John's list of recommended freeware applications

(updated December 2023)


Many installers are now using the installation of freeware to add the ASK toolbar or similar by default, although you CAN refuse. READ THE SMALL PRINT! If you DO have strange unwanted toolbars on your browser AdwCleaner will take them off.

Free Operating System!

Having tried Linux I will never be without some version of it - UBUNTU or Linux Mint. Free, powerful, easy to use, it can run from a bootable cd, hard drive, a memory card or usb memory stick - so you can carry your computing environment around with you and use it on any PC! Its fast, compact (under 2G, including libre office!) and a lot like windows to use; able to run most common applications, including those below and also many open-source (free) apps that WONT run on Windows. It NEEDS no anti-virus software or malware detectors. You get free updates and a new release every 6 months. And you can put it on as many PC's as you like - whereas you pay for every PC thats running Windows - and again when you need to update.

Linux Mint is probably the easiest for Windows users.

Portable applications

Sometimes its best not to install apps unless you need them frequently. For "one off" applications check my list of FREE "portable" applications that run WITHOUT installation so they dont "clog up" your machine.

On-line security:

Anti-virus, ransomware protection and firewall:

Effective but some versions slow: I prefer AVIRA or PANDA for older machines.
very good but be careful not to install unwanted apps during installation
currently one of the best free antivirus apps
protects against ransomware attacks

Anti-malware:   (run one of these about every month)

Remove adware, toolbars, and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs)
Full thorough scan takes time - run it when the PC is free
good scanner has loads of system analysis tools as well
has a portable version. not the fastest
ONLY IF INFECTED! portable app to scan and clean malware - beware false positives!

Internet and Email:

Fast and reliable
my favourite browser
Excellent and easy to configure. Good add-ons.
Capable email client with useful feature and easy to set up.
Simple portable email client - easy to set up.

Free online email & webmail:  useful for registrations etc so you don't get spam on your important email accounts

Easy as webmail or POP3 with the added benefit of a personal information manager
Great webmail
simple, easy, also supports POP3 and IMAP
Secure webmail
recently hacked! change your passwords

Office applications - word processor, spreadsheet, calculator, drawing, presentation and PIM:

Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base; works on all common computers
Compatible with MS and Libre Office, runs on Android
online office application – documents spreadsheets and presentations and can create pdf files.

Graphics: Drawing and diagrams

You will need to choose based on your own applications as they all have strengths and weaknesses.

Dia  (flowcharts and other diagrams)
a bit like Visio, can save as png
CAD package:many image export formats, but I prefer QCAD
Easy CAD package: good online support

Graphics: Creating and managing images (painting)

one of the most powerful image editing tools
creating images and icons and editing photographs
Quite new but well respected paint program
easy to use and reasonably powerful

Graphics: Adjusting photographs and printing

Photo catalog manager with image adjustment and processing tools
fast compact and easy file viewer - view almost ANY common file type!

Audio: ripping, formats, playing, sound recording editing and analysis

Possibly the best sound editing program
Portable & easy to use
rip tracks even from damaged cd's
another ripping and tagging program
LAME stand-alone MP3 encoder
Needed by almost all software to produce mp3 files.
change and retag mp3 tracks
open source audio player - music files, web radio etc.
Create and copy cd's and dvd's inc blu-ray
CD/DVD burning and file ripping to iso, mp3, etc

Maintenance and Repair: Registry cleaners and other utilities

Produces a manifest of hardware and software on the PC (portable)
Much superior to windows disk defrag tool
Loads of great tools to maintain your PC. NEW file search utility!
a lot of very sophisticated diagnostic utilities
a versitile utility to synchronize files between two folders or devices
monitors computer hardware temperature, load and voltages - and maintains a log file in .csv format
easy to use, best free partitioning tool. BE AWARE ANY partitioning can lose data; backup first
Install common applications and keep them updated

Backups and recovery

AOMEI backupper home edition. Easy to use
Archives to 7zip format. Can open with 7zip.
Back up and restore for browser and email client settings
hard drive imaging (like Norton Ghost)
very flexible; clone drive, system backups etc
clone disk, system backup etc - very easy to use. Excellent and powerful

General utilities

Zip tools (compressing and decompressing downloaded files – ESSENTIAL)
get 7-zip * cos its open source, fast and handles most formats including msi (Microsoft installer) and iso (on cd's)

or nanazip - which works better with windows 10 & 11

PDF documents: reader and creator
Adobe Reader is free and the most compatible; however it's big and slow.  However others can have compatibility issues.
Sumatra PDF Viewer * fast, compact, portable and can read pdf and some ebook formats, but not edit them; while
Nitro PDF Reader * supports editing pdf documents. Also adds a printer driver so you can make your own pdf's.
Foxit PDF Reader supports editing pdf documents, and offers a pdf reading capability for your browser
STDUViewer opens most popular document formats; and has a portable version.

Website editing: HTML code
Arachnophilia *  (a java application) and
Dreamweaver * - not free (not even cheap) but by far the best.



Ultimate boot cd

HIRENS boot cd: a collection of very useful tools - get the latest version!

Linux Mint * a free and powerful operating system that can run from a bootable 2G USB flash drive to test your system or copy files when windows is dead!