Best Free Software You Should Try - 2023 Edition

 In 2020, I wrote about Best Free Softwares You Should Try Once. Whilst all the entrants of that list are still pretty solid, I felt like I should introduce few new contenders. So here we go:

Note: I have personally tried all of the softwares and tools in this list, so this list is genuine and is a result of years of going back and forth between hundreds of apps.

ImageGlass - Lightweight Image Viewer

Although Windows provides a free photo viewer and manager, it may feel slow at times, specially on older systems without SSD. ImageGlass is the answer for such people. It is free and open source so no ads or hidden charges. It has been my default photo viewer for about a year now. 

Honourable mention: IrfanView
While ImageGlass is very responsive, it lacks editing and managing capabilities. Plus it is Windows only software. So other people may find IrfanView more useful.

Sumatra PDF - Free and open source PDF viewer

Not many people require a dedicated PDF viewer nowadays(specifically because Web Browsers nowadays do a pretty good job of opening PDF files), if you are one of those old school guys who'd rather use a PDF viewer instead of a browser then this is the one.

Honourable mention: Adobe Acrobat DC and Foxit Reader
These two aren't FOSS(free and open source software) but they do offer additional features like "read out aloud", comparing, editing, etc. 

CrystalDiskInfo - Free Storage Monitor

People in India still go with dirt cheap PC builds with older hardwares like Core 2 Duo and early generations of core i3 processors. I don't blame them for it because most them just need something for browsing the internet, open and edit doc and pdf files and multimedia consumption. It makes no sense to spend 2-3 times more for latest hardware if these builds gets the job done. All they need is a SSD to make the system little snappy. But here comes the catch, since they're going for ultra cheap build, they go with ultra cheap brands as well like Frontec, Zebronics, Lexar, etc. And these brand aren't as reliable as Samsung, Micron(Crucial) and others. So you should regularly monitor drive health to avoid data loss. 

Audacity - Best free audio recorder and editor

Due to the recent pandemic, a lot of people got into podcasts, youtube and other content creation platforms. If you also do some work that requires you to do some voice recording and editing, then it is the best free software for it. It can also be used for music production but I'd only recommend it to beginners. 

OBS Studio - Best free recording and streaming software

It isn't the only one out there but it surely is the most popular recording/streaming software. It may not be as intuitive as other "free screen recorder" that non-gamers download but it doesn't watermark your videos or has limits on recording length. Although it is not so kind on really old budget hardware. 

Honourable mentions: Streamlabs, AMD ReLive, Nvidia ShadowPlay

Libre Office - Best free office suite

Office suite is a must have on every student and working professional's PC. But it doesn't have to be MS Office. In fact, most people don't even use the exclusive features provided by Microsoft. Out of all free MS Office alternatives, Libre Office has been the most popular choice. 

Honourable mentions: WPS Office(if you can bear with the ads), Office Online(needs Microsoft account) and Google's services(Docs, Sheets, Slides)

GIMP - Best free photo editor

It is a pretty solid Photoshop alternative if you are not a professional editor/artist. In fact it is more that capable enough to be used as the main software in those "Instant/5 minute photo print" type studios. The only obvious drawback(compared to Photoshop) it has is in drawing tools, it feels a bit slow when doing digital art. 

Honourable mention: Darktable(for photographers working with RAW files), Paint.NET(very basic editing), Canva(easy to use, quick editor for social media posts, flyers, thumbnails, etc)

Krita - Best free tool for aspiring digital artists

If you want to learn digital art then it is the best free tool to start with. Even the veteran artists can make great artworks with this. If you ever visit DeviantArt the you'll find a huge library of amazing artworks produced in Krita. 

Honourable mention: Artweaver(lacks advanced features offered by Krita)

Inkscape - Best to learn vector art

Vector images are scalable, ie it will not pixelate no matter how much you zoom in. Thus making the ideal for logos and flex printing(banner printing). Inkscape is the best software to learn the basics of vector art. However, it doesn't support printer friendly CMYK colours. So it is only recommended for designing logos and artworks for online use only. 

Fox in Inkscape by Dimitry Zhart

Honourable mention: Vectornator, Vectr(online)

Blender -Best Fee 3D software

If you are remotely interested in 3D animation then Blender needs no introduction. No free software comes close to it.

DaVinci Resolve - Best Free Video editor

If you're serious about a career in video editing then it is hands down the best free software to begin with. There is Studio(paid) version of Resolve but the features provided in free version are more that enough for most beginner to intermediate level of video editors. But there is one catch, you need somewhat decent hardware to run it. On bare minimum I'd recommend a quad core processor, 8GB RAM and a dedicated graphics card with 2GB VRAM. 

Honourable mention: Kdenlive, Shotcut and VSDC video editor. All three are easier to run on low end hardware but pretty limited functionalities. 

Pot Player - Best Video Player for Windows

Some of you might be wondering "why not VLC media player?". The list of supported files is unrivalled when it comes to VLC and VLC is little more than just a media player. And that's exactly why it loses to Pot Player in my eyes. Since it tries to do so many things, there have been multiple occasions when VLC starts to act out for me. Like it triggers separate DirectX window when playing certain media files. Pot Player is just a video player, quite a splendid one at that. It supports 3D and 360 video playback as well. So you must try it once. 

Playing 4K video

Honourable mention: VLC, SMPlayer, KODI

7-zip: Best free compression and decompression software

We come across compressed folders time to time. While Windows File Explorer is capable of handling ZIP files natively, we need a 3rd party software to handle other compression formats. That's where 7-zip comes in.

Honourable mention: PeaZip

Unique and niche software

To keep the post small, I'll avoid long introductions for these software as they're niche apps and not everybody need them:

  1. Notepad++: Best text editor for students. Alternatives: Sublime Text, Visual Studio Code
  2. TOR Browser: Best privacy based browser. 
  3. Ashampoo Burning Studio: Best CD/DVD burning tool(free but requires registration). Alternative: ImgBurn
  4. Dia: Best for making DFD, flowchart, etc
  5. Free download manager(FDM) : as the name says, it is a free download manager. Alternative: JDownloader, Download Accelerator Plus, Ninja Download Manager
  6. Transmission: Best P2P/Torrent download client. Alternative: qBittorrent. (Note: Stay away from ĀµTorrent and Bittorent for your own safety.)

Note: The hyperlinks in this article will take you to external websites. Although most of them are trusted sites, we are not responsible for any purchases made or unwanted downloads once you leave this page. 


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