The list is broken down into three sections, covering free software, cheap (inexpensive) software and then the full-blown commercial software packages that are considered essential for professional users. All the tutorials and training videos on this site will be based around the first two categories and there'll be links to downloads wherever possible.
I often use free software and a couple of the inexpensive options are programs that I actually use every day, both at work and here at home. I will almost certainly use programs not on this list from time to time - I have more than 100 that I need for daily tasks at home - but I will link to
them as necessary if I mention them.
For me, completing a task is not about finding one program to do the job. It is more about finding a set of programs to do each part of the job well and then putting it all together at the end. For example, to create a video I may need to use seven or eight different packages to get the results I want.
Office Tasks - OpenOffice or LibreOffice
These are two office suites that basically do what Microsoft Office does, only they cost you nothing. They both started off as a single OpenOffice package that has been split into two separate entities but both remain very similar in their interface and use. I will use OpenOffice in any tutorials and it can be downloaded from here: OpenOffice.Org.
Photo Editing - Paint.net
Paint.net is a great replacement for the basic paint program that comes with windows. It has many more features and an active community of users and developers creating add-ons and offering help online. Get it from http://www.getpaint.net.
Video Editing - VSDC Video Editor
This is one of several cut-down versions of professional editors that are now available and seems to be quick and easy to use. Take a look at http://www.videosoftdev.com.
Graphics & Drawing - Serif DrawPlus
This is one that I've used for more than 15 years and it is still one of the best vector drawing programs out there for ease of use and power. Sadly, it is no longer being developed, but it is still available from http://www.serif.com.
I also have the replacement from Serif, Affinity Designer. This promises to be very powerful, and will surely surpass DrawPlus in features and facilities in the future. I'm not yet comfortable enough with it to recommend it at the moment.
Photo Editing - Serif PhotoPlus
This is another one of those great mid-priced packages that does most of what anyone would ever need. It's also available from http://www.seriif.com.
Office Tasks - Microsoft Office 365
Now best bought as a subscription, this is the industry standard for office work. Word, Excel & Powerpoint are the norms in the office, but at 100 pounds I do feel it is a bit much for the home user.
The exception to the above - and the reason I have Office - is Outlook. It may not be a great email program, but it is better than just about anything else and works reliably all the time.
Photo Editing - Adobe Photoshop
It isn't that it does more than the cheaper alternatives - although that is ture to a certain extent - rather, it has the support of the entire graphics industry and a huge community of users and tutors online. I have to use it for my work with large-format printing and therefore I need it at home as well.
Video Editing - Adobe Premiere Pro
It isn't the only solution for working with video to a high standard in the professional arena on Windows, but it is probably the most recognised and I do use it to edit my YouTube videos.