College goer’s freeware toolkit

I’ve been suggesting quite a few software to my classmates over the last few months. So I thought of collating all the recommendations into one post. Here’s the list of different freeware that should be useful for different purposes.

Image editing

GIMP – This is the open source alternative to Photoshop, and the most popular image editor on Linux. It has a variety of features and there are quite a lot of tutorials available on the net for it. It recently underwent an interface overhaul.

Paint.NET – A Windows only image editor that should be powerful enough for most needs while being fairly simple to use.

Picasa – Not a full fledged image editor, but good enough for touching up photos. It serves quite well as a photo organizer, and is the official tool for uploading to Google’s Picasa web album.

Windows Live Gallery – Very similar to Picasa, with slight differences in the interface. It fills the gap for a uploader combined with a photo gallery for Flickr.

Video editing

Virtualdub – A very basic video editor (mainly for AVI files), useful for trimming and clean up.

Windows Live Movie Maker – The Live version of the popular Windows Movie Maker that supports publishing to the MSN online service.

Videospin – A very good alternative to the Windows Movie Maker. It has a host of features, and videos can be created in a variety of formats. I got to know of it from its coverage on the Digital Inspiration blog.

Audio editing

Audacity – One of the best audio editors out there, and a very handy alternative to the paid Sound Forge. Very useful for performing different tasks and processing on audio clips.


Camstudio – A decent alternative to the paid Camtasia Studio. It supports the creation of screencast videos, along with the ability to record audio.

Wink – Another screen capture software that records images, but can also be used for making screencasts.

Document creation

OpenOffice – An open source alternative to Microsoft Office – not 100% compatible, but it has some additional features of its own along with support for other formats. The memory usage is on the higher side.

Lotus Symphony – Another alternative to MS Office by IBM. Similar to OpenOffice, but with fewer applications in the suite.

PDF creator – A handy utility to create PDFs from different sources (installs as a PDF printer).

Notepad++ – A must have replacement for notepad. Has a tabbed interface, supports syntax highlighting (useful for editing HTML, XML etc), and recording of macros.


7-Zip – Supports most of the commonly used compression formats like zip, rar, cab etc along with its own 7z format which boasts of one of the best compression ratios. A very good alternative to paid software like Winzip and WinRAR. It can also be used to split files which comes in handy when sending large email attachments in batches.

CCleaner – One of the most popular system cleanup utilities. It clears temporary files, browser cache, history etc.

VirtualBox – Useful for creating virtual machines, like say for Linux which can then in turn be used for different purposes. Much more convenient than trying to set up dual boot configurations, especially on laptops.

Fun stuff

ComicRack – Very useful for keeping ones comic/ebook library organized. It supports various formats like pdf, cbr etc. Kind of like a media library for books.


Pidgin – A popular messaging client that supports most of the major IM networks like MSN, Yahoo!, AIM and GTalk. Definitely more convenient than having a ton of IMs loaded at the same time, granted that none of the advanced features of the networks are being used.

Flock – The social network incarnation of Firefox. It contains built-in tools for posting to blogs, uploading to photo sharing sites like Flickr, checking social networking sites among many other features.

Feed Demon – A powerful feed reader that is integrated with the Newsgator service (similar to Google Reader) to keep feeds in sync across machines.

RSS Bandit – Another feed reader that’s currently under development, but supports integration with Google Reader.

Portable Apps

PortableApps comprises of an entire suite of applications that can be run directly from a removable storage device like USB drives and external hard disks. It contains many of the software mentioned here. Some of them are included by default in the download, while others can be added using the respective installers.

The applications range from browsers and email clients to media players and editors, office applications to virus scanners among many more. Every portable device should include this.

4 thoughts on “College goer’s freeware toolkit

  1. This is a pretty good list.

    For image editing you’re missing Inkscape for vector images and Blender for 3D.

    For utilities you’re missing Clamwin Antivirus, and Sumatra PDF (this is like a super-light-weight Adobe Acrobat.

    For fun stuff, there’s also libra which is like a virtual bookshelf that gets images and data about the items from Amazon like cd covers for music or book covers.

    For internet you forgot the biggies, Firefox and Thunderbird.

    If you want a really complete listing goto, There you can search for just about any proprietary application and find multiple Open Source alternatives.

  2. Wow!!! Appreciate your efforts to share some wonderful tips. Keep up the good work. I am a good friend of Prasanna and through whom I got on your site. Regards, Mahaveer

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