Top freebies for students


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Free software for students

  • We’ve done lots of research and found some of the best free software for students (both PC and Mac).

Free software may sound a little suspect. After all, it’s free and useful, and how often does that happen?But the free software market has expanded massively in recent times as clever computing-types try to oppose big software companies and make great software readily available to all.

If you’re willing to compromise a little on aesthetics then you could save yourself a small fortune on software.

Free office software

Whatever you study, you’re bound to need Microsoft word style software. Well we’ve found a selection of the best free software to use for uni work, without having to pay for the privilege.

  1. Apache Open Office (PC, Mac, Linux)

    Apache Open Office’s programmes freebiesApache is currently the leading producer of free open source software.

    The software package includes all necessary office programmes. It has a word processor which is similar to Microsoft word, (NB: the grammar checker is not as good!).

    Open Office also includes other processors like those included in Microsoft Office, such programmes to produce spreadsheets, presentations, databases, and an illustrator programme.

    Apache Open Office’s programmes mirror those you’ll have encountered with Microsoft Office, which makes them pretty easy to use. Open Office supports a range of Microsoft Office files saved as, .doc; .xls, .ppt, and other formats such as PDF, HTML, and XML.

    Think of the different between Apache Open Office and Microsoft Office as like the difference between a Big Mac and a Royale with cheese, Open Office is slightly unfamiliar but essentially the same.

    Download Open Office »

  2. Oxygen Office (PC,Linux)

    Oxygen Office freebiesOxygen Office Professional is a relation of Open Office. Branded as ‘Open Office with extras,’ you may find some of these extras are useful to you.

    Extras include: templates, fonts, clip art, new and updated import filters, enhanced palettes for colour, and overall enhanced performance.

    Oxygen Office can be downloaded as an extension of Open Office and you can pick and choose between which extras you want.

    Download Oxygen Office »

  3. LibreOffice (PC, Mac, Linux)

    Scalable Vector GraphicsLibreOffice is a fork off from Open Office and, after plenty of research we’ve found the general consensus to be that the two are pretty much the same. LibreOffice has all the same programmes as Open Office.

    Notable differences are that LibreOffice can handle Scalable Vector Graphics images in its programmes and supports a larger number of languages. As LibreOffice has become a new competitor to Open Office, it may be updated and developed at a faster pace (watch this space).

    Download LiberOffice »

Free online office software

Using free software online means you can save your documents in online files and avoid clogging up your hard-drive (it’s all in the cloud).

  1. Microsoft Office Web Apps (PC, Mac, Linux)

    Microsoft Office Web Apps freeIf slightly unfamiliar office software  isn’t for you, then you may want to stick with Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office Web Apps are stripped down versions of the most popular office programmes. Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote are available to use for free.

    All you need is a Windows live account (which is also free), and you can access the programmes via your browser. One downside of the Web Apps is that they don’t include all the features usually included in the programmes.

    Use MS Office Web Apps »

  2. Google Docs [now ‘Drive’] (PC, Mac, Linux)

    Google Docs is great free software for studentsAs usual, Google has done something pretty useful and pretty cool. Google Docs is great free software for students, it allows you to create basic documents, spreadsheets and presentations online.

    It includes all the familiar editing tools such as font changing, text editing, cell editing, etc. Google Docs also allows you to upload your exiting files in DOC, XLS, ODT, ODS, RTF, CSV, and PPT formats.

    What makes Google Docs an exceptional student software is that it makes collaborations and group projects easy. The software allows you to invite others to access and edit your documents. This can also be done in real time, allowing multiple people to work on the document at once, while showing you who edited what.

    Use Google Docs »

  3. ThinkFree (PC, Mac, Linux)

    ThinkFree has been the recipient of much praiseGreat for use on mobile and desktops alike ThinkFree has been the recipient of much praise.

    Pretty much completely compatible with Microsoft Office, perhaps the best thing about ThinkFree is that it does fancy stuff with your browser so you can still use all your normal keyboard shortcuts.

    Use ThinkFree »

Free antivirus software

Anti-virus software can be really expensive. But no one wants a dying laptop when there are deadlines to meet, and certainly no one wants to not be able to log on and surf on Save the Student!

Note: be careful when looking online for free antivirus software, some of these can be viruses in disguise!

  1. Avast (PC, Mac, Linux)

    Avast is a free and fairly comprehensive antivirusAvast is a free and fairly comprehensive antivirus software. The software can detect viruses, spyware, worms, Trojans and malicious adware.

    The software offers browser and email scanners which offer protection from spam, phishing and viruses. Avast is pretty easy to use and is essential if you have no other anti-virus software.

    Avast has been known to slow down computer performance when running a scan. Avast runs on Mac, PC, and Linux

    Download Avast Antivirus »

  2. AVG Free (PC, Mac, Linux)

    AVG offers a decent antivirus softwareAVG offers a decent antivirus software, if a little brash. As well as the basic protection against viruses and malware, there are some extras AVG offers.

    AVG can scan incoming and outgoing emails, and automatically uses red, yellow or green warnings to rate the security of results in your browser.

    The downside of AVG is that it is constantly advertising its costly updates and the size of it can make a pretty large dent in your computer storage. Mac, PC and Linux users can all use AVG.

    Download AVG Free »

  3. Microsoft Security Essentials (PC, Mac, Linux)

    Microsoft Security EssentialsMicrosoft Security Essentials is simple to install and use, if a little basic.

    It effectively protects against viruses and spyware, and includes a variety of computer scan options including whole system or custom scans. Security Essentials offers browser and email protection but it has been reviewed as less effective as Avast and AVG.

    Download Security Essentials »

Free image editing software

Image editing software is a necessity for many students. It is also a funny luxury for other students looking to create daft and incredibly naff looking ‘shopped pictures of their mates. Either way, Photoshop can be very expensive so we’ve found some free image editing software which does the job.

Note: be wary of the file formats you save your work under when using this software as they may not be compatible when transferred to other computers.

  1. (PC Only)

    Free image editing software paint netAhh Paint, a programme which usually produces the computer based equivalent of doodling a moustache and devil horns on a photo. however is surprisingly comprehensive. includes many features usually only available with expensive software. It uses layering for rich photo composition and includes a curve tool for drawing splines and a gradient tool.

    For Special effects includes are blurring, sharpening, red-eye removal, distortion, noise, and embossing. There is also a wide range of colour editing options and a 3D rotate and zoom effect. supports the file types, BMP, GIF, HD PHOTO, JPEG, JPEG 2000, PCX, PNG, and RAW.

    Download »

  2. ProAutodesk (PC, Mac)

    Free image editing software proautodeskBecause they’re nice guys, Autodesk offer free software for students. You can get their computer aided design software for free for three years if you sign up to the Autodesk Education Committee, which requires your uni email address.

    The free software package includes programmes worth hundreds of pounds such as AutoCAD, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, AutoCAD Map 3D, and AutoCAD Architecture.

    One drawback is that all print outs will have a watermark to show they are from the free student version of the software. ProAutodesk is compatible with PC and Mac.

    Download ProAutodesk »

  3. Gimp (PC, Mac, Linux)

    Free image editing software gimpAccording to Gimp, their intention is to rival Adobe Photoshop with free software of equal quality. And that appears to have been achieved.

    Gimp has been designed specifically to make Photoshop users feel comfortable and includes many similar features. Gimp has been highly recommended by amateur and more savvy Photoshoppers alike. It offers a huge range of editing tools, which allow both simple and complex photo manipulation.

    Like Photoshop, there are a range of plug-ins available for Gimp to make your editing easier and these are easily found with a quick search online.

    Gimp supports a broad range of file types including, JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIFF among others.

    Download Gimp »

    Note: We learnt the hard way, be wary when googling this obscurely titled software. Very wary.

  4. Google Sketchup (PC, Mac)

    Free image editing software google sketchupGoogle Sketchup is a free downloadable software that allows you to easily produce 3D models of anything you like. It is a free and less equipped version of Trimble’s Sketchup Pro, but still has a lot to offer.

    The software is relatively easy after a little practice and the results are pretty impressive. You’ll find yourself looking for any excuse to use a 3D model in your uni work. Google Sketchup is compatible with both PC and Mac.

    Download Google Sketchup »

Free online image editing

Edited images can take up a lot of space on your hard drive. To save on space try some of this free software for editing images online.

  1. Picasa (PC, Mac, Linux)

    Free image editing software picassaPicasa is primarily a space to organise and back up your photos, but it offers some simple and handy editing tools too. Basic functions such as red-eye reduction, cropping and colour enhancement are available.

    Picasa helps you with a range of useful functions such as reducing photo size, creating image time lines and photo sharing. All you need is a Google Account.

    Use Picasa »

Free audio and video software

It may be a part of your course or you may just want to edit a tune as a ringtone or simply make a funny film of your mates crazy dancing in the club from the night before.

These free video and audio software packages won’t help you to make a blockbuster but they will start you off!
Note: be wary of the file formats you save your work under when using this software as they may not be compatible when transferred to other computers.

  1. Audacity (PC, Mac, Linux)

    Free audio and video software audacityAudacity is free software that allows you to record, convert, edit, copy, slice, mix and do much more to your chosen audio.

    Among other tools, the software allows you to dub over existing tracks to create multi-track recordings, monitor volume levels before, during and after recording, and remove static, hiss, hum or other constant background noises.

    Audacity enables you to import and export WAV, AIFF, AU, FLAC and Ogg Vorbis files and create WAV or AIFF files which are suitable for burning to a CD.

    Download Audacity »

  2. MusicBrainz Picard (PC, Mac, Linux)

    Free audio and video software piccardAnything named after a Star Trek character is bound to have the computer boffin seal of approval. If your online music collection is a mess of untitled artists, incomplete albums, and misspelt song titles, then MusicBrainz Picard can sort it out.

    The software will take an audio tracks unique digital ‘fingerprint’ and match it against the MusicBrainz Picard database. The software will then add tags to your tracks, including correct spelling, comprehensive release information and assignment to the correct album. It’s pretty much like having a maid for your music.

    Download MusicBrainz Picard »

  3. VLC player (PC, Mac, Linux)

    Free audio and video software vlc playerIf you’ve often spent hours downloading a video, only to find it won’t play on your media player, then VLC player is the software for you.

    VLC claims that it is hard to find a format that it cannot play and it will even play broken, corrupted or unfinished video or audio files.

    This software is a leaves a little to be desired aesthetically, but it’s really easy to use and does exactly what it says on the tin.

    Download VLC Player »

  4. Videora Converter (PC, Mac)

    Free audio and video software videooraVideora is free software, and it can save you money, hooray! The software allows you to convert a variety of formats into files which can be played on your iPod, phone, PSP, Xbox, or whatever other device you have.

    This could save you pennies as it means you don’t have to shop directly at the apple store (for example) to get your files in the right format.

    Videora Converter is available for PC and Mac.

    Download Videora Converter »

Social messaging software

The usefulness of social messaging software can really only be  judged by whether or not the people you want to talk to use it. However, here’s a quick look at what some of the usual suspects offer (not including the obvious Facebook chat).

  1. Skype (PC, Mac, Linux)

    Social messaging software skypeSkype is a brilliant way for communicating with anyone on any continent, without spending a penny! Skype offers both free voice and free video calls.

    If you have both a webcam and a microphone, you can make video calls by calling one of your contacts via Skype.

    The free version of Skype limits video calls to one-to-one chat. If you have no webcam, you can still make voice calls as long as you have a microphone.

    Download Skype »

Other free software

There is loads of free software out there to help with you uni work, socialising and more. These are the best of the rest.

  1. Dropbox (PC, Mac, Linux)

    Other free software dropboxIf you like to access your files wherever you are, then Dropbox could be the free software for you. Dropbox allows you to bring all your photos, documents and videos into one neat and tidy place. The cloud based software saves you the trouble of emailing yourself or loosing memory sticks.

    You alter or add a file in your Dropbox and these changes will be available on whatever device you use Dropbox on. The beauty of Dropbox is that if one device, say you phone, breaks then you can still get your Dropbox documents online or on other devices. Dropbox also includes a sharing function, which is great for group projects.

    The free version of Dropbox starts off with 2GB, with a maximum of 18GB of space if you refer friends onto the service.

    Download Dropbox »

  2. Ccleaner (PC, Mac)

    other free softwares CcleanerIf you’ve been taking advantage of all the free software we’ve shown you, then your laptop may be a getting a little clogged up. In that case, Ccleaner is system optimisation which makes space on your hard drive by removing unwanted files, emptying your recycle bin and clearing your internet history.

    Ccleaner runs pretty quickly and can make your laptop running time a lot faster.

    Download Ccleaner »

  3. IMGBurn (PC Only)

    IMGBurnIMGBurn is free software that allows for easy CD, DVD, HD-DVD, or Blu-Ray burning. It allows you to achieve a range burning tasks that can often be temperamental.

    It allows you to read a disk to an image file, write an image file to disk, check if a disk is fully readable, and more.

    Only available for PC

    Download IMGBurn »

  4. Prezi (PC, Mac, Linux)

    PreziIncreasingly popular with students, Prezi is a free to use presentation tool.

    Not only can you make some impressively beautiful presentations, all of the storage is online, so there’s no chance of forgetting your memory stick.

    It’s free to use for everyone but students can also look forward to increased storage.

    Use Prezi »

  5. Evernote (Mac)

    evernoteWhether it’s remembering that you want to buy that bottle of wine or working on projects with people Evernote is great at organising your life all in one place.

    You can collate all of your files, notes, pictures and favourite web pages all in one place and then share them with whoever you like.

    Download Evernote »


Where can you find free software?

We’ve provided links throughout to all the recommended free software. If you just can’t decide what you need, allows you to search its site for the free software that is available on your computer.