Photo: Natalie Jost
Software can be expensive. Many of the most popular applications can sometimes come with a high price tag. Luckily, there are a lot of free and cheap alternatives to those premium apps. And they do the job just as well.
We picked out our favourite apps that you can use to save a ton of cash.
Microsoft knows that Office is the most popular productivity suite, the company sells a basic version of the software which includes, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, for $149.99. Apple sells its own iWork with similar alternatives for $60.
Users looking for a free alternative should check out OpenOffice.org. OpenOffice has been around for quite some time and it's quite the competitor. Users can edit and change any Microsoft formatted file and a host of other formats.
Another alternative to check out: LibreOffice
The only way to get Microsoft Outlook for Windows is to purchase the Office Home & Business pack for $279.99 (199.99 for a single licence for Mac OS X).
An excellent alternative with similar function available for both Mac and PC is Mozilla's Thunderbird client. Thunderbird is easy to set up, the client is secure, and offers a fully customisable experience.
Available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
Everyone uses their computer to share photos they take either personally or professionally. Being able to crop, adjust brightness, remove red eye, and more is crucial. Users looking to take their photo editing game to the next level know about Photoshop.
Photoshop is the king of photo editing and its maker, Adobe can charge whatever they like. The most basic version of Photoshop retails for $699.99.
If you are looking for something that allows more control check out GIMP.
GIMP lets you work with a wider range of image formats, has a completely customisable interface, and even uses a photo enhancer for bright, clear photos.
Available for Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, and Sun OpenSolaris.
Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere are expensive pieces of software. They each cost hundreds of dollars. But for the consumer who just wants trim video and add effects or transitions these pro apps may be a bit much.
Luckily, if you have a Mac or Windows machine there are great alternatives that come bundled in with your operating system.
Mac users have iMovie, a robust program that Apple has taken time to perfect. The most basic user can navigate through many features that enhance your videos and makes them shareable.
Windows users have Windows Live Movie Maker, a editing tool that allows you to create features from photos or videos. You can even use AutoMovie to let Movie Maker create a film for you.
Price: Free (included with operating systems)
iTunes comes standard with OS X and Windows Media Player comes packaged with Windows, but users looking for more control and features want to check out the VLC media player.
VLC is simple, quick, and plays just about every video format. VLC even has the power to play audio and videos that are incomplete, damaged, or unfinished.
The program runs on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and more.
If you forgot to email yourself a file, want to play the latest game on a different computer, or really need a different version of a presentation, accessing your computer from a remote location can come in handy.
Spashtop is a good application that keeps your wallet in mind. The app lets you log in to another computer wirelessly from your tablet to see and control the remote PC or Mac as if you were sitting in front of it. The app provides fast performance and is very easy to set up. Users can control their entire computer from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.
Price: $6.99 for the mobile app
Splashtop is available for most tablets, mobile phones, Windows, and OS X.
Everyone uses PDFs. They add security to our documents, standardize them, and so much more. Basic PDF readers only let you view files, but what if you want to annotate or highlight without shelling out $100+?
Windows users should look no further than NitroPDF Reader. Nitro borrows its look from MS Office, so navigation should be familiar. Tabs at the top allow you to access Pages, Bookmarks, Comments, Output, Signatures, and Attachments easily. For those who need to view multiple PDF documents at one time Nitro does that.
NitroPDF Reader is available for Windows XP, Vista, and 7.
Mac OS X: Mac users have the luxury of looking no further than the Preview app that comes with every Mac. The robust reader has many built-in features that rival the paid alternatives. Preview handles more than 25 format types and offers basic editing features such as image correction, dragging and dropping of multiple pages, and viewing many documents at once.
Price: Free with Mac OS X
Keeping up with social networks through the web can sometimes be a pain. Having a dedicated client on your desktop provides up to date information quickly and easily.
Despite its name, TweetDeck can keep track of your Facebook News Feed in addition to your Twitter timeline. Information is displayed in a unified, easy to view interface. The flexibility allows you to maintain multiple accounts and follow everything you care about.
Security is a must on any computer. Our PCs are so intertwined with our lives that we need to be protected at all times.
Enter, Avast. The program has been around for a while and its features rival some of the biggest names in secure computing. Instead of simply tackling viruses, Avast searches for an eliminates spyware too. Features include, firewall security, anti-spam measures and even a 'Safe Zone' to protect yourself while shopping online.
Avast is free but a Pro version is available for $39.99.
Available for Windows and Mac OS X.
Evernote is an excellent application that allows you to archive and index web content, files, photos, videos, and more. In addition it is also is a pretty robust note taking app. Because your information lives on the cloud it is easy to access.
You can use Evernote as a unified place to hold your digital information. The desktop version of Evernote lets you add attachments and syncs up well with all platforms.
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