Everybody loves “free.” They love things that make our lives easier. And most people even love software. So what’s better than free software that makes our lives easier? Chocolate! No wait. Free productivity software!
Here’s a look at some personal favorites when it comes to free, freemium, or dirt-cheap productivity software. These titles don’t take up much space on your hard drive, can enhance your day-to-day work, and can actually make 2016 a little more streamlined for you, too.
1. Panda Free Antivirus – It doesn’t matter what software you have or what kind of tech work you do if you don’t have a good antivirus software installed. All can be lost at the download of a single link or a visit to a malicious website if you’re not protecting your tech. Panda Free Antivirus is a really powerful little program that runs quietly in the background, alerts you to threats it neutralizes, and even runs complete scans of your drives at your discretion, all for a nothing price tag. Even better, it offers different levels of functionality at higher price points; if you did decide that you needed a little more oomph from your protection, you can always upgrade without having to install a whole new program.
2. Inky – Okay, Inky is an email tool that isn’t actually free. But it’s so much cheaper than its competitor (whose name rhymes with “spoutlook”) that we might as well call it free. For $5 per month per user, you can get the Outlook interface and save major money on your Office 365 subscription, all with an intuitive interface and all your email needs powered in one location.
3. Paint.net – Whether you’re making a corporate presentation or just retouching that picture of your mother-in-law to get rid of her double chin, great photo editing software is hard to come by. But Paint.NET–not to be confused with the actual Paint program that comes pre-installed by Microsoft, but instead written and maintained by some college students as a better alternative without having to pay for Photoshop–is a powerful little photo editor that can do a lot more than you might think. Billed as “an intuitive and innovative user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools” by the developer, it basically does everything you could ever want it to do if you’re not someone whose work actually requires the artistic features of Photoshop.
4. LastPass – On the surface, I’m suspicious of password manager software. Sure, it’s great to have strong, unique, unthinkable passwords for all of your sensitive accounts, and a password manager makes the impossible into a reality. But what if your password manager password gets stolen? That’s why LastPass is the go-to name in this type of software, with endorsements from every sector of the industry. It’s powerful enough to manage all of your accounts with impenetrable streams of characters and symbols, but it’s also strong enough to keep unwanted eyes out.
5. Trello – It does not matter what you have to organize, Trello is the way to do it, especially if there’s more than one person on board. Whether it’s a corporate account with a dozen team members all contributing to the tasks or a preschool bake sale with a dozen sets of parents all working together, Trello lets you see the entire to-do list and break it down into even more specific items. Best of all, once you have a Trello account, you create “boards” for your different needs. You may have boards for work, boards for family, boards for the kids’ sports teams…whatever. Your boards are only shared with those you choose to include, so your boss doesn’t have to receive an alert every time you add “pick up the uniforms” to the baseball board. Just to sweeten the deal, Trello has an awesome mobile version that lets you flip through your boards, add new items, cross things off your list, and more.
There you have it. If your past year wasn’t as easy as you’d like, then it might be time to roll out some productivity software that will keep things tidy and complete. Give these titles a try and see if 2016 doesn’t start off on the right foot.