Props to Lifehacker’s own Nick Douglas for stumbling across this one — something I’ve always known, but didn’t realise I should articulate to the world. Here’s the tiny hack, as discussed on Reddit a few days ago: When you’re looking for free software around the web, resist the urge to Google (or your search engine of choice) the word “free.”
Why’s that? Because when you say you’re looking for, oh, a free photoshop alternative, you’re bound to get a pile of crap as a result: Freeware apps that aren’t actually free, subscription apps that come with a free trial, or other variants that cost you absolutely nothing to use for as long as you want.
As one Redditor noted:
“This literally just happened to me. Found a ‘free’ resume building site. Spent an hour building it and when I got to the end, you had to pay for a trial to even download it.”
Instead what you want to search for is “open-source” plus the general topic of whatever app or service you’re trying to find. This won’t always net you an app that costs you nothing, but you’re likely to have better luck.
You can also search for “alternative to” a conventional app that does something you don’t want to have to pay for (or check out the similarly named website).
If you want, you can try my favourite search: “[app name] alternatives site:reddit.com,” which is bound to net you some great recommendations (if you don’t mind mucking through comments).