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The 50 Best Free Software for Students

Welcome to the internet’s biggest list of free software for students, here you’ll find every single program you may need to get through school.

No matter what you study as you’ll see a lot of these programs will be extremely useful for anything school-related, they’ll save you tons of time with assignments and when using a computer to improve your performance to get a better grade.

The best part is: as long as you remain a student the entire list is for free!

I’ve compiled this list having in mind all concentrations and areas of studies.  There’s a software useful for pretty much every student out there so you can share it with your buddies and bookmark it. Use the table of contents and check out the details of the section you are interested in.

Note Taking

1. OneNote | OS: Mac, Windows

The best note-taking software used by students. You can attach pictures, videos, audio files. You can use either a pen or a keyboard to get your notes down. Compatible with phone devices too.

2. LibreOffice | OS: Mac, Windows, Linux

A free and open-source alternative to Microsoft Office for documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.

3. Open Office | OS: Mac, Windows, Linux

The original replacement for Microsoft Office. The software has now two different versions. Regardless this is the original and still a useful Office Replacement. Includes A word processor, a spreadsheet, presentation app, drawing app, formula editor and a database management application.

4. AbiWord | OS: Windows, Linux

If you all need is a word processor, AbiWord is a great replacement for Microsoft Word.

5. Adobe Reader | OS: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android 

Not much to say here. If for some reason you don’t have it on your computer, it’s time to download it. This is going to be your default reader application in school.

6. ReadCube | OS: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android

You can also view PDF files with it but unlike Adobe, you can annotate, organize and interact with your document in many different and useful ways. Ex: easily export citations, quickly look up the author’s details for other publishing, etc. An excellent tool for going over a document. take notes on it and fully study the subject.

7. Skim | OS: Mac

This a Mac PDF Viewer where you can also annotate and have a lot of features such as: highlighting, snapshots, crops of your document, exporting your notes to a different file and more. Great for any scientific & research paper you may come across.

8. WinDjview | OS: Windows

There will be a few files, documents that will only come .djvu format and unfortunately good Adobe or Microsoft Word won’t even be able to get a preview. While there many DjVu readers out there they can all be troublesome and painstaking to make them work without hiccups or errors. I found this one more reliable. For Mac, you can use DjvuLibre

Writing Papers

9. Latex | OS: Mac, Windows

Have you ever wondered how come that some academic papers you see online or your teacher has handed in look extremely neat and nice despite having complex graphics, writing and equations? They are probably using Latex and you should too. Getting acquainted with it will boost your chances to get extra credit for every class that needs you to hand in reports or research papers. Learn more about how to use it from the Latex Project Website.

10. Jabref | OS: Mac, Windows, Linux

Jabref will let you edit your references in Latex format, which by the way, you should give it a try instead of an old school Microsoft office word docs whenever you have to hand in a paper. They look neater especially with numerical data and might get you a higher grade!

11. Lyx | OS: Mac, Windows, Linux

Once you know what Latex is and the power it has over your research papers (their looks & quality), you can browse around many different word editors that include Latex. Lyx is one of them with the advantage of being more user-friendly for those not quite verse with Latex formatting while being capable of outputting the most complex & sophisticated equations or diagrams or styles that your paper may need to have. Think about this app whenever you need to hand your thesis or a final paper.

12. Darkroom | OS: Windows

This is another simple software that will let you just write text without any distractions. This time the background is black. your text is white and it’s full screen. Again I would definitely use this whenever I need to get as many words done as possible or take notes from a class without having any distractions whatsoever.

13. Scribus | OS: Mac, Windows, Linux

Lastly, if you are the ultimate writer or need to publish something for a class project in a professional or ready to sell format: brochures, posters, newspapers or books. This is as far as I am aware the only freely available software for that. It supports pretty much all formats of text and images plus it’s available on many platforms. A must-have if you write a lot.


14. Zotero | OS: Mac, Windows, Linux, Web

We all know how painful and annoying dealing with citations can be especially after taking days just to finish a paper. This app will organize all the sources you used and give you an easier time when dealing with citations by storing your sources, downloading citations directly from other databases plus you can use the web app to easily collect your sources too.


15. Vue | OS: Mac, Windows, Linux

If you have a subject or a project to difficult to visualize, understand or grasp this is where a mindmap comes in handy. While there are many web-based apps for mindmaps, Tufts University has created a nice program you can install on your desktop for you to create, visualize and share your mind-maps.

16. MindNode | OS: Mac

For Mac Users, this is a cleaner, more visually appealing, more simple to use mindmap software which has all the features the above options do including the ability to export your work to any device. 


17. Visio | OS: Windows

Previously only accessible to those students and professionals with a lot of cash. There is a free version of Visio for you to create diagrams and flowcharts today.

18. Lucid Chart | OS: Web

The best web-based alternative to Microsoft Visio especially if you are not using a Windows machine, you can create any type of diagram with it as well. You can get a free account and start using it with no limits on usage time.

Study Groups

19. Slack | OS: Windows, Mac, iOs, Android

This is a software designed to make an organization within a group easy and better. You can chat with other members, manage files, search message history of your members, have video/chat voice within members and cloud storage as well.

20. BaseCamp | OS: Mac, Windows, Web, iOS, Android

Another tool to organize a group project, create to-do lists and many more tools for collaboration within your team. The student version is Free.

21. Medley | OS: Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS

This is a reference & resource management software. It will allow you to organize and save your PDF files, share your contributions on research papers with colleagues and interact with them as well. Everything is backed up with their service and you can access your work from different computers.

22. EtherPad | OS: Mac, Windows, Linux

This is a free open source software that will allow your group members to all edit the same text document in real-time, each would have a different text colour so you can differentiate who’s writing what. Plus there’s also a chatting feature for your members to communicate.

23. TeamViewer | OS: Mac, Windows, Linux, Mobile, Web, ChromeOS

When you have a group that can’t meet for a project, you can always use TeamViewer to share your computer screen, share files, online meetings and remote control each other’s computer if there’s any member that needs a demonstration or needs a specific lesson to understand that involves computer usage.


24. Prezi | OS: Web

If you are a student you can get the free version of Prezi. This is a different way to create presentations since you’ll be able to include more diagrams and new ways to present videos/photos/text, etc. No installation required this is a web-based app.

25. Slideshow Maker | OS: Windows

This is part of the IceCream Apps bundle, you also get a slideshow maker where you can attach pictures, videos, music and of course great looking text with innovative transitions.

Screen Recorder

26. Screen Recorder | OS: Windows, Mac

Guess what you also get a screen recorder from Icecream apps and it’s free. You can pretty much record whatever is on your display be it videos, text, animations, skype sessions, webinars, etc, for you to review later.


27. Anki | OS: Mac, Windows, Web, iOS, Android

Anki is the best software for flashcards you’ll come across. The design isn’t the best but the method behind it’s superb. In summary, it implements spaced learning which means it will only show you the cards you are having the hardest time remembering. This is a no brainer, a must download to ace any test some memorization or a degree that requires a lot of memorization.

File Management & Computer Tools

28. PDFCreator | OS: Windows

As the name suggests, make PDF Files from your word documents. Useful when you want to hand in a paper as neatly as possible.

29. PanDoc | OS: Mac, Windows, Linux

A more complete alternative for a document converter.  It will allow you to convert from markdown, reStructuredText, textile, HTML, DocBook, LaTeX, MediaWiki markup, TWiki markup, OPML, Emacs Org-Mode, Txt2Tags, Microsoft Word Docx, LibreOffice ODT, EPUB, or Haddock markup to pretty much any other file format including PDF files for printing and be ready to hand in. The installation is quite tricky but the video below should help.

30. PDF Split & Merge | OS: Mac, Windows, Linux

As the name suggests, you can merge or split a PDF file with it. It’s simple, fast and not any more features other than that. You can use it to break down a pdf book into chapters or sections for you to print or simply organize and read with your computer or put together a presentation/research paper you’ve been working on.

31. ClipX | OS: Windows

How many times have you lost text or data from using cut/paste several times consecutively? Yeah, we all do. But with ClipX you get to save every “Clip” you have done so you won’t lose any data or text from using cut/paste carelessly or too fast.

32. Snipping Tool | OS: Windows

There will come a few times when you find something really useful and you can’t really save it on your computer. Perhaps a snippet of a book you can’t access, a part of a research paper you can’t save or anything else that may be useful for your classes that you don’t have a way to save it for later. This tool will let you take screenshots of online websites and be able to give you a full screenshot of that site too.

33. Stuffit Expander | OS: Mac, Windows

I know it can be a pain to have WinZip and WinRAR installed just to deal with your professor’s compressed files or any useful file you come across. Expand it is the easiest software to use and without costing you anything. You have to have at least one app to expand all the compressed files you come across.

34. 7zip | OS: Linux, Windows

If you need more than just uncompress your teacher’s or friend’s files for a class, this one can also compress any heavy files you may want to send to others or save to your computer. Unlike WinRAR and other compressors, this one is completely free.

35. WinDirStat | OS: Windows

This is a great utility to save you some time when you are trying to clean out your computer from all the junk you’ve accumulated during the semester: useful docs, pdfs, games, music and more. If you are running out of capacity it will tell you exactly what’s taking all of your disk space without having to spend hours looking for such files. Mac users can use

36. Duplicate Finder | OS: Linux, Windows

How many times have you saved the same doc file with “untitled” or the same title: “homework” “due tomorrow”. Stop wasting time looking for all of these files and see which ones to print or which one to use for your class. As the name suggests this software will let you find all duplicate files so you can finally name them properly or delete them if you no longer need them.

37. USB Reminder | OS: Windows

Yes, it will help you remember to remove your USB Driver from the library or any other computer you are using. I can’t count how many USB Drives I would have now If I had used this app. You can choose different modes to remind you to take it out: silent mode, alarm mode or a countdown mode.

38. IceCream Apps | OS: Mac, Windows

IceCream Apps offer you with many more extremely useful software for your studies than the ones just mentioned. It includes a pdf converter, eBook reader and a PDF document splitter too. These are great alternatives to any software mentioned above with better overall presentation, interface, and design. Just go to their site all the tutorials & links are there.

39. CloneZilla | OS: Mac, Windows, Linux

This list wouldn’t be complete without a backing up software. Your computer may malfunction, get stolen, stop working or who knows? You don’t want to lose all of the files you have saved up to now from your past and current classes right? While there are many backing up programs out there, this one is available in pretty much any operating system or platform. 

Task Management & Organization

40. ToDoist | OS: Mac, Windows, Web

ToDoist is the more popular task management software among students, unlike others, this one has a cleaner and more simple interface. It has tons of features that other data management software may not have and it’s all free.

41. Trello | OS: Web, iOS, Android

Another popular project management software. This one is based on the web, no need to download. Includes a Free & Paid Version.

42. TreeSheet | OS: Mac, Windows, Linux

This is a data organizer only. If you don’t like dealing with spreadsheets but love how they can keep everything neatly and properly structured. TreeSheet will give you all the features from spreadsheets without being one. You can use it for brainstorming, as a calendar, for to-do-lists, brainstorming, organizing your ideas, project management and anything that requires a structure.

43. TheGuide | OS: Windows

Have you seen those help contents that most software have? Have neatly organized the topics and pages are for you to access and get any info? TheGuide is a software that will let you organize your subject or notes the same way in a tree-like structure with nodes.

44. SeoNotes | OS: Windows

My favourite organization & note-taking app. This is just like “TheGuide”: you can save your notes in a tree-like pattern with nodes/subpages in it. I find this one more colourful, has more features to make your tree view look better (icons, figures) and the editing area is very similar to word-pad or word. In fact, you can save your notes into .doc or .html files too.

45. ZimWiki | OS: Windows, Linux

You guessed right. This is a wiki software but this time it’s yours. You can create your own wiki of information for your particular major, a research paper or an exam. I use it several times when the topic I need to study is far too broad to fit in a single document. ZimWiki lets me organize everything in neat sections and pages which helps tremendously into gathering more information and understanding the subject better. After all, that’s one of the reasons why Wikipedia is so popular right?


46. KeePass | OS: Mac, Windows

This software will allow you to manage all of your passwords with a single password. Save your time and stop trying to remember or checking your email over and over for a forgotten password.

47. Password Safe | OS: Mac, Windows

Another useful tool for those with a hundred of accounts all over the web. This is a software that will keep your username/passwords within a secure,encrypted and ultra-locked list which you can only access with a master password that you know.

Time Management

48. Cold Turkey | OS: Mac, Windows

No this is not a food app. This is for you to stop procrastinating by checking your favorite websites every five seconds while you are trying to finish an essay. Cold turkey will block every site that’s stopping from finishing that assignment before it’s too late to go to bed.

49. Rachota | OS: Mac, Windows

This is not just a free timer you can download from google. Rachota will let you create different tasks, time them and display them in diagram form. It will give you a report and analysis of how you spend your time with hints on how to improve next time.

50. AutoHotKey  | OS: Windows 

This is somewhat a bit complicated to master but if you follow the tutorials carefully you’ll learn it fast. With this one you can make key shortcuts of what you want to do with your PC and save tons of time without going to menus and looking for specific files,etc. However, I personally found the macros useful to replace any keys that stopped working in the middle of writing an important paper when I didn’t have the time nor the money to buy another one right away. 

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