As with any field that requires technical equipment, the price tag for hardware and software can be pretty high and updates can be few and far between.  Of course there are those wonderful workplaces where everything is updated regularly and the coolest gadgets are on hand for your perusal. I’ve worked at both sides of the technology rush. There was the company I worked for in 1999 that was using a 1988 version of Ready Set Go that required me to type special keys just to make the smart quotes turn the right way. I’ve also worked for an organization that has kept things up to date for the most part giving me the privilege of working with some pretty great equipment.

Whether you have the latest version of Adobe’s Creative Suite or you’re still using something from the 1990s, here is a list of several great (and FREE!) programs that can help you be more efficient and may even provide you with some great tools you didn’t know about before.

For Photos

Gimp – a free image manipulation program that I have been hearing raves about.  It’s not Photoshop, but it’s close and it’s free. You can even export to Photoshop’s PSD file format. Whether your on a Mac, PC, or Linux machine, this free program can work for you.   Download Gimp and get tutorials at: Here’s a screen shot of what Gimp looks like on a PC.


IrfanView – one of my favorite for sorting, resizing and batch processing large groups of images.  This little jewel is great for sifting through hundreds of images very quickly.  While it’s much more than just a viewer, I’ve used it’s ability to sort, rotate, delete and scroll through images many times when I’m sorting several hundreds of images and need to do it fast.  It can resize very quickly and batch processing is great on this program.  The only downfall is that they don’t have it for a Mac…yet.  Download your copy and try it out at


If you’re still a student, get a part time job and save up. Before you graduate, buy a copy of Adobe’s latest Creative Suite so you’re ready to keep working with these great programs when you don’t have the university’s resources to rely on.  Buying when you’re a student gives you a HUGE price break especially on certain software…like Adobe.