This section contains links to examples of free general software that can be used on your PC (Apple Mac or Linux in most cases too). To use the software listed, visit the relevant links and follow the instructions on each website. Remember to ask permission from the owner of the computer before downloading any software and if you wish to use any of the following software in your place of work, speak to your IT manager first.
Browsers are applications that connect to and allow access to the World Wide Web. You are using a browser to view this webpage. The most commonly used browser is Microsoft Internet Explorer which is supplied with the Windows operating system. The following browsers are tried and tested freely downloadable alternatives.
This is Mozilla's flagship product and is one of the most used browsers across the world. There is always an updated and more innovative version on the horizon.
Firefox once reigned as one of the best browsers with extensions but now Google Chrome is catching up fast. It doesn't offer a lot of extensions, but makes up for that in speed.
Maxthon is a popular browser which was one of the first to introduce tabbed browsing. It now supports Windows 7 features, for example 'multitouch'. It also has a built-in RSS reader and ad blocker and supports various plug-ins and skins.
Safari is the browser of choice for iPhone users and this desktop version performs very well. Safari is an Apple product and continues to innovate with cool looking visuals (Cover Flow for your history), good speed and compatibility.
Office software is a varied collection which enables you to create documents or spreadsheets, take notes or display text.
Adobe is competing with Google Docs to create the biggest and best site for online productivity apps (word processors, spreadsheets, and Presentations) Acrobat have pulled out all the stops to create fancy and modern looking Flash based apps here.
Evernote is a very powerful and popular note-taking application which lets you save almost anything you see online. Synchronisation is possible between the web based app and the desktop and mobile versions. The basic version is free but purchasing the full version gives you access to more file space and other added extras.
Docs is Google's cloud-based answer to Microsoft Office and typically of Google, is very innovative and easy to use. Google Apps' word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, and online forms, were already fast and more simple than traditional Microsoft Office apps but now Google also lets you upload any file you want to store in your Docs account.
Open Office is a comprehensive software suite that includes all the tools you find in expensive off-the-shelf products such as Microsoft Office. Unlike MS Office, Open Office caters for all the main operating systems meaning that the compatibility issues once cited as blight on the Open Source ethos is now almost non-existent (however Mac users should also check out NeoOffice for a more Mac-centric interface). OpenOffice does just about everything you would ever want from an office suite (including extras like maths and drawing applications), it works with MS Office files, and it is completely free for any purpose.
LibreOffice is an open source suite of office applications developed as a fork of OpenOffice.org. Like OpenOffice, the suite is compatible with other major office suites, including Microsoft Office, and available for a variety of operating systems.
Presentations have not evolved much in the 50 years since the slide was invented, but Prezi is changing that. Prezi lets you bring your ideas into one space and see how they relate, helping you and your audience connect. Zoom out to see the big picture and zoom in to see details - a bit like web-based maps that have changed how we navigate through map books.
An impressive alternative to Powerpoint. Free to use for educational use.