the Firefox window. A left-click on this starts the add-on in a separate window. There are 26 lessons included with Addictive Typing Lessons. A must for those who need to improve their typing skills.
- BETTER TYPING is another good program that does the same thing.
- MAVIS BEACON TEACHES TYPING – the best software for teaching typing skills – need to buy but only costs £25 or so.
- MEDITYPE – online typing tutor specifically for health professionals.
- KEEPVID – www.keepvid.com to download video files from You Tube. Always choose MP4 as the type of file to download the video file as.
- DVD FAB – You have to pay for this program but its worth it. Takes the pain out of copying and making DVDs.
- LIGHTWORKS – light works shouldn’t be free but it is. This is an advanced video editing application and it’s even used by professional film editors. What further recommendation do you need?
- CAMSTUDIO Camstudio is designed for those who want to capture their on-screen actions for things like tutorials. This particular piece of software doesn’t have anywhere near the complexity of Adobe’s Captivate but is enough for most users.
- FREEMAKE FREE VIDEO CONVERTER – Converts between the different video formats.
- YOUTUBE DOWNLOADER – Helps you download video clips from You Tube onto your PC.
VOICE RECOGNITION SOFTWARE
- DRAGON NATURALLY SPEAKING – The best in its field. Dictation made easy with a fabulous recognition rate. Also available is an international version for those who speak English with an accent (like people from India, Nigeria and so on).