Category: Software (Page 1 of 9)

Free Audio Editing Software

free audio editing software

For those looking to edit audio files, or mix and create digital music files, please consider these open source options. There are a lot of free audio editing software options out there!

Audacity is the mainstay for editing and recording, and is available for Windows, MacOS and Linux. It looks like you might even get this to install on a Chromebook. And they still offer legacy downloads that may work on very old computers.

LMMS is comparable to Audacity, but more for editing and not recording. It’s available Windows, MacOS and Linux.

GarageBand is for Apple devices only, and is a digital audio workstation, like LMMS. You can get it for your Apple computer or iOS device, but it is not available for Windows computers. If you encounter anyone offering GarageBand for PCs, beware, it is likely a scam or a virus!

WaveShop is like Audacity, but old-school. Try this one if you like the retro feel, or if you have a very old Windows computer that can’t handle newer software.

Mixxx is more for DJs and mixing together audio tracks. It works on Windows, MacOS and Linux.

Quickbooks Desktop Software – PDF Problem

Right now, I am seeing an uptick with a PDF problem inside of Quickbooks Desktop software. When Quickbooks users first open their software, they get this message:

Quickbooks Desktop Software - PDF Problem

And thereafter, the software will not allow you to create any PDFs, of your invoices, estimates and reports.

Quickbooks has a handy-dandy software tool for you to download and try, but lately, that lovely app doesn’t fix this issue. They also have some more advanced recommendations, but these often do not help, either. And even uninstalling and reinstalling Quickbooks doesn’t do the trick!

If you’re suddenly having this PDF problem: This was caused by a recent Microsoft update. Quickbooks requires a particular Windows component to be turned on, and it’s been turned off. Try these steps to re-enable it:

  • Press Win + R on your keyboard
  • Type appwiz.cpl and press Enter
  • To the upper-left, click on Turn Windows Features On or Off
  • Scroll down the list to find Microsoft XPS Document Writer and put a check in the box next to it.
  • Click OK and wait for Windows to complete the changes.
  • Click Close.
  • Restart your computer.

Note: if the box next to Microsoft XPS Document Writer is already checked, uncheck it and click OK. Then return to that window and check it again.

Free Flight Simulators

free flight simulators

Google isn’t the only one to offer simulated flight. If you’re looking to take to the skies from your computer screen, check out all these free flight simulators:

Google Earth Pro: downloadable for Windows, MacOS and Linux computers, after you launch the software, click Tools and choose Enter Flight Simulator.

Geo-FS: this one is web-based, meaning you should be able to use it in any browser on any type of computer.

YSFlight: downloadable for Windows, MacOS and Linux computers.

FlightGear: downloadable for Windows, MacOS and Linux computers.

DCSWorld: for Windows only, and is more battle/mission-oriented

Free Illustration Software

free illustration software

If you’re looking to create digital drawings and other graphics, you’ll need to find a suitable software. Adobe Illustrator is the professional mainstay for this. But the pricetag for that is considerable, and I like to promote free software choices. Here are some fantastic free illustration software offerings, for you to try!

Krita is highly regarded as a professional-grade painting program. You’re welcome to install it on Windows, MacOS or linux.

Inkscape is a similar full-featured software, and is also downloadable for Windows, MacOS and Linux systems.

Sumo Paint allows you to draw and create in your browser, so it’s largely OS-independent. Use on your Chromebook, if you like!

ArtWeaver has a free version that you may install on Windows only.

Sketchbook is available for Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS. It has a $20 pricetag if you want it for your computer, but is free to download onto any mobile device.

Microsoft offers two apps for digital art creation, one is Paint 3D and the other is Fresh Paint. These are both free, but also only for Windows.

Adobe Fresco is a freemium offering, for iOS and Windows devices. By freemium, I mean that it starts out free, but as you bump into the limitations of the app, Adobe is ready to sell you the extra features they have locked up. Adobe Fresco is not (yet) available for Android or MacOS.

Vectornator is only available for iOS (iPhones & iPads).

You’ll find that some photo-editing apps also help with drawing projects, but what I’ve listed here are focused on art creation and likely offer the best tools for that. Enjoy!

PS: Adobe Express is a new free web-based tool to consider. It’s trying to do a lot of things, ranging from photo-editing to graphics creation to helping with your social media posts and videos. It could be a great freebie for any of your graphic design pursuits!

The Print Friendly Browser Extension

print friendly browser extension

I love the Print Friendly browser extension. This freebie allows me to manipulate websites before I print them, helping me save on ink and paper. Check this out:

The Print Friendly browser extension is available to download and use in almost any browser. Once installed, all you have to do is click its icon to activate it for the website you are about to print. Print Friendly will open a new copy of the website for you to manipulate:

An example that I might print from

At the top of this overlay, you can adjust the size of the text and graphics, to prepare your print job to fit fewer pages. But even better, you can scroll down through the page and click on any element to delete it. Nix those ads, remove any unwanted graphics, you should have complete control over what is going to print. Use the Print button to the upper-left and appreciate the barebones page you just created!

If you don’t want to install the extension, that’s OK, you can still use this tool. Simply copy the URL of what you wish to print, and paste it in at the Print Friendly website. The Preview button will give you the same thing as the extension would.

Microsoft PC Manager

Microsoft PC Manager

Previously, I have blogged about and discouraged the use of “snake oil software”. These programs promise to work miracles on your computer, but are generally about as useful as the Close Door button in an elevator. But Microsoft has surprised me. They’ve devised a helpful system cleanup tool, containing 0% Snake Oil! Check out Microsoft PC Manager.

This free utility lives in your taskbar. You can pop it open at any time. Its primary function is a small Boost button that quickly clears temporary files and resolves any memory leak (wasted RAM) issues.

You’ll also notice a variety of options for checking for viruses, disabling Startup apps and reviewing your security/updates. These are things you could always access through the Settings Panel or Task Manager. But here in Microsoft PC Manager, they are far easier to locate and understand.

If you try out the Microsoft PC Manager app, please keep your expectations modest. There is no silver bullet out there that resolves all computer slowness. (Give me a call for serious slowness issues!) But this app might make your computer-maintenance duties a little easier, and I can see that it puts very little burden on the computer’s resources.

Free Apps for Identifying Animals

Much like the plant-ID apps I’ve blogged about, there are plenty of free apps for identifying animals. There’s no need to crowdsource your answer from Facebook. Take a pic or recording and send it up to the experts. You can have an AI or website give you the answer immediately. And for free!

Free Apps for Identifying Animals

Got a snake in your garden? First, be careful! Take a pic and use these apps, only if you are at a safe distance from the creature:

Looking to ID a bird in the yard? Upload a pic or a recording of its birdsong, and these apps will give you the info:

If you’re just out in nature and wanting to identify animals & plants in general, give these apps a spin:

If you use other free apps for identifying animals, please drop me a line about them. I’ll test them out and add them to this post!

Microsoft Designer

Microsoft Designer is a new design app that you can use, for free, to create graphics, visual presentations and more. It’s comparable to Canva and other free design tools.

Right now, Microsoft Designer is in preview mode and you can only get in by invite. But I put my email on the waitlist and was allowed in after only a few days.

Microsoft is also baking in their AI technology, so that you can start a design with a sentence-prompt. MS Designer lets you start by typing “I want a birthday invitation for my daughter who loves ponies” or “Make me a poster that shares my guest wifi password” and MS Designer will churn out some starting points. And if you don’t care for all that AI stuff, just click Start from a Blank Canvas.

Adobe Reader & Its Bundleware

If you’re installing Adobe Reader to handle your PDFs, you’ll want the free download for Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. But please be aware that even the renowned Adobe company tries to put bundleware on your computer when you get this software. If you are not careful, you’ll install Adobe Reader and a few completely unnecessary apps!

It’s always best to download the free Adobe Reader from the Adobe website. And when you visit, you’ll see the following:

But slow your roll, because this page is designed so you’ll miss the bundleware. If you use that first blue button, you’ll install lots of extras you won’t enjoy.

Make sure to scroll down past that friendly blue button (on smaller screens, you may not have any idea there’s more below!). You’ll soon see the checkboxes for the bundleware that you need to dodge:

The Adobe Genuine Service is unnecessary and uses your computer resources to phone home to Adobe about your software and its licensing. And the McAfee software is shallow shovelware, designed more to advertise their brand rather than protect anything.

Clear all of those checkboxes, and then click the big blue Download button to enjoy a junk-free installation!

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