The best free PC software 2016

Download all the essential programs for your Windows PC completely free

The best free software for Windows

Superb software doesn't have to cost a fortune - thanks to open source, shareware and ad-supported projects, you can equip your Windows PC with a complete set of essential everyday programs completely free.

We've put the best free Windows software to the test and hand-picked the very best programs for your PC. These are the programs we use ourselves at home, and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Don't see your favorites listed? Share your recommendations in the comments below.

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Avira Free Antivirus

Avira Free Antivirus offers real time protection from zero-day threats, as well as manual scans and protection from phishing - all without slowing down your PC

Avira Free Antivirus

Fast, reliable protection from viruses and other online threats

Download Avira Free Antivirus

Great protection from the latest virus and malware threats, Avira Free Antivirus has a minimal impact on your system performance and offers a range of well-designed presets – just set and forget.

The best free antivirus 2016

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LibreOffice

Now celebrating its sixth birthday, open source office suite LibreOffice is a complete suite of free tools that can easily replace Microsoft Office while still letting you collaborate with colleagues using Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access

LibreOffice

More productivity programs than Microsoft Office, all completely free

Download LibreOffice free

A complete office suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, vector graphics, mathematical formulae and databases, LibreOffice is in constant active development and is fully compatible with Microsoft Office formats.

The best free office software 2016

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Google Chrome

Extendable, efficient and stable, Google Chrome is our browser of choice. It integrates fully with your Google account, making syncing your bookmarks and favorites effortless

Google Chrome

Google's browser is fast, flexible and almost infinitely extendable

Download Google Chrome free

The browser wars are as fierce as ever, but Chrome takes our top spot thanks to its flexibility, stability and cross-platform support. Its integration with your Google account makes it incredibly easy to carry your favorites and bookmarks between devices, and it supports a huge archive of extensions.

The best web browser 2016

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MusicBee

MusicBee is fast, free and powerful, capable of managing music collections of half a million tracks. It's also great for podcasts and internet radio

MusicBee

The ultimate player, streamer and organizer for music lovers

Download MusicBee free

Everything you need for managing a music collection of any size, MusicBee offers smart tagging and hardware optimization for the best possible playback quality. It's also a great choice for streaming internet radio and enjoying podcasts.

The best free music player 2016

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GIMP

Free photo editor GIMP contains all the tools you need to make your photos look amazing, and lots more besides. Make sure you check out the array of user-created plugins

GIMP

Make your photos look their best with the best Photoshop alternative

Download GIMP free

The best free alternative to Adobe Photoshop, GIMP is packed with smart tools like a clone stamp, healing brush, transformations, smart selections and a host of filters – from the subtle to the creative. There are also dozens of superb user-created plugins to add even more features, and GIMP receives regular updates from its team of volunteer developers.

The best free photo editor 2016

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Foxit Reader

Foxit Reader is the only PDF reader and editor you'll ever need, and it's surprisingly lightweight compared to Adobe Acrobat Reader

Foxit Reader

Read, create and convert PDFs, with superb format compatibility

Download Foxit Reader free

View, edit and create PDFs, and convert Microsoft Office files and scanned documents. Foxit Reader's superb feature set is rounded out with annotations, cloud-sharing and security options to protect you from potential security vulnerabilitites.

The best free PDF reader 2016

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qBittorrent

qBittorrent is a completely free alternative to µTorrent created by a team of volunteer developers. It's highly polished and full of well designed tools

qBittorrent

Packed with all the tools music, TV and movie fans could want

Download qBitTorrent free

Fast and efficient, with a built-in search engine and media player, qBittorrent has everything you need for quick, secure downloads. There's automatic prioritization of torrents, torrent creation and IP filtering too, and it's easy to master.

The best free torrent client 2016

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Any Video Converter

Any Video Converter lets you edit videos with filters, transitions and other effects before converting them to the format of your choice

Any Video Converter

Download, convert and burn clips from all the biggest video-sharing sites

Download Any Video Converter

Download videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion and many more, then convert them to any audio or video format you like. Any Video Converter can also burn converted files to disc, and rip content from your own DVDs and CDs.

The best free YouTube downloader 2016

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cat is TechRadar's downloads editor. She's been a tech journalist for six years on magazines including PC Plus, Official Windows, PC Format and Windows: Help & Advice (with a brief stint in PR for the nuclear industry in between). If you have a question about software, drop her a line!