Last month, we started looking at some of the “home office essentials”—furniture and computer hardware and peripherals. In this post, let’s look at what to run on that hardware. Namely, software.
A lot of the basic software that you will need will be pre-installed on your computer—an e-mail program, a Web browser, instant messaging, etc. Some other items you may want to consider:
Word Processing Software
Microsoft Word, for example. You may find it preferable to invest in the entire Microsoft Office suite that includes Word, PowerPoint (for doing presentations), Excel (spreadsheet), and Outlook (e-mail). Alternatively, you can use OpenOffice or LibreOffice, which comprises open source (i.e., free) word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Kingsoft Office has a free version, and we have also experimented with Softmaker’s office suite, which we can recommend unless you are doing large amounts of statistical work. Excel offers superior chart capabilities.
If you are on a Mac, Apple has Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, its own version of an office application suite. Most of these formats are roughly interchangeable with each other, although some features like formatting, images, and other items may not convert reliably. It is best to check with those with whom you will be collaborating to determine what would be the best tools to have on hand.
These programs are popular accounting software. Depending on your proficiency, Excel or another spreadsheet program may work perfectly well. There is also a cloud version. (We will look at “the cloud” in a future post.)
Acrobat is a utility for reading and/or annotating PDF (Portable Document Format) files.
Skype is a videoconferencing and texting application—and it’s free.
Other Software Required for Your Business
Photoshop? Graphic design and layout like Adobe InDesign? Web design? Video editing like Final Cut Pro? Audio editing like Audacity or Pro Tools?
If you find you need to invest in a program with which you are unfamiliar, and aren’t entirely certain it will suit your needs; you can often download free trial versions and test them out. Trial versions are usually “hobbled” in some way, such as ceasing to launch after a certain number of days, stamping a “TRIAL VERSION” watermark on anything you create with it, or deactivating certain high-level features (all of which is to prevent someone from using the trial version for an actual project if that is the only project for which it will be required).
Dr. Joe is a big fan of Open Source software, and these days you can likely find a free Open Source version of any program you may need. Be sure to investigate user reviews; sometimes you get what you pay for.