FREE & Open Source Software

Office Equivalents

Open Office (PC) & Neo Office (Mac)
Both of these are great alternatives to Microsoft office, easy to use and if you like the office interface, these aren’t too different and have the main features.
You can open any existing office file in these packages as well as creating normal Word, PowerPoint or Excel documents, but be warned, when opening an old Powerpoint some of the animations may not work.  Also, any images that were saved as .tiffs will be a problem as they too will not display properly so it is best to reformat the images into .gif or .jpg formats.

Toms Planner
Is a Project Management tool for the production of Gannt Charts online, these are printable, downloadable, save-able and sharable.

Graphics – Photoshop Equivalents

GIMP (PC, MAC, Linux)
This Photoshop equivalent open source software is very popular and if you’re familiar with Photoshop you should have no problems using it.  It has all the normal features such as resizing, filtering and retouching and just like Photoshop, you can save your photo to a web friendly format.  There is also a type of layering system which is useful if, like me, you like to build a graphic using many images.  If, like me, you work with brochures and wish to use the same graphics for teaching material you can import them into Gimp and customise accordingly.

However, there is one small problem with GIMP in that the user interface is not as intuitive as it could be as you don’t get one window but several movable panels, which is a pane if you are using other packages at the same time, but this is just a small gripe for what is basically a nice graphic editing package.

Photo Plus (PC)
Another alternative to Photoshop is Photo Plus Starter edition by Serif but, unlike Gimp, the user interface here is much better with all the standard photo editing tools such as paint, resize, filter etc. that you would expect to have. But it does have some drawbacks in that, technically, you are only allowed one copy per person and it only exists for PC’s – sorry MAC owners!  There are a number of good features included in the free version but so much more is available with PhotoPlusX4 if you don’t mind parting with some cash, but its still cheaper than Photoshop and is a great alternative once you get used to the interface.

Screen shots software

Inkscape (PC)
An alternative to Adobe Illustrator, and there aren’t many of those, you can easily create vectors using pre-made shape tools and the pen tool.  One feature that was very impressive was that you could easily edit vector points/anchors, something quite difficult to do in illustrator.  The interface may be more ‘clunky’ but it doesn’t take long to find what you need.

Print Screen key (PC)
Most people have come across this at some point as it’s one of the easiest ways to grab a picture of the screen.  Simply hit the Print Screen (PrtScn) key on the keyboard, an image is created and stored in the computer’s memory, then open MS Word or other and click Edit > Paste.

Grab (MAC)
This piece of freeware is pre-installed in all MACs that have OSX. You can take shots of a screen, window or parts of the screen.  One of the best features is the fact that you can set a timer to take a screen shot in 30 seconds. This gives you time to set up the view you want to take.

MW Snap (PC)
This excellent screen capturing software for the PC lets you take screen shots, window shots or shots of parts of the screen. Unfortunately, it does not come with the timed screen capture feature that is included in Grab and some other software’s.

Jing (MAC and PC)
Captures the PC screen as you use it and allows you to draw the dimensions of the capture area on the screen, record with Audio and saves only as SWF (Flash compressed format), it can only be 5 minutes maximum but you can pause while you are recording the screen if you need to make any adjustments.  It is easy to install, free and comes with a very simple user/help guide.  However, you can upgrade to Snagit for a few extra pounds which will give you more functionality and save options.

PDF Software (Acrobat Equivalents)

Scan Soft PDF Creator
This is an excellent replacement for Adobe Acrobat contains most of the features that you would expect to find in Adobe Acrobat.  You can create PDFs from all Microsoft documents (Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc.) add bookmarks, security features and page numbering.  However, one of the features that has not worked too well in the past was inserting PDF’s.  This option should allow you to combine two different PDFs into one, which it did intermittently but at other times it crashed the program.  However, this is only a slight complaint and overall this is a decent alternative to Adobe Acrobat.

HTML/ Web Page Creation Software

Page Breeze
Free HTML editor with a simple interface, similar to Dreamweaver and doesn’t take too long to become familiar with the interface.

Coffee Free HTML
May not be free but is a very easy to use HTML editor and like PageBreeze, the interface is similar to Dreamweaver so this too is easy to get use to.

Online HTML Editor
Real time online with preview, really easy to use and you can copy the code into notepad and save as a HTML page.  It is great for checking code for errors and the look of a page before using it on a live site.

Free HTML editor
Is another free online HTML editor, similar to the Online Editor but without the preview function.  It has a really simple toolbar and is great for anyone who just needs to knock up a quick web page, it too has a very simple interface and easy to use by anyone.

Has a WYSIWYG HTML editor and comes with prebuilt templates which make building your first website nice and simple.  The interface and toolbars are similar to word so finding your way around is relatively easy.  all in all this is definitely worth considering as analternative to say, Dreamweaver and is a very useful HTML editor.

This web hosting and site builder is a great first step into web design as it provides the novice designer with a set of templates for some nice looking sites, where you only have to add your own content. The prices are reasonable and provide a simple solution for anyone who needs a site quickly.

Creates Flash presentations from PowerPoint and is a useful piece of software that allows you to create Flash Presentations from PowerPoint.  Making them into Flash presentations means that they can be published easily to a number of sites such as SlideShare and the format also protects your work so that no one can edit, change or delete it. One of the unique aspects is that you can retain any audio and animation that you add to your PowerPoint and when ISpring is installed it works as a plugin in PowerPoint, appearing in the PowerPoint toolbar, just click on Publish to create the file.

Audio Software

AVS Audio Editor
This is a PC software which is easy to use for recording quick items.  You can save in different file formats such as WAV and MP3 but it’s no longer free.

Simply the best audio editor for Mac and PC, enough said.

Flash MP3 Player
Play MP3 audio files in your webpages, choose colour, size etc, you just download to get the code.

Free MP3 to OGG converter
Brilliantly easy to install and use, such a simple conversion tool, any audio type can be converted very simply and run in the background…now all I need to find is an image converter that is just as simple!!

Convert Genius
Free trial, converts any video format for popular output devices including DVD player, iPad, iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, Zune, PSP, PS3, Blackberry, 3G phones and many more.

Microsoft Sound Recording and Easy Screen Reader

Image Conversion

Advanced Batch Converter
At last I have found a fairly reasonable batch image converter easy to use, it only took me about 10 minutes, it is very quick to convert EPS to JPG.  My only complaint is that you select the files in the right pane of the window the when you select add it shows them in the left pane, but that’s only a small problem which most people won’t even notice!