Free & Affordable Apps for Your PC

December 31, 2018 12:50 am Leave your thoughts

It’s nearly year 2019, time really flies. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of people having a good time off at this end of year season. This time off may be just the right time to build a new PC or to rebuild your PC to get ready for the new year.

Personally, I decided to refresh my Surface Pro 4 Device. This time I decided to install just the essentials with minimum cost. It works well so far, so I will share the software that I installed for the laptop. Just remember that the point here is to use freeware, open-source or affordable software. Subscription type model is something that I am avoiding as well as I don’t like paying monthly especially if I don’t use the software.

Use Case

Just before we start, these are some use cases for my PC:

  • Software development
  • Photo and image editing (I’m quite serious with this hobby (
  • General office work like word processing and e-mails
  • Multimedia player (music, videos, etc)
  • Some light gaming

With the use cases out of the way, let me show you now which applications I’ve been using. Oh and I’m not affiliated to any of these software companies, so this is purely from my personal experience.

Photo Processing

Photography is pretty important for me. So the software that I chose are all high quality and proven.

On1 Photo RAW (

This is one of the most affordable high quality RAW editor. This is definitely my goto application for image editing for a while now. The layout is very intuitive and the editing results are top notch. It definitely can process really high resolution RAW files with no problems. In addition, I think the resulting quality is the same with Adobe’s more expensive suite (subscription model too). So if you are looking for a great photo editing suite, then look no further.

Corel PaintShop Pro (

When I need to do heavier editing on my images, this is my second photo processing pass after processing the RAW images using On1. The cool think about PaintShop is that it’s a really powerful image editor with fractions of the price of Photoshop. The only gotcha on this app is that it runs on Windows only.


GIMP has been around for decades now! Out of interest, I was looking at its first release date and it was in 1996. The application has now evolved quite far. I dare say that if I didn’t want to spend money to buy PaintShop Pro, this will be my choice.

I have used GIMP for serious image editing as well in the past. The reason I don’t use GIMP by default is due to its performance when rendering high-resolution images (36MP or above). It could be due to my hardware restrictions too. Also, the interface doesn’t display well in high DPI display, which the Surface has.

There are of course different ways to tweak the setup for high DPI and performance manually. However, it’s not something that I necessarily want to do.

Office Applications

Libre Office (

If you want a full office suite at $0 then you can’t go wrong with LibreOffice. It does everything that you’d expect an office suite to do, from word processing, spreadsheets to drawing diagrams.

Compatibility with Microsoft Office documents are good too. The only time when you’ll need to be careful is when the MS Office Documents contains a lot of macros and scripts.

One Note (

Definitely on of the best free note-taking applications out there. If you are using Windows on a touch device like Surface, this is the note-taking app that you want.

Mailbird (

The default Windows Mail application is not bad. In fact, for most usages, it’s sufficient to use. However, if you want a simple yet powerful mail client, then Mailbird is the way to go.

Using Mailbird reminded me of the time when I used Thunderbird mail client a while ago. It’s just simple and straightforward. There is a free version for a limited number of email accounts. I actually went full version for my usages as I have different email accounts.

Multimedia Player

VLC Media Player

The swiss knife of video player. This player plays just about any video formats out there.

Videostream for Chromecast (

This is definitely the essential app for streaming videos from your computer to your Chromecast. The installation process was really simple and I was able to stream my videos to the Chromecast within minutes.

There are also both Android and iOS app, which acts as a remote control to choose which Video or Audio files to play from your desktop. Obviously your phone, PC and Chromecast need to be on the same network.


Remember the days of Winamp when you can just drag and drop a whole bunch of files from a folder? Those were the times when music player doesn’t take so much computing resources from your PC. I found that AIMP does this job as a simple music player. It’s also skinnable. This app is also available as Android app.

Spotify (

Arguably the most well-known music streaming service out there. If you can live with the shuffle play and occasional ads, then the free version is great.

Code / Text Editor

Visual Studio Code (

The most versatile code editor out there and it’s fast! I tried Atom, Brackets, Notepad++, Sublime and many more; in the end I ended up with VSCode as it’s really has great interface, lightweight with tons of plugins for different kinds of software development. This editor is especially great for Javascript development using popular frameworks such as ReactJS and Angular.

IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition (

This is the editor to use for Java development. In most cases, if you are not using frameworks and javascript, the community edition is sufficient for Java development.

NetBeans (

Whenever I do PHP development, this is the best editor to use. The code assistance for PHP is always a great help.

CD / DVD Burner

Yeah, I’m a bit old school with this one. I still burn MP3 CDs for my car (sometimes it’s more practical than using Bluetooth). Maybe I won’t have to do this when I upgraded my car audio one day.

Ashampoo Burning Studio Free (

Yes, this is a real freeware. No in-app purchase and it works great to create mp3 or WMA CDs as it has a build in encoder to automatically convert the file formats. It also does volume leveling which is a great help when burning compilations. There is occasional banner when I start the software for the first time for the Burning Studio 20 which offers more features like backups and cover studio. For the purpose of burning audio CDs or MP3 CDs, the free version is more than enough.

Retro Gaming

Yeah I’m all for retro gaming, especially those DOS games.

D-Fend (

This is the easiest app to use to play DOS games on your PC. Basically catalogs your games and helps you with the DOS parameters setup.

As a bonus if you add repository from here ( you don’t even have to download the DOS games, you just select and install. Super convenient.

In Closing…

I hope this list helps you with some ideas on what to install on your new or refreshed computer. As usual, feel free to leave in the comment section if you have different ideas. It might just help others out.



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