Monday, May 20, 2024

A Smart List of Free Desktop Software

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Downloading free software is one of the great uses of the Internet. The Web is like one vast smorgasbord of free software – just fill up your plate with tasty downloads.

All your desktop needs are addressed in this list: firewalls, email, IM, FTP, graphics, RSS readers, video tools. Start downloading!


1 avast!

A fairly complete anti-virus/anti-spyware/anti-rootkit package with automatic updates–free for single, home, non-commercial users.

2 Avira AntiVir Personal
Live, continuous anti-virus scanning with additional security features available for a fee.

3 AVG Free
Anti-virus and safe search package with more than 70 million users.

4 Ad-Aware
Anti-spyware and rootkit removal tool that does not include real-time detection or automatic updates in the free version.

5 ClamWin
A free, effective anti-virus scanner based on the well-known ClamAV engine; however, it requires you to scan files manually.

6 a-squared Free
The free version offers anti-malware/anti-spyware capabilities with manual scanning; live scanning is available in the paid version.

7 Spybot-Search & Destroy
Award-winning software that finds and removes spyware and adware.

Audio Tools 8 MediaMonkey
This all-in-one audio software includes a media player, a recorder, conversion capabilities, and some very good tools for organizing your music collection.

9 Audacity
Open-source audio recorder and editor that supports multiple operating systems.

10 MusicBrainz
Free software for updating the metadata on audio files, plus a huge database of music-related information.

11 HammerHead
Create your own drum tracks.

12 Be Sweet
Convert audio files to any of the nine most popular file formats or encode them to burn a CD.


13 Firefox

The tabbed, super-fast, open-source brower from Mozilla.

14 Chrome
The jury’s still out on this brand new work-in-progress from Google, but it’s worth a look.

15 Internet Explorer
Still the first choice of 75 percent of all Internet users.

16 Opera
The “world’s fastest browser” now also has lite versions for mobile devices.


17 7-Zip

This open source project offers a high compression ratio, plus the ability to utilize multiple file formats.

18 ZipGenius
ZipGenius supports more than 20 file formats, and it can pre-compress zip files so they take up less space.

19 SecureZip
Award-winning SecureZip adds digital certificate capabilities to standard compression capabilities.

Desktop Enhancements

20 Stickies for Windows

Place virtual yellow sticky notes on your screen.

21 CursorFX
Create your own cursor icons for Windows.

22 Yahoo! Widgets
Hundreds of useful and/or fun apps for your desktop.

23 Desktop Sidebar
Add customizable panels to your desktop that display news, weather, calendar info, instant messaging, stock quotes, and much more.

Developer Tools

24 Eclipse

Open-source, extensible development platform that’s very popular with enterprise users.

25 Dev-C++
Integrated development environment for C and C++ programming.

26 Free Pascal
Open-source Pascal compiler.

27 AutoIt
Windows programming language that’s very similar to BASIC.

Automatically creates HTML indexes from file system directories.

29 Inno Setup
Free installer that supports all versions of Windows.

Short for “Nullsoft Scriptable Install System,” NSIS is an open-source system that lets you create the logic you need to install your apps on Windows.

31 Link Checker Lite
Easily find broken links and syntax errors on your Web site.

Educational Software

32 Celestia

Travel to any point in the known universe without leaving your desk.

33 WordWeb
One click takes you to dictionary, thesaurus, and Wikipedia entries for words found in most applications.

34 Google Earth
View satellite imagery of any point on Earth.


35 Thunderbird

Mozilla’s mail client works well with Firefox and makes it easy to organize your messages.

36 Pegasus
First released in 1990, Pegasus is bills itself as “the Internet’s longest-serving PC e-mail system.”

37 ePrompter
Check up to sixteen different password-protected e-mail accounts from one place.


38 NetVeda Safety.Net

Free for personal or non-profit use, Safety.Net is a robust firewall/content filtering solution that includes time restrictions, activity monitoring, traffic recording and more.

39 ZoneAlarm Firewall
Basic firewall protection from CheckPoint that upgrades to a complete security suite for a fee.

40 Jetico Personal Firewall
The free Jetico offers open configuration, so you’re in complete control of the settings. However, it only works with Windows 98//Me/NT/2000/XP.

41 SoftPerfect Personal Firewall
SoftPerfect offers a lot of flexibility in a free firewall, but you’ll need to be a networking expert in order to figure out how to use it.

FTP Tools

42 FileZilla

An open source solution with both an FTP client and an FTP server.

43 Cerberus FTP Server
Free for home and non-profit use, Cerberus is an “industrial strength” FTP server that’s also very easy to use.

44 miFiles
This FTP client offers an intuitive interface and built-in compression/decompression capabilities.

45 Golden FTP Server
The free version of Golden FTP Server looks and works much like Windows Explorer and offers multi-lingual support.

46 WinSCP
Open-source FTP, SFTP, and SCP client with SSH support.

Graphics and Photo Editing

47 Picasa

Google’s photo editing and organizing tool also makes it easy to share photo albums on the Web.

48 The Gimp
The GNU Image Manipulation Program was built for Linux/Unix systems, but also offers Windows and Mac versions.

49 Inkscape
This vector-based image editor is similar to Illustrator and CorelDraw.

50 Artweaver
Create your own artwork using numerous brushes, filters, and other image editing tools.

51 WinMorph
Professional-grade image warping and morphing tools.

Instant Communications (Chat/Phone/Video Phone)

52 Google Talk
Google’s IM client also gives you gmail notifications and offers a voice option for calling other PCs.

53 Skype
Free voice and video calls to other Skype users and low rates for calling landlines and cell phones.

54 Trillian
An easy-to-use, skinnable chat client that supports all the major IM networks as well as audio and video chat.

55 Windows Live Messenger
The upgrade to MSN Messenger now supports VoIP and integrates with Windows Live Mail.

56 Miranda IM
While the other IM clients have added tons of features, Miranda has chosen to stay small, which makes it fast and easy-to-use.

57 ICQ
An enormously popular IM/VoIP/video communication tool with multi-lingual support.

Office Productivity


The ultimate open-source productivity suite includes word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, and graphics editing all compatible with Microsoft and open document file formats.

59 Lotus Symphony
One of the 2008 Datamation Product of the Year award winners, IBM’s free office suite offers word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations.

60 EssentialPIM
Stay organized with this free calendar, to do list, outliner, and contact management solution.

Media Players

61 iTunes

Apple’s software is a must for anyone with an iPod or iPhone, and it’s a great way for everyone else to organize, purchase, and play audio and video files.

62 RealPlayer
The granddaddy of media players is used by millions of people.

63 JetAudioBasic
JetAudio allows you to rip CDs, play audio files, and use your computer like an alarm clock.

64 CoolPlayer
A self-proclaimed “blazing fast” player for Windows only.

65 Winamp
Winamp’s three distinct free players offer a host of features.

66 Deejaysystem Mk-I
In addition to a basic audio player, this app includes some advanced mixing features for DJs.

67 DivX
Play, create, or convert to the DivX video file format.


68 StrokeIt

Too lazy to use keyboard or screen commands? Draw a symbol with your mouse and StrokeIt will perform a preset action.

69 Money Manager Ex
Track your accounts, set up a budget, and view simple financial reports.

70 Filehand
Faster, more effective desktop search.

Network Administration

71 Nmap

This network mapper helps administrators determine which resources are available, what’s running, and where security needs to be tightened.

72 LogMeIn Hamachi
Set up a virtual private network (VPN) in just 10 minutes.

73 PingPlotter
Pinpoint problems with your network or Internet connection.

74 GenControlr
Control desktops remotely for systems administration, help desk, or training tasks.

75 RealVNC
Professional-grade remote control software (freeware version does not support Vista or Mac).

PDF Tools

76 Primo PDF

Convert any printable file to a PDF.

77 doPDF
A lightweight PDF converter that supports multiple languages and searchable PDF files.

78 Foxit Reader
This alternative to Acrobat Reader is smaller and faster than the more well-known competition.

RSS Readers

79 FeedReader

A full-featured news reader with an easy-to-use interface and good filtering capabilities.

80 GreatNews
Calling itself “the intelligent RSS reader,” GreatNews optimizes feeds for fast reading.

81 RSSOwl
This Java-based reader is platform-independent and supports RSS, RDF, and Atom newsfeeds.

System Utilities

82 CCleaner

Clean your system in just one second.

83 Easy Cleaner
Clean up your Windows registry, delete duplicate files, erase useless shortcuts, and more.

84 Folder Size for Windows
This handy app allows Windows Explorer to displays the size of your folders (does not work with Vista).

85 HTTrack
Copy all the necessary files from any Web site, including images, so that you can browse the site offline.

86 MWSnap
Capture all or part of your screen as a graphic file.

87 Startup Control Panel
Control which programs run when you boot older versions of Windows. (Vista has similar functionality built in.)

88 AIDA32
Systems information, diagnostics, and benchmarking for Windows systems.

89 PC Inspector
Finds and recovers damaged or deleted data files.

Text Editors

90 EditPad Lite

Free for non-commercial use, EditPad Lite is lightweight and offers all the features you’d expect in a basic text editor.

91 Turbo Pad
A feature-rich, open-source text editor with a tabbed interface, syntax highlighting, code templates, and more.

92 Vim
An improved version of vi–the standard text editor for Unix.

93 jEdit
A Java-based text editor for programmers with syntax highlighting for more than 130 languages.

Video Tools

94 Avidemux

Edit video in most file formats on nearly any platform.

95 virtualdub
A very basic video capture and editing program.

96 Any Video Convertor
The name says it all—note that you’ll need to pay for the Pro version if you want to convert files for watching on your iPod, iPhone, Zune, or cell phone.

Web Servers

97 Apache

The Internet’s most popular Web server for more than a decade.

98 Apache2Triad
A collection of the most popular open-source tools for Web site development, including OpenSSL, MySQL, PHPmyadmin and, of course, Apache.

99 HFS
Short for “HTTP File Server,” HFS is an open-source web server and file sharing tool.

100 SimpleServer:WWW
A Web server that boasts a more user-friendly interface.

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