30 Days of Homeschool – Day 13 : Load up your computer with free software

(reminder – this is about free resources for homeschool, in 30 non-consecutive posts…meaning: there won’t be a post every day, but there will be 30 🙂  )

PREFACE/ENCOURAGEMENT/PONTIFICATION: I’m always on the lookout for free or low-cost things for PCs, servers, mobile devices, et al. The computer isn’t necessarily free, but with a computer and an internet connection (or if someone you trust can give these things to you on a thumb drive) then you’re set!

NOTE: These are all from my Windows-based background; some of these have a Mac or *nix offering.


Writing, Presentations, and Spreadsheets – OpenOffice: https://www.openoffice.org/ Good alternative to MS Office. Sure, it misses the bells, whistles, glitz and glam, but you may be willing to forego those to save $.

Notes – Evernote (www.evernote.com) and/or OneNote – http://www.onenote.com/

Notepad alternative – Notepad++: https://notepad-plus-plus.org/ I use this all the time as it has many features that Notepad doesn’t (e.g., line numbering, tabs).

Windows Explorer alternative – Explorer ++: https://explorerplusplus.com/ . Windows Explorer can be a hassle sometimes, and this gives you something a little nicer to work with.

File Compression – 7Zip: http://www.7-zip.org/ – Alternative to WinZip. 7-Zip lacks features of WinZip such as encryption, but if you just want something to zip up a file to reduce the size, this does the job.

Antivirus – AVG: http://www.avg.com/ppc/us-en/avf_download  Great for free; arguably one of the best even considering the paid options.

Malware prevention – Malwarebytes Anti-Malware:  https://www.malwarebytes.org/mwb-download/ You need to manually run and update – it requires the corporate version to be able to automate it properly. But you do what you can with what you have, right?

PDF Creator – CutePDF Writer: http://www.cutepdf.com/Products/CutePDF/writer.asp You need to have a PDF reader such as Acrobat Reader/DC, or you can use the next option.

PDF Reader and Creator: Nitro PDF Reader: https://www.gonitro.com/pdf-reader The drawback here is that you have to register with name and email to get the download

Firewall – Comodo:  https://www.comodo.com/home/internet-security/firewall.php Used to replace your current firewall…they can’t work in conjunction:

Image Editor – GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program): http://www.gimp.org/. A free alternative to Photoshop; great documentation.

Digital sculpting – Sculptris : http://pixologic.com/sculptris/ This is a WHOLE lot of fun! We had troubles with it on Windows XP and an older video card, but it works well with our Win 7 machines.

Registry Cleaner – CCLeaner https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner, and/or System Ninja https://singularlabs.com/software/system-ninja/ I use these on all of our computers…they work well, and are straightforward, though using both may be overkill.

IE alternatives – Firefox: www.mozilla.org , Chrome: https://www.google.com/chrome/

Email Client – Mozilla Thunderbird: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/ If you don’t like the typical barebones look and feature-set of webmail, yet don’t want to spend money on MS Outlook.

Parental Control – Windows Live Family Safety: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/set-up-family-safety#set-up-family-safety=windows-7

Security consultant (for you computer geeks) – Belarc Advisor : http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html

Showing you what all is taking up the space on your computer – WinDirStat http://windirstat.info/

Managing your music collection – MediaMonkey: http://www.mediamonkey.com/ Rrated to be better than iTunes or Windows Media Player –

Managing your music collection – Miro: http://www.getmiro.com/ Similar to iTunes

Multi-track audio recorder – Audacity: http://sourceforge.net/projects/audacity/ We’ve used this to record some home music and some voice for our video projects – easy to use.

Happy Homeschooling!

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