Free Thing Thursdays – 7 Free Apps or Programs for Your Netbook

Posted on July 13, 2009

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Today, we have free things.

Because last weekend was Sales Tax Holiday weekend, there were a lot of people who bought computers. Netbooks are a big part of computer sales because of their cost.

We’ve talked about netbooks before, but we have not talked about what programs to put on your netbook. Because the hard drives are not large (mine is 16 GB) and a lot of the drive space will be taking by your operating system, programs should be either: versatile if they are large. If not, keep them small or keep them off your netbook. And, of course, free is best.

Here are 7 programs that I use on my Windows netbook. All useful and all free:

AVG Antivirus – You are running a Windows platform (unless you are working with a Hackintosh), so you WILL need antivirus software and make sure you update it. AVG, a free anti-virus software download, is just as good as the paid versions of virus protection.

Digsby – all in one IM program  Gives you access to AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Google Talk, and Jabber. Also gives you alerts to events like new messages and gives you a live Newsfeed of what your friends are up to in Twitter, Facebook, MySpace. Another free program. I do not do a lot of IM because I use Skype. If you use Skype, I would recommend that for the netbook as well.
Dropbox – The free Dropbox account comes with 2GB of space where you can store your larger files and access them online.
Google Chrome – Normally, I would tell people to install Firefox as their web browser, but Chrome has a smaller hard drive footprint than Firefox (non-geek: Firefox takes up more space on the netbook). I would recommend you download Firefox as well and not use IE at all.
Open Office – This is the open-source (translation: free) version of Microsoft Office. It has a word-processing program, presentation software, spreadsheets, and databases. In my experience, there has been only one thing that I could not use well on OpenOffice. But that was not the fault of OpenOffice. OpenOffice programs can be saved as Office files (.doc, .ppt, etc) formats, so you can open them in Office. This might take up some space on your hard drive, but it is too useful for you not to have on your netbook.
VLC Media Player – Depending on your software, you might have trouble playing certain media formats. VLC is an open source media player that can play audio or video on Windows, Mac, or Linux (Ubuntu) platforms. It is better than downloading both Windows Media Player and Quicktime.

Foxit Reader – You are going to need a PDF reader. Adobe Reader is also free. But it is a huge program. Foxit is smaller and just as good. For viewing and printing PDFs (which is all I need in a PDF reader), Foxit Reader does the job. They have paid versions that do more. But for a netbook, the free version is all you need. You can read and print PDF, add or edit bookmarks in a PDF file if the security settings allow, and do basic PDF form operations (i.e. filling out PDF forms and printing them out).
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Posted in: Computers, Free