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Best free PC software downloads

From photo-editing software to complete office suites

Why pay top dollar for fancy software when free downloads can be just as good? You can download everything from photo-editing software to complete office suites at no cost.

Why pay top dollar for fancy software when free downloads can be just as good? You can download everything from photo-editing software to complete office suites for no cost whatsoever.

We highlight five of the best free PC software downloads from around the web based on the experiences of the Which? Technology editorial team. From Open Office to Pixlr, find out what great, completely free, software you’re missing out on.

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1. Open Office

Microsoft Office 2013 costs £110 for the most basic version with just four programs – Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote – and you’re limited to how many computers you can use it on. Even though I do a lot of document editing, that’s a bit pricey for my tastes.

Instead, I’ve found that you can get a workable office suite of equivalent programs for absolutely nothing. OpenOffice is comprised of six powerful applications that you can load on to as many computers as you like. You miss a few features from MS Office and some computers sure don’t like you using OpenOffice (particularly Macs), but it’s straightforward, compatible with all common file formats and you certainly can’t disagree with the price.
Andrew Laughlin, senior researcher

2. VLC media player

If you’ve ever been frustrated by an error message complaining that Windows Media Player can’t open a specific file, then VLC could just be the solution to your woes.

It’s a free media player that comes with the codecs – think of them as language translators – required to play a vast range of media files. It should mean that no matter what video type you try to play, from MP4s to high definition MKVs you should never have to worry about compatibility again. As a more advanced user I even use it to convert one file type to another so that I can play videos on a range of phones and tablets.
Mike Plant, online writer

3. Pixlr photo editing tool

Pixlr is a free online photo editing tool that’s capable of giving many paid-for software packages, like Adobe Photoshop, a run for their money. It’s powerful, intuitive to use and incredibly user-friendly.

For the dedicated photographer it combines serious editing features such as cropping, rotating and retouching with more ‘fun’ features such as adding graphical effects and overlays. As an image editor it is, in my opinion, hard to beat. As a free online tool it’s outstanding.
Dave Holes, principal researcher

4. TeamViewer – remote desktop tool

I love TeamViewer. Ever since LogMeIn started charging for its service I have used this to keep track of my desktops. And, as a man of many computers, I find it handy to be able to check up on the others.

Although Chrome Remote and Linux/Apple’s built-in shared desktops are okay and free, I find TeamViewer works best with different screen sizes and resolutions and has more security options. It also has iPad and Android apps that come in useful, plus you can record sessions as needed or let others observe but not control.
Jonathan Richardson, digital producer

5. Foxit PDF Reader

Foxit Reader is a great PDF editor, and worthy alternative to the widely known Adobe Reader. Although both programs are free, Foxit offers a wider range of tools, is very easy to use and boasts a simple and intuitive interface.

Fixit allows you to draw graphics, highlight text and make notes on any document. While other important features include converting PDFs to text files, verify or validating signatures and it even supports text-to-speech so that a PDF can be read aloud.
Ryan Shaw, senior researcher

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