24 Useful Freeware You Will Definitely Find Handy

Useful Freeware

Today’s post is to share my favorite applications (including web-based apps), based on years of sieving and experimentation. You’ll find many of them very handy. The amazing thing is – they are all freeware!

Total count: 24. I’ll add on over time as I find new gems. Enjoy! :)

  1. E-mail: Gmail. Not exactly a software since it’s web mail, but its hands down the best email managing system IMO. (and I’ve used other email clients before like Outlook, Lotus, Yahoo).
  2. Browser: Google Chrome. I switched from Firefox last year. It took some getting used to in the first week. But after that, I started loving Chrome. I love that it lets you shift your tabs around, unlike Firefox. It also lets you “pin” your frequently accessed pages so it becomes a small icon on the navigation. It’s fast, minimalistic in interface,  and very reliable as a browser.
  3. Calendar: GCal. Keeps all my schedules in check, and it’s web-based so you can access it anywhere – even your phone if it has the web-surfing function
  4. Task Shuffler: Ever felt the need to move the programs around in your task bar? I know I do. This is an extremely handy program that allows you to do just that, simply via clicking/dragging/dropping. For Windows only. (Special thanks to reader Matt for sharing!)

    Update Jun ’12: Seems like Windows 7 (onward) has this function by default, so if you’re using Windows 7 or newer versions, you don’t need to download this.

  5. Screen Capture: Snipping Tool if you are using Windows Vista (in built), Zap Grab if you are using other platforms. Just click and grab any part of the screen, and you have your image. Extremely useful.
  6. Automated Computer Shut Down: Switch Off. Automatically Shuts down/Hibernates/Restarts/Logs Off your computer at a time you input. Great if you are downloading something which is taking a while but you need to leave your computer before it finishes.
  7. Audio: Audacity. Free, open source software for recording and editing sounds.
  8. Document Processor: Libre Office. This is almost a direct clone of MS Office set (Powerpoint, Word, Excel) – about 99.9% similar. I find it hard to believe that this is free! The only issue I’ve experienced so far is the slight change in formatting when you convert to MS office extensions (.doc, .xls) – but it’s manageable.
  9. PDF: PDF Creator. Libre Office already comes with an inbuilt pdf creator. But if you want to create PDFs from other applications, PDF creator is for you. As long as there’s a “Print” option, you can generate a pdf from there.
  10. Graphics Editing: GIMP. Very similar to Adobe Photoshop. Some functions are named and organized differently than Photoshop, so if you are a Photoshop user you can download GIMP Shop to change GIMP’s interface similar to Photoshop. The amazing thing is how GIMP packs with so much graphic editing prowess in such a small program (installer is 15.2meg, while Photoshop is over 700meg).
  11. FTP: Filezilla. Excellent FTP program that does its job well. You got to love open source projects :)
  12. Chat: GTalk. Extremely low-resource and fast chat application with functions that supersede MSN (example: logging of chat history which is integrated with and automatically saved in Gmail Chat folder). For even more functions (emoticons, group chat, etc), check out Gtalk Labs Edition.
  13. Blogging: WordPress.org if you are looking to host your own blog and WordPress.com for the free hosted version. Personal Excellence is using WordPress.
  14. Journal: Daily Diary. A very simple yet effective free journaling application that lets you type and store your entries on your computer. Comes with password protection and multiple journal creation for different purposes (e.g. record of different goals, areas of your life, etc)
  15. Video player: VLC Media Player. The best multi-format media player. With so many different media formats out there, this one is a catch-all player that plays almost anything. And it’s resource light too.
  16. Information Storage: Ever Note. Storage central for information captured across any environment – Computer, Web, Phone.
  17. To-Do Lists: Remember The Milk. Very effective for getting your tasks in check. It’s web-based, which means you can access it anywhere.
  18. Post-It Notes: Morun Sticky Notes. Minimalistic post-it notes on your desktop. Convenient placeholder for storing commonly-accessed or used information.
  19. Mind Mapping: Free Mind. It’s a great open-source mindmapping software. Great tool and very user-friendly.
  20. Timer: E.gg Timer. This is a web-based app and not an actual software. It’s an online stopwatch you can time yourself and it’ll beep at the end. Very useful if you want to timebox when doing a task, exercising, etc.
  21. Internet Calls: Skype. Gtalk works great too as a backup. Both support video conferencing.
  22. HTML Editor: NVU is a free, open source web editor, which you can use to build your website via a WYSIWYG editor (what-you-see-is-what-you-get). According to the website, it rivals programs as Adobe’s Dreamweaver and Microsoft’s Expression Web even, in functionality. Usually I use notepad for webpage edits outside of the WordPress platform, but when there’s heavy coding involved, NVU is a great time saver. I used it to build the PEBook and 30DLBL sales pages.
  23. Always on Top: Keeps a particular window of choice on top of other windows. Great for keeping certain notes or a browser window on top of other windows (if you’re watching a video). Watch my video tutorial to learn how to do it and download the utility: How To Make Your Window *Always* Stay on Top of Other Windows
  24. Text Expansion: Increase your typing speed by leaps with a text expansion / text substitution utility, where the software automatically replaces preset keystrokes with large chunks of text. Watch my video tutorial to learn how to do it and download the utility: How To Increase Your Typing Speed by 500%!

Originally written and published on Feb 5, 2009. Updated on Sep 27, 2013.

  • http://jayfrawley.com Jay

    Great List! I agree on almost all of them. The only ones I do not agree on, I simply never used before and are heading over now to check out. Thanks Celes!

  • http://www.swollenthumb.com Trey – Swollen Thumb Entertainment

    I think that when Gcal and Remember The Milk are used together, they become more powerful than peanut butter and jelly. I use Gcal to send my to-do list to my inbox for things that need to be done ASAP, and Remember The Milk for the things that can wait a little bit.

    Filezilla is so great that I can’t imagine paying for a better FTP program. It’s just dandy to me.

    I also enjoy Open Office until I have to open a Docx file. But that’s Mircosoft’s fault, not Open Office’s.

    Great list!

  • http://www.joyfuldays.com Daphne

    Definitely second Gmail as the best email software there is. Great list, Celes.

  • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

    Jay@ No problem Jay, hope you’ll find the other software useful! Thanks for coming by :D

    Trey@ Hi Trey, thanks for your comment! I agree that GCal and Remember The Milk are extremely powerful together – I use GCal for all tasks with due-dates and Milk for tasks which have no fixed dates. Hope to see you around here often! :)

    Juan@ Hi Juan, thanks so much for your award! I’ll check out your blog right away.

    Daphne@ Thanks Daphne! :D

  • http://www.jungleoflife.com Lance

    Hi Celes,
    Great list – and I use many of these as well. Another program I’ve used in place of Gimp – is Paint.net . I’ve used both, but for me I understand the menus a bit better with paint.net.

  • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

    Thanks Lance! I visited Paint’s site and it looks really good! I might give it a try to see how it works.

    To everyone: Here are 3 other great resources a visitor recommended:
    To do list manager: http://todoist.com/
    Screen Capture Utility: http://greenshot.sourceforge.net/
    Online image editor: http://www.pixlr.com/

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