There’s always something new to spend money on when it comes to tech. Here’s a secret these companies don’t want you to know: There’s a lot you can get without spending a penny.
Take photo storage. Are you using the free storage you can get from Apple, Google, and Amazon? Tap or click here to see the best ways to save the photos and videos on your phone.
Speaking of money, I hear all the time from people looking to cut Netflix, Hulu, and other expensive streaming services. Here is a list of 15 websites where you can find free movies. Some services come with ads, but you won’t encounter any illegal downloads or malware.
Disk space and movies aren’t the only things you can get for free. Here are 15 freebies you can thank me for later:
1. Photo editing software
Photoshop is the photo editing program, but the software subscription is expensive. Here are some free ways to crop, lighten, and otherwise adjust your photos:
• canvas: This easy-to-use browser and app-based editing software is ideal for creating presentations, social media graphics, marketing materials, posters, and anything else you can think of.
• Pixel X: This tool runs in your browser; No download is required. It has advanced features like photo filters and drawing options, but it really shines with easy-to-use crop and resize tools.
• GIMP, or GNU Image Manipulation Program: This professional photo editor works similar to Photoshop. Unlike Photoshop, GIMP is free to download.
Photoshop is also testing a free, browser-based version of its image editing software. For now you need an Adobe account to access it. Tap or click here for more information and a direct link to try it out.
2. Video editing software
This is one of those things you don’t need until you really need it. Maybe you’ve been commissioned to put together a video for a wedding or class reunion, or maybe you’re finally looking to start a YouTube channel.
Most reliable video editing programs cost an arm and a leg. Note that I said the most. When it comes to free options, DaVinci Resolve takes the cake. Tap or click here to see how it makes editing easier.
If you have a Mac or an iPhone, you’ll be glad to know that Apple iMovie is a surprisingly good video editor. Tap or click to see how iMovie turns your clips and photos into a masterpiece.
3. Word processing software
When it comes to productivity software, Microsoft Office is the gold standard. Of course it’s expensive. I’ve been recommending LibreOffice for years. It’s an open-source software suite that works similarly to the apps in Microsoft Office.
It also saves new files in Office formats, so you don’t have to worry about file conversions. Tap or click here for step-by-step instructions on how to download LibreOffice.
Already using Google Docs? Tap or click for a simple trick that makes starting a new document a breeze.
4. Freeze your balance
Freezing your balance is free. If you’re ever asked for payment, you’re on the wrong website, clicked on a shady ad, or were talking to a scammer.
The trick is to know the places to freeze your funds. It’s not just a place. Tap or click the steps you need to complete. It’s worth bookmarking this page the next time you receive a notification that your personal information has been disclosed in a data breach.
5. Burner Email Addresses
Want a coupon code but don’t want the spam emails that come with it? Use a burner email address.
You can use a free disposable email service like 10 Minutes Mayl. It’s easy to create a temporary email address to ensure your security, so you don’t have to reveal your personal and work email address.
Do you use an iPhone? The Hide My Email feature is powerful, easy to use, and requires no additional downloads. Tap or click an easy way to protect the privacy of your inbox.
6. Brush up on your college Spanish
Duolingo is a top-notch language learning app, and with good reason. It’s easy to use, engaging, and surprisingly simple.
Duolingo offers 37 languages including Spanish, French, Japanese, German, Latin, Korean, Scottish Gaelic, Ukrainian, Italian and Chinese. Having trouble staying engaged? Duolingo offers daily reminders that keep you accountable every day.
7. E-books for your summer vacation
Digital books can add up, especially if you’re a voracious reader. OpenLibrary.org you can browse thousands of books to find your next favorite. Sign up, confirm your email and you’re good to go. You can start surfing in just a few minutes.
Are you trying to get a side hustle or freelance career off the ground? I have a new e-book that you should read to maximize your profits: “Guide for successful online freelancing.”
8. Audio books to listen to on your walks
Prefer listening to your reading list? Audio books can make household chores like gardening and cooking much more interesting and liven up long walks or car rides.
9. Internet Speed Tests
Free internet speed tests can help determine if you’re actually getting your advertised rates. One of the most reliable free speed tests is Speedtest.net. This site measures various statistics like ping time, download speed and upload speed of your internet connection.
If you’re a fan of streaming videos, try Netflix’s free internet speed test. Fast.com.
If your internet speed turns out to be lower than expected, there are ways to improve it. Tap or click for tips on increasing your WiFi speed.
10. Cheap or free internet
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program offers up to $50 per month for broadband service. To qualify, you must meet one of five criteria, one of which is an income of 135% or less Federal Poverty Guidelines.
12. Shipping Materials
Here’s some good news for small business owners working from home. Actually, this freebie is helpful for everyone who wants to stop spending so much money on their mail. Thanks to the US Postal Service, you can get free envelopes and boxes.
It’s not just one or two either. You can get a packet of 50 Priority Mail Express packets for free. You can get medium sized boxes, shoe boxes and more.
13. Update your passport photo
Don’t wait in line for someone to take your photo for your passport. Just go to ePassportPhoto.com and follow a few steps to capture the perfect picture. It’s pretty simple, and the website tells you exactly what to do.
14. Magazines to read on the beach
Do you have an Amazon Prime account? You can access a rotating library of popular magazines for free for 30 days. Check them out here. The Prime Reading benefit is an excellent way to save money that you would otherwise spend on expensive monthly subscriptions.
Titles include Wired, Popular Science, Reader’s Digest, Taste of Home and more.
15. Weekend project ideas for you and the kids
Instructables.com has an excellent library of projects for all ages and experience levels for those more interested in crafts and woodworking. There is something for everybody. Here are some of my favorites:
• Make a 3D printed lamp
• Make a college loft bed
• Learn astrophotography
• Build a spaceship-shaped chicken coop
• Design a custom fighting game controller
16. Bonus Giveaway
For over twenty years, I’ve been helping untold millions of people use technology. I’ve compiled hidden tricks and handy features that you won’t find in a user manual as a free downloadable guide. Whether you use Windows or Mac, you’re bound to learn a few that you’ll use again and again.
Here is a short list of what you will learn in my free guides:
• Search tricks to find your files and programs in no time
• Keyboard shortcuts to boost your productivity—and show off a little
• Fast photo editing without downloading additional programs
• Message shortcuts to get your texts right on your computer
• Convenient, free and safe downloads for Windows and macOS
PODCAST CHOICE: Rent your kitchen, get $20 off Amazon, Google Meet betrayal
Bad news: Google Meet will now betray you if you’re late to a meeting. On the plus side, Google Workspace lets you work offline with Microsoft Office files. Plus, an easy way to get $20 from Amazon. Time is running out so listen now to grab free cash in about 60 seconds.
Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name “Komando”.
Learn about the latest technology at the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and shares advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletter and more, visit her website at Komando.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.