My Favorite Free (Or Nearly Free) Road Warrior Tools

Here’s my dilemma: I want to be able to resize images, but I am not a designer, I don’t need to do fancy designer-y things and I don’t want to shell out $650 for Photoshop or even $90 for Photoshop Elements.  I feel the same way about Adobe Acrobat: I just want to create PDFs, not manipulate them or optimize them, and I don’t want to pay $280 for Acrobat (the full version, just the reader).

For the not-so-power-users like me, it doesn’t make sense to pay hundreds of dollars for programs that are overkill for my needs. Luckily, I’ve found a host of free (or ridiculously inexpensive) programs that are just right for my needs.  Here’s a list of my favorites:

Gimp is an open-source graphics program. It’s a small download, easy to use, and it lets me resize images in three steps (select Scale, type your preferred image size, then press Scale).  Since I write and post my own blog posts, Gimp lets me be self-sufficient and not bother the busy designers and webmasters at Matrix Group.  Price: $0.

Neevia is a super-easy PDF creator that installs as a print driver. I can make PDFs out of anything, including Word, Excel, Powerpoint files and Web pages.  All I do is press Print, select docuprinter, and enter the directory where I want the PDF saved.  Price: $19 (less if you buy a site license)

Pearl Crescent is a free plug-in to Firefox that lets me take screenshots of any Web page. I can capture just the visible portion of the Web page or the entire page, even if it goes below the fold.  The PNG files can be easily inserted into Word or Powerpoint files.  Price: $0

Filezilla is a free and easy to use ftp (file transfer protocol) program that support secure ftp, the only way to connect to Matrix Group Web servers over ftp.  I also use it to download large files from sites that offer ftp downloads of their software.  Price: $0

Firefox Web Developer Toolbar is a free plug-in to Firefox. Using different components of the toolbar, I can: see what a page looks like with graphics or javascript turned off; change the style sheets (temporarily, of course, and only on my computer) so that I can play  around with the html styles and not bother the webmasters (also called front-end developers at Matrix Group); and check the alignment of a page.  Note that the geek factor is a little high on this plug-in. Price: $0

I’d love to hear about your favorite free (or nearly free) software tools!

9 thoughts on “My Favorite Free (Or Nearly Free) Road Warrior Tools

  1. One of my favorites that I use frequently is ColorPix, a free utility that gives you the RGB, Hex, HSB, and closest CMYK color values for any pixel on your screen. You can download it at http://www.colorschemer.com/colorpix_info.php. Another similarly useful and free utility is the FireFox add-on MeasureIt, that allows you to quickly measure the pixel dimensions of any element on a web page. Find it at http://www.colorschemer.com/colorpix_info.php. Admittedly these may be most useful for designers.

  2. Hey Joanna, I have come across unlocker, http://ccollomb.free.fr/unlocker/, recently which unlocks files that for some reason one cannot open, move, or delete (ever have that happen to you? “access denied”?). Also, MPEG Streamclip, http://www.squared5.com/ is a great free one if you work with video. Some camcorder manufacturers come up with their own formats for some reason that are hard to work with in your standard NLE program (my cousin’s JVC consumer camcorder with a hard disk, for example). MPEG Streamclip converts most of them no problem. Great program.I don’t have a link, but NVu is a great WYSIWYG HTML editor who those who don’t have time to fuss with code. I’ve used FileZilla before and it’s great. Thanks for those links, I’m going to check them out!

  3. Jon, thanks for the great resources. I’m not much of a designer, but every once in a while, it’s useful to find the RGB or hex values of a particular color. And the pixel info utility is great! Thanks for sharing!

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