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When an ad or write-up says something is free, that should mean that it’s not a trial version which is only free for a short time and then you will have to pay for it or lose it.  Free should also not name a product and say “Free Download,” only to lead you through a bunch of ads and you find out after downloading that you have downloaded a useless PART of it for free but then to get the part that really makes it work you have to pay.  Or, my favorite, the “Sign up for free!” ad which means exactly that: to sign up for the product or service is free, but after that to USE the product or service will cost you.  We’ve all been there.

My screen shots in this post leave a lot to be desired — go easy on me, lol, since this is my first try at taking pictures of a computer screen.  As I find out about more freebies I will post them in future posts as well as attempting to make another static page on this blog where all of the freebies I post can be found in one place.

Here are only a few of the many helpful products online that are absolutely free.  Some you may already know about, but if you don’t, they might be worth a look if you’re tired of paying top dollar for programs that do the exact same thing.

Document Programs: Producing

  • OpenOffice.org 3.4.1 — This software is said to be pretty much the equivalent of Microsoft Office.  I don’t know if it is or not, because I don’t use the full range of functions it offers (I’m only a housewife).  I have never tried using the Presentation function, for instance, so I couldn’t tell you how it compares to Powerpoint.  I do use this program for most of my document needs, and it has worked well for me.  The only problem I’ve ever had is trying to send a document using this ODT format when the receiver only accepts the Word format (that hasn’t happened often — most places you send stuff to accept ODT format).  I have used online converters for this (one of them, Free File Converter, is listed further below), and that seems to solve the problem.  Otherwise, this program covers a lot of the same functions as Office and is certainly worth looking into.

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  • Microsoft Office Web Apps — This is an online app that you don’t have to download any software for.  It stores your documents online and has some of the same functions as the regular Office that you have to pay for.  It requires you to sign up with a Microsoft Skydrive account (for free) to use it.  This app lets you create and share online Word documents, Excel workbooks, Powerpoint presentations, and OneNote notebooks.

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  • Google Docs (Google Drive) — Also an online app with no software downloads required, it functions much the same way as the above Microsoft Office Web Apps, except you will need to sign up for a free Google Drive account to access the services.  

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Document Programs: Processing

  • 7-zip — This free app will open zip files, as well as converting back and forth between zip and regular files.  Just download it and start extracting.

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  • Free File Converter — This online app will convert one format into another format in your documents.  For instance, if you have an OpenOffice (odt) format document but are wanting to work with it using software that creates pdf documents and need to convert the original document, this program will do it.  

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Antivirus

  • AVG Free — This antivirus and antispyware software is surprisingly good for being free.  I used it for years on my computer and had few problems, and am now currently using AVG free on my smartphone.  It comes with email and link scanners, scheduled scanning, frequent automatic updates, etc.  As with many free apps, there are also paid AVG downloads available, but AVG has the best free antivirus software out there.

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  • avast! — A free antivirus software that gets very good reviews, so I thought it was worth adding to this list.  It has all the same functions as AVG and even scans instant messages.  After the first 30 days avast! requires you to go through their free and simple registration process and also register once a year (also free).  Small work in exchange for good virus protection.  

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Photo Processing

  • GIMP 2 — Many have called this the free version of Photoshop, and since I have never used Photoshop I couldn’t say if that is true or not.  I do know that I use GIMP for much of my photo editing, especially airbrushing and tweaking shape and color of photos, as well as some special effects.  GIMP has a wide variety of special effects, so you will probably have a lot of fun exploring and trying some of the features out.  For someone who is a beginner at photo processing in general, GIMP may seem daunting in its complexity, but like any advanced photo software, it takes working with it to discover everything it is capable of.  

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  • Photoscape — Although this program is not as comprehensive as GIMP, it does have a lot of great photo editing and photo effects tools, as well as greater ease of use.  For example, I really enjoy the “effects” brush in “grayscale”, which makes it so you can leave only portions of your photo in color while grayscaling the rest, and is done in one smooth step — something that has to be done by layering and multiple steps in GIMP.

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  • OLYMPUS Viewer 2 — Originally this program was available to people who had an Olympus camera and was included as a software cd that came with the camera.  Now this software can be downloaded from the site, and used with any picture, whether it has been taken with an Olympus camera or not.  I use this program in addition to GIMP when processing photos.  The Olympus photo editing software doesn’t have as vast a variety of functions and nothing it has is anything GIMP doesn’t have, but it is so much easier to use for adjusting color and using the sharpening features.  I usually use this program first on a photo, then go to GIMP for the things that Olympus Viewer 2 doesn’t have.

Update — When I was away from home and downloaded this ap on another person’s computer, it stated that it was free to download, but then when I clicked the Download button, another window opened that asked for the camera serial number.  I had my camera with me, and the ap allowed me to download it without question.  I’m assuming that a serial number from any Olympus camera would start the download (in other wards, it doesn’t have to be one that you own), but I was unaware that this free program was only available to those who can produce an Olympus serial number.   

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Operating System

  • Ubuntu — If you mainly use your computer for documents and web browsing/downloading, then I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the free alternative to Windows, the Ubuntu operating system.  I have heard so many positive things about it that I thought it worth putting on this list.  It is much faster and easier to use, and claims it can be used alongside your Windows operating system.  If you’re still apprehensive about trying it, they have a way to allow you to use it without installing it, just to try it out.  The one and only complaint I have heard from anybody is that some apps won’t run with Ubuntu, such as certain photo processing apps and so forth.  But they do have their own photo apps, as well as office apps and a whole host of other apps and free downloads.  If you are tired of taking forever to search for something online or process a document, this free operating system might be worth a look.

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Web Browsers

  • Safari — developed for the Mac operating system, this link takes you to the download for Windows.  Most web browsers are free, but this one is the fastest one I’ve found so far.  To find out more about Safari (no download), go here

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  • Mozilla Firefox — Not quite as fast as Safari, but probably more stable.  Safari and Mozilla web browsers can be used alongside each other, and are both well beyond Internet Explorer as far as the overall web browsing experience.  I have them both on my computer and use them almost exclusively.

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Most of these links take you directly to the main site that produces the product — whenever I can I try to avoid secondary download sites, and when I have to use them, I make a point of using only secondary download sites that have proven themselves to be safe.

These are a small example of a few of the many, many things available online for free, and I’ll be keeping my eye out for other things, as well as other types of things.  I’m such a tightwad that I’m almost programmed to look for stuff that I don’t have to pay for.  As soon as I can organize and get to it I will post all the freebies I post on this blog  in one category or page so they can be found easily.

Here’s hoping everybody had a wonderful, fabulous, joyful, peaceful Valentine’s Day, whether you spent a quiet evening at home or a hopping evening out on the town, or a happy evening with a special someone.  Whoever you love, let every day be a day to celebrate that love!  Loving yourself counts too  — even the Bible says it is not selfish to love oneself, because that is the only way a person can learn to love others.  Happy, happy Valentine’s Day!