Posted in Resources

Six Free Alternative Tools and Software

Paying for software subscriptions can get expensive, especially when you’re on a limited budget. Not every organisation or independent worker can afford the entire Adobe Creative Suite, or the latest version of Microsoft Office. I can empathise; I am currently doing a work term with a not for profit, and I’ve had to find creative ways to get the job done without all the fancy gadgets that I’m used to playing with.  Fortunately I have managed to find some great free alternatives to popular software. The best part is that they can be just as good as the expensive brands. In this blog post I will share some of those tools to help you save money!

Alternatives to Adobe Photoshop

In a recent blog, I created a video tutorial for Photoshop.  I understand that not everyone has access to Photoshop and that is okay!  Hopefully these alternatives can help achieve the same effects.


This free open source image editing program is compatible with multiple operating systems.  At 200 megabytes, it is a small compact software, requiring less than a tenth of Photoshop’s hard drive and RAM requirements.  It’s perfect for users with slow and old computers, and users who just want to make a quick photo touch-up without lagging their computer.

Pixlr Editor

Another great image editing tool is Pixlr.  This is a browser-based image editing tool that doesn’t require downloading.  It is surprisingly powerful, allowing users to create layers, make quick fixes and touch ups, create effects, etc.  It is also great for workers who work remotely or over multiple computers. Pixlr allow users the option to create an account and have all their projects saved in the cloud and accessed anywhere.  For those who work in one place, registration is optional and images can be saved directly on your computer.

Alternatives to Microsoft Office

Google Drive

If you were a post-secondary student in the past five years, you probably used Google Docs to collaborate with your peers in group projects.  This Microsoft Word alternative allows one or more users to write and edit documents that gets updated in real time. Additionally, Google Drive offers these other Microsoft Office alternatives:

  • Excel: Google Sheets
  • Powerpoint: Google Slides
  • Outlook: Gmail

Apache OpenOffice

This open-source office software suite is free and downloadable.  OpenOffice provides alternatives for Word, Excel, Access, and Powerpoint.  It even includes a Graphics/Illustration software program.

Anti-Virus Software

Anti-virus software and cyber security is an area that I’m sure we often overlook.  However it is also one of the most important. As diligent as we try to be, sometimes accidents do happen.  Some of the biggest anti-virus software can be pricey. Fortunately there are tools that have our backs!

Adblock Plus

Adblock Plus is a browser extension that we can add to our web browser that prevents most computer-harming popups and ads from appearing.  This can be considered our first measure of defense from third party-companies that can potentially damage our systems and security. This addon is available for most web browsers including Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and more.


Malwarebytes has both an annual subscription option and a free option.  If you are a relatively safe internet user, the free option might get the job done well enough.  Just make sure to do a free scan every once in a while, and the software will detect and get rid of potentially harmful files.  I’ve been using Malwarebytes for a few years now and it has definitely saved me from a few headaches!

How You Use It

Having the latest, greatest, and most expensive tools does not guarantee success.  The software may be different, but the creativity, ingenuity, skills, and talents always comes from the user.  As they always say: a good craftsman never blames their tools. Don’t let your limited budget dictate the great work you and your company can produce.  Hopefully this blog will help you realise that there are many great and affordable tools that can help you achieve your goals!

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