I come across a lot of good and bad software when making my videos here on Mostly Tech. Today I’m going to share 7 useful free software programs that you need to download. I use most of these apps regularly myself, and they all work on Windows PCs, although several of them do have versions for Mac and Linux as well.
In one of my previous posts I recommended the Miro Video Converter, but I’ve come across a program that converts videos and audio files even better. It’s called XMedia Recode.
Miro is still easier to use and available on many platforms, but Xmedia Recode has more features and it converts some media files much faster than Miro. Also Xmedia has a wider range of support for output formats and it can convert almost any video or audio clip.
Another excellent free program is Krita. Which is an open source graphics editor geared toward digital painting, drawing, illustrations and concept art. Although it can also be used for some general graphics design and even basic photo editing. But GIMP is really better for that. However there is no reason you can’t have both.
Most of Krita’s features are focused on digital painting and drawing. For example it has brush stabilizers if your hand is not 100% steady and 9 unique brush engines which allows you to customize your brush. Krita also a wrap-around mode so that you can create seamless textures and patterns. That’s just scratching the surface. Krita has many more features including plug-in support, so you can expand its capabilities even further.
Krita is available for Windows PCs, but also works on Mac and Linux computers.
Next up we have the Google Nik Collection. Which is a set of 7 photo enhancement and filter plugins for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. But these plugins also work as standalone applications, so you don’t even need to have Photoshop.
The Nik Collection was actually sold by Google to another company some years ago and now costs money. But you can still get the old version for free and it works great on Windows.
I really like three of the plugins, they have some excellent filters that you might want to use on your photos.
My favorite is Analog Efex Pro 2 which has vintage camera type filters. These include texture overlays, dirt and scratches, lens vignette and a bunch of color presets and filters. There’s a few more filters that are definitely worth checking out!
To view PDF files I have been using Adobe Reader for a long time. But recently it has been very slow and buggy, so I decided to switch it out for Foxit Reader.
I have to say that it is at least on my computers much faster and lightweight than Adobe Reader. And so far I haven’t had any issues with it.
In addition to reading PDF files, you can also use it to print for example web pages into PDF format. This might be useful if you want to archive email receipts and other documents offline. You can also use it to save articles, how to guides and other stuff to PDF format, and then move it over to your smartphone or tablet for example.
Foxit has a number of other useful features as well. Definitely worth checking out if you’re tired of Adobe Reader.
Another app that might be useful to you guys is KeePass. There are online cloud based options for storing your passwords such as LastPass. But if you’re not comfortable hosting all of your passwords in the cloud, then KeePass is a great free offline password manager for Windows, Mac and Linux.
KeePass uses the military grade AES and Twofish algorithms to encrypt its password databases. To secure your database you can either use a master password or a keyfile.
KeePass is also portable, so you can install it on a USB stick and carry that with you at all times. There are versions of KeePass for Android and iOS as well, such as KeePassDroid and MiniKeePass.
KeePass makes it really easy to store and organize your passwords in various categories and using different icons.
Have you ever wanted to try out Linux but you don’t have a CD or DVD drive to install it? Well Rufus is a free program that might be able to help you out.
With Rufus you can install Linux ISO files on USB thumb drives. Although it does also work for Windows or any other ISO files for whatever operating system you’d want to install.
Once the ISO has been copied, you just plugin the USB drive, reboot your computer and run the Linux installer or Live version. It’s quite easy to do, although you may have to change your BIOS settings to allow booting from the USB stick.
Our last program on this list is Notepad++. It’s basically similar to the default Notepad and Wordpad apps on Windows. Except it’s free open source software and has some extra features.
Notepad++ is especially good for programmers because it supports syntax highlighting for many different programming languages.
Other features include auto-complete for both words and functions and customizable user interface. You can also use bookmarking and open many documents in different tabs.
Notepad++ can also be used as a portable app, but it is only available for Windows computers.