Free software download guide

There's plenty of free software on the internet, but is it any good?
 
Learn more
 
 
 
 
 
  • Updated:19 Sep 2007
 

04.Media tools

Audio/video

There are many free programs on the internet to burn CDs and DVDs, create podcasts or record audio and video. It’s just a matter of choosing which one to use.

CDBurnerXP Pro will burn CD-R, CD-RW DVD+R/RW DVD-R/RW discs. However, it doesn’t currently offer the capability to burn double layer discs. It also includes an audio editor and it will convert MP3 and WAV audio files. The website also includes a list of disc drives that will work with the program.

Audacity logoAudacity is an open source program that can be used to record and edit audio in a variety of formats. You can mix soundtracks, create podcasts and audio files. It’s compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.

If you want to use Audacity to make a podcast you’ll need Lame MP3 Encoder, an application that will encode your file as an MP3 and provide the identification tags for podcasting software. Go to the home page and click on the Lame MP3 Encoder under the Audio Codecs tab.

Media players

If you think you’re stuck with a choice between Windows Media Player and Apple iTunes, think again. There’s plenty of free media player software available to download from the internet. And with so many file formats, you’ll need more than one program.

VideoLAN is compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux operating systems and will integrate with Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers. It will play a range of audio and video file formats, as well as stream files over a network.

RealPlayer logoRealPlayer basic is Windows compatible and will play many audio and video file formats; however, the free version won’t burn DVDs or record video. Click on the Free RealPlayer button to choose the XP or Vista version.

jetAudio 7 Basic is only suitable for Windows and doesn’t have a plug-in for Firefox compatibility. It will play a good range of video and audio file formats and has a paid version with more advanced features such as MP3 encoding and sound recording.

Photo editing

It’s hard to justify the cost of buying an expensive image editing program if you only edit the odd photo. That’s where free image editing programs can be very useful. Many have an extensive range of features and tools to keep the most creative artist happy.

Paint.NET logoPaint.NET offers layers, tabbed windows and special effects. The developers add new features and updates regularly and an enthusiastic online community provides plug-ins and tutorials. Paint.NET has a useful unlimited undo function that shows every edit in a small history sub-window. It’s suitable for Windows XP and Vista.

GIMP is an image editing program that has an extensive selection of editing tools, editing layers and a red eye removal tool. The website has links to books, tutorials and a Wikipedia entry, but it only has the source code for the program. The easiest way to download GIMP is to go to Sourceforge.

Serif PhotoPlus is a simple photo editing program for Windows 95, 98, 2000 and XP. The program includes tools for layers, masking and resizing. The website includes PagePlus for desktop publishing, WebPlus for website design, DrawPlus for illustrations and 3DPlus for creating graphics. The free programs are older versions and you can buy the current versions from the site.

Movavi is a web-based video conversion service that lets you change the format of video clips without conversion software. You can load up to five different video files, up to 100MB in total size, and choose from 11 different formats for output.

PhotoMesa is a photo organiser that lets you display, preview and sort photos in bulk. You can search folders, name, group and add captions in preview without needing to open each file. PhotoMesa can also drag and drop files into email. It’s suitable for Windows 2000 and XP.

 

Sign up to our free
e-Newsletter

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.