Earthpages.org is not affiliated with any companies, organizations or projects mentioned in this blog entry. Before clicking on any of the links in this blog post you agree that Earthpages.org | Earthpages.ca is not liable for any damages that may be incurred from visiting these links or downloading the software they offer.
I’ve decided to leave out most Chrome, Android and iOS apps because apps are easy to search/find and most people will probably want to discover new ones for themselves.
However, since everything is going online these days, I am adding more and more online services that I like.
VideoLAN – VLC media player – Free media players usually can’t capture still images. This free program does it effortlessly. VLC also formats DVD playback in a variety of aspect ratios, which can be nice. And it plays FLAC audio files.
- MPH HC – A light alternative to VLC.
- Freemake – Jukebox that searches and organizes YouTube videos.
- 360 Daily – A good alternative video search.
- Freemake – Awesome and fast
- Handbrake – Does some formats that Freemake can’t. Video enthusiasts can adjust things ’till they’re blue in the face!
- 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.
Image Editing/Digital Painting
- Paint.Net – A reader suggests this. I’ve tried it and it is good. See comments area for more info.
- Krita – Someone just recently told me about this. I don’t see any text function. But it might be in there somewhere. Digital artists should give this a try. I can’t draw my way out of a wet paper bag. So this one isn’t too useful for me.
- Pixlr – This has three versions, each different.
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 – 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.
GIMP – GIMP stands for “GNU Image Manipulation Program.” 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 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 – A great program for enhancing photos, compatible with the GIMP and other commercial software.
Photo Pos Pro – Visually nice to look at, has some good effects and handles layers.
- Photobie – Has some good filters and is under steady development. Definitely worth a try.
- LightBox – Solid performer. Free version touches up pics nicely with a minimum of effort.
- UnFREEz – Creates animated gifs almost effortlessly, preserves transparency, and renders better image quality than MS gif animator.
- EZGIF.com – Create animations online.
- Easy Thumbnails – Easily creates good, sharp thumbnails.
- Vector Magic – Not free but you can evaluate for free with saving disabled.
- Inkscape – Good for banners, working with fonts and converting bitmap to vector graphics.
AntiVirus, Junk and Spyware Removal
AntiVir – Nice antivirus program with frequent free updates.
AdAware – ‘Too good to be true’ program for detecting and cleaning invasive ads and malware that can slow down your computer. Free updates and many options.
- Advanced SystemCare – Recommended by a visitor. It seems very powerful but some may find it too aggressive and Gizmo’s Freeware says some have reported errors after using.
CCleaner – Fantastic program for cleaning junk files from your computer with frequent updates. Also useful for fixing registry integrity and blocking unwanted Windows startup programs. Use with extreme caution.
- Glary Utilities – Recommended by a visitor; still testing…
- Malwarebytes – One of the more respected free antivirus scanners.
- Panda Cloud Antivirus – Antivirus available in cloud format, so say goodbye to those irritating virus definition updates.
- Revo Uninstaller – Uninstalling programs with Windows uninstaller can be like having a rude visitor leave muddy footprints on your carpet. Meaning… all sorts of junk stays on your computer after uninstalling. Revo seems to do a great job at overcoming that. Scans deep to get junk files normally left behind.
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 – Lots of good stuff.
- KomPozer – Some developers continued where Nvu left off. Great job! From my preliminary tests 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 – Free WYSIWYG editor (with a 5 sec. nag screen). Has advanced features but, as others have said, the last version I tested was a bit buggy (on an old computer). Still, I’ve used it with great results.
Making Music / Audio Production
Kristal Audio Engine – Great 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. Kristal has been criticized for tracks not being in sync but spending a bit of time at the friendly user forum solved the issue pour moi.
- Audacity – THE program for freeware sound recording.
- Reaper – Reaper isn’t free but is a 60 day demo. After that, a nagscreen reminds you it’s not free. This is a great program for music producers if you are willing to look elsewhere for VST plugins (like KVR, Vst4Free or Bedroom Producer’s Blog).
- FL Studio – Like Reaper, FL Studio isn’t free but some features continue to work in the demo version. The cool guitar plugin Slayer, for instance, seems to work without limitation in the free demo version. Other plugins cut in and out.
- LMMS – Seems really promising. Used to only work on Linux. But it’s now Windows-friendly. LMMS is mostly about midi, but you can import recorded audio files as samples. So vocalists might want to try Audacity first, or something like that. This program is fairly basic but has its own charm.
- Asio4All – So you’re new to audio production and your tracks are out of sync, or there’s way too much delay between input and actual recording (called “latency”). Enter Asio4All. The genuine Asio driver is made, I believe, by Steinberg and is copyright material. But many people seem to use Asio4All, which I guess is some kind of approximation of the real thing. Perhaps it’s like generic drugs vs. name brands. It comes bundled with the FL Studio demo and is at CNET.
- Synthmaster Player – Really stands out. It’s free, uncrippled, and great.
- VST Resources – There are many great free VST plugins. If you want to find them all, try Google but beware… some sites seem hokey and may host apps with PUP (potentially unwanted programs) and/or praise stuff that doesn’t really sound that good. The sites I use most often are Vst4Free, KVR, and Bedroom Producer’s Blog.
Music Listening / Audio Conversion
- Winamp – Music and video player with a 10-band equalizer and preamp to make music come alive. Winamp disappears and reappears. Seems some enthusiasts have recently brought it back. I believe it originally was coded by the same guy who does Reaper.
- Internet Radio – I like Smooth Jazz Florida but there are many, MANY stations to enjoy.
- Tune In – Well, who doesn’t know about this? I’d be remiss not to mention it though.
- Spotify – Yep we all know this one. I find the first half hour is best. After that the free version’s ads are too much. Good for listening to “that” song when you want, however.
- Stingray – Proudly Canadian. Not sure about access in other countries. If your TV provider carries Stingray, check out the free app and online service. The app is a thousand times better than what you get on TV. No talk. Just continuous music with unlimited skips, many extra “Vibes” channels, related channels tuner, and favorites button for artist or tracks, which modifies the playback algorithm if desired.
- Naxos Music Library – If your library doesn’t subscribe to this, hound them to do so. It is the most outstanding collection of ad-free classical music I have ever encountered. Many, many major labels. Not just the Naxos label. And updated almost daily with exciting new records. The Jazz wing of Naxos is pretty decent too.
- Hoopla Digital – If your library doesn’t subscribe to this, hound them to do so. You can borrow ad-free music albums for most genres. And it’s NOT second rate stuff but all the latest and greatest with vintage releases too.
AudioGrabber – Handles WAV and MP3 formats. Audiophiles will probably know that WAV files sound better but are larger in file size. MP3’s are “sonically acceptable” and take up less space for mobile devices. There are several free grabbers out there but I find this one sounds bigger and fatter than the others I’ve tested. Some listeners may like that, others may not.
- Xrecode – 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.
- Freemake – Nice user interface but FLAC to MP3 conversion test took 5 to 6 times longer than xrecode (which was listed here way before it caught on at CNET, etc).
Create RSS Feeds
FeedSpring – Web publishers can use this to generate their own RSS feeds.
Get News with RSS
- Feedreader – One of the better online solutions
- Inoreader – Ditto
- Feedly – Free version is limited but still pulls in news others might not
- RSS Bandit – Nothing wrong with this program but I prefer…
- Quite RSS – Seems a bit sexier than RSS bandit (yuck… what a horrible and dated term. Or is it?)
Scanning, File Conversion, PDF
- Bullzip – Easily converts Windows documents to pdf. Lots of options.
Scan2PDF – scan documents to PDF format – Scan anything and convert to .pdf. Also open image files from your hard drive and convert to .pdf. Works best if in “options” you enable the scanner interface. That way you can adjust the resolution and get really good results.
Open Office – Easily converts to pdf and supports a wide number of languages. Portable versions too.
Primo PDF – Primo converts Windows documents to pdf.
- Sumatra PDF – Light, portable and works well.
- PDF Tools Does things usually found in paid-for products. Not an elegant GUI but it works. I recently used it to merge an 80-page doc. Fantastic results.
- Always on Top – I used this with WinXP to keep a window visible while working with other applications. Examples could be keeping MS Word or maybe a chat contact visible while surfing or blogging. This program is very light and works great.
Web Browsing and Tools
- K-Meleon – Customizable, lightweight browser that brings old computers back to life because it is so light on resources. Just don’t shop or put sensitive data thru it. It’s not as secure as the big browsers… say they are.
- Volumouse – Adjust volume while streaming media or music.
- X-Mouse Button Control – Another great volume control for watching TV, listening to tunes, or whatever.
- Real VNC – Access another computer remotely. Fast and great visual quality but no sound.
- No Machine – Access another computer remotely. Two-way audio (wow!) but for me not quite as fast as Real VNC.
- Splashtop Personal – Access another computer remotely. One way sound (no microphone forwarding).
- Shut Down Timer – I still use this with an old WinXP computer not sure if it works with other OS but it’s portable and light.
- CC Search – Okay I’m an idiot for giving away all my secrets but that’s my kindly nature, I guess. CC Search is a fantastic tool for locating free images for use on the web. No hassles!
- Syncios – Transfers media files (including video) from PC to iPad and other iOS devices—without having to jailbreak. You can transfer media to your iOS device without having to waste bandwidth (and time) thru iTunes or cloud storage sites.
So that’s it for now. What apps do you like? Any hidden gems you’d like to share? Drop us a line in the comments below. 🙂
Before clicking on any of the links in this blog post you agree that Earthpages.org | Earthpages.ca is not liable for any damages that may be incurred from visiting these links or downloading the software they offer.