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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Free Online Alternatives To Expensive Software

Almost every piece of expensive software that you buy for a computer has a free and capable online version. Not only will you save money, but you'll also free up some vauable hard drive space, 

DOCUMENT EDITING 
Google Docs/Drive 
http://drive.google.com 
Google Drive provides a feature-rich interface for text, spreadsheets and presentations. You can open documents saved in your Gmail inbox or create a new one online. You can also collaborate real-time with colleagues on a document. All documents are automatically saved in your Google Drive cloud storage space. 

Microsoft Office Web Apps 
http://office.microsoft.com/web-apps/ 
Microsoft also offers a free online office suite for SkyDrive users — the interface will be familiar to users of MS Office. You get 7GB of free cloud storage to store your documents. You can create or upload Word, Excel, PowerPoint as well as OneNote files to SkyDrive and edit them. Documents can be shared and you can select which users can edit the document and if it is mandatory for users to sign into their Microsoft account to access the document or not. 

Zoho Docs www.zoho.com 
Zoho's office suite includes support for MS Word, spreadsheets, presentations as well as databases and reports. Like the other two office suites mentioned above, this one also supports real-time collaboration but in addition offers various other integrated services. With a single account, you get access to mail, chat, calendar/planner, invoice generation, as well as a CRM (customer relationship management) system. 
VIDEO EDITING 
Filelab 
www.filelab.com 
Filelab products work better with Google Chrome and you need to download a free plugin first. Once you start, you get support for multiple video formats and HD resolution. It offers all the basic editing controls to trim, cut and merge. You can also add creativity to your video with multiple effects. There are over 50 transition effects available along with the option to overlay one video on top of the other. You can define transparency, add audio tracks and then watch a live preview right in your browser window. 

Video ToolBox 
www.videotoolbox.com 
This editor supports editing of the most common file formats and also lets you convert from one format to another. You can add watermarks, merge videos, extract audio, take screenshots or remove unwanted parts of a video. It also gives you 1GB of free cloud storage. 
YouTube Editor 
www.youtube.com/editor 
Youtube offers a powerful online editor that lets you trim videos, merge multiple videos into one, add transitions, stabilise video or add a soundtrack of your choice. It also automatically suggests corrections and effects if your videos are not up to the mark. 

PHOTO EDITING 
Photoshop Express 
http://photoshop.com/editor 
If you need to do just basic image adjustments and manipulation, Adobe's own online photo editor is great. You get basic editing (crop, resize, rotate) as well as a few adjustments (white balance, soft focus, highlight) options. Various effects to enhance the picture are also available. Once done, images can be saved to your computer or shared on Flickr, Facebook or Picasa. 

Pixlr 
http://pixlr.com/editor 
With this online editor, you can create a new image, upload one from your computer or open any image from a URL. The interface is similar to Adobe Photoshop and you get all the usual tools as well as support for layers. You also get various filter effects, levels, curves and exposure controls. Images can be saved to the computer or to online services like Flickr/Picasa. 

Splashup 
www.splashup.com 
Splashup has a similar interface to Photoshop. Apart from your PC and from a URL, it also supports importing images from Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket and can capture an image from a webcam. Like Pixlr, it lets you work with layers to add various filters. However, it does not have advanced editing options such as levels and exposure control. 
VARIOUS OTHER FREE TOOLS 
Music Creation 
SOUNDATION STUDIO (www.soundation. com) offers advanced tools and effects that you would only get with professional music studio software. You launch the studio right inside your browser window and it also includes over 600 free audio loops and samples that you can start with. A free account lets you save and publish as many songs as you want, but if you want recording, you need one of the paid plans. 

3D House Planner 
HOMESTYLER (www.homestyler.com) is a free and easy-to-use house planner. You can use it if you are planning on building a new house or even just redecorating. Homestyler lets you easily create a layout, add furniture, landscaping and experiment with paints, textures and different lighting for your room. You can easily view in 3D and share with friends too. 

PDF Tools 
A SUITE of no-nonsense PDF tools can be found at www.pdfunlock.com (to remove restrictions from PDFs), www.pdfmerge. com (to merge multiple files into one), www. splitpdf.com (split one file into multiple) and www.pdfprotect.net (add password protection). At www.pdfaid. com, you can choose from a variety of web tools for watermarking, image extraction, rotation, compression and conversion. Note that some of the tools imprint a small PDFAid logo on the final file. 

Speech To Text 
RATHER THAN use expensive dictation software, just head towww.talktyper.com. You need to download Google Chrome first because it doesn't work too well on other browsers. Make sure your microphone is working and click the green microphone button to start the dictation. It works pretty well if you speak clearly and the conversion to text is almost instantaneous. 

Optical Character Recognition 
AT www.ocronline.com, you can convert a scanned document, PDF file or an image (JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PDF) to an editable text file. First, complete a quick sign-up. If you are scanning, make sure to do it in 300dpi. Upload your document, select your preferred output format and you're done.

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