Today, I wanted to give you a bit of an overview of some of the great software you can use online through your internet browser – often for free.
Before these “web apps” came along, you had to use a separate app or program to do pretty much anything on your computer. But it’s amazing what you can do now with just an internet browser.
If you want to do something “office-y” like typing a letter or keeping your accounts, you need office programs – things like a word processor and spreadsheet program. Back in the day, you might have bought Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel (and you still can) but there are free online alternatives now.
My personal favourites are the Google office apps – Google Docs (docs.google.com) and Google Sheets (sheets.google.com). They’re completely free to use and you can store as many documents as you like online for free. All you need is a Google account.
There are also cut-down online versions of Word and Excel (office.com). Again, they’re completely free – you just need to sign in with a Microsoft account to use them. I find the Microsoft versions a bit more fiddly to use than the Google ones, but it’s horses for courses.
There’s a lot of photo editing that you can do with the Photos apps that come built in to your device – e.g. the Microsoft Photos app on Windows 10 computers is really very good. But for fancier things like blurs and overlays, or for turning your photos into greetings cards or collages, you might want to try Fotor (fotor.com).
Some of the features you have to pay for, but there’s an awful lot that’s free. Start by choosing whether you want to edit a photo, make a collage or create a design (e.g. a card). There are lots of tools and options for you to play with – if you get stuck, there are tutorial videos to help you.
If you want an easy way to make a flowchart, timeline, family tree diagram or something similar, try Lucidchart (lucidchart.com). It’s really designed for businesses, so the front page isn’t very user-friendly. But if you click the “Sign up” button and create a free account, it’ll take you through to something a bit nicer, complete with templates to base your diagrams on.
There are lots of tutorials to help you find your way round, too.
There are lots of other online apps out there too – for video editing, drawing, sound editing, making animations, etc – some of them you have to pay for, but a lot have either free trials or cut-down free versions.
So next time you’re at your computer wishing you had a program to let you do some job or other – try Googling it. There might be just the thing you need a few clicks away.