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Free Software Alternatives as Good as their Expensive Counterparts


You read correctly: There are 100% free software alternatives to well-renowned industry software. I’ve heard a lot of misconceptions about free software, the most common being that they are awful and terribly made. Although this may be true in some cases, there are certainly others that are both high quality and used by professionals. Say you have always wanted to use industry-standard Adobe software, but couldn’t bring yourself to purchase the software and bound that learning curve. Open-source software is a great place to start! I am very excited to share with you seven well-known FREE software alternatives.

INKSCAPE: Alternative to Adobe Illustrator

  2000px Inkscape logo 2.svg

                  What’s it used for?
                  Vector graphics and illustrations

                  Learning Curve Rating- 4/10

Inkscape, like Illustrator, can be used to create vector graphics. Not familiar with what vector graphics are? Check out our past blog post, “Can you send that in an eps?” Inkscape also provides thorough documentation perfect for anyone new to the software. They offer tutorials for beginners to help you understand how to use it and how to interact with its interface, making it pretty easy for users to use.



GIMP: Alternative to Adobe Photoshop

  gimp logo

                  What’s it used for?
                  Photo retouching, digital paintings, photo resizing, and more.

                  Learning Curve Rating- 5/10

GIMP, is a well-known Photoshop alternative. I actually used to design with GIMP back in my middle school days when I’d created banners for my Neopets shop (#90schildhood). One thing I do humbly request from anyone experimenting with photos and graphics: If you do make any kind of photo edit, PLEASE don’t use Microsoft paint. While Microsoft paint is free, it is a terrible substitute. Not only is it extremely limited, but it produces low-quality results. If nothing else, PLEASE use GIMP as an alternative to paint. GIMP’s developers have also provided well written documentation for anyone interested in learning how to use the software. You can also find video tutorials on YouTube.



Blender: Alternative to Adobe Premiere, Zbrush, Maya, and more.

  blender logo socket

                  What’s it used for?
                  Video editing, animation, modeling, sculpting, game creation, scripting, compositing, and more!

                  Learning Curve Rating- 10/10

Blender is an extremely powerful tool that can be used to create a variety of projects. Over the years, Blender has become a ‘1-stop shop’, combining a variety of software features into one. I absolutely love this software. Keep in mind, although this software is very powerful, Blender has a challenging learning curve. Not only do you need to understand how to use its extensive interface, but it’s also important to understand the terminology associated with its tools and hotkeys. If you decide to take the plunge, there are tons of tutorials online: CGcookie’s Blender Basics or this list of 33 Brilliant Blender tutorials. This is my absolute favorite open-source software because it can be used for a variety of things.

I’m thrilled to share one of my personal side projects that I created in Blender. I modeled Decatur, Alabama’s beloved Princess Theater and programmed the model (made in Blender) into Blender’s simple game engine.

You can also check out my modeling process and final project render to give you an idea of how Blender can be used.



Google Suite: Alternative to Microsoft Office.

                  What’s it used for?
                  Word processing, spreadsheets, multimedia presentations, and forms

                  Learning Curve Rating- 2/10

Although I wouldn’t technically categorize Google as a whole with as an open-source software platform, this set of apps fit that category. Google has provided a suite of free tools that are used very uniquely in comparison to Microsoft Office and some other open source tools. Instead of downloading software with these tools, you access them online. This may sound unconventional, but can prove to be very useful in a team setting. Not only can you create documents, but you can collaborate and share your work live.



OpenOffice: Alternative to Microsoft Office.

aoo4 main tm logo rgb

                  What’s it used for?
                  Word processing, spreadsheets, multimedia presentations, diagrams, database manipulation and more

                  Learning Curve Rating- 3/10

Another great alternative to Microsoft Office is OpenOffice (NeoOffice) being the Mac compatible alternative). In addition to word processing, spreadsheet creation, and multimedia presentation creation, you can also create diagrams, manipulate databases, and more! This great suite of software has been around for quite some time. In fact, I was an OpenOffice savant back in my middle school days. If you have used any age of Microsoft Office software, you will feel right at home with OpenOffice.



Thunderbird: Alternative to Microsoft Outlook

mozilla thunderbird logo banner 

                  What’s it used for?

                  Learning Curve Rating- 2/10

Thunderbird is a free email application very similar to Outlook. In addition to its familiar interface, you can also install add-ons, like Outlook. Lightning is one of the most popular add-ons that allows you to have your own calendar with events/meetings (like Outlook, you can sync your calendar with your fellow coworkers), manage multiple calendars, and create daily to-do lists.



Audacity: Alternative to Adobe Audition and GarageBand

Audacity Logo With Name

                  What’s it used for?
                  Audio editing, sound recording and more

                  Learning Curve Rating- 5/10

Audacity is a free audio editor that allows you to record live audio and edit sound clips with precision and ease. This is also a great piece of software for individuals looking to convert sound clips into different formats or for those looking to convert old tapes and records into digital format. They also provide plenty of documentation/tutorials.



There you have it! These 7 software alternatives are great for business or personal use. I highly recommend you give them a try and see if you like them. Be daring and adventurous! You might be surprised. Like my list? Do you have any open source software favorites? Share them with us!

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