Free/Low Cost Tools
This is a list of tools that either I use myself or that have been recommended to me that I think will be of value. I will try to just list ones that are free or under $50 or so. For each of them I will create a short demo video, or will link to a video that I created for another post.
Click on each heading for the access/download link, and click on the video link to watch the intro video.
This list is a work in progress. Some videos may not be created yet…as they are finished I will put in the links. Bookmark the page and come back regularly for more updates.
A lot of these tasks can be done using Firefox add ons. I will create a separate post for add ons that I use. Not everyone uses Firefox so I want to separate them for those who do.
This is a popular, free software for uploading files to a website. I use it frequently. I demonstrate it in the third video here:
This is the software I use to edit the HTML code on webpages. It is easy to use and free. I demonstrate it in the second video here:
MailChimp has a free option for up to 2,000 subscribers and up to 12,000 emails per month. If you go beyond that, their prices are competitive with the other autoresponders
Freemind (mindmapping software)
Freemind is a mind mapping tool that has been recommended to me several times.
This is one of my favorite tools. It is so simple to use and can do many simple graphics tasks…create banners and graphic ads, create headers, crop images, etc. I created a graphics video where I use the ad creator, which is almost identical to this one. They are both available from Laughingbird Software for under $50 each, but you can get the logo creator by “liking” them on Facebook. They don’t have a facebook link on their webpage, so I am putting it here: Laughingbird Facebook Page.
I posted a graphics video which demos Logo Creator, Powerpoint, and Snagit. The sections on the Logo Creator start at 14:39 and 26:00.
FontSquirrel is a site from which you can download fonts that are not already on your computer. It is free and easy to use.
This is a tool that does several things: screenshot, color picker, pixel ruler, protractor, white board and cross hair. It also has a graphics editor.
Convert Word Docs to PDF
CutePDF is a free utility that will convert a doc into a PDF. When you download and install it, it shows up as a printer. Then, when you want to convert the doc, you click on Print and select CutePDF as the printer.
I posted a video wherein I explain how to format a book for publishing. I show how to use CutePDF in that video. I have excerpted the part showing CutePDF, and you can watch it here.
This is another free PDF conversion software.
If you use Microsoft Office 2010 you can save your doc as a PDF (File/Save As/ then choose PDF from the dropdown menu at the bottom of the pop up window)
Open office is (effectively) a free version of Microsoft Office. It has the same components, and they work basically in the same way. If you know how to use MS Office, you can use Open Office. I am not planning a video on it at this time, but if there is sufficient demand I will.
Jing and Screencast
Jing is a free utility that lets you capture what is on your computer screen, either as a still image or a video. It is great for quick demonstrations. The free version limits the videos to 5 minutes.
Screencast is a video hosting service. It offers a free account that allows you to store up to 2 GB of videos and 2 GB of bandwidth per month for sharing the videos.
Jill created a great demo video that explains Jing in more depth.
This is a screen capture software similar to Jing, but you don’t have to download it. It works just like Jing but I don’t think there is a limit on downloads, which would make this better for videos that you want to share with many people.
This is a free webinar software (like GoToMeeting but has a free version). I haven’t used it and it hasn’t been recommended to me, but if you want a less expensive alternative to Go to Meeting you might want to try it out.
Cloudberry is a free tool that you can use to manage your Amazon S3 videos. It is an alternative to S3 Organizer (Firefox only) and the manager provided by Amazon. It does not allow you to create a player (the other 2 don’t, either).
I use this to generate passwords for WordPress admin logins, but it can be used anywhere you have to create a secure password. It is free and easy to use. A demo is not necessary…just go to the page and generate a password.
Free Help Desk Software
This software was recommended to me. I checked it out and it seems to be a good solution for someone who wants a help desk but doesn’t want to pay a lot for it.
osTicket is a fairly popular free help desk software.
LastPass was recommended by a friend of mine. It is free for unlimited passwords and works on all browsers (unlike Roboform). I created a short video to demo its services.
Spypig is a service that shows you if your email has been read. I used it with my gmail account and it works well. I don’t have a video because it is very simple. Just create the email first, go to spypig.com, create the “spypig” and copy and past it into the email. Create the email first because once you create the spypig you only have 60 seconds to paste it in and send the email.
This is a very handy site which will allow you to send files up to 50 MB to any email for free. I find that it is hard to send files of any size using my email client, so I use this service quite a bit. They have paid memberships that allow larger files as well as storage and receipt notification. See the different plans here.
The file is only available for download for one week.
I have also used it to make files available to several people (ie on a forum). To do that, I just send the file to my own email. I receive a link via email and post the link in the forum.
This is a free forum script which is fairly easy to install. It is used quite a bit by online forums.
I have created videos which show you how to install and do initial setup of a forum:
I received an email about this a few days ago and decided to check it out. I started creating a video as I created an account (you do this using your Amazon account). I then created a vault and tried to learn how to upload files.
I found that I don’t have the knowledge to be able to upload files. It requires programming abilities that I do not have. The situation looks to be the same as it was for Amazon S3 when I first signed up to it 3 years ago. Hopefully in a year or two (!) there will be a solution “for the rest of us”. In the meantime I will keep trying to find something usable, and if there is anyone who can explain in plain English how to do it, let me know.
I used to use Audacity with my Windows XP computer. Last September (11 months ago) I replaced it with a Windows 7 computer and, 11 months later, I finally figured out why Audacity would not work with this computer.
This is a great, free program that will record both from a microphone and from the computer sound. You can edit it and save as an MP3. I use it a lot to record online webinars and teleseminars so I can listen on my MP3 player. Much more convenient than sitting in front of the computer!
I use this software to unzip files that Windows doesn’t recognize (like .tar, .rar).