Windows Help & Advice - - WINDOWS 10 -

1 Photo Edit­ing Gimp

About as Pho­to­shop as you can get without ac­tu­ally shelling out a small for­tune to use Pho­to­shop it­self, Gimp is densely packed with fea­tures, and ca­pa­ble of a mas­sive ar­ray of photo ma­nip­u­la­tion and artis­tic en­deav­ours. It’s also far more re­fined than it was a few years ago, with the fre­quent crashes of yes­ter­year all but gone. Only the slightly janky in­ter­face re­mains to re­mind you that this is open-source soft­ware.

2 Nat­u­ral paint­ing Krita

Now 20 years old, Krita is a nat­u­ral paint­ing tool­box, per­fect for every­one from artists to car­toon­ists, and be­yond. It in­cludes art essen­tials such as sta­bilised brushes, a pop-up pal­ette, a wrap­ping tex­ture mode, as well as a full an­i­ma­tion in­ter­face. There are nine in­di­vid­ual brush en­gines, each cus­tomis­able and or­gan­is­able to help you grab the right tool fast. Pick up the paid-for Gem­ini ver­sion on Steam ($9.99) if you’re rock­ing a con­vert­ible tablet and want to sup­port the project.

3 Video edi­tor Light­works

If you’re af­ter pro-level video edit­ing, Light­works – le­git­i­mately used to cut proper Hol­ly­wood movies, such as The Wolf of Wall Street – is an in­cred­i­ble choice for the grand sum of zero. You’re re­stricted to 720p out­put on the free tier, but ev­ery­thing else is present and cor­rect, from ad­vanced non-lin­ear edit­ing to a whole host of colour grad­ing and ef­fects tools. The learn­ing curve is steep, but there’s a vi­brant com­mu­nity ready to help if you need any point­ers.

4 Mu­sic pl ayer Mu­sicBee

No mat­ter how large your mu­sic li­brary is, Mu­sicBee can han­dle it, with a tiny RAM foot­print that makes this hand­some skinnable player/man­ager per­fect for even the lowli­est lap­top. You can tweak your sounds with sur­round up­scal­ing, ASIO and WASAPI sup­port, and a 15-band equaliser, and even make use of those crusty old WinAmp plu­g­ins if you need more. It’ll even prop­erly tag and fully or­gan­ise that trash­pile you call an MP3 col­lec­tion… http://get­mu­

5 YouTube down­loader Freemake Video Down­loader

Now down­load­ing video con­tent from YouTube isn’t strictly kosher, but noth­ing’s per­ma­nent on the In­ter­net’s fore­most de­mon­eti­sa­tion plat­form. It pays to be pre­pared if there’s a video you can’t do without – par­tic­u­larly if your data plan won’t cover stream­ing your kids’ favourite weird Spi­derman/Elsa es­capades when you’re des­per­ate for them to be quiet for two sec­onds. Freemake’s multi-threaded app is su­per-sim­ple, su­per-fast, and it can suck down YouTube vids as well as con­tent from Vimeo, Face­book, and be­yond.

6 Au­dio edi­tor Au­dac­ity

Ac­tive de­vel­op­ment means that this au­dio stal­wart has re­cently seen a bunch of new fea­tures added, and there are more on the way. Not that it nec­es­sar­ily needed much

chang­ing: De­spite a rather, let’s say, rugged in­ter­face, Au­dac­ity’s power for multi-track au­dio ma­nip­u­la­tion is un­sur­passed in the free bracket, and the pro­gram is an im­mensely sta­ble way to record from a mi­cro­phone, too. Of course, now that it can na­tively play MIDI files, you’ll be too busy loop­ing canyon.mid to get any fresh record­ing done.­dac­i­

7 Video pl ayer VLC Me­dia Player

VLC is bril­liantly hon­est free soft­ware. When its cre­ators were of­fered tens of mil­lions of dol­lars to slather the app in ads, they re­fused – it’s open source, proud about it, and the envy of the me­dia player world, thanks to its solid com­pat­i­bil­ity with just about ev­ery me­dia for­mat. It can even han­dle streams on sev­eral pro­to­cols, and it’s fully ex­tend­able. That said, ev­ery­thing im­por­tant is on board from the start – no codec packs re­quired. www.vide­

8 Stream­ing au­dio Spo­tify

De­spite the fact that it’s ca­vort­ing around an in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive stream­ing play­ground, Spo­tify is still king of the jun­gle gym. It has the big­gest li­brary, the best in­ter­face, and its OGG-for­mat files sound all but flaw­less, de­spite its lack of of­fi­cial high-res au­dio sup­port. Ad­mit­tedly, the ads can be a lit­tle repet­i­tive and heavy handed if you don’t shell out for a paid-for ac­count, but that’s the price of free. www.spo­

Vec­tor im­age edi­tor Inksc ape 9

You don’t have a huge amount of choice if you need to cre­ate scal­able vec­tor graph­ics on a bud­get. You could shell out for a sub­scrip­tion to use Adobe Il­lus­tra­tor, or you could down­load the highly ma­ture and fea­ture-filled Inkscape. There’s not re­ally a happy in-be­tween. Good job, then, that Inkscape is so ca­pa­ble, with sup­port for blur­ring, gra­di­ents, multi-path edit­ing, and ex­port­ing in ev­ery for­mat you could pos­si­bly need.

10 Video ma­nip ula­tion Hand­brake

When you need video in one for­mat but it’s stub­bornly in an­other, you need to transcode. Hand­brake sup­ports a mas­sive list of for­mats on in­put and out­put, with pro­files in­cluded for a host of com­mon de­vices, and it’s happy to con­vert frame rates and add ef­fects on the way. Its key fea­ture, though, is batch pro­cess­ing: Drop a col­lec­tion of videos in, set it off, and it’ll tell you when it’s filled a folder with your freshly con­verted me­dia. http://hand­

Al­low your in­ner artist to ex­press it­self with veteran paint­ing app Krita.

VLC Me­dia Player can han­dle pretty much any me­dia for­mat you care to throw at it.

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