Free software usually comes with a catch. The programs are typically only usable for a certain number of days, have limited functionality, embed watermarks, or otherwise build in limits that eventually lead you to upgrade to the full version. When it comes to LibreOffice, however, what you get is a full, unrestricted software suite that can easily replace Microsoft Office and save you a bundle in the process.
What is it?
LibreOffice is a collection of open-source software programs to help with general office productivity. Downloads are available for Mac OS, Windows, and Linux, and each download includes six programs: Writer (word processor); Calc (spreadsheets); Impress (slide shows); Draw (vector graphics creator); Math (formula builder); and Base (database builder).
How does it work?
Launch LibreOffice and arrive at the “Start Center,” which lists available programs along the left edge, and has a large field on the right into which you can drag a document and get to work. So you can either open the program you want to work with, drag-and-drop a file, and let the software open the right program for you, or going to File/New lets you choose the type of file you want to create.
Programs open very fast, and it’s extremely convenient to have a main window that lets you control them all, rather than having to open individual pieces of software for your tasks.
Each program is also very robust, as the team of coders that maintains LibreOffice regularly release updates that continue to improve the software. And navigation sticks close to familiar toolbars and menus that you’d find in Microsoft Office or Google Docs, so learning your way around the programs is fairly straightforward.
Are there any drawbacks?
Not anything major that we can find. You might find the GUI a little angular and not as “polished” as you might find in Microsoft Office, but that’s something that quickly fades to the background as you realize just how impressive this software is. Plus, if there is something you find lacking in any of the programs, chances are good that you can add a plugin from the impressive library of extensions and templates to help out.
Free, full-featured, easy-to-use, and constantly maintained and updated. Yup, there’s pretty much no reason why you wouldn’t want to download this gift of a software suite now.