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20 Best Free Windows 7 Software Platforms

Windows Headshot_2015_maxknoblauch_1By Max Knoblauch2013-08-01 09:10:35 UTC

Best Free Windows 7 Software

  1. Rainmeter

    1. Rainmeter

    If you plan to use your computer a lot, it might as well look pretty. Rainmeter offers thousands of fully customizable, user-created live desktops free for download.

    IMAGE: Rainmeter

  2. Launchy

    2. Launchy

    Another organization tool, Launchy indexes all your files and programs, allowing you to pull them up with custom keystroke shortcuts.

    IMAGE: Launchy

  3. Audacity

    3. Audacity

    Audacity is an open-source audio editor that's free to download. It has a relatively small learning curve, too. You can record live audio or edit existing tracks.

    IMAGE: AUDACITY

  4. Apache-openoffice

    4. Apache OpenOffice

    OpenOffice -- a free replacement to any desktop-based word processor or spreadsheet program -- continues to improve and expand over time. The newest update, 4.0, features a sidebar UI based on code contributed by IBM.

    IMAGE: APACHE OPENOFFICE

  5. Objectdock

    5. ObjectDock

    ObjectDock is an animated desktop dock for applications, based on the design popularized by Macs. If you're making the switch from Mac to PC, this familiar look will help ease the transition.

    IMAGE: OBJECTDOCK

  6. Fences

    6. Fences

    Get rid of unwanted desktop clutter with Fences, the software that hides your icons when you don't need them. To see your files, simply hover your mouse over the screen.

    Note: Though previously offered for free, Fences has begun charging $9.99 for its limited version.

    IMAGE: FENCES

  7. Vlc

    7. VLC Media Player

    VLC is a simple and fast media player. Use it to play any and every type of media file out there.

    IMAGE: VLC MEDIA PLAYER

  8. Gimp

    8. GIMP

    Known as the "free Photoshop," GIMP is an open-source image editor, file convertor and paint tool. It's designed to expand with various plugins, making it an obvious download for any creative PC user.

    IMAGE: GIMP

  9. Picasa

    9. Picasa

    Google's free basic editing and photo sharing tool, Picasa, is similar to Mac's iPhoto app. Easily store and share your photo stream online with 1GB free of cloud storage.

    IMAGE: PICASA

  10. Paint-net

    10. Paint.NET

    Another free image editor, Paint.NET gives users an intuitive UI for retouching photos or creating custom artwork. Paint.NET supports multi-layer image editing and has unlimited undo capabilities.

    IMAGE: PAINT.NET

  11. Chrome

    11. Google Chrome

    Consistently a few steps ahead of its rivals at Mozilla, Chrome is the best browser on the market.

    IMAGE: GOOGLE CHROME

  12. Microsoft-security

    12. Microsoft Security Essentials

    For security against viruses and malware, let Microsoft Security Essentials run quietly in the background while you get your work done.

    IMAGE: MICROSOFT

  13. Maleware-bytes

    13. Malewarebytes

    Use Malewarebytes in conjunction with Microsoft Security Essentials for added protection against viruses.

    IMAGE: MALEWAREBYTES

  14. Glary-utilities

    14. Glary Utilities

    If you're not vigilant, your PC can easily clog with unwanted files and duplicates. Glary Utilities is a great tool for cleaning up those unneeded files and programs from your computer. Don't worry -- you're always given the final say in what's deleted.

    IMAGE: GLARY UTILITIES

  15. Digsby

    15. Digsby

    Combine your chat tools, social media and email into one simple application with Digsby. Our favorite feature is the mixed buddy list, perfect for keeping up with friends who don't use the same chat services.

    IMAGE: DIGSBY

  16. Dropbox

    16. Dropbox

    If you're not using Dropbox yet, you should really get on that.

    IMAGE: DROPBOX

  17. 7zip

    17. 7-Zip

    7-Zip is an open-source file compression and unpacking tool. It compresses large files and folders into smaller zip files, which you can transfer easier via email.

    IMAGE: 7-ZIP

  18. Foxit

    18. Foxit Reader

    We recommend a Foxit download if you're concerned about your PC's disk space. At just 28.5 MB, Foxit is the best free PDF reader that also allows for PDF creation.

    IMAGE: FOXIT READER

  19. Calibre

    19. Calibre

    Though Kindle is arguably nicer-looking, we like that Calibre can connect and sync to all of the major e-book readers (including Apple products). Another great feature is Calibre's conversion tool, allowing you to more easily transfer your e-books to various devices.

    IMAGE: CALIBRE

  20. Skype

    20. Skype

    You won't find a video conferencing application that bests Skype. Now topping 500 million worldwide users, Skype is an essential download for everyone with an Internet connection.

    IMAGE: SKYPE

You just bought a fancy new PC and you're in the market for some useful software. You do some research and make a few purchases — and now you have to take a second mortgage on the house.

Okay, so that's an exaggeration. But if you're not careful, buying software can quickly run into the thousands of dollars. What you may not realize is there are tons of trustworthy and useful replacement programs available online — for free.

See also: The 7 Most Disappointing Software Updates of All Time

To get started, check out our picks for the 20 best free pre-Windows 8 software platforms. If you're worried where to download from, Ninite.com offers safe and fast bundled software installations, free of charge.

Know of any other free Windows programs we missed? Tell us about them in the comments.

Image: Mashable

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