35+ of Your Favorite Software Tools

What software tools do freelancers love to use? Whether you’re a seasoned freelancer, or just getting started, there’s a tool that is right for you.

We’ve written plenty of posts about resources for freelancers. A few months ago, however, we asked you to share your favorite software tools. Many of you did just that.

In this post, we list those software tools that you said you loved in one convenient place–over 35 of them! We also invite those of you who may have missed the original open thread to once again share your favorite software with us. (Note: Some of these tools are open source or freeware although some do cost money. Where possible, I’ve identified the free tools.)

Administrative Tools

These software tools can help you run your freelancing business:

  1. Basecamp–Allows you to manage projects using online collaboration tools.
  2. curdbee–Helps you with invoicing and billing. The lowest level package is free.
  3. Quoterobot –Helps you to create quotes and proposals.
  4. WORKetc–Allows freelancers to manage projects, bills, and more.

Blogging Tools

Since most freelancers have a blog, these blogging tools can help:

  1. LiveJournal–Site allows you to create a journal for free. You’ll get the chance to interact with thousands of other LiveJournal participants.
  2. Windows Live Writer–Create blog posts and preview them online.
  3. WordPress–Can be loaded onto your own site. You can also blog directly on the WordPress site at WordPress.com. WordPress is free.

Design Tools

If you’re a freelance designer, you may be interested in one or more of these tools:

  1. Adobe Suite and Design Premium–The suite packages of Adobe apps was at the top of the list for many.
  2. Adobe Illustrator–Allows you to draw and to modify drawings.
  3. Adobe Indesign–Page layout tool for online publishers.
  4. Inkscape–Open source tool allows you to edit SVG graphics.

Development Tools

These software tools are of particular interest to web developers and programmers:

  1. Aptana Studio–Development tool for open source IDE development.
  2. E Text Editor–Use this text editor to manipulate files quickly and easily.
  3. Firebug–Open source tool to help you debug HTML and JavaScript.
  4. Geany–Text editor based on GTK2 toolkit. This software is licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License.
  5. Greenshot–Open source tool that allows you to make screenshots.
  6. Netbeans–Lets you develop Java, PHP, and C/C++ apps. This package is open-source and free
  7. Notepad++–Free source code editor.
  8. Zend Studio–Development and debugging tool for PHP applications.

Email Tools

Every freelancer needs an email package to stay in touch with clients and colleagues. Here are your favorites:

  1. gmail–Google’s email package.
  2. Yahoo! Mail– Another favorite email service.


These software tools didn’t fit into any particular category:

  1. 1password–Helps you track and manage your passwords. Includes a version for Mac, Windows, Ipad, Ipod, Iphone, and Android.
  2. Excel–Spreadsheet application is great for crunching numbers or keeping metrics.
  3. Keepass–An open source tool to help you remember your passwords. This tool is open source.

Operating Systems & Web Browsers

This browser and this operating system are your top choices:

  1. Chrome–Web browser from Google.
  2. Ubuntu Linux –Top-notch open source operating system.

Photo Manipulation Tools

For photo manipulation, you liked these software tools:

  1. Adobe Photoshop–Digital imaging and photography editing.
  2. GIMP–GIMP is a free tool for image composition and photo retouching.
  3. Photoshop Lightroom–Helps you to manage, edit, and manipulate photographs.

Productivity Tools

Every freelancer needs to work more effectively. Here are your favorite productivity tools:

  1. Dropbox–Allows you to access files from multiple computers by storing them online. This tool is free for Windows, Mac, Linux, and mobile use.
  2. Evernote–Helps you to save ideas and find them when you need them. This app is free.
  3. Focus Booster–Free online timer helps you to use the pomodoro technique to finish your tasks.
  4. OS X: Launchbar–Tool for the Mac that acts as a super efficient file manager.
  5. DragThing–Another Mac tool to help you organize your files.

Word Processing

These were your favorite word processing software packages:

  1. Google Docs–Google tool lets you create and share documents online.
  2. Microsoft Word–Popular word processing tool from Microsoft.

Your Turn

We freelancers need our software tools, but I’m sure this list is not complete. Did you miss the original post? Is your favorite software tool missing?

Why not add your favorite software tool (and a brief description) in the comments below?

Image by Brett Jordan


  1. says

    Thanks for compiling these resources Laura. I’m looking into the Focus Booster app right now. It does require installing Adobe AIR, so I have to weigh having yet another piece of Adobe software on my computers.

  2. says

    John Soares–I understand. I have heard some good things about Focus Booster.

    Social Bullets, No problem.

    Hi Brian Altenhofel! Thanks for your additions. It’s true, some of these resources may fit under multiple categories (such as Gimp).

  3. says

    I have a couple of additions for your list. First is Shoeboxed (one of your advertisers, no less), which is great for handling receipts, business cards, and documents. I love that it’s based in Durham, N.C., and started by a bunch of Duke U. grads, since I went there too. Look for it at shoeboxed.com.

    My time tracker is a great program out of Norway called “Yast.” It’s found at yast.com. Yast has been really flexible and full of great reports. It is at this very moment rolling out a bunch of new business-oriented and collaboration-oriented features. I recommend a look.

    I second the recommendation for Evernote. It’s absolutely exceptional.

    Finally, I am among the scores of people who just cannot seem to find the right task manager for the GTD (Getting Things Done) method by David Allen. I’ve tried “Things,” a Mac program also available for iPad and iPhone. Expensive and comprehensive, but terribly hobbled by lack of wireless syncing except via local wifi networks. So these days I’m giving a try to Wunderlist (wunderlist.com), a gorgeous online task manager developed in Berlin, Germany, with a beautiful app for iPhone and even better for iPad.

    I’m also trying “Priority Matrix” for Mac and iPhone. And I’m trying a promising task management collaboration system called Action Method, at actionmethod.com. It doesn’t get a lot of publicity, but I’m impressed with its web-based interface.

    If none of those well, I think I will shell out the big bucks for OmniFocus for Mac, iPhone, and — eventually — iPad. It has a great reputation and it comes from a solid company.

  4. says

    Great list Laura. Most of us here use Notational Velocity in parallel with Simplenote. All our desktops and mobile devices are connected to the same account. Its great way to communicate fast updates and client changes with everyone. Am going to try Evernote now and how it can benefit us further :)

  5. says

    Great Comments!

    Douglass Davidoff–I love your additions. BTW, some software was not included simply because it wasn’t mentioned by freelancers in the original post at the time this post was written. :)

    Sharon Hurley Hall, Glad you are finding it useful.

    Morgan & Me Creative & Brian Altenhofel–Thanks for adding your own useful software picks.

    Keep the ideas coming!

  6. says

    I must admit I was looking for more free tools here. Some have free versions, true, but still. Excel, for example, can be easily replaced by Google Docs Spreadsheets, and HappyTodos (http:///www.happytodos.com) can replace Basecamp in terms of project management.

    @Douglass – I’m with you on trying everything to to get the right task manager – I found Wunderlist a bit limited, to tell the truth (gorgeous design, though).

  7. says

    I was going to add Open Office as an alternative to excel but someone beat me to it. Works very similarly to excel.

    I’m excited to check out curdbee – thanks for the tip!

  8. Byron Canup says

    Great list with a ton of great time-savers. Dropbox is huge for us especially because it links to RightSignature’s e-signature sender (not on the list). If you ever need to get signatures I would highly recommend the pair. Anything you put in dropbox can be sent out and signed in 5 minutes.

  9. Ambrr says

    Gr8 list of tools, Thanks :)!!
    I would also like to mention SWproposal
    It is a unique tool which helps you create professional and attractive software proposals, it is all in one system for software Development Company or freelancers.

  10. Yauhen says

    The best software that helps me to run my freelancing business is Quoteroller (www.quoteroller.com) . It really helps to cut time on creating proposals more than in half.

  11. says

    SW Proposal is professional tool for creating software project proposals and CRM for software development companies and freelancers

  12. says

    Good day! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of
    volunteers and stareting a new initiative in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided uus useful information to work on.
    You have done a extraordinary job!

  13. Diana says

    Great list of tools. You should include Proofhub also in your list. It is web based project management and collaboration software that will maximize your productivity and help you keep on top of your projects effortlessly.

    • Ryan Domm-Thomas says

      Many of our readers have suggested Proofhub as well, Diana – it seems to be a great tool! Thanks for stopping by.


  1. […] What software tools do freelancers love to use? Whether you’re a seasoned freelancer, or just getting started, there’s a tool that is right for you. We’ve written plenty of posts about resources for freelancers. A few months ago, however, we asked you to share your favorite software tools Direct Link […]

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