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The Best Free Alternatives to Expensive Software 2021


Software from companies like Adobe, Microsoft, and others can be quite pricey, especially those with monthly or yearly fees that can add up over time. I will tell you the best alternatives to that popular software, all of which are available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

01. Libre Office and Only Office

Microsoft 365, which includes their office programs, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, is extremely popular, but having to pay for other services you will never use is overkill. Currently, Microsoft 365 is $70.00 for their personal edition and $100 for family. Or you can pay a one-time fee of around $150.

Also Read: Best Android Apps That Everyone Should Try in 2021

If you just want their Office Sweet in this category. We have two free alternatives for you:

  • first of which is Libre office, with alternatives for Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It is compatible with Microsoft Office file types. It lets you open office documents, edit them, and you can even save your documents in a format that can be read by people that use the office.
  • Another one of our favorites that has been gaining popularity over the last couple of years is the only office. Just like Libre Office. The only office includes compatibility with the popular Microsoft Office formats. In addition, the only office allows for real-time collaboration with others, which is handy if you’re working in a team environment.

02. GIMP

If you are looking for image editing software, Adobe Photoshop is the most well-known and feature-packed. It comes with a steep cost as well, with plants that start at around $21 per month. 

The best free alternative to Photoshop is GIMP. It features an expansive toolset allowing you to do everything Photoshop can. GIMP includes professional-level tools that allow you to work with layers, manipulate colors, add gradients, and a whole lot more.

If you are a digital painter, another free Photoshop alternative is Krita. Its feature-packed as well with over 100 brushes, stabilizers, and allows you to work with layers.

03. Dark Table

Adobe Lightroom is for those people focused on photography. Its features help you to organize, edit and store your photos. Lightroom’s cost is just around $10 per month but is overpriced for what it does.

Dark Table is the best free alternative to Lightroom with a ton of features to improve a photographer’s workflow. Unlike GIMP or Photoshop, which are raster graphics editors, the dark table allows for non-destructive editing. Keeping the original image data until finalized. It also includes tools to keep your images organized and easily search by parameters.

04. VirtualBox

Using virtualization software like VMware is a fantastic way to try out other operating systems and software in a sandbox without harming your primary system.

VMware Workstation for Windows and Linux is one of the most popular with pricing that starts at $149 and for Mac OS the name of VMware product is called Fusion. The pricing for this also starts at $149. The best free alternative for VMware, Workstation, and Fusion is VirtualBox it is available for all three of the major platforms, Windows, Linux, and Mac.

05. Davinci Resolve

If you are looking for high-quality video editing software, you have many choices. The final cut, Vegas Pro, and Adobe Premiere Pro, or a few of the most popular. Using Premiere Pro as an example, it lets you work with any file format at transitions and special effects and edit on unlimited tracks. The pricing for premiere Pro starts at around $21 per month.

A comparable free alternative to Premiere Pro, Final Cut, and Vegas Pro is Davinci Resolve. It offers Multi-cam support, transitions, color, and audio correction along with everything else you would need to edit and trim your videos. In addition, 

Davinci Resolve is also a great free alternative to Adobe after effects. It lets you create. High-quality visual effects and motion graphics. They have two versions available. Davinci Resolve and Davinci Resolve studio. Davinci Resolve is the free one. It includes about every feature you would ever need.

06. Inkscape

When working with scalable vector graphics, create logos, icons, or any other type of professional quality vectors. Adobe illustrator’s what many people use. Just like many other Adobe products, the illustrator will set you back around $21 per month. 

The best free alternative to Illustrator for creating vector graphics is Inkscape. It includes a ton of features for object creation and manipulation. These can be filled with solid colors, radial or linear colors, gradients, and patterns, all of which are compliant with the SVG format.

Inkscape does have a steep learning curve. Thankfully, they do have tutorials on their site that will teach you how to use it.

07. OBS Studio

There are a ton of free screen recorders available, but you must be careful what you choose most like Bandicam will slap a nasty watermark on your recording if you use their free version.

The best-paid screen recording software right now is Snagit, and it includes a ton of tools to capture your screen. Its cost is a one-time fee of around $50.00 with a 1250 annual maintenance fee to upgrade to the next version without paying the full price.

The best free screen recording alternative to snag is OBS Studio, after you get it set up, it is easy to use and includes several useful features to record and stream on such places as Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. Their community forum is a wonderful place, get help with any of your issues.

08. Blender

If you are into 3D modeling, Maya from Autodesk has long been the industry standard for 3D computer graphics. It has been used for video games, animated films, TV shows, and movies. It is not cheap either. Maya will take a bite out of your wallet at $215 per month or 1700 per year. 

The best free alternative to Maya for creating 3D computer graphics is the blender. It has been around a long time. Its initial release was back in 1994 and has been free and open source the entire time. Blender is no slouch, but many users say it is now better than Maya has about every feature in the tool you would ever need and has been used to make full-length animated films.

When you get started, check out their support page which includes a user manual, tutorials, and links to the various communities associated with the blender.

09. Audacity

Audition is yet another overpriced product from Adobe. The software is a multitrack audio recorder, mixer, and editor that is becoming more popular with podcasters. Its pricing is around $21 per.

The best free alternative audio editor to audition is audacity. It has been around since the year 2000, and quite frankly it is so good that there is no need to use a paid product like an audition with audacity can record audio, import, edit, and combine sound files, remove noise, includes hundreds of effects and you can install plugins to enhance its functionality.

10. HandBrake

If you need a video converter to compress or convert into a supported file format, there are a bunch of paid ones to choose from, including a unit converter from Wonder Share. Its pricing starts at around $40 per year.

A great free alternative to those paid video converters is a handbrake. We have been using it for years and it fits all our needs. It supports most of the popular codecs such as H.264, H.265, AVC, and others.

The built-in presets make it easy to convert any file type and export up to four K. You can also customize the output by altering the bit rate, maximum file size or bit rate, and sample rate by a constant.

11. Linux

The most important software on your computer is the operating system, and if you are looking for the best free alternative to Windows and Mac OS, you would want to go with one of the many Linux distros.

The big advantage to using Linux is there are no upfront or building costs to use it. No forced updates. Invasion of your privacy and you have less of a chance of getting a virus or malware.

If you are brand new to Linux, those I would recommend for beginners include Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Zorin OS, and elementary OS, many Linux distros will ask for a donation on their homepage to support development, which is not necessary but appreciated.

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