Starting from scratch with your laptop or mobile device, but you’re not on a big budget? Whether it’s iOS or Android, Windows or Mac, there are plenty of free software out there. Here are some of the must-haves.
Let’s start with the more serious tasks. If you intend to use your device for work, education, or just to keep control of day-to-day tasks, you’ll need some sort of productivity software to make your job easier. This includes everything from word processing and spreadsheets to transcribing your notes and electronically signing documents.
Otter.aiIf you have a lot of meetings or interviews to transcribe, Otter.ai is the service for you. The cloud-based transcription service takes your audio clips and recordings, transcribes them, and sends them back to your device. Transcriptions are editable, searchable, and audio is linked to each word so you can click on a section and hear the audio source behind it.
Available for Android and iOS, you can also access the online platform
If you are not a fan of the Google service, it is best to move on to the next one. But Google Account holders can access word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets through Google Drive. You also don’t need to be constantly connected to the internet – although on the desktop version of the software you should enable offline access rather than the default – which is handy if you need to. work away from a cohesive internet. All your changes will be saved to the cloud as soon as your internet connection is back online, making your documents available on all your devices.
You also have 15 GB of storage to store all your emails and files. Which, for most people, will be fine.
Available for: Mac, PC, Android, iOS, web browser.
Evernote is a useful tool to have. You can take notes, upload photos, extract sections of web pages and store them in notebooks, and your notebooks are searchable. You can also share your notebooks with others, allowing them to collaborate with you.
There is a paid membership tier that adds more useful features, but the basic Evernote plan is more than enough for the average user.
Available for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac
The idea of having a separate scanner seems almost strange these days. Adobe Scan is just one of the free and powerful scanning tools that you can use to scan your documents and designs, without having to take out the dusty printer. Office Lens is another free option.
Available for: iOS, Android
Audio, video, photography
Photo editing is something we all do from time to time, from applying the automatic settings to brighten up a photo or getting into the heart of the matter and manually adjusting the white balance and l ‘exposure. But what applications are there?
There was a time when you could spend a lot of money and buy Adobe Photoshop directly, getting a perpetual license with your box of discs. But in 2017, Adobe changed all that and switched to a monthly subscription through its Creative Cloud service. On the one hand, you get the latest and greatest software; on the other hand, you never really own it like you did in the past. There are plenty of image editing apps and software out there if you want to do some basic photo editing. However, what if you want the power of Adobe Photoshop but don’t want to pay for the monthly subscription? GIMPShop is the answer. The GNU image manipulation program is free and includes many advanced editing features, from cloning and repair tools to filters and settings such as exposure and color. You can change colors and shadows, work with layers, turn your images into cartoons or touch up portraits.
Because it’s open source, people can work with the code, so there are plenty of third-party plugins that act as additional features for the program. Or, if you want, you can make your own.
If you are already used to photo editing software, GIMPShop won’t have too much of a learning curve, even the interface looks familiar.
Available for: Linux / GNU system, Windows, Mac.
Editing on your tablet or smartphone is easy. Select, drag, save and you’re done. The touchscreen is just more intuitive than the standard configuration of your old-fashioned laptop. There are plenty of free photo editing apps out there, including Adobe, which has divided its apps into several chunks. But the enduring favorite around these parts is Snapseed. The app lets you change exposure and white balance, bring out surface details, touch up imperfections, and apply filters. It is now owned by Google but was originally developed independently.
Whether it’s editing your audio clips or recording new ones, Audacity has you covered. The open source software can record live audio through a microphone or mixer, or digitize recordings from other media. It also offers multitrack editing, so you can layer tracks and create your masterpiece bit by bit. You can edit audio in a split second and add effects. The audio can then be exported in the format you need. He has just turned 20 too, longevity too.
Available for: Mac, Windows, Linux and other Unix based systems.
Apple owners have access to iMovie, an easy-to-use video editor that will let you create short films, trailers, and even movies in 4K resolution. You can also edit on multiple devices, picking up where you left off. Plus, you can tie it all together with effects or music.
Available for: Mac, iOS
The cross-platform alternative to iMovie is LightWorks, which is as close as you can get to a premium video editor without putting a hand in your pocket. The software has a bit of a learning curve, but if you stick with it, it’s worth it. You can preview effects, edit multitrack video, and render everything in the background. A word of advice: watch the quick start video on the LightWorks website if you don’t want to get confused at first.
Available: Windows, Mac, Linux
If you still have videos on DVDs lying around, there is an easy way to digitize them using Handbrake. This is not its only function; it will also convert the video on your machine to work with different mobile platforms eg. Free Video Transcoder will convert all your DVDs and turn them into digital files that you can share on your devices, in minutes
Out of the box, it works with non-copyrighted DVDs, but most commercial DVDs will have some form of protection to prevent copyright infringement. A few tweaks and add-ons – instructions for which can easily be found online – will give Handbrake the ability to bypass a lot of that.
The only difficulty you might have? Find a machine with a DVD player. They are increasingly rare nowadays.
Available for Windows, Mac, Linux
Downtime is important and while we shouldn’t be tethered to our mobile devices, it can play a role in helping us relax – within reason.
If you are a member of your local library, Borrowbox is a must see. As long as your library has signed up for the service – and many in Ireland have done so – you can browse the catalogs of eBooks, magazines, and audiobooks available to borrow and read from the comfort of your couch. If a book is already “out”, you can reserve it for the date after which it is due. It automatically appears in your Borrowbox app. One issue that you may be having right now is that everyone has discovered Borrowbox, so finding something you want to read that hasn’t been booked is difficult.
Available for: iOS, Android.
If you want an easy-to-use podcast app, Pocket Cast should be at the top of this list. You can access podcasts from all over the world, on almost any topic you can think of. Create a free account and you can sync your listening across multiple devices, picking up where you left off.
The service is largely free; By signing up for 99 cents per month, you get 10 GB of cloud storage, additional themes and apps, and access to the web player. Completely optional and falls under the nice to have category.
Available on: iOS, Android.
When we can finally travel again, wouldn’t it be nice if we could speak a little bit of the local language? Duolingo offers easy-to-learn language courses, with prompts to remind you to practice every day. There are many languages to start with, including Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese.
Available for iOS, Android, Web
If you cannot master this second (or third, as the case may be) language, you can still rely on Google Translate. Some of the translations might be a bit stilted, a few might not make much sense, but the overall concept is solid. There are a few options: the translated text from one language to another, which you type into the phone; text recognition through the phone’s camera; handwriting recognition from the phone screen; and voice translations, which can also accommodate two-person conversations.
Available for: iOS, Android.
When it comes to the weather forecast, YR seems to have enough money. Not only is it accurate, but it breaks down forecasts into hourly forecasts. It also comes with handy things like a precipitation map or a weather chart, if your interest extends that deep.
Available for: iOS, Android, Web