After having spent a lot of dollars and euros in buying software "for life" that eventually expired when I bought a new laptop I decided to find and use software that was equal in sophistication as the equivalent commercial one but was free and worked as successfully as the paid for software. I have selected below software for a variety of needs that is either free or open source (free and usually continuously developed) and has no limitations or expiration date or commercial but affordable and with no limitation of the purchased license. The pieces of software are here selected not for advertising purposes but only because they work fine and in most cases I use them with Windows 11. However some are also available for other platforms such as Mac OS X, Linux, Chrome OS etc and in many world languages.
Free. "7-Zip is a file archiver with a high compression ratio.Supported formats: Packing: 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP and WIM. Unpacking only: APFS, AR, ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DMG, EXT, FAT, GPT, HFS, IHEX, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, QCOW2, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, UEFI, VDI, VHD, VHDX, VMDK, XAR and Z. For ZIP and GZIP formats, 7-Zip provides a compression ratio that is 2-10 % better than the ratio provided by PKZip and WinZip. Strong AES-256 encryption in 7z and ZIP formats. Self-extracting capability for 7z format. Integration with Windows Shell." Help provided through main site page.
Free. "Apache OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages." LibreOffice is an alternative to OpenOffice and based on it. Help manuals and center available.
Free. Audio recording and editing software. Maybe more sophisticated and powerful in editing compared to simple WaveShop (see below) but is it extremely popular. Manual, help and forums are avialble through the main site page.
AVS Free Software (2024)
Free. AVS creates and sells commercial audio and video manipulation software but offers the following pieces for free with no limitations. (1) AVS Media Player (2) AVS Video Converter (3) AVS Audio Converter (4) AVS Image Converter
Classical Opus Media Cataloging Software
Use it to create a catalog of your classical (and not only) music recordings collection. Use Classical Opus to catalog your music collection on CDs, DVDs, LPs, Tapes. This software can be used with classical, pop, rock, jazz, country or any other music style but it is especially fast and easy with classical music. Use the copy/paste keys and the thousands of built-in names of classical composers, orchestras, conductors, soloists and labels to keep actual typing to the minimum. Search your collection in various ways and combinations and print and save the results. Manual and other help files are included in the installation package.
Free. "Calibre is a powerful and easy to use e-book manager. Save time on managing your e-book collection. Use it everywhere and with anything. Comprehensive e-book viewer. Download news/magazines from the web. Share and backup your library easily. Edit the books in your collection. Satisfy every e-book need and get support." Help through the main site page.
EAC. Exact Audio Copy
Free. In case you need to transfer an audio CD onto your hard disk. "Exact Audio Copy is a so called audio grabber for audio CDs using standard CD and DVD-ROM drives. It is free (for non-commercial purposes) It works with a technology, which reads audio CDs almost perfectly. If there are any errors that canít be corrected, it will tell you on which time position the (possible) distortion occurred, so you could easily control it with e.g. the media player." Help provided through main site page.
Free. Volume control for Windows. "Take full control of all your audio with EarTrumpet! EarTrumpet is a simple, easy-to-use volume control program for Windows that lets you easily control the volume of specific channels. If you've ever wanted to individually control the volume of everything on your Windows PC, or have grown tired of shifting the volume between apps like Skype and Spotify, EarTrumpet is the best option for you. With EarTrumpet you can cease constantly adjusting your volume to whatever it is you are currently listening to. Simply adjust the volume once for every app you use, and sit back and enjoy the perfect level of volume every time." Help provided through main site page.
Free. Very fast file search on PC hard disk and external disks when connected. "Locate files and folders by name instantly.Small installation file. Clean and simple user interface. Quick filename indexing. Quick searching. Minimal resource usage. Real-time updating. Help provided through main site page.
Free. "Sheet music text editor. It aims to be powerful, yet lightweight and easy to use. Powerful text editor with syntax highlighting and automatic completion. Music view with advanced Point & Click. Midi player to proof-listen LilyPond-generated MIDI files. Midi capturing to enter music. Powerful Score Wizard to quickly setup a music score." Help provided through main site page.
Free. "GIMP provides the tools needed for high quality image manipulation. From retouching to restoring to creative composites, the only limit is your imagination. GIMP gives artists the power and flexibility to transform images into truly unique creations. GIMP is used for producing icons, graphical design elements, and art for user interface components and mockups. GIMP is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, macOS, Windows and more operating systems.Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, or scientist, GIMP provides you with sophisticated tools to get your job done. You can further enhance your productivity with GIMP thanks to many customization options and 3rd party plugins." Help included and provided through the main page (at the bottom) of the site.
* GoldWave Audio Editor
Commercial. Affordable commercial software with no license expirations, unlimited installations and activations, two years of free updates and upgrades."GoldWave is a highly rated, professional digital audio editor that turns your computer or mobile device into a recording studio at your finger tips. Do everything from the simplest recording, editing, and mixing to the most sophisticated audio processing, restoration, enhancements, and conversions." User Manual and Help online.
Free. Graphic Viewer but has plug-ins and play music files and show PDFs. "Fast and compact (just 6 MB). Freeware for non-commercial use. Multi language support. Unicode support. Designed to be simple but powerful". Help file included.
Free. "Mp3Splt-project is a utility to split mp3, ogg vorbis and native FLAC files selecting a begin and an end time position, without decoding. It's very useful to split large mp3/ogg vorbis/FLAC to make smaller files or to split entire albums to obtain original tracks. If you want to split an album, you can select split points and filenames manually or you can get them automatically from CDDB (internet or a local file) or from .cue files. Supports also automatic silence split, that can be used also to adjust cddb/cue splitpoints. Trimming using silence detection is also available."
Free. "Free music notation & composition software. WYSIWYG design, notes are entered on a "virtual notepaper". TrueType font(s) for printing & display allows for high quality scaling to all sizes. Easy & fast note entry, with many editing functions. MusicXML import/export, and MIDI (SMF) import/export. MuseData import, MIDI input for note entry, with integrated sequencer and software synthesizer to play the score. You can print or create pdf files. MuseScore provides a number of learning resources to help the new user get started." Help included.
Free. Software for video recording with sound and live streaming. It records whatever appears on your computer screen along with the sound played. During installation select the video recording mode for better configuration. You may record either a selected part or the whole display. If needed, can be configured further through "Settings". Comes with a number of help items on its Internet site (Getting Started, Recording, Streaming, Audio, troubleshooting, FAQs etc).
OpenShot Video Editor
Free. Simple in use but very powerful video editor. Supports a number of video and audio formats for editing and saving your videos. Uses frame accuracy and you can use many video effects along with other features. Help through the "User Guide" selected from the "Features" ling on the main site page.
Free. A very powerful PDF creator and manipulator that does everything expected by expensive commercial PDF editors. It has solutions for all PDF problems such as create, edit, merge, split, convert, extract, protect, rotate, remove, rearrange, OCR in many many languages, compare, optimize, annotate, PDF to Word, jpg to PDF pages and PDF files. Manual on PDF Creator site page and other Help through the "Help Center" site link (bottom of main site page) and then "ENGLISH" and "Forums" links.
Free. PDF, eBook (epub, mobi), comic book (cbz/cbr), DjVu, XPS, CHM, image viewer for Windows. Fast, small, packed with features, customizable, free. Manual through the main site page.
Vu Meter or
Free. Vu meter = Volume Unit (VU) meter displaying audio signal level. vuplayer = capable of monitoring playback as well as recording levels.
VLC Media Player
Free. "VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols." Help provided through main site page.
Wallpaper Changer 2
Free. "The Windows application for showing HD wallpapers on your desktop. In the application, you can configure the change of wallpaper on a schedule. Select one of three image sources (Bing, Flickr, Unsplash). Liked wallpaper can be added to Favorites, so that you can then show them again. In Walpaper Chnager 2 there is a parametric search for images by color, by tag (available in one of the wallpaper sources). The application runs in the background and does not take a lot of resources." Very easy to use. If wallpapers do not show or change but you receive an error message then from "Settings" just change "Resolution" to custom. Amazing pictures on your desktop every day or at any time you wish.
Free. "WaveShop is fast, lightweight, and bit-perfect, meaning samples aren't altered unless they need to be. Editing a portion of an audio file only affects that portion; the rest of the file is untouched. Blocks of audio can be cut and pasted without changing their contents at all." Comprehensive help through main page links.
Commercial. Affordable commercial software with no license expirations, unlimited installations and activations, two years of free updates and upgrades. "Automatically create a catalog of all files, stored on your disks (HDDs, DVDs, CDs, network drives and other media storage devices): WinCatalog will automatically grab ID3 tags for music files, Exif tags and thumbnails for photos, thumbnails and basic information for video files, e-books, contents of archive files, thumbnails for images (pictures) and PDF files, ISO files, and much more." User Manual and Help online.
You may find hundreds of free open source pieces of software on the SourceForge site by operating system and category.