Tech Tip: Online Alternatives to Relatively Expensive Programs

Traditionally, image editing and video editing have required relatively expensive software. This software has many features, and a steep learning curve. It also requires a relatively powerful computer to use effectively. With the advent of cloud services and more interactive web technologies, many of these expensive and resource-intensive tools now have free online equivalents.

SumoPaint (http://www.sumopaint.com/app/) is a free and incredibly powerful substitute for Adobe Photoshop. If you’ve used Photoshop before, you’ll recognize the layout and many of the features. It even supports multiple image layers with different effects. You can import content from your computer, then save your finished work online, or back onto your hard disk.

If you’re dealing with video rather than audio, you can use the YouTube Video Editor (http://www.youtube.com/editor?feature=mhsn). While this doesn’t have as many features as a professional program like Avid Media Composer or Final Cut Pro, it is on-par with programs such as iMovie and Windows Live Movie Maker. You can import videos into YouTube, add images, audio, titles, and transitions. YouTube Video Editor also conveniently provides a large library of copyright-free multimedia content. You can download your final product, or add it directly to YouTube.

Even if you’re just working with word processing documents or spreadsheets, you can use Google Docs (http://docs.google.com) rather than Microsoft Office or Apple iWork. Google Docs provides all the basic functionalities of these paid programs with the addition of collaborative capabilities. Multiple users can edit a document simultaneously without losing any changes. Finished (or unfinished) documents can be downloaded in standard text formats, or Microsoft Office formats.

While these web applications may be slightly different from what you’re used to, they are free, powerful, and accessible anywhere.

— Guthrie

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