10 essential bits of FREE software for International students

There are tons of excellent bits of FREE software packages out there that will be very useful for you when you arrive. I’ve used some of them and thought I’d share them. You can’t go wrong with these useful software packages. They are completely free and I suggest you check them out when you arrive.


free software

1). DropBox.

Dropbox is an incredibly useful app for moving files between computers, or keeping a copy of your most important files in a cloud. This means you can access your files from any computer, even rental laptops at school. You won’t have to remember to bring along your USB stick ever again!

Nothing can be so infuriating than having your computer hard drive  fail on the day you intend to print-out a copy of  your 15,000 word thesis.  That’s why backing up your data should be at top of your computer priority list. Dropbox offers a big folder (2 GB on freebie starter plans) that automatically backs up every little change you make to any file on any system you’re using. And that means any system: Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android, or BlackBerry, plus the clever standard and mobile-sized versions of Dropbox’s web site. And it’s completely FREE!

2)  Microsoft SyncToy

SyncToy is another useful bit of free Software. It does the same job as Dropbox. It will help keep all your work backed up and also enable you share files between computers wirelessly. However, SyncToy is Windows only while Dropbox is a cross-platform syncing app that boasts quick, instantaneous syncs and file versioning through your desktop and their web-based interface.

3) Audacity

Audacity is a free,  open, easy-to-use cross-platform software for  recording and editing sound.  Available for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. You can use  Audacity to Record live audio, Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs. You can even use Audacity to change the speed or pitch of a recording.I have used it  several times.

4) yEd

yEdis a powerful desktop application that can be used to quickly and effectively generate high-quality diagrams( e.g flowcharts, mind maps, swimlane diagrams, Entity Relationship diagrams, and many more.). It  can be used to create diagrams manually, or import your external data for analysis. Available on Windows, Mac and Linux, yEd is a totally free diagramming application.  Check it out.

5) Avast!

Avast! is a Free antivirus with anti-spyware protection for Windows 7, Vista, or XP. Avast!  is certainly the best Antivirus I’ve come across and it has better virus detection  capabilities than many of the paid-for products! It does everything very well.  it doesn’t eat your resources up like Norton or McAfee, and yet it still works better in protection! It does not get in the way, not even while you are downloading or playing most games.

6) OpenOffice

Why pay over £80 for MS office(student version) when you can legally get another package that does the same thing for FREE? OpenOffice can do everything your everyday Microsoft Office program can. It just takes a bit of getting used to for someone who’s used to working on MS Office, but after a bit of use you’ll have it mastered. In terms of must-have software for students, OpenOffice is up there.

Unlike Microsoft Office, OpenOffice supports PDF files which means you don’t need Adobe Reader to read and edit basic PDF documents.

7)  GIMP

Why pay nearly £170 for Photoshop when GIMP is equally as good? And GIMP is free! GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It can be used for image retouching and editing, free-form drawing, resizing, cropping, photo-montages, converting between different image formats, and more specialised tasks. Animated images such as GIF and MPEG files can be created using an animation plugin.

There are versions of GIMP tailored for most operating systems including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

8)  Spotify

Students don’t have money, but yet they want to have the latest music, which presents a problem. Spotify is the answer to that problem. Access to all the tracks is completely free. You can create a playlist and  can still be able to access your Spotify account from any computer that has the application installed. The cool side of spotify is that you can share your playlist with your friends.

9) Grooveshark

Grooveshark is a browser flash-based music streaming application with the same basic function as Spotify. Grooveshark allows you to stream music straight from a variety of browsers and you don’t even need an account to stream. Spotify, however, requires you to download a client to access their music library. Both clients are pretty intuitive, but I must say I equally like Spotify and Grooveshark. I use both because each has its pros and cons.

Unless you have a paid account, Spotify will periodically interrupt your playlist with an audio ad while Grooveshark only has visual ads. Some old songs on Grooveshark cannot be found on Spotify and Spotify sometimes have better sound quality!

10)  Tweetdeck

If you want to monitor and manage a large number of Twitter streams at once, then Tweetdeck is the app for you. TweetDeck gives the Twitter experience more flexibility and allows advanced users to gain valuable insight to what’s happening at this very moment on Twitter. Besides it allows you to reply to multiple people at one time. It also has Facebook support.

Tweetdeck features many other useful functions (e.g. opening videos/pictures within the deck, automatically shrinking URLs, uploading pictures and  marking favorites). I suggest you check it out.


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