Our Top Free Software List

In no particular order with varying degrees of awesomeness, here is some of

Our Favorite Free Software

1. Avast! Free version
This version has new features and a great look, along with a boot-scan that strikes at malware.

2. Avira Free Antivirus 2012
Lacking little from the premium version (save Web protection and live support), Avira’s free version also gets good scores from PCMag and independent labs for malware removal.

3. LibreOffice
Windows | Mac | Linux
Our reviewer calls LibreOffice “by far the best free office application suite” and says it should be the first choice for anyone that wants a free alternative to Microsoft Office. It’s another offshoot from OpenOffice.org, but it already has more features and an improved interface. It includes a word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentations, and apps for math and drawing.

4. TeamViewer
Windows | Mac | Mobile | Portable | Mobile
Still our Editors’ Choice for remote control, TeamViewer 7 offers a brain-dead simple setup and a remarkably fast screen redraw when controlling another desktop, whether from a PC or Android and iOS devices. For free, you get access to a single system, which is perfect for providing tech support to family and friends.

5. Cute PDF Reader
Convert to professional quality PDF files from almost any printable document. Free for personal, commercial, government or educational use. No watermarks. No popup Web ads. Now supports 64-bit Windows.

6. Advanced SystemCare Free
In a clean and simple-to-follow interface, Advanced SystemCare 5 will do a quick malware scan; optimize the registry; get rid of junk and temp files; and then do a “Deep Care,” which is like the regular care but, well, deeper. It has a new “ActiveBoot” to keep you optimized at all times. And it’s ready for Windows 8.

7. VLC media player
Windows | Mac | Linux | Portable | Mobile
Some video players need codecs installed to playback all your video files. VLC doesn’t; it’ll play just about every file type imagined, plus DVDs and streaming media. The new version 2.0 is out with major updates, including experimental Blu-ray support.

8. 7-Zip
Windows | Portable
7-Zip has quickly become the de facto leader when it comes to getting a free tool to pack and unpack compressed archives. It supports packing 7z, TAR, ZIP and other formats, and about four times as many for decompression. Throw in some AES-256 encryption and it’s a great security tool, too.

9. Dropbox
Windows | Mac | Linux | Web | Mobile
Dropbox provides the brain-dead simplicity to backup/sync we all crave. Put all your files in the Dropbox folder, and all files are synced to the Web and all other computers with the same account, plus they can be accessed on almost all mobile devices.

10. Google Chrome
Windows | Mac | Linux | Portable
What’s not to like about Google Chrome? The latest version is the fastest browser out there, and it also features great security, extensions and Web apps, tab implementation and isolation, great HTML5 support, and even built-in support for PDFs and Flash (because they’re still important). No wonder it’s still our Editors’ Choice for browsers.

11. Firefox
Windows | Mac | Linux | Mobile | Portable
Mozilla’s browser only slightly trails behind the competition from Google. It still has the best collection of extensions of any browser, plus strong hardware acceleration, JavaScript performance, and support for standards. It holds its own against any competition and should be a must-have in any browsing arsenal.

12. Fences
You can put a lot of icons on a desktop until it’s totally out of control, or use Fences to provide corrals for icons that should be grouped.

13. Google Picasa
Windows | Web
There’s arguably no better way to organize your images (and videos) than the great interface of Picasa. The Web Albums also makes it easy to share images online, and the latest version integrates Google+ features for extended sharing. It’s a PCMag Editors’ Choice for entry-level photo editing.