We don't want to make you feel bad, but, uh... are you really still paying for software? Wow.
Well, PCMAG is here to spread the word: There's no lack of free software to be found online. Some of it is as powerful, if not more so, than the name-brand packages found on shelves at Best Buy for big bucks. By free, we mean you don't pay a dime except for what it costs to download and install the software. There are even times when you don't have to install anything, since there are a lot of great Web-based applications available these days.
Knowing all this, every year PCMag puts together a fresh look at the Best Free Software. We check the previous year's picks to make sure they've still got the chops (and the $0 price tag) and cull through other options that have come our way. We concentrate on productivity apps and utilities for Windows users, but make note when a program also works for Mac OS X and Linux distributions. Every one of the products in this list that is classified as a Windows product is compatible with XP up to Windows 7—unless otherwise noted.
In addition, we know there's plenty of free software available for smartphones, so we've made a notation if the app has a mobile component, but we'll leave the full list of no-cost apps for your phone to our mobile experts (See "The Top 100 Free Apps for Your Phone.")
Many of the apps rounded up here are also "portable," meaning that they have versions that can be placed on a USB Flash Drive and run without installation, sometimes as part of the PortableApp.com platform; we've marked them as such.
Did we miss any great no-cost programs? Leave a comment on the story and let us—and the rest of the world—know about your favorite freebie.
Check out the free software over at PCMAG.com below:
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