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10 essential bits of FREE software for students

posted Dec 13, 2012, 2:56 PM by Manish Abraham

10 essential bits of FREE software for students

Whether you're working, playing, or phoning home, download this software and your life will be improved no end - and you don't even have to pay for it.

It's amazing what costs you money these days - very few things in life are free, which is annoying for anyone, but especially for a cash-strapped student.

These ten amazing bits of software buck that trend - for an approximate cost of zero pounds and zero pence you can phone home, writer your essay, listen to music and protect your computer against viruses. You're welcome...

1 .

If you're one of those people who think you can only write a document or create a spreadsheet if you've got Microsoft Office, be prepared to look silly - and also save a lot of money. To buy Microsoft Office you'll have to come up with over £100, yet you can do almost everything you need to without paying a penny thanks to In terms of free software for students, it doesn't get much more useful than this.

2 . Skype

You don't need us to tell you what Skype is. But we will. Because it's our job. Using Skype you can make free voice and video calls anywhere in the world, providing you and the person you're talking to both have Skype downloaded. You can speak to your family. You can speak to your friends from home at other unis. If you're really lazy you can speak to your housemate in the next room. ALL FOR FREE, innit.

3 . Grooveshark

A good music player is probably the most vital piece of software for students, so we've done some research and picked out the best. Grooveshark is a less annoying alternative to Spotify - which, to be fair, still gives you 10 hours of free music a week. As long as you ignore all the pleas for you to sign up for a paid account you'll be left in peace from then on.

4 . GIMP

Yes, yes, it's a very funny name. Though it turns out it actually stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, which is much less funny. GIMP (ha!) is a photo editing package that provides similar facilities to the daddy of photo editing, Adobe's Photoshop. But when you consider that Photoshop will cost a student nearly £200, and you can get GIMP (it really never gets old...) for absolutely nothing, there really is no contest.

Plus, it has a funny name.

5 . Avast!

The concept of buying antivirus software can be a little annoying - you have to pay quite a bit of money to keep something working that already cost you a LOT of money. Thankfully there are companies like Avast! that offer you top-quality virus protection at the quite attractive price of zero pounds.

When you think about all the work, songs and photos that could be in danger should you get a virus this is probably the most important bit of free software for students - though possibly not the most exciting.

6 . Google Earth

As much as we want to help you get your work done, we do know how much you students love a bit of procrastination. There's no better tool for this than Google Earth. Giving a 3D map of the world, you can use it to look at your house (let's be honest, it's the first thing we all do), work out how to get from A to B, or as inspiration when planning where you're going to travel after graduating.

7 . Audacity

Audacity is a totally free - and easy to use - sound recording and editing tool. If you're one of those keen/clever people who record your lectures on your phone or a dictaphone then it's great for cutting it down into digestable chunks. Alternatively you can record yourself reading out your revision notes and listen to them on your iPod whilst out and about.

8 . SyncToy

It's every student's worst nightmare. You've just about finished you 10,000 word dissertation... and your laptop dies!!! It doesn't even bare thinking about - so to make sure you never find yourself in this situation, Windows users can download a free copy of SyncToy. Another very useful bit of free software for students, it will help keep all your work backed up and also lets you share files between computers wirelessly.

9 . yEd

Available on Windows, Mac and Linux, yEd is a totally free diagramming application. With it you can create all kinds of diagrams such as flowcharts and mind maps, making it ideal for making sense of your less than legible lecture notes.

10 . TweetDeck

If you want to know what's going on in the worlds of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and MySpace (assuming you're one of the 17 people still left on MySpace) all at once then look no further than social networking app,TweetDeck. Available on the major desktop and mobile operating systems, it's bound to provide you with the excuse you were looking for to stop writing that essay on the Irish potato famine.