For Students & Startups: Five of the Best Free Software Programs


Like the best things in life, the best programs in life are free. Why pay money for a piece of software when there are programs that offer the same functionality without you having to spend a dime. Whether you’re a student on a budget, are running a start-up or just can’t abide the thought of paying for anything, these five free programs will be right up your street.

VLC Media Player

With so many video and media formats around, you often have the problem that your player of choice won’t play a particular video. If you have VLC then you never have to worry about that again. VLC plays everything, works on most platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux and a host of others), doesn’t need codec packs and works like a dream. VLC is made available by the VideoLan non-profit organization.


Audacity is a cross-platform sound editor that can handle pretty much any audio task you throw at it. It can record audio, convert tapes and records (remember those?) into digital recordings, edit a range of sound files, mix sounds, improve sound quality and add effects. There’s even more functionality when you add some of the free plugins available. Audacity runs on Mac, Windows and GNU/Linux.


I have to be honest, GIMP is not the only free photo editing option out there, but it is one of the most full-featured. If you want the features of Photoshop without the hefty price tag, then GIMP is for you. It is an image manipulation that works directly on the pixels, so it’s a great program for anyone needing to make their images sing. Photo retouching, image authoring and image composition – GIMP does it all! There’s a learning curve, but it’s worth it.

Open Office

OpenOffice is an open source alternative to Microsoft Office. It includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool and drawing program. It uses the Open Document Format and can read all your MS Word documents, so there’s no need to worry about making the switch. It’s a breeze to use and will work well for most MS Office functions. Like GIMP, there can be a learning curve if you’re used to the Microsoft interface, but in a short while you’ll be up and running.


You just can’t beat Evernote for collecting and organizing all the stuff you find online. It’s the notebook to end all notebooks, always accessible online. You can capture anything using a range of tools from a web bookmarklet to your cell phone, tag and store it and retrieve it easily later using Evernote’s excellent search tools. With Evernote, you will never have to forget anything again – the free version includes 60MB of uploaded notes a month, which is more than enough for most people, plus unlimited storage.

With these five programs you can handle pretty much anything you need to do on your computer – and you won’t even need to open your wallet. Which free programs have you found most useful? Add them in the comments.

This is a post written kindly by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for a neon sign store that offers various led and neon signs for businesses such as a large open sign. Lior also consults for a psd to html service company that offers psd to html formatting conversions.

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