50 Free Apps to Run your Small Business Like a Professional

Small Costs with Big Power

Overview: A list of 50 powerful free applications and services to help run a small business with the power of the big guys.

Free small business applicatoins

If you are running your own small business; you know that every penny counts. You can literally bankrupt yourself by overindulging in high-priced software and services. This list will help you get things done like a pro while preserving your business’ life-force – CASH.

Internet Browsing

Internet browsers

Many of the tools that I mention here are web-based. That being said, you will be spending a lot of time working on the internet. You’re going to need a heavy-duty, feature-rich Browser to get the most out of this experience. This may seem obvious, but Chrome and Firefox will allow you to integrate your desktop and web services in ways that multiplies the value of each. Do yourself a favor start with a great browser.

Chrome – Google Chrome runs web pages and applications with lightning speed.

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux | Application Types – Browser

Firefox – Mozilla Firefox is a free and open source web browser descended from the Mozilla Application Suite.  Firefox is highly extensible, with thousands of third-party add-ons available.

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux | Application Types – Browser

Learn More about Great Free Business Software

Productivity Tools

Productivity tools You can blow through a thousand bucks on productivity software like Microsoft Office and a few other tools in a heartbeat. Productivity apps are some of the most used and important tools that you will purchase. Use the collection of desktop and web-based tools below to do all of the productivity task you ever wanted for free. Google Docs – This is the most popular (although not my favorite) online office suite. Word Processor, Spreadsheets, and Presentations that can be built, maintained, and shared online. The first time that you collaborate on populating a spreadsheet in real-time, you’ll understand the value. Operating System – Web, Mobile Devices | Application Types – Office Suite Zoho Apps – Zoho has a large collection (19 and counting) of Productivity, Collaboration, and Business applications that can do just about anything that you business needs. Most are free (at least for a few people) and the rest are priced very well. Just what the small business person needs. Operating System – Web, Mobile Devices | Application Types – Office Suite LibreOffice – LibreOffice is a productivity suite that is compatible with other major office suites, and available on a variety of platforms. It is a fork of the open-source OpenOffice.org, and is therefore free to download, use and distribute. Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux | Application Types – Office Suite Open Office – OpenOffice.org is the leading open-source office suite, offering free applications for word processing, spreadsheet, presentations, graphics, databases and more. All data is stored in an open standard format, though Open Office can also read and write files from other common office software. Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux | Application Types – Office Suite Evernote – Evernote easily captures information in any environment on most devices and platforms, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, anywhere. Check out this Evernote Tutorial to see how awesome it really is. Operating System – Windows, Mac, Mobile Devices | Application Types – Note Taking PDF2Word – PDF2Word (PDF to Word) software exports the text, images and other contents from any PDF document into MS Word document format (RTF or Word), so you can edit and reuse your PDF content. PDF2Word (PDF to Word) preserves the original PDF text, layout and bitmap images in the generated Word document. PDF2Word (PDF to Word) software is a standalone program and does not require Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, or even Acrobat Reader

Operating System – Windows | Application Types – PDF Converter Foxit Reader – Foxit Reader is a free and light-weight PDF document viewer for Windows. Its core function is compatible with PDF Standard 1.7. This is the smallest, lightest, fastest PDF Reader around. Operating System – Windows | Application Types – PDF Reader CutePDF Writer – CutePDF Writer (formerly CutePDF Printer) is the free version of commercial PDF creation software. CutePDF Writer installs itself as a “printer subsystem”. This enables virtually any Windows applications (must be able to print) to create professional quality PDF documents – with just a push of a button! FREE for commercial and non-commercial use! No watermarks! No Popup Web Ads! Now supports 64-bit Windows Operating System – Windows | Application Types – PDF Writer PDF XChange Viewer – PDF-XChange Viewer is an alternative viewer for PDF files that enables you to view and annotate PDF files. You can add text, sticky notes, and other annotations and save them to the file, which will be compatible with the standard Adobe PDF reader. Check out this PDF Tutorial to see how awesome these three apps really are. Operating System – Windows | Application Types – PDF Writer RememberTheMilk – Take your tasks anywhere with this feature-packed application. See tasks located nearby, add and complete tasks on the go, organize upcoming tasks, and sync it all seamlessly with Remember The Milk. Free download for Pro users! Very good integration in GMail! Access from mobile devices and Google Calendar integration Check out this RememberTheMilk Tutorial to see how awesome it really is. Operating System – Web, Mobile Devices | Application Types – Task Management

Communication Applications

Communication applicatons

If you have a business then you need to communicate. These tools will help you cover every possible communication need including: Email, Instant Message, Phone, Video Conference, and Social Media. If you can’t contact customers, suppliers, and partners with these tools, then they’re just off the grid.

Thunderbird – If you want the power and functionality of Microsoft’s Outlook, but don’t have the deep pockets, than Thunderbird is for you. It’s made by Mozilla and supports tons of plugins and extensions just like firefox. You can manage Email, Contacts, and Calander all from one place.

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux | Application Types – Email

Gmail – The reigning King of web-mail. If you don’t want to be chained to a desktop application like Outlook or Thunderbird, than Gmail is your best bet. This service offeres just about everything you could ever want in a web-based email service.

Operating System – Web, Mobile Devices | Application Types – Email

Zoho Mail – If you want something as clean and powerful and Gmail and don’t want to use Google, than try this. It also integrates seemlessly with the entire line of Zoho applications.

Operating System – Web, Mobile Devices | Application Types – Email

Adium – Adium is a free instant messaging application for Mac OS X that can connect to AIM, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo, and more.

Operating System – Mac | Application Types – IM

Digsby – Digsby is a multiprotocol IM client that lets you chat with all your friends on AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Google Talk, and Jabber with one simple to manage buddy list. Its also a social networking tool that alerts you of eve …

Operating System – Windows | Application Types – IM

Pidgin – Pidgin is an easy to use and free chat client used by millions. Connect to AIM, MSN, Yahoo, and more chat networks all at once.

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux | Application Types – IM

Trillian – Trillian lets you connect to multiple IM and social networks at the same time, managing contacts and real time status feeds efficiently.

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Mobile Devices | Application Types – IM

Fring – Fring is a VoIP (voice over internet) app that allows you to make 2-way video calls, voice calls and live chat for free, from your phone or iPod. It offers video calls to other Fring users on any advanced smartphone over both 3G and WiFi, and allows you to connect with your friends on Fring, Google Talk™, MSN® Messenger, Yahoo™!, Facebook, Twitter & SIP!

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux, Mobile Devices | Application Types – VoIP

Google Voice – Google Voice gives you one number for all your phones, voicemail organized in an email format, free US long distance calls, low rates on international calls, and many free calling features, including transcripts, call blocking, call screening, conference calling, SMS, and more.

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux, Mobile Devices | Application Types – VoIP

Skype – Skype is a proprietary software application that offers free Skype-to-Skype calls and low-cost local, national and international calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones. Additional features include instant messaging, texting, call forwarding, and video conferencing. On Skype for iPhone, you can make free video calls to other devices with Skype installed, over both WiFi and 3G.

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux, Mobile Devices | Application Types – VoIP

HootsuiteHootSuite is the ultimate Twitter toolbox. With HootSuite, you can manage multiple Twitter profiles, add multiple editors, pre-schedule tweets, and measure your success.

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux, Mobile Devices | Application Types – Social Media Posting

TweetDeck – TweetDeck is your personal real-time browser, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google Buzz and more.

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux, Mobile Devices | Application Types – Social Media Posting

Business Services

Business services

As your business gets rolling you will need to add a few important services to keep things moving and growing. These four services will help you maintain your customers’ information, carry out your marketing plan, and keep track of your finances.

Zoho CRM – This is a fairly robust set of tools to help your business track sales and marketing information. It tracks customers, contacts, and leads plus integrates with other Zoho apps and third-party tools. I use it and love it. Free for 3 users ($12/month/user after that.)

Operating System – Web | Application Types – CRM

Mail Chimp – MailChimp helps you design email newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with services you already use, and track your results. It’s like your own personal publishing platform.

Operating System – Web | Application Types – Email Marketing

Knowem – KnowEm allows you to check for the use of your brand, product, personal name or username instantly on over 500 popular and emerging social media websites. Grab your name and secure your brand before someone else does. This is a key to owning your brand.

Operating System – Web | Application Types – Brand Management / Social Media Marketing

Mint.com – Mint brings all your financial accounts together online, automatically categorizes your transactions, lets you set budgets & helps you achieve your savings goals.

Operating System – Web, Mobile Devices | Application Types – Finance

Media Creation and Management

Media creation 1

You will undoubtedly need to create, edit, and manage some types Images, Audio, and Video for business. You definitely don’t have any budget for a Graphics / Video guy, so these tools will let you do the basics for yourself without dropping one thin dime.

Windows Live Writer – Windows Live Writer is one of the most popular blog editors. With a large numer of features WLW is a bloggers best friend.

Operating System – Windows | Application Types – Blogging

Aviary Suite – This is the most comprehensive suite of graphic design, audio, and video production tools other than Adobe’s Creative Suite. It’s entirely web-based and FREE to use. Once you start using the impressive collection of applications you will be amazed.

Operating System – Web | Application Types – Graphics

VLC – VLC is a powerful media player, playing most of the media codecs and video formats out there.

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux | Application Types – Media Player

CamStudio – CamStudio is a screencasting program for Microsoft Windows released as free software. The software renders videos in an AVI format. It can also convert these AVIs into Flash Video format, embedded in SWF files. Think CamTasia or Screenflow, just FREE.

Operating System – Windows | Application Types – Screen Capture

LightScreen – Lightscreen is a simple tool to automate the tedious process of saving and cataloging screenshots, it operates as a hidden background process that is invoked with one (or multiple) hotkeys and then saves a screenshot file to disk according to the user’s preferences.

Operating System – Windows | Application Types – Screen Capture

Skitch – Skitch.com is a webservice that works hand in hand with our application Skitch to give you 1-click uploading of images for fast image sharing.

Operating System – Mac | Application Types – Screen Capture

OnlyWire.com – One Button. Publish Everywhere. Send your message to the web’s top social networks with the click of a button.

Operating System – Web | Application Types – Social Media Posting

PixelPipe.com – Pixelpipe is a content distribution gateway that allows users to publish text, photo, video and audio files once through Pixelpipe and have the content distributed across over 100 social networks, photo/video sites and blogs, and online storage around the globe.

Check out this PixelPipe Tutorial to see how awesome it really is.

Operating System – Web, Mobile Devices | Application Types – Social Media Posting

Posterous.com – Create your own customized site using dozens of themes. Send them anything, they’ll make it look great. Send them a photo, they’ll resize and post it. Send a video, they’ll convert it for viewing on the web. Documents get embedded. Autopost your content to dozens of social sites like Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr.

Operating System – Web, Mobile Devices | Application Types – Social Media Posting

Security Products

You will need to keep so much information on your computer(s) that top-knotch security is an absolute must! This could be an entire list in itself. Keep it safe – keep it secret!

KeePass – KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database.

Operating System – Windows | Application Types – Password Storage

LastPass – Lastpass is a secure, browser-based password manager that supports Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari. Sync your passwords between multiple browsers and computers. With LastPass you can: -Create strong passwords, knowing you only have to remember one. -Log into your favorite sites with a single click. -Fill forms in a second. -Securely share logins and notes with friends and let others share with you.

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux | Application Types – Password Storage

Malwarebytes – Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is considered to be the next step in the detection and removal of malware. In our product we have compiled a number of new technologies that are designed to quickly detect, destroy, and prevent malware. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware can detect and remove malware that even the most well known anti-virus and anti-malware applications fail to detect.

Operating System – Windows | Application Types – Spyware Removal

Web Development Apps

Got a small business; then you’re going to need a website. Here are some great tools to help you get a handle on some basic web development tasks.

Filezilla – FileZilla is a powerful FTP-client for Windows NT4, 2000 and XP. It has been designed for ease of use and with support for as many features as possible, while still being fast and reliable. The program offers support for firewalls and proxy connections as well as SSL and Kerberos GSS security.

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux | Application Types – FTP

Fraise – Fraise is a free text editor for Mac OS X Leopard 10.6 which is both easy to use and powerful. It is designed to neither confuse newcomers nor disappoint advanced users. It should work perfectly for a whole variety of needs – like web programming, script editing, making a to do list and so on.

Operating System – Mac | Application Types – Text Editor

NotePad++ – Notepad++, a source code editor and MS Windows Notepad replacement, has the mission to offer a greener environment.

Operating System – Windows | Application Types – Text Editor

XAMPP – Many people know from their own experience that it’s not easy to install an Apache web server and it gets harder if you want to add MySQL, PHP and Perl. XAMPP is an easy to install Apache distribution containing MySQL, PHP and Perl. XAMPP is really very easy to install and to use – just download, extract and start

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux | Application Types – Web Server

Check out this XAMPP Tutorial to see how awesome it really is.

Utilities and System Tools

System utilities

If you want to be your own IT department than you’ll need a few handy little tools. This stuff will help you extend your business capabilities in some very interesting ways.

7-Zip – &zip is an source and free archive utility that runs on Windows. 7Zip is the smallest, fastest, free-est archive tool available, Period.

Operating System – Windows | Application Types – Archive

Zipeg – Zipeg – free utility to browse and extract (unzip) zip, rar , tar, tgz and other archives for Mac. This is my favorite archive utility for the Mac.

Operating System – Mac | Application Types – Archive

DropBox – Put your files into your Dropbox folder on one computer, and they’ll automatically appear on any of your other computers that also have Dropbox installed (Windows, Mac, and Linux too!). You can even download Dropbox apps for your smartphone or mobile device (iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry). Everything in your Dropbox is available from the Dropbox website, too.

Operating System – Windows, Mac | Application Types – Backup

Check out this Dropbox Tutorial to see how awesome it really is.

Syncback – SyncBack is a freeware program that helps you easily backup and synchronize your files between hard drives, CDs, CompactFlash, FTP servers, network shares and Zip archives. This is a great way to sync folders on your local machine synced with other machines or backup devices.

Operating System – Windows | Application Types – Backup

RealVNC – VNC is remote control software which allows you to view and fully interact with one computer desktop (the “VNC server”) using a simple program (the “VNC viewer”) on another computer desktop anywhere on the Internet. The two computers dont even have to be the same type, so for example you can use VNC to view a Windows Vista desktop at the office on a Linux or Mac computer at home.

Operating System – Windows,Linux | Application Types – Remote Desktop

Check out this VLC Tutorial to see how awesome it really is.

TeamViewer – TeamViewer lets you establish a connection to any PC or server within just a few seconds. You can remote control the PC of your partner as if you were sitting right in front of it. New features such as VoIP, webcam and application selection will give you an even better, easier and faster desktop sharing experience.

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux | Application Types – Remote Desktop

VirtualBox – VirtualBox is a powerful x86 & AMD64/Intel64 virtualization product. It allows you to run multiple operating systems on your computer, at the same time. Not the best, not even close, but it is FREE.

Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux | Application Types – Virtualization

Don’t Reach for your Wallet Before you Shop Around

As you can see, there are great free applications and services that will help you get your business up and running without the traditional barrier to entry that was expensive IT costs. This list is just the tip of the iceberg. If you need something, head over to Google and search for free or inexpensive options that may hold you over while money is tight.

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8 responses on “50 Free Apps to Run your Small Business Like a Professional

  1. Vernessa Taylor

    Great article! That sounds pretty spammy, eh? LOL

    No really … Your article was referenced in a guest post over on GrowMap. I’m using many of these (LibreOffice, FileZilla, Evernote, and more). I primarily use Linux, so it’s nice to see you indicate which apps work in both environments.

    Thanks for such a comprehensive resource. I’ll probably link to it when talking about open source in an upcoming post.

    BTW – Have you considered installing a “subscribe to comments” type plugin. That would be a great help in keeping up with other comments on your posts. Take care!

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