2017 Poet Software Roundup

As a poet, being on a limited budget for software expenditures comes with the territory. Fortunately, at a certain level you don’t need much but here are a few tools I’ve been using in my work that some of you may find handy. Because of my budget, I work with Windows or Chromebook setups primarily, and I’m sure there are options for Macs that others have that they’ll prefer. This just happens to be what’s working well for me this year, including a lot of older  but working, if not antique software suites. This does not constitute an official endorsement of these products, but are provided as a starting point for emerging writers to see what might work for them. I do the majority of my work from a laptop or desktop, rather than on a phone. If you have some recommendations for better software, let me know!


Office Productivity:
Office 2007: Ten years later, Office 2007 still works for my basic word processing, spreadsheets, Powerpoint, and database functions. Microsoft will be eliminating support for Office 2007 at the end of the year but the advantage has been not needing to buy an annual subscription to Office 365. Alternatively, Open Office and Google Docs also do well. Earlier this year, for presentations, colleagues tried to get me to try Prezi, but the price point doesn’t quite work for me to recommend it for those of us on a budget.

Note Taking:
Evernote has been one of the more versatile note-taking tools out there for my needs. Established in 2008, in the current versions, there are a variety of ways to enter notes into the app, including keyboard entry, image capture from cameras, and voice recording, and in some cases OCR is available. The free option is very versatile and I suspect sufficient for most poets. However, they recently limited it to the number of devices you can access it from which is cutting into its utility if you’d balance between several devices such as a desktop, phone, laptop, and a tablet, for example.

Wave Apps got onto my radar this year to simplify invoicing, issuing receipts and payments. So far it’s proven reliable. You’ll want to find a copy of a good tax software like Turbotax and figure out how to use Quickbooks to track key expenses such as mileage, office supplies, meals & lodging, etc.

Graphics Editing:
Pixlr is retiring their desktop editing suite at the end of the year, but for a free program it’s been robust and easy to use without having to pick up a copy of Adobe software. Additionally, Gimp and Inkscape are also helpful for some projects.

Film Editing:
Filmora has proven to be an effective, if occasionally quirky film-editing program, and a reasonable investment at $60 for a lifetime license. For poets who need to record quick promotional trailers, performances, and work samples for grants and other projects, it’s a worthwhile tool.

Sound Editing:
Audacity is a free open source software for sound editing, first released 17 years ago. If you’re uploading readings to Soundcloud or other projects, this is one of the best you can work with.

PDF Reading/Editing:
Nitro has been the PDF reader and editor I’ve been using since approximately 2009 vs. Acrobat. There’s a variety of free sites online that will also merge PDFs and convert PDFs into Jpegs. Keep an eye out for a good one that seems to meet your needs.

Cloud Storage:
Dropbox is one of the more widely-used file-sharing/archiving programs. OneDrive and GDrive have also been part of a redundancy effort. It might be overkill, but I’ve lost enough files over the last 27 years to justify caution. Additionally, using Google’s Photos and Yahoo’s Flickr have also been a part of the approach to keep photos, videos, and other materials backed up, in addition to external drives.

Desktop Publishing/Layout:
Scribus is one of the better free layout programs if you find yourself in a need to design more complicated books, broadsides or other projects, if you can’t get a copy of Quarkxpress or InDesign. The learning curve is relatively easy to pick up if you’ve worked with other programs before.

What other programs would you recommend?

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