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101 Fabulous Freebies

101 Freebies logoMy feature story for PC World‘s May issue is online, and it’s a doozy. This story has capsule reviews of 101 completely free programs and web-based services. I worked my tail off to write this story, and I’m proud of the result: There’s a lot of great stuff in there. Many props to my editors at PC World, Liane Cassavoy and Laura Blackwell. Check it out!

There’s never been a better time to be a cheapskate. Free utilities? We’ve got ’em. Want a full-fledged image editor? A few gigabytes of mail storage? How about an entire office software suite? We can top that, easy. Take the whole earth and solar system. Free!

If you thought that the golden age of free stuff ended when the dot-com bubble burst, guess again. The past few years have seen an explosion of giveaways–both Web-based services and free software–that make the anemic home-page building apps and first-generation Web mail services of the late 1990s pale in comparison.

PCWorld.com – 101 Fabulous Freebies

UPDATE 3/30: Benjamin Pimentel at SFGate (the Chronicle‘s site) blogged this story.


  1. I.

    Looks good.

    I wish there were a category in the all-in-one list just for web-based applications, so the Mac (or–heaven forfend!–Linux) users among us could skip to what’s relevant.

  2. Dylan

    I agree in principle, but hey, it’s PC World — for a more Mac friendly story, you need to read MacWorld!

  3. You Mon Tsang

    I hate to see the computer you used to try out all the ultilities, shareware, freeware, etc to get to 101!

    You’ll have to boil it down to the Top 5 for us commenters.

  4. Dylan

    Actually the computer I used is my regular laptop, which has been running rather pokey since I wrote that story, come to think of it. It’s definitely time for a Windows reinstall.

    My top 5:

    FoxIt Reader (lightweight PDF reader) – http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file_description/0,fid,62648,00.asp

    PDF Creator (quick PDF file creation) – http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file_description/0,fid,62649,00.asp

    FolderShare (sync folders between multiple computers) –

    Google Earth (browse the whole word, insanely fun) – http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file_description/0,fid,61748,00.asp

    Bloglines (browser-based RSS news reader) –

    That list doesn’t count the obvious ones, of course, like Thunderbird, Firefox, Google Desktop, Wikipedia, and Skype, which I (and many other people) use all the time.

    Also lots of fun is Pandora (http://www.pandora.com).

    OK, so that’s six!

    This one-page summary organized by category may be more helpful if you’re in a hurry:


  5. You Mon Tsang

    You need combat pay.

    My thoughts…
    * I read your article your response and downloaded FoxIt. I really really really hate the Acrobat Reader startup. I was using a freeware product called SpeedUp Acrobat, which took out all the plug-ins in Acrobat, but Acrobat was still slow!
    * I use PDF995; works great
    * Have an account on Foldershare, but never used cause I hate having stuff run in the background.
    * Google Earth: fun indeed. Then I was done.
    * Got onto bloglines about a month ago. It is very nice.
    * Pandora: I’m listening to lots of podcasts but I am getting burnt, so I will have to try.

    I like Picasa a lot.

    I also recommend eFax Free, which gives you a dedicated inbound fax line. With broadband, who wants to stick a fax on their only landline?

  6. KRF

    Love the FoxIt reader for small PDF’s, but oh man, just try to print anything over 3 or 4 pages and you will need a terabyte of ram and a few hours of spare time!!! They really need to work on that part of it a lot. It also is not so good on ram for viewing really large PDF’s, it does not seem to release memory at all until you get out, Adobe seems to use a sliding window of sorts and caps out no matter how large the PDF.

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