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We just updated this list of freeware and freebies with a new gif animator (check it out in action above with the banner).
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VideoLAN – VLC media player Ever wanted to capture a still image from a video? Most free media players won’t do it. After searching the web and reading all sorts of complicated do’s and don’ts, I stumbled upon this free program, which does it effortlessly. VLC also formats DVD playback in a variety of screen ratios, which can be nice. And, it plays FLAC audio files.
Bink Video (RAD Video Tools) Converts digital video files into different formats. Especially useful if your digital camera writes Quicktime .MOV files. Bink/RAD will convert them into .AVI files, which Windows Movie Maker can import!
Blinkx Not really freeware because there’s nothing to download. But it’s free and a good alternative to YouTube and Google video searches.
PhotoFiltre One of my favorite free photo editors with plug-ins, highlighting and “fade last effect” feature, much like Photoshop version 4. PF doesn’t handle multiple layers like the GIMP but it’s light and tasteful. Don’t confuse this with PhotoFiltre Studio, which is not freeware.
PhotoScape This is a fantastic program with some great filters, fun photo stuff and useful text effects. I use this to rotate/level photos as I find it’s faster, easier and does a better job than anything else I’ve tried.
The GIMP GIMP stands for “GNU Image Manipulation Program.” The GIMP just keeps getting better and better; features include text, drop shadow, bevels, layers, color replacement and lots of fine filters.
- Gimphelp.org Some cool filters for the Gimp. While Photoshop 8bf filters may still be the industry standard, I find that using freeware opens me up to different graphics and artistic approaches that I’d otherwise never try. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to install these filters. Just read the instructions and enjoy!
Virtual Photographer This is a great program for enhancing photos, compatible with the GIMP and other commercial software.
Picasa IMHO the strongest thing about this photo editor is the excellent color, lightness and contrast fixing. And it’s very user friendly. Photo rotation is a bit blurry. I use PhotoScape for that.
Photo Pos Pro Visually nice to look at, has some good effects and handles layers.
- Photobie I don’t use this one too much but it has some good filters and is under steady development. Like anything else, software preference is a pretty personal thing. Definitely worth a try.
- LightBox Solid performer. Free version touches up pics nicely with minimum of effort.
- UnFREEz Creates animated gifs almost effortlessly, preserves transparency, and does a much better job (in terms of image quality) than MS gif animator.
- Easy Thumbnails This easily creates good, sharp thumbnails.
- Vector Magic Not free but you can evaluate for free with saving disabled.
- Inkscape Good for making banners, working with fonts and converting bitmap to vector graphics.
AntiVirus, Junk and Spyware Removal
AntiVir A nice antivirus program from Germany with frequent free updates.
AdAware A ‘too good to be true’ program for detecting and cleaning invasive ads and malware that can slow down your computer. With free updates and lots of options.
- Advanced SystemCare This was recommended by a visitor and it seems very powerful. But some may find it too aggressive and Gizmo’s Freeware says some have reported errors after using. I’ve tested this out and so far have had no probs with WinXP. It gets stuff CCleaner doesn’t, and vice versa.
CCleaner Fantastic program for cleaning junk files from your hard drive with frequent updates. Also useful for fixing registry integrity and blocking unwanted Windows startup programs. Use with extreme caution and don’t even think about going past the default settings unless you know what you’re doing!
- Glary Utilities Recommended by a visitor; still testing…
- Malwarebytes This is handy if by chance the other stuff listed here can’t help you.
- Panda Cloud Antivirus Antivirus is available in cloud format, so say goodbye to those irritating virus definition updates.
- Revo Uninstaller Recommended by a visitor: still testing…
FileZilla FTP freeware. This is another “too good to be true” program with frequent updates. It just seems to be getting better and better.
Making Web Pages
- Free Gifs and Animations This is where we got our “New” GIF.
- KomPozer Apparently some techies didn’t like the fact that the buggy but very promising Nvu went into stasis. So they continued where Nvu left off. Great job! From my preliminary test it seems this might be the best totally free WYSIWYG editor around.
Amaya A free WYSIWYG html editor. It’s a good, straightforward product that would probably fit the needs of basic to intermediate users. Also has some cool special characters.
Evrsoft First Page is a free WYSIWYG editor (with a 5 sec. nag screen). It has advanced features but, as others have said, the last version I tested was a touch slow and, on my computer, a bit buggy. Still, I’ve used it with great results. (And it might have been updated since I wrote this particular entry in May 2008).
Making Music / Audio Production
Kristal Audio Engine This is a great program for sound recording in a multi-track format. It’s like a software version of the old Fostex and Tascam cassette recorders. Handles up to 16 audio tracks with effects, copy/cut and paste, bouncing and room for expansion. Although Kristal has been criticized for tracks not being in sync, spending a bit of time at the friendly user forum solved the issue for me.
iTunes You don’t have to purchase media with this software. iTunes comes with fantastic, free streaming radio and a 10-band equalizer and preamp with great presets. Travel the world through talk and music!
Winamp Music and video player with a 10-band equalizer and preamp to make music come alive. It includes free Shoutcast TV and Radio–i.e. streaming video and radio with password-protect content filtering.
Live 365.com No download streaming radio portal. Impressive selection of genres.
- RadioTime Provides links to many streaming radio stations.
AudioGrabber Handles WAV and MP3 formats. Audiophiles will probably know that WAV files sound better but are huge. MP3′s are “sonically acceptable” and take up less space for iPods, etc. There are several free grabbers out there but I find this one sounds bigger and fatter than the others I’ve tested. Some audiophiles may like that, others may not.
- Xrecode This is great for converting to FLAC (a “lossless” format that sounds just as good as WAV with about 45% smaller file size) and many other formats, including MP3.
Create RSS Feeds
FeedSpring Indie web publishers can use this to generate their own RSS feeds.
Get News with RSS
RSS Reader Get news stories from all over the web. This is a super program. But a while back I tested a beta version requiring net framework 2.0 and wasn’t impressed. About a third of my RSS feeds didn’t work. So I reverted to version 220.127.116.11 with net framework 1.1 and everything works great.
- FreeMeter Since I’m a regular web cam user, I wanted to know which web cam software is most efficient. Enter FreeMeter.
Scanning, File Conversion, PDF
- Bullzip This easily converts Windows documents to pdf. Lots of options. Fantastic.
Scan2PDF – scan documents to PDF format Scan anything and convert to .pdf (for Acrobat Reader). Also open image files from your hard drive and convert to .pdf. I found that it works best if in “options” you enable the scanner interface to be seen. That way you can adjust the resolution and get really good results.
Open Office I tested out the word processor on this suite in 2008 and found it satisfactory, although the English thesaurus was weak, and downloading/installing more dictionaries was a hassle. It was also a bit slow to load and felt heavier on my machine than commercial products. Open Office easily converts to pdf, however, and supports a wide number of languages. And I believe there’s a more recent version.
Primo PDF Primo converts Windows documents to pdf.
- Always on Top I use this with WinXP to keep an application window visible while working with other applications. Examples could be keeping MS Word or maybe a Google chat contact visible while surfing or blogging. This program is very light and works great.
- Freeware Registry Cleaner Roundup (brighthub.com)
- How To Create Speech Bubbles For Screenshots In GIMP (makeuseof.com)
- 24 of 365 is a painterly self-portrait #GIMP (365sketches.org)
- Freeware Fridays | Top Tools of the Week #29 (techie-buzz.com)
- Angela P.: GIMP (social.wakoopa.com)
- Freeware for Windows XP: Facts about Freeware and the Best Sites to Get Them (brighthub.com)
- Freeware Fridays | Top Tools of the Week #28 (techie-buzz.com)
- More Free Guides to GIMP, for Maximum Graphics Muscle (ostatic.com)
- Edit Images with Gimp (chris.pirillo.com)
- How to Batch Process Files in Gimp (maketecheasier.com)