Question

What's your favorite free software?

Open source tools, web apps, free personal plans on professional software, things that come gratis with your operating system (which, ok, the operating system cost something along with your device purchase, but that's close enough), tiny utilities and mobile apps that don't have a price tag—what are some free tools you love so much, you'd pay for them if they charged?

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elizabethdscott's avatar
a year ago
8 points
awwstn's avatar
@awwstn (replying to @elizabethdscott )
a year ago

Wow, Kapwing looks super cool. Got any links to things you've made with it?

0 points
elizabethdscott's avatar
@elizabethdscott (replying to @awwstn )
a year ago

I generally don't save them on my profile, but I created a mini project last week for Almanac using it. Highly recommend ;)

1 point
MislavCimpersak's avatar
a year ago

VSCode definitely no. 1 in my book.

Insomnia with a free plan close second.

7 points
ValentinGeffro3's avatar
a year ago

For me, it would be Spectacle on Mac. It's really useful!

6 points
jenlwei's avatar
@jenlwei (replying to @ValentinGeffro3 )
a year ago

+1 to Spectacle though it's no actively maintained 😭

Would also recommend Rectangle (one of its newer alternatives)

https://rectangleapp.com/

7 points
alexjvale's avatar
@alexjvale (replying to @ValentinGeffro3 )
a year ago

Also check out Magnet if you're looking for something similar that's kept up to date

2 points
aparnavemuri's avatar
a year ago

Grammarly.

As a non-native English speaker, I've found Grammarly tremendously helpful with sentence construction, spelling and simpler writing. I upgraded to a paid plan and don't regret it.

6 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @aparnavemuri )
a year ago

That's super cool to hear Grammarly helped that much! Do you have any other grammar or writing tools you recommend?

1 point
awwstn's avatar
a year ago

Figma, Notion, Calendly, and Zoom all come to mind as products that have been incredibly valuable to me in the free tier. Though, I currently pay for all of them!

If it has to be something I've NEVER paid for, I'd probably go with Sublime Text. Though I really should start paying the after all these years...

6 points
ethnchng's avatar
a year ago

Libby - it's great being able to check out e-books and audiobooks from my local library. I've gotten a ton of value out of using the app.

5 points
alexjvale's avatar
a year ago

The Moz chrome extension! It’s really handy for quickly checking SEO stats on the fly and doing a deep dive on things like page structure.

5 points
itsjackcohen's avatar
a year ago
  1. Workona (https://workona.com/) for tab hygiene
  2. Guru (https://www.getguru.com/) for knowledge surfacing cross-team
  3. LeadLeaper (https://leadleaper.com/) for emails from LinkedIn
  4. Loom (https://www.loom.com/) for tutorials
5 points
jenlwei's avatar
a year ago

Not sure if this counts, but HTTPS Everywhere

Here's the one-liner:
HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.

https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere

4 points
jenlwei's avatar
@jenlwei (replying to @jenlwei )
a year ago

Another great one is Fireflies.ai, an AI assistant for meetings that makes it easy to record, transcribe, and search them!

https://fireflies.ai/

4 points
MrMikeWaters's avatar
a year ago

Slack, Trello, Chrome, Evernote, Airtable. :)

4 points
chrismessina's avatar
@chrismessina (replying to @MrMikeWaters )
a year ago

All but one of those aren't free!

1 point
chrismessina's avatar
@chrismessina (replying to @chrismessina )
a year ago

Well, I guess some have free versions, but I don't think Airtable really does?

1 point
MrMikeWaters's avatar
@MrMikeWaters (replying to @chrismessina )
a year ago

All free ;) I don't pay for any of them and they work extremely well. What made you upgrade to paid might be a better question?

1 point
chrismessina's avatar
@chrismessina (replying to @MrMikeWaters )
a year ago

You're right actually... Airtable is the only one I pay for, though I've paid for Slack in the past — in both cases for premium/privacy/team features.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @chrismessina )
a year ago

Airtable's free plan is actually fairly generous—unlimited databases with 1.2k records per database. That's easy to fill up if using it for anything in production, but for smaller projects or non-traditional usecases (such as building a custom project management/kanban tool in it) that's plenty of space for a lot.

1 point
antoine_mor's avatar
a year ago

I love WallCat. For some reason a beautiful background picture helps my productivity, and WallCat changes your background every day!

I also like Amphetamine to manage my Mac going to sleep, Jumpshare to easily share files, Loom for screen recordings, etc.

4 points
paddy_ganti's avatar
a year ago

www.archive.org which preserves our internet content as well as free e-books

3 points
RichBohn's avatar
a year ago

It would have to be the one that I use all day every day, Google Chrome

3 points
awwstn's avatar
@awwstn (replying to @RichBohn )
a year ago

Ha, I wouldn't have even thought to list this, but yes...I don't even want to know how many hours I've spent working in Chrome. :)

1 point
paula_recker's avatar
a year ago

https://getferdi.com/ is awesome! All messenger services in one app - I'm using it every day!

3 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @paula_recker )
a year ago

Woah that's almost like the old IM app Pidgin, reinvented for modern chat services.

Which chat services are you using in Ferdi? And how does it do with notifications—does it have any tools to combine notifications or selectively get notified per-app?

1 point
paula_recker's avatar
@paula_recker (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

I'm using Slack, Telegram, Skype and my entire GSuite (Mail, Calendar, Keep, Tasks) within Ferdi. You can set up your notifications for each service separately or disable all notifications directly in Fredi. I'm receiving the same notifications as I used to when I used all the services separately and I love that I can mute them all at once!

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @paula_recker )
a year ago

Wow, that sounds perfect. Ok I'll definitely have to give it a try—thank you for sharing!

2 points
pablankley's avatar
a year ago

For me, VS Code, Chrome, iTerm2

3 points
kil0ran's avatar
a year ago

Spark, Loom, and Bit.ly are all pretty much essential to my working day and are the sort of apps I'd buy if they suddenly took away their free tiers. Honorable shout-out to Click-Up too - I loved that but unfortunately our team went with Teams. Oh and Airtable give away a huge amount of functionality.
I'd also pay for Zoom integration with Calend.ly if it was cheaper. It's the only bit of their non-free tier I need but isn't worth paying for Pro.

3 points
tedcarstensen's avatar
a year ago

Google Apps, Trello, Discord - all have both free and paid options (I actually pay for all three now) but even in 'free mode' each is an incredibly valuable tool for managing information, organizing it, and sharing it with others.

3 points
Joe__Dempsey's avatar
a year ago

Google Apps like Gdocs and Sheets. Outrageous value for money.

3 points
bobpage's avatar
a year ago

It seems like most of my apps these days are licensed or subscriptions. But the two free ones I use every day are Apple Photos and Apple Mail. Photos just has the right amount of features (organization, editing) that I often prefer it to Lightroom, and Mail might simply be the old pair of jeans. I have all the other Mac and iOS based mail apps but always come back to Apple's version.

3 points
phemartin's avatar
a year ago

Dynalist ! Best todo/notes app I've ever had.

3 points
stuartdsmith's avatar
a year ago

I would have to say GSuite

2 points
jmitch's avatar
a year ago

VS Code, Jumpshare on their free plan (although we pay for it), Airtable, Hyper3, OBS

2 points
MorganJLopes's avatar
a year ago

Miro.
With business accounts, I've been moving into the paid tier for most products these days (Slack, Loom, Notion, Sublime Text, Asana, Balsamiq ... would have once made the list for FREE). I'm still riding free on Miro though. It's the best digital white-boarding and mind mapping tool I've found.

2 points
nickcasares's avatar
@nickcasares (replying to @MorganJLopes )
a year ago

The consultant plan is a good stepping stone into their paid tiers. Day passes are really useful for occasional collaboration.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @nickcasares )
a year ago

That's fascinating they offer day passes—love seeing innovative SaaS models that aren't just monthly/yearly plans.

1 point
ariblech's avatar
a year ago

Getferdi sounds interesting. I mainly subsist on Skype, Whatsapp both of which I planned to mention. Chrome of course and gmail. For shopping, honey, wikibuy and retailmenot browser extensions, free versions of crunchbase and owler and occasionally free up to limit searches for company info using rocketreach or zoom. Builtwith free version for seeing what sites are using tool-wise is another great one.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @ariblech )
a year ago

Love using Builtwith to see especially what CMS powers sites.

Do you use Skype for team calls? Curious how well its video quality holds up with large groups, if you have any experience there.

1 point
ariblech's avatar
@ariblech (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

I do use for some team calls. It's been fine.

2 points
Blakejmyer's avatar
a year ago

Have been using draw.io a lot lately. It's a great lucid chart alternative — and if you can figure out the whole save to google drive bit (which I admit is not a great UX) then it functions like any other google slide/doc/drive/document etc.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @Blakejmyer )
a year ago

Woah, love how you can start creating something without signing in! Does it do well importing drawings from LucidChart, Visio, and such?

1 point
Blakejmyer's avatar
@Blakejmyer (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

It does okay from what I've experienced. It's not perfect with the styling and everything. But it's good enough to be better than starting from scratch.

1 point
gentoftech's avatar
a year ago

Otter.ai - we transcribe hundreds of hours of meetings and podcasts a month. When I started working with audio, that would been $9-12,000 to get transcribed. Now it’s $80/year

2 points
AndrewJDavison's avatar
a year ago

f.lux for Mac (https://justgetflux.com/). As someone who semi-occasionally gets their productive spurt late in the evening, my eyes and sleep cycle constant thank me!

2 points
kil0ran's avatar
@kil0ran (replying to @AndrewJDavison )
a year ago

Loved that app, so far ahead of its time. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and now blue light suppression and dark mode is everywhere. If they weren't the first they were certainly the first to make it relatively mainstream.

1 point
brainsparker's avatar
a year ago

IFTTT is extremely powerful and is free-free-free. I love using it to move data from Evernote to google drive, automatically create calendar events from email, and slack alerts from a handful of tools. In fact, my superpower is IFTTT+Slack, combined with Slack "highlight" words, which can alert me when a twitter list is about something I'm interested in, and I can jump into a Twitter fight with a VC in near real-time. Zapier has a lot more functionality that covers this as well but is freemium.

2 points
just2jays's avatar
a year ago

So many great ones listed here that I use on a daily basis. I'll throw in Cyberduck as well. A tool that I consistently come back to for fast/easy FTP.

Also ItsyCal a tiny, but complete calendar that sits in the Mac menu bar. It gets a lot of oohs and aahs when people realize it's not the default time & date widget.

2 points
ParkerACS's avatar
a year ago

Pocket is definitely one free tool that I use frequently as part of my daily workflows (getpocket.com)

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @ParkerACS )
a year ago

Reading later tools are so handy; I use Instapaper but it's a close tossup between that and Pocket. Do you find yourself reading everything you save, or having to go through and just bulk archive stuff after a while?

1 point
chiragchamoli's avatar
a year ago
  • PyCharm (Community Edition)
  • Sublime
  • VLC
2 points
HatariaStanley's avatar
a year ago

Simplenote. The most underrated free software.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @HatariaStanley )
a year ago

It's so clean! What's your favorite thing about Simplenote?

2 points
ktkaushik's avatar
@ktkaushik (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Simplenote is way high up there. Best part is -

  1. Simple to use
  2. Pin notes
  3. Super fast
3 points
HatariaStanley's avatar
@HatariaStanley (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Yes it’s clean and just does the job for me. No bells and whistles

2 points
MMarahatta's avatar
a year ago
  • Emacs
  • Chrome
  • VLC
  • iTerm
  • Telegram
  • Notion
  • Figma
2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @MMarahatta )
a year ago

Nice set there. Is Emacs your primary code/text editor?

2 points
MMarahatta's avatar
@MMarahatta (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Yes it is, I try doing everything with emacs and org-mode :D

1 point
danbowyer's avatar
a year ago

Spark. Hands down. If like me you hate web based email, Spark is the best free email client going. Simple, clean, powerful and when you realise the tiny touches the team have inbuilt it’s super elegant - signatures that are cloud based, 1 account login which carries all settings, not just for Gmail, powerful templates, ability to snooze and send later, copy and paste across features. I could go on...

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @danbowyer )
a year ago

The one-click replies are handy too, though they may seem odd to people who don't use Spark!

1 point
danbowyer's avatar
@danbowyer (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

True! And it knows what emails to display the feature on too. V smart.

2 points
el_delongo's avatar
a year ago

Trello is great for free project management. I make it my default private kanban. I use the project calendar view as my one free powerup and that is really all I need!

1 point
David__Fortino's avatar
a year ago

Two suggestions specifically aimed at B2B Marketers looking to learn more about their target audiences or amplify their content beyond the footprint of their existing properties/channels. Both are completely free with zero requirements nor provide a CC#.

Audience Explorer - real-time interactive buyer engagement tool that helps B2B content marketers to discover the content consumption behavior being generated by their in-market buyers. http://www.netline.com/audienceexplorer.html

ContentFlow - Allows content marketers the ability to amplify their content to over 125M+ professionals actively consuming content and researching their various business/technical challenges. Gain free insights on the types of professionals engaging with your content. Create your account and select "ContentFlow" once inside the Portal. https://portal.netline.com/portal0000/

Full Disclosure, I head-up Product, Marketing, and Audience here at NetLine.

1 point
alexjmedick's avatar
a year ago

I find myself using Loom a lot to make client training videos for how to use new software / give presentations.

1 point
Riley_S_Rodgers's avatar
a year ago

Slack. We will definitely upgrade when we get there but still fit into a free plan and would pay now even below the free message limit.

1 point
LukeInTH's avatar
@LukeInTH (replying to @Riley_S_Rodgers )
a year ago

Another vote for Loom, we do a lot of async video updates which we post on slack. QuickTime also good for screen recording. Actually working on a tool to collect these and other videos and presentations posted on slack and turn them into a sort of catchup feed that can be consumed like Netflix.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @LukeInTH )
a year ago

Ohh that'd be a super cool idea—something Loom should add as a feature!

1 point
LukeInTH's avatar
@LukeInTH (replying to @LukeInTH )
a year ago

Whoops sorry added this as reply rather than top level

1 point
NBNite's avatar
a year ago

Canva
- if you don't have a graphic design team and have little design experience, Canva's free plan gives you hundreds of free templates and designs.*Bonus - Canva is now natively integrated into Hubspot's design manager.

1 point
MarkHariz's avatar
a year ago

Some of my favorites:
LeadLeaper - find any email
SimilarWeb - site traffic and sources
BuiltWith - 3rd party technologies used on a given website

1 point
Ugo_alves's avatar
a year ago

Trello for sure. The generosity of the free plan is amazing. It allows me to keep track of projects and tasks. I even use it just to store snippets and references when I'm planning a talk and need a safe place to easily organize the support materials.

1 point
mirajchokshi's avatar
a year ago

A hidden gem that I rediscovered recently is Automator which comes bundled with macOS.

I did not realize how powerful it could be until I stumbled on this Medium article: https://medium.com/@miloszfalinski/laser-mode-on-your-mac-make-your-workspace-distraction-free-with-a-simple-keystroke-65938680cfac.

I adjusted one of the created apps in the article and now use it to quickly set up for product demos. With one app launch - I can hide the dock, hide the menu bar, enable Do Not Disturb mode to disable all notifications, launch URLs of the web application that I will be demoing, open any necessary applications (e.g. Reflector to AirPlay an iOS screen) and quit any applications that do not need to be opened.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @mirajchokshi )
a year ago

Automator's so useful! I use it every so often to bulk resize and rename photos, and the only close thing is Workflow on iOS (which is basically Automator mobile).

But I didn't realize Automator could do that much to your whole OS—that's super cool. I may have to try that the next time I need to demo something!

1 point
mirajchokshi's avatar
@mirajchokshi (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Agreed! I have tried Workflow but have not figured out how to use it in my day to day yet.

Awesome, happy to send over the example file I use.

1 point
mudassar262's avatar
a year ago

Google chrome, Firefox, Whatsapp

1 point
gwolozi's avatar
a year ago

Hallway! A slack app that automatically schedules video rooms (no conferencing needed) on a schedule

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @gwolozi )
a year ago

Oh that's very cool! I used to use Donut in Slack to schedule random checkins with coworkers, but that looks like a great option for spontaneous conversations.

How often have you found your team using it?

1 point
gwolozi's avatar
@gwolozi (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

It’s something good for introducing new teams- my entire grad mba program is online so it does well in terms of introducing each other. I would say hallway is good for more organic convos and donut is good for conferencing and virtual networking

2 points
patrickt010's avatar
a year ago

Figma ♥️ (free)
Notion for collaborating on docs (paid)
Airtable + Zapier for some nocode goodness (free + paid)
Loom for sharing quick videos (paid)
Tandem for video chat (part of early access program)
* These are freemium tools that I pay for because they rock.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @patrickt010 )
a year ago

Nice list! It still amazes me how much you can doo with Airtable for free.

Are you still on Notion's free plan? Seems like you'd hit the limits there pretty quick.

What do you like about Tandem so far?

1 point
patrickt010's avatar
@patrickt010 (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

We pay for Notion. We hit the limit earlier than I'd have liked given we migrated off of Dropbox Paper. Worth it at the moment but worried about the price as we scale. I've tried Confluence, Dropbox, Google Docs, Wrike

Tandem one-click to start a video chat has been great. We started using this before paying for Slack, now that we pay for Slack 🤷‍♂️. I've also discovered how to invite folks into a Zoom chat if they keep it running. Still 4 clicks versus 1 click with Tandem and two clicks with Slack.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @patrickt010 )
a year ago

There's something to say for integration and fewer clicks for sure! Slack calls are pretty great for one-on-one convos; less so for large groups.

On Notion vs everything else you'd used before: What made Notion click better for you?

1 point
patrickt010's avatar
@patrickt010 (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

The reason that I like tools like Jira, Airtable, and Notion is that they match my mental models for how things should work. I understand the relationship between objects.

Notion works well 99..99% of the time, I've had a few issues with collaborative editing, but all said they've done a great job keeping the product simple and reliable. They've avoided adding a ton of feature bloat and the learning curve is minimal. I really like their focus on making things easy to share, they have great viral loops built into the product. My biggest concern is bundling and unbundling, now that we're back using Jira Software (*disclaimer I use to work for Atlassian) the marginal cost of using an integrated solution like Confluence is really attractive. Although I really like Notion, I can see us potentially migrating off in the future to consolidate our tools.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @patrickt010 )
a year ago

It's funny but Google Docs still is the best purely collaborative writing experience where multiple people can edit the same thing and it just works.

Bundling and unbundling are the cycles. SaaS is at an interesting stage there with Microsoft's bundle vs Slack + Zoom + Notion + whatever else, and the value side of the equation is definitely on Microsoft's side (where the usability/features side may be on the best-in-breed tools' side). I think Notion may be a tad more sticky because it's managed to bundle internally to a degree, where it can be your notes and writing apps and project boards and light spreadsheets/databases—though on the latter, the challenge is that you'll almost always still need real spreadsheet and database apps too once you hit Notion's limitations.

Interesting space for sure.

1 point
MLGavaudan's avatar
a year ago

Github! Couldn't work without it.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @MLGavaudan )
a year ago

Definitely hard to imagine modern software development without both GitHub and StackOverflow!

1 point
ktkaushik's avatar
a year ago

Monosnap - it's powerful and easy to use

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @ktkaushik )
a year ago

Neat! What got you to use it over the built-in screenshot tools on macOS?

1 point
spinheiroo's avatar
a year ago

https://x.ai ( Freemium) an AI assistant for scheduling, meetings and calendar management.

1 point
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