Free software: Top 7 completely free programmes for your PC

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We all love freebies, and thanks to the internet there's plenty of free (and legal!) software out there.

Here's our top five completely free programmes that all students should probably be aware of at least, if not have installed on their own computers.


Microsoft OneNote is a free note taking app that's available for both Windows and Mac computers plus iOS and Android phones. As well as taking text notes, you can add tables, pictures, diagrams, equations, drawings and more.

Libre Office

For a student a good office package is a must, whether it's for revision and lecture notes or writing up your dissertation. Microsoft's Office has been the de-facto standard Office suite for nearly two decades, and isn't all that expensive with student discounts, but a free version is available.

The Libre Office suite contains programmes for word processing, presentations, spreadsheets and databases, as well as apps for creating formulas, drawing sketches and note taking, making it an ultimate student necessity.

You may find the programme does lack some features found in Microsoft's suite, but a range of free Extensions allow you to easily extend and customise functionality.

The real issue however is you may run into formatting problems when dealing with documents written with Microsoft's Office's products. Fortunately, the compatibility between the two rival programmes is improving all the time and even now you'll only run into any real issues when dealing with complex documents.


This cross-platform free photo editing software is not as featured packed as the likes of Photoshop but it'll do almost everything you'll need for day-to-day use. The layout and usability is arguably lacking, with the software taking some time getting used to, but when compared to the huge cost of professional solutions, it's well worth investing time in learning!


Why pay to protect your computer? Avast is a free anti-virus and firewall programme for personal users. Pro versions are available at a cost, but you're unlikely to ever need them.

The one slight drawback to Avast is the need to register your programme every six months or so, but this only takes an email address and a couple of minutes.


VoIP software like Skype allows you to make calls, messages or videos with others over the internet, which is great for cutting your phone costs if nothing else. You may not even feel the need for a landline phone package if most of your friends and family have it installed too.

Unfortunately that's the catch, Skype requires both you the recipient to have programme, or other compatible software, installed.

But with it being free and widely available on desktops, tablets and mobiles, there's little excuse for people not download it.


Once you've found some sources, CiteThisForMe is an awesome app for collecting and creating references. You search by book or journal article title, DOI, ISBN, ISSN or URL to automatically create a reference in over 6,500 different styles from Harvard to IEEE. A must when essay writing.


Audio editing software Audacity is a great nifty tool to have installed on your computer. The app allows you to chop, cut, copy and stick together audio files, but more notability has the ability to record and playback sound.

Many students find Audacaity a great tool to use to record lectures for revision later, and you can also transfer them to your phone, tablet or MP3 player for revision on the move!

About the author: Thomas Brella

Thomas Brella is the founder of Student Hacks, starting the website in 2013 while studying at the University of Brighton to share tips and tricks on life as a cash-strapped student. He's now spent over 10 years scoping out the best ways to live on a budget

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