By Bob Hooper for Island Eye News
Enough of Spyware and what is wrong with this and that new stuff, let’s talk about some free stuff! When deciding to add programs to your computer you have two options, buy something or opt for a free version.
There are free alternatives to Microsoft’s Office suite, Microsoft’s own Office 365 being the latest. There is also “Open Office,” an open-sourced suite of programs designed to work much like Microsoft’s programs.
There are a few options here including Apache Open Office at www.openoffice.org or Libre Open Office at www.libreoffice.org. Both are fine alternatives to Office, look very similar to Office and do basically the same, create documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint-like presentations and databases.
For editing and organizing your pictures, Picasa (www.picasa.com) from Google does a good job of helping you your memories where you can find them. You can edit them, print them, send them in an email, etc.
Fotor (www.fotor.com) gets high praise for its editing ability, plus it has Android and iPhone apps. GIMP (www.gimp.org/) is Photoshop-like program for free, well sort of. It’s like the “free” Office products above, similar but not exactly the same but for the price you can’t beat it.
It does take some getting used to and is not for the basic user, more for either the experienced or someone willing to get really involved with photo editing.
The website www.creativebloq.com/photoshop/alternatives-1131641 offers some other paid and free alternatives for both PC and Macs. Not all free but very reasonably priced and very good alternatives to expensive programs like Photoshop.
OK, just a bit about Malware… there are many free antivirus programs available too. A few to consider include Panda Free Antivirus, Bitdefender Antivirus free, Ad-adware free antivirus (www.lavasoft.com/products/ad_aware_free.php) or Avast Free. If you are running Windows 7, Microsoft Security Essentials is always a good choice. For most people these will do fine, do not fall for the up-sell to the paid version. If you find that malware is still causing problems you might want to schedule an appointment with an IT professional.
Finally, there are a few great Outlook-style email programs you can download onto your computer so you don’t have to use a web browser to check your email. On Windows 7 or 8/8.1 you can install Windows Live Mail and use it to view and send your email just like the Office program Outlook (not the online Outlook). It has a calendar and is very handy for working with email. When installing Live Mail you will have options to install other programs that come with “Essentials” suite, pick what you want. I would suggest not selecting the Bing program as it will change your Internet Explorer settings and home page.
In fact when you install any free program it will likely come with other programs you may not want, be sure to click “advanced install” and uncheck those if you don’t want them.
Another email alternative is from Mozilla, who makes the Firefox web browser. Its called Thunderbird (www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird). It’s also similar to Microsoft’s Outlook in that in downloads your emails to your computer and you view them without going online.
I did not forget the Mac people, but Macs already come with a lot of free programs as you’ve already paid an arm and a leg!
Mac’s Mail program is great for emails, Pages is Apple’s Word, Numbers is Excel and Keynote does PowerPoint stuff. Use them, they work well on Macs and if you must have Office then OpenOffice is available for Macs and it’s still free. Most of the programs I listed for PC’s have Mac alternatives that are also free. For Malware protection on Mac laptop/desktops consider using Sophos. So go ahead and enjoy the free things in life….
As always if you have questions or need help you can call or email me, Rent A Bob at 843.822.7794 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.