Software has always been expensive, but with today’s subscription model, users are spending far more money on software than ever before.
Instead of continuing to pay outrageous prices for software subscriptions, consider trying some alternatives. There are cheap and free software programs that do what the big brands do if you know what to look for. Just because a piece of software isn’t the most popular choice in the marketplace doesn’t mean it won’t serve you. You have more high-quality software options than you think.
Gimp is a free Photoshop alternative
Gimp is a free and open source image editor available for Linux, OS X, Windows, and several other operating systems. Gimp is not an MS Paint type of program; it provides users with sophisticated tools including layers and other functions popularized by Photoshop. Since Gimp is open source, it’s fully customizable – something many users take advantage of. Those customizations are publicly distributed along with third-party plugins that add features like filters, effects, and more.
If you’ve been using Photoshop for several years and consider yourself somewhat of an expert graphic designer, you’re probably not going to like Gimp. However, if you’re familiar with Photoshop, but don’t have an existing attachment to the complexity of what Photoshop can do, Gimp will be your new best friend.
InstallAware is an InstallShield alternative
If you’re a software programmer, you might be using InstallShield, but there’s a better alternative called InstallAware.
In 2014, a benchmark analyzed and compared InstallAware against the tow leading commercial platforms, and InstallAware outperformed them both.
Compared to InstallShield, InstallAware installs programs 50% faster and achieves 174% smaller compression. Compared to WiX, InstallAware produces 17% faster installations and 224% smaller compressions.
The results of the benchmark tests found the two popular platforms crashed often, produced unusable builds, and slow installations.
InstallShield can cost anywhere from $749 to $5,199 USD for a license. InstallAware starts at $329 and is available for free for all Visual Studio users.
PDF Element is an Adobe Acrobat alternative
Since Adobe switched to a subscription model, you can’t even get Acrobat without paying a monthly fee. Not many people use Acrobat enough to justify the monthly cost.
Instead of Acrobat, try PDFelement. It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Android, and does everything Acrobat can do. You can convert PDF documents to text searchable documents, create a PDF file from directly scanning in pages, convert PDF file pages into individual images, annotate PDF files for collaboration, get signatures, and more.
ImageOptim is a free image compression tool
You can pay good money for image compression tools, but ImageOptim does a great job for free. You can even set the program to remove EXIF metadata from the images as they’re compressed.
Just drag and drop your images into ImageOptim and compression will begin. By default, the program will preserve image quality as much as possible but you can change how much compression is applied. Enabling the Lossy minification will give the smallest possible file sizes. Lossy compression can be applied to JPEG, SVG, GIF, and PNG files.
Microsoft Office alternatives do exist
Of all the software used on a daily basis, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are probably the top three. Thankfully, there are free alternatives to office software programs including LibreOffice, WPS Office, as well as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
You can buy older software instead of subscriptions
If you’re tired of the cloud software subscription model, try these alternatives or find older versions of software on eBay and Amazon from the pre-subscription days. For example, Microsoft still sells a stand-alone version of Microsoft Word that doesn’t require a subscription. Or, if you don’t mind missing some features, you can still buy older versions of Adobe Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator, and more.
Sometimes compatibility is an issue, so before buying older software do some research to make sure it’s compatible with your operating system. Macs tend to be more backwards compatible than Windows computers, but there are no guarantees.
If all else fails, buy an older laptop and upgrade the RAM just to use the software you want to use. Don’t get sucked into the subscription model if you don’t want to use it. At least for now, you’ve got options.
Image Credits: Expensive Software from Vasin Lee/Shutterstock