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4 free alternatives to the most popular computer programs

4 free alternatives to the most popular computer programs

When was the last time you bought a computer program? If it's been a while, you won't believe how expensive they are. Many of them cost $100 or more.

Or, these days, you could spend money on a monthly subscription. They'll lure you in with a manageable monthly cost, like $10. But that adds up real fast. In just one year, you're spending $120.

They can charge that much because we're talking about extremely popular computer programs, like Photoshop and Outlook that have become synonymous with their functions - photo editing and email, in these cases.

Fortunately, there are really talented programmers out there creating free versions of these programs. We're not talking about terrible knockoffs. These are highly polished, easy-to-use programs that you might like even more than the originals.

So, if you like to save money but don't want to skimp on quality, check out these free computer programs.

Free alternative to Microsoft Office

If you've touched a computer in the past couple of decades, you've used a Microsoft Office program. This suite of programs includes word processing program Word, the spreadsheet program Excel, and others that everyone seems to use.

That popularity will cost you. The current version, Office 365, starts at $6.99 a month and goes up to a one-time cost of $150.

While Office is great, you don't need to spend that kind of money on word processing and spreadsheets.

LibreOffice offers six programs that will feel instantly familiar to you if you've used Office before. Writer, Calc and Impress are equivalent to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. They have most of the same features; you just might need to poke around to find some of them.

Even better, LibreOffice can open and edit the documents you made in Office and can save new files in Office formats. LibreOffice is also compatible with the other document formats, like OpenDocument Format (ODF) and PDF.

LibreOffice includes drawing, database and equation programs, too. On top of these, there are plenty of extensions and templates you can add to give the program more features.

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