57 thoughts on “What free software is so good you can’t believe it’s available for free?

  1. The_Toy_Soldier February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    OBS. Open Broadcasting Software. Free, open source, really good recording software for your computer. 🙂

  2. linkgannon February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    I compiled a list of all the software in this thread that got a 1000+ score (in order from top to bottom), along with a short description of each:

    1. Google Maps – Navigation app
    2. Blender – 3D modeling software
    3. VLC – Video player
    4. The Windows Snipping Tool – Screen capture tool
    5. Space Engine – Space exploration simulator
    6. Wikipedia – Online encyclopedia
    7. Audacity – Audio editing software
    8. MuseScore – Music notation software
    9. Handbrake – video converter
    10. Zotero – Reference manager
    11. Calibre – ebook manager
    12. Notepad++ – Text Editor
    13. Desmos.com – Online Calculator
    14. LaTeX – Document software
    15. stud.io – Lego simulator
    16. http://archive.org/ – Contains music, movies, books, software, games, and webpages
    17. OBS Studio – Streaming and Recording software
    18. Discord – Chat and Communication software
    19. Linux/Appache/Postgres/Gcc – Various Linux based OS’s, webservers, compilers, etc.
    20. Search Everything – Instant file search software
    21. Krita – Digital design
    22. R – Statistics software
    23. Gimp – Digital design
    24. OpenSCAD – 3D Model scripting software
    25. Malwarebytes – Malware protection
    26. pfSense – Firewall software
    27. FreeNAS – File server software
    28. Unity – Game design software
    29. https://www.draw.io/ – Online diagram software
    30. 7Zip – File archiving
    31. Plex – Media storage
    32. Libre Office – Document editing suite
    33. Paint.NET – Image design
    34. Draftsight – Free CAD
    35. DaVinci Resolve – Video color correcting
    36. KeePass – Password manager
    37. Inkscape – Vector art software
    38. Google Suite – Google’s document suite (Docs, Sheets, Gmail, etc)
    39. Duolingo – Language learning

  3. fr00d February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    surprised “search everything” is not here. instant file search. changed the way I used computers.

  4. Kell_Naranek February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Two come to mind:
    pfSense and FreeNAS. Both are *HEAVILY* used at my house!

    pfSense is a free open source firewall and router that is feature complete to the level of competing with almost all SMB (small and medium business) commercial firewalls. It is also extremely reliable.

    FreeNAS is a software network attached storage operating system. It quickly transforms any spare old computer with a few drives and a network interface to a centralized file server with support for almost everything under the sun, from Apple Time Machine backups to enterprise iSCSI setups that allow diskless booting of machines on the local network.

  5. ShorkGaaber February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    As a digital painter Krita is probably the best art software you’re going to get for free (As long as you add the brush packs) some of the stuff I’ve managed to whip up/ the amount of adapting you can do to the main window is insane

    Edit: I didn’t think a comment like this would get gold! Thank you so much guys!

  6. itsnotwilldo February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Zotero. For those of you who do academic writing, this reference manager is 100x better and 1000x freer than EndNote.

  7. CalculusWarrior February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    [stud.io](http://www.stud.io) is a wonderful LEGO modelling program, it’s great for recapturing that feeling of building with bricks, and you don’t have to worry about running out of a certain colour or stepping on a 1×1 piece. Apparently it also has an option to work on a project with your friends, but I haven’t tried it out.

  8. chuy1530 February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    WinDirStat is great for making pretty tile pictures of what’s on your hard drive and finding the porn folders you’d forgotten about that are taking up a ton of space.

  9. wacopeach February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Handbrake. Free, very powerful video converter.

  10. SodiumGeek February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    I don’t know how many people here can relate but MuseScore is fantastic for anyone who wants to put their musical ideas onto paper. It’s free and has all the functionality you could ever want from music notation software.

  11. StetsonTuba8 February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm


    It’s an online graphing calculator and it’s so much better than ge TI-84 I had to spend $120 on. It graphs all kinds of equations. For example, you don’t have to isolate y, you can graph complete inverses, and constant placeholders exist too.

    EDIT: Fixed link. It’s desmos.com, not org

  12. Brolski February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Blender. For as much shit as the software gets, it is a workhorse for those of us willing to put in the time to learn it. It does tons of stuff from modelling, to animation, to video compositing. It regularly gets updates and the tech behind it is only getting better. Could it be better? Sure, absolutely. But for something that is free it’s amazing.

  13. iwonder123 February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    R its a statistics software. Has a ton of add ons that you can download for free and its you have to learn it but it will do anything once you do.

  14. burtwinters February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    OpenSCAD – Create 3D models with a scripting language. If you have a 3D printer and you want to print some exotic shapes or if you’re creating parts that might need a parameter tweak here and there each run it’s fantastic.

  15. mrgreenmonkey February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    VLC has played every video file in every format I’ve given it with no problems.

    Also, all the video game emulators. It’s amazing how you can have a fully working console on your computer with almost any game from that console for free.

  16. pbill2017 February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm


    Full CAD software available for free, functionality and commands work almost exactly like Autocad.

  17. Livingingrey February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm


    Audio editing software.



    Great for basic editing of images. This is my default image viewer.


    And then there’s ones a lot of people know about like VLC, Winamp, Imgburn, Winrar, z-7, CPUID and Bleachbit.

    Edit: oof my inbox this morning.

  18. danishclarinets February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm


    I just started learning it a few weeks ago, and I’ve already switched over to it for doing all my assignments. The documents are just so much more beautiful and well-formatted than GDocs or Word, and it handles equations and math much better than either (which is good for me since I’m in engineering so lots of math). I’d highly encourage anyone who’s studying math/science/engineering to learn and start using LaTeX.

  19. Geethebluesky February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm


    I have been using that as my password manager since 2008. It’s updated regularly, has 2 versions (one .net and the other not), is entirely portable on Windows at least and works on a few OSes besides Windows. Has plugins if you need any functionality the base version doesn’t have!

    It’s changed the way I store passwords, addresses, URLs for everything… there’s a learning curve but I have fallen in love with never having to remember a password.

  20. Zekjon February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm


    It restore deleted files as long as the memory hasn’t been wrote over :

    Some days ago, i was going through clips I recorded on my camera, and by accident erased THE clip I needed.

    Scanned the sd card on recuva, bam, got it back from video hell.

    Thanks recuva for forgiving my carelessness.

    Work on hdd too.

  21. MrsIronbad February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Calibre. Helps me manage my ebooks easily.

    Edit: See? Calibre is awesome! Thanks for the gold kind internet stranger!

  22. -eDgAR- February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Not technically a software, but http://archive.org/

    It has millions of free downloads for [music](https://archive.org/details/audio), [movies](https://archive.org/details/moviesandfilms), [books](https://archive.org/details/texts), [software](https://archive.org/details/software), etc. One very popular example is that it is home to [a very large catalog of Grateful Dead recordings](https://archive.org/details/GratefulDead)

    It also has [The Internet Arcade](https://archive.org/details/internetarcade) where you can play a lot of classic games along with the [Console Living Room](https://archive.org/details/consolelivingroom) which is similar. They have access to tons of old PC games too and you can even [play the original Oregon Trail online](https://archive.org/details/msdos_Oregon_Trail_The_1990)

    It also has [The WayBack Machine](http://archive.org/web/) which has archived more than 310 billion web pages saved over time so you can go back and see how websites were years ago. For example, [here’s reddit on July 25, 2005](https://web.archive.org/web/20050725010627/http://reddit.com/) a month after it was created.

    The fact that you have access to all these amazing resources for free is pretty awesome.

  23. synthony February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm


    Should I pay $3000 for MATLAB or **import** numpy ? … Hmmm

  24. Robalypse February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Paint.NET. Like Adobe Photoshop bent MS Paint over a table and made a love child. I used to be heavy into graphic design using Photoshop but that junk got too expensive to keep up with. Tried Gimp for years but it aleays felt too clumsy. Paint.NET hits the sweet spot.

  25. yeahcheers February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Linux, Apache, Postgres, Gcc ? This thread shows it’s a consumer’s world!

  26. bothole February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Check out Audio Router. Great little piece of freeware that lets me route sounds through different sets of speakers, so I can watch a stream on my TV and play a game on my main monitor. Edit: I’m glad I helped so many people out! You have to reload the page after you route the sound(except for youtube, it routes without interruption) I found it when I was looking for two desktop in one computer programs. I started with CheVolume as one redditor suggested, but I had issues with it. Here’s a direct link (Thanks /u/Dome731) https://github.com/audiorouterdev/audio-router

  27. vault13rev February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Notepad++ changed the way I text edit

  28. Fish_Carbone February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    7Zip, Plex, VLC Player, Libre Office.
    *Libre instead of Open.

  29. countvracula February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Plex for movies. Fricking ridiculous that it is free.

    – Automatically downloads all the metadata for a movie , like thumbnail , hell even has rotten tomato scores on it.
    -has voice Api so you can actually search by voice.
    – Remembers and marks episodes or movies as watched.
    -Brings up new movies that you recently added to your library to the forefront .

  30. AbsolutelyNebulous February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    DaVinci Resolve. Freaking awesome video editor for Windows, Linux and Mac.

    It’s so advanced that you could use it to adjust the color of a specific object in a scene and have it track where the object moves so the color adjustment stays attached to it.

  31. Dreadnought6570 February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Fusion 360. Full parametric 3d cad with tool path controls for CNC and a slicer for 3d printing or prototyping and load stress calculation…I could go on.

  32. mandobaxter February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Inkscape! Who needs Adobe Illustrator? Inkscape is powerful and its interface is wonderfully intuitive.

  33. railmaniac February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm


    It’s actually free in all senses of the word. If you want to nitpick that it’s a website and not a software, well it’s a software too. You can download the wikimedia software, set it up with no hassle, download all of wikipedia and set it up in your instance of wikimedia. So now you have your very own wikipedia. With blackjack and hookers if you want.

  34. xeqz February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    foobar2000. I guess most people use Spotify or Youtube to listen to music these days but foobar is godlike.

  35. Kamoriah February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Doom shareware on 3.5 floppy disk

  36. markth_wi February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    – [disk fan](http://www.diskspacefan.com/download.html) – visually see how much space is being used on a volume.
    – [beyond compare](https://www.scootersoftware.com/download.php?zz=dl3_en) – compare two files/directories – whole tree’s and directories, it’s trialware, but exactly what I’ve needed so often.
    – [vncserver/viewer](https://www.realvnc.com/en/) – it’s quite old, it’s probably got better replacements available, it’s a security hazard if not used properly,but it’s utterly changed the way remote support gets done and is available win/linux.
    – [Ubuntu](https://www.ubuntu.com/) – An entire OS, Linux generally but Ubuntu springs to mind immediately as an amazingly easy to install and insanely useful.

  37. mo0_mo0 February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    VLC needs more love than WinRAR

  38. someone2639 February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    [LMMS](http://lmms.io) is a surprisingly versatile music studio. Not entirely comparable to FL, but it gets pretty close

  39. ArkAngel10 February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Arduino. The platform can help you DIY basically anything. The software is free and open source.

  40. dev_arandom February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    I know you mean free-as-in-price, but here are some Free (as in ‘open source’) software I love that are also free of cost:

    * Darktable – photo workflow a la lightroom. Very powerful and there are a solid number of plugins for it to boot

    * GIMP – F/OSS image editor. A bit clunky at first but insanely powerful

    * Krita – F/OSS Art program a la Paint tool Sai or Corel Draw. I’ve used it a fair bit for cleaning comic scans.

    * Libre Office – Office suite without the license fees. Libre Office 6 is out now with some significant bug fixes and performance improvements.

    * MPD/Mopidy – F/OSS music player daemon. Its a bit complicated at first glance, but a very capable music player when you have everything configured. I’ve set it up to stream to an icecast output before for some internet radio fun

    * 7zip – you really have no excuse for not using 7z. Its great. Its foss. love it.

  41. super636 February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Unity. Lots of documentation and pretty much sparked indie games development to my knowledge, allows rookies to create projects with literally no price tag

  42. dlabelle83 February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    The Windows Snipping tool literally changed my life and IT WAS THERE THE WHOLE TIME!

    Edit: thanks for gold kind stranger

  43. digitron February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Google maps on a cell phone. Navigation systems used to cost hundreds of dollars not too long ago.

    **EDIT to answer most common replies to my comment:**

    >*But google is not free; you are the product*

    Yes, that is entirely true. However, google maps can be used without signing into the app. Will this prevent google from collecting location data (a necessity for any map app) and linking it to you personally, probably not, but you can reduce targeted advertising to some extent. You can also [turn off](https://www.google.com/maps/timeline?hl=en&pb) recording of your location information, or delete your recorded location history. In iOS, you can only permit the app to use your location information when in use, which is pivotal for providing any map service, except offline maps.

    >*But your cell phone costs hundreds of dollars also, so what is the difference*

    Unlike the navigation systems that were (and are still – *as pointed out by many*) available and cost hundreds of dollars, cell phones are multi-purpose devices. I imagine that most of us use cell phones primarily for other purposes than as navigation devices.

    >*Waze is better*

    I suppose that is personal preference. Waze, also a subsidiary of Alphabet – the parent company of google, is undoubtedly useful and have more info, but I haven’t gotten to like its UI.

  44. st4rchild February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    [Youtube.dl](https://rg3.github.io/youtube-dl/) – powerful command line tool for downloading Youtube content, lets you do things like download playlists and annotations. Worth reading the documentation.

    [uBlock Origin](https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ublock-origin/cjpalhdlnbpafiamejdnhcphjbkeiagm?hl=en) – ad blocker, [Safari version](https://safari-extensions.apple.com/?q=ublock)

    [Calibre](https://calibre-ebook.com) – ebook manager, great for converting

    [f.lux](https://justgetflux.com) – screen yellower

    [VLC](https://www.videolan.org/index.html) – the ultimate video player

    [Visual Studio](https://www.visualstudio.com) – coding

    [Atom](https://atom.io) – more coding

    [Unity](https://unity3d.com) – video game engine

    [Zotero](http://zotero.org/) – reference manager

    [Teamviewer](https://www.teamviewer.com/en/) – easy screen share setup, use it to help my mum with her computer all of the time

    [Blender](https://www.blender.org) – 3D modelling

    [OBS](https://obsproject.com) – live streaming/screen recording

    [MalwareBytes](http://malwarebytes.com/) – cause it works

    [Retropie](https://retropie.org.uk) is pretty amazing too.

    **Mac only:**

    [Clippy](https://github.com/Clipy/Clipy) – clipboard and snippet manager (I prefer it to paid apps like TextExpander because I don’t want to memorise shortcuts)

    [KeepingYouAwake](https://github.com/newmarcel/KeepingYouAwake) – newer more up to date clone of [Caffeine](http://lightheadsw.com/caffeine/) (older Macs), keeps your mac from sleeping with a neat icon in the menu bar.

    [MIDI Monitor](http://snoize.com/) – monitors MIDI input/output

    [Sysex Librarian](http://snoize.com/) – backup synth programs or send new sysex

    Quicktime – screen record is in the File menu!

    [KeyCastr](https://github.com/keycastr/keycastr) – keystroke visualiser

    [AppCleaner](https://freemacsoft.net/appcleaner/) – drag in unwanted application and it will remove all the junk/hidden files that you’d otherwise miss. I’d recommend using the uninstaller over this if available.

    Other really useful apps for Mac: [https://github.com/jaywcjlove/awesome-mac](https://github.com/jaywcjlove/awesome-mac)

    Recommended paid apps [iStatMenus](https://bjango.com/mac/istatmenus/) (the stock menubar just doesn’t cut it) and [Duplicate Detective](https://fiplab.com/apps/duplicate-detective-for-mac) (hands down the best and only duplicate finder you’ll need).

    EDIT: formatting

  45. violetbookworm February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Everything associated with Latex. Will never typeset math in Word again.

  46. Cougar_9000 February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm


    Print screen tool very handy

  47. SacredUrchin February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    For a free language learning app it’s extremely clean, user friendly, and engaging. It makes learning a language fun and interactive. And comparing it to expensive software and other apps like Rosetta Stone and such, it’s very comparable if not even better in some aspects.

  48. TheNoodleCutie February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Praat is quite a cool program for people who want to analyze speech or perhaps other sounds. I’ve used it for phonetics and I still use it regularly. It’s easy to use too!
    I doubt many people would care about this though.


    I didn’t think this would actually be useful for a lot of people! I just thought it was used in the phonetic field. That’s quite cool to hear! Thanks for the kind messages everyone!

  49. McShotCaller February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Gimp – it’s an image editor that is incredibly powerful similar to photoshop and open source

  50. Blackop778 February 13, 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Visual Studio Code

    Great text editor with built in support for many languages and extensions for many more. The opening folders feature is handy for keeping projects separate. It has git tools (but sadly doesn’t like ssh keys) built in.

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