Best Free Software
This page lists a variety of "free" software. Truly free and open source software is marked with an asterisk. Items without asterisks are no-cost proprietary software (for a definition of the difference, see this page.) Also see: Our Favorite Tools & Sites, and check out the free download for starving students at SoftwareFor.
- Anasazi Stop Motion Animator for Windows. Use with a webcam to make animated shorts.
- Clam* - Open source antivirus software (Win version at http://www.clamwin.com/) More on ClamAV
- AVG Home use only, by Grisoft.
Anti-Spyware & Anti-Adware
- Ad-Aware SE Personal Home Use Only
- SpyBot Search & Destroy
- Spyware Blaster - Doesn't clean, but does immunize well.
- Audacity - Also requires lame.dll for export to mp3
- SketchUp - Google's 3D authoring tool
- IKEA Kitchen Planner for Windows. A lightweight drafting tool; great for introducing space planning.
- PowerDraft CAD
Concept Mapping & Brainstorming
- FreeMind - Powerful free concept-mapping softwar for Mac, Windows, and Linux. Great keyboard shortcuts to make the mapping process easy. Somewhat modeled after thr commercial MindManager software from Mindjet. You can see screenshots here.
- Freeplane - Based on Java: runs on Mac, Windows, Linux. Can convert a concept-map into an outline view. Has multiple languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Croatian.
- CMap* - Sophisticated concept mapping. Also allows users to collaborate on maps. Has a free server product as well.
- Gliffy - Web-based tool for flow-charts, diagrams, floor plans.
- Bubbl - Web-based brainstorming.
- Mind42 - Web-based wiki-mindmapping.
Content Management Systems
- Course_Management_Systems for more information.
Digial Video Editing
- StoryBoardPro - Free storyboarding program from Atomic Learning
- Windows MovieMaker- Microsoft's digital video editing program
- PhotoStory - Microsoft's program that easily imports still photos and then allows you to narrate them, zoom in, pan, etc. as in Ken Burns "Civil War" movie that uses still images.
- SUPER - Free conversion program to convert among video formats, DVD, platforms, etc.
- See Digital Video for more on this topic.
- Eraser and Darik’s Nuke and Boot are free utility programs that erase all information on a hard drive.
Early Literacy & Numeracy
- Starfall.com - Pre-K to 2 Reading
- Skill Builders - online language arts and math facts games grades 1-4
- Zone Alarm
Help desk software
- Real Audio Alternative
- Sun java
- Flash and shockwave players
- Adobe reader
- QuickTime player
Image Format Converters
- Graphic Convertor Only for Macs. Wonderfully useful though.
Image Management, Sharing, & Cataloging
- Gallery* - Upload, catalog, share images
- Picasa - Now works with Linux as well as Microsoft Windows
- Skitch - Web-based tool, works with their "Stitch" product
Image & Photo Editing
- ArtRage 2 is a commercial painting program designed with an artist's sensibilities. There is a free (limited capability) version. It is much easier to use with a tablet & stylus, than with a mouse.
- Blender is a free program, good for young kids.
- GIMP* - is an open source image manipulation program as an alternative to PhotoShop. There are Mac, Windows, Linux versions.
- Inkscape is a free vector graphics (similar to Adobe Illustrator) image editor.
- IrfanView* is an open source image editing program.
- TuxPaint* is a open source drawing & painting program similar to KidPix.
- Paint is a well-regarded image editing program.
- Lunapic - is a web-based image editor. It has fun effects and animations.
- Picnik - is a web-based image editor, you can upload files or access services like Flickr easily
Image Narration & Presentation Slideshows
- VoiceThread - Web-based tool for creating a narrated presentation of a series of photos.
- PhotoStory - Microsoft's program that imports photos and allows you to narrate them, zoom in, pan, etc.
- One True Media - It’s a very easy way to create slideshows on the Web, and add text, music and images.
- Bookr - It would be difficult to create an easier application to make slideshows with captions on the web. The only drawback to it is you can only use images off Flickr, and not others on the Web, but that’s a small price to pay for such an accessible application.
- Slide.com - Create your own slideshow, then embed in your classroom blog.
- Slideshare - Upload your students' or your own powerpoint files in order to embed them on your classroom blog
Library Catalog Software
Also See: Library Circulation and Catalog Software
- Google Earth
- Community Walk - Students can put many sites on a map with descriptions and images (which can be easily grabbed off the web). Students can use this to describe field trips, report on historical events, and do other mapping applications.
- Grass GIS* - Geographic Information Systems
- GeoGebra - A free and multi-platform dynamic mathematics software for schools that joins geometry, algebra and calculus.
- GNUplot - Alternative to Mathematica?
- Twitter - Web-based
- Tumblr - Web-based application for students to easily post a whole lot of their work. Students can have individual or group “Tumblrs.” A student can also share their password with a small number of students who can leave comments.
- NASA WorldWind*
- Sidenote OSX. Cool "stickies" application
- KeyPass* is an encrypted database for storing passwords
- Finale Notepad - notation software
- iTunes - No editing capabilites but great for organizing and converting formats (midifiles to wav or mp3 for example)
- Animoto - Create your own music video, simply by uploading your own images and selecting music. + Students LOVED seeing themselves on the video. - Limit of 30 seconds
- Music Notation Alternatives
- Musecore Music Notation
Network Managment & Monitoring
- Cacti* - Graphical system for monitoring servers & switches, particularly bandwidth usage.
- Nagios* - For evaluating the security of devices on a network
- NetStumbler* - For monitoring status of servers and services.
- MRTG* - may be outdated?
- Hive Free demo only -- for mapping access point coverage to floorplan images.
- Intermapper monitors all IP devices. Free demo.
- Windows Updates:SUS
- Open Office* - word processor, spreadsheet, drawing, database suite for PCs. For technical support see Plan-B (for non-technical users.)
- IBM® Lotus® Symphony™ - a set of applications for creating, editing, and sharing word processing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations
- Neo Office* - word processor, spreadsheet, drawing, database suite for Macs
- Zoho Online* - The OS X port of Open Office
- AbiWord* - Word processor compatible on all platforms.
- Google Docs - Entirely web-based document creation/editing/storage.
- Footnote - Allows students to access thousands of primary source documents and photos, and easily create online history reports. Their urls can then be posted, and students can also leave comments on their peers’ reports.
Programming and 3D Modeling
- Alice* - Good intro-level programming
- Scratch* - Good intro-level GUI programming with an active community.
- FMSLogo* - A modern implementation of Logo programming language for kids, you can create animated GIFs with it or images like these.
- Sebran is great for pre-school/kindergarten aged students
- Game Design - great intro to programming (4th grade on up, PC only)
- Sodaplay - a favorite for the creative scientists
- Lego Digital Designer Visual programming of familiar lego blocks
- Pivot Stick Figure Animator
Quizzing & Assesment Sites
RSS Feed Compiler/Display
- BlogLines* - Easy way to collect content from sites offering RSS feeds. Also includes a blog. Completely web-based.
- RSSBandit* - Includes advanced features like flagging items for follow-up, web search, tracking comments submitted.
- RSS Owl* - Open souce, elegant RSS reader for Mac, Windows or Linux. Works with RSS, RDF and Atom feeds.
- Vienna* - Great RSS reader for Mac's. Free, open source and reads RSS/Atom feeds. Has a built in web browser for when you click links. Smart folders available (like many Mac OS X programs) which can be programmed to show only certain groups at a time. Change styles with custom css'ing.
- Google Reader
Screen Capture & Screen Casting
- Windows Media Encoder - MS software captures video & audio on PCs
- TipCam - captures audio/video and outputs as Flash.
- CamStudio - Captures full motion video and audion; outputs to Flash.
- Jing - Web-based audio/video caputre; currently in beta from TechSmith (maker of Camtasia)
- Sketchcast - You can “draw” on a whiteboard and record an audio explanation at the same time. You’re given a url for your creation and/or you can embed it into a blog. Others can leave comments about your Sketchcast, too. It’s particularly good to demonstrate how to solve math problems.
- ScreenHunter - captures screen shots. Activate the program by pushing F6, then drag a cross-hairs around any portion of the screen; saves as JPG.
- Capture - by Analogx
- PrintKey - captures screen shots.
- Wink - captures screen shots; add buttons, narrations; export to Flash.
- Vi.sualize.us - It’s a “social bookmarking” site like del.iou.us, but for images.
- Diigo - share bookmarks, highlight and annotate text and pages, create groups, rss enabled. Also in Web Page Annotation.
- Audacity* - Powerful audio tool including ability to record, mix, export to MP3 and other formats.
- CircaVie - an easy online application for creating timelines and incorporating images.
- uStream.tv - real time web based streaming.
- EyeLine - takes multiple video camera streams and compresses/archives.
- NVU* - Similar functionality to FrontPage or Dreamweaver.
- More free web editors listed at About.com
- Personal WebKit - Easy to use and organize.
Web Page Annotation
- Fleck - Lets you take any webpage and create virtual post-it notes to “paste” on them. They’re great for students to demonstrate their use of reading strategies.
- Diigo - highlight and annotate text and pages, create and share to groups, rss enabled. Also in social bookmarking.
Web Site Tours
- Daft Doggy - Allows you to create website tours — a series of websites where you also leave your own descriptive text or instructions on each page. You can use it to create Internet scavenger hunts. Visitors can also leave comments. The site’s creator has a different part of his site where you can easily make voice recordings, and plans to connect that ability up to the webtours soon so visitors can leave audio comments.
see Office Suites above
Other Sites Which Catalog Free Software
- Educational Application Index is a catalog of open source software sorted by academic categories.
- Freshmeat (http://www.freshmeat.net) - read the fine print for the type of license - includes software for all platforms
- Open Source Mac* - A list of free open source software for OS X
- Sourceforge (http://sourceforge.net/) - all open source
- Savannah (http://savannah.gnu.org/) - repository for GNU projects
- Seul/Edu Educational Application Index (http://richtech.ca/seul/) - all open source
- The KDE Edutainment Project (http://edu.kde.org/)
- Edubuntu (http://www.edubuntu.org/) - Linux distribution geared to K-12 - "Edubuntu includes more than 16,000 pieces of software, but the core installation fits on a single CD. Edubuntu starts with the Linux kernel version 2.6 and Gnome 2.12, and covers every standard desktop application from word processing and spreadsheet applications, educational software (such as GCompris and the KDE education suite) to internet access applications, web server software, email software, programming languages and tools and of course several games."
- Skolelinux (http://www.skolelinux.org/portal/) - a customized Debian distribution for schools*
- Educational Freeware (http://www.educational-freeware.com/) - lists free learning software for Windows.
- Article on replacing Adobe CS suite with free apps