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How to use free substitutes for pricey software

Software can cost a bundle. For programs you can't afford but can't do without, you can frequently find free open-source software substitutes. Though never an exact match, these facsimiles generally get the job done. Here are a few.

1. You need: WinZip or WinRAR. Try: PeaZip (peazip.sourceforge .net), which manages files in archive formats such as ZIP, 7Z, RAR, TAR and PEA. It has an easy-to-use interface and drag-and-drop format that works well.

2. You need: Microsoft Office. Try: OpenOffice (openoffice.org) for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It can save files as Word documents and usually read files from other office programs with no difficulty.

3. You need: Adobe Photoshop. Try: GIMP (gimp.org) to create and alter photos and graphics, manually or via scripting. Perfect for photographers, as well as Web designers, it can be used as a paint program or for photo retouching.

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