Free Software Alternatives

It used to be that if you wanted quality software you had to pay for it. Not so anymore. There are now dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of free software programs that rival their paid counterparts. Here are some of my favorites.

Microsoft Office ($120 to $500)
LibreOffice - This free productivity suite contains a word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation software and much more. Even better, it can open your Microsoft Office documents and save them in Office formats. Find out why I recommend LibreOffice over OpenOffice.

Microsoft Publisher ($140)
Scribus - This is a great free tool for creating brochures, magazines and newsletters and just about any other print publications. It contains all the features you need to turn your ideas into published reality.

Microsoft Outlook ($110)
Spicebird - A complete replacement for Outlook, this free email program contains a calendar, contact organization, a to-do list and more.

Thunderbird - This powerful, lightweight email program makes creating and organizing email a snap.

Use the Lightning extension to add a powerful calendar feature.

Adobe Acrobat ($300)
PDF creation and editing programs - Need a PDF file for work or another project? Use these great programs to create and edit PDF files for free.

QuickBooks Pro/Quicken ($230/$30)
GnuCash - Don't spend a lot of money for software to manage the money you have left after buying these programs. This powerful free accounting software lets you handle personal or business finances with ease.

AceMoney Lite - Looking to track your personal finances? This helpful program has you covered with investment tracking and bill reminders.

Adobe Photoshop ($670)
Gimp - Like Photoshop, this free program can handle digital art, photo editing, website design and much more. It may not have some of Photoshop's most advanced features, but it is free and all many people will need.

Artweaver - Photoshop is a favorite of digital artists because of its versatile brush system. Get the same flexibility with this great free art program.

Adobe Illustrator ($580)
Inkscape - Vector graphics are a staple of logo and Web design. Create top-notch vector images with this powerful free program.

Adobe Lightroom ($300)
RAWTherapee - For high-quality photos, many photographers shoot in RAW format. This program gives plenty of editing tools for turning your RAW files into quality finished products.

Maya ($3,500)
Blender - Interested in 3-D computer modeling? Look no further than this powerful, free modeling program. It contains all the tools you need to make 3-D models, scenes, animations and even games.

Adobe Premier Elements/Premier ($100/$800)
Live Movie Maker - Even personal home videos can benefit from some editing. This simple program lets you arrange your video, add sound, create credits and more.

Lightworks - Want to take your videos to new heights? This free, professional video-editing software was good enough to be used on last year's Oscar-winning movie, The King's Speech.

iTunes (Free)
Songbird - Sure iTunes is a free, capable media organizer. However, it doesn't work well with non-Apple products. Instead, use Songbird. It supports more file types, can import iTunes libraries and handles more types of media players.

Sibelius ($600)
MuseScore - Need to whip out some music notation for your band? Maybe you need simple exercise worksheets for a music class. This free music notation program has you covered.

Norton Internet Security 2012 ($70)
Security software - You don't have to spend a bundle to get good computer security. Visit my Security Center for lots of excellent, free alternatives.

tips from Kim Komando



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