Buying a laptop recently – I got the hard sell on the software upgraded – the salesman knew I ran a business and assuming that I would be spending money on the latest and greatest CRM and office productivity software. He was sadly disappointed. I rarely spend money on software – and only then when I have a) no other choice or b) the free options aren’t working as well as the paid.
Here is my current list of free software which I use to run my online business:
Sure the default which comes with Windows – Internet Explorer is free too but I use Firefox its faster and has a lot more functionality than IE because the software is open source and developer contribute add-on modules all the time.
I don’t use one becasuse I don’t want to restricted to using a single PC to manage my email from – I use Google’s free gmail service – gmail – but Yahoo offers a similar service. I have a number of email addresses and forward them all to my gmail catch-all account.
I have used OpenOffice for years and it only gets better. I predominantly use the Word alternative and Excel alternative – but there are also programs which mimic Powerpoint and drawing packages. I never have any compatibility with people using Word and Excel.
To create pdf files I don’t use a separate program – this is possible directly from OpenOffice using the “save as pdf” button – another good reason to use the suite!
Simple Text Editors
That said I use heavy duty word processors less and less and write almost all my articles in straight text format so that I can include simple html and I know that there will be no formatting issues with the article when its published on a article site or a WordPress blog. When I am being creative I also like to have few distractions and I like the retro black screen look (think Word Perfect 4.0 if you are old like me) with no clutter. Notepad will work for some people but I like the ability to spell check, word count and save snippets that these programs provide. I have been using Q10 for a long time, but recently have also been experimenting with WriteMonkey
Both these editors are very small programs so you can also load them onto your USB and use them on the go if that’s important to you.
I am not a heavy user of photo editing software and even though I own Photoshop I often prefer to use the free program Gimp for quick edits or format changes.
Moving Files Around
You will need to compress files and sometimes load them to your website. For compression of files I use winzip which is often already installed with windows. For a simple free ftp program with a nice interface I recommend Filezilla