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Ton of Free Software for Students of 2021

Updated: February 5, 2024 | Published: August 26, 2021

Updated: February 5, 2024

Published: August 26, 2021

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Since 2020, a lot has changed when it comes to attending school. As you head back to school in 2021, some things may feel different, but no matter what, you’ll want to be organized. Luckily, there’s a ton of free software for students that can help you be successful along your school journey.  From taking notes in lectures, reading textbooks, studying for tests, writing papers, and more, these tools offer a way to access your information from anywhere in the world, thanks to modern technology like cloud storage.

Whether you need a place to store and access your notes, create PDFs and documents, or organize your lecture notes, there’s an application or software for virtually every need.

Here, we’ll outline some of the best free software for students in 2021, organized by use case. This software can play a pivotal role in helping you become the best student you can be now and into the future.

Source: Unsplash 

Note Taking

Students who attend traditional campuses as well as online high school or university undoubtedly will have notes. Wouldn’t it be great to file and organize all your notes in one place?

These software tools can help:

  • LibreOffice: LibreOffice is more than just a note taking tool. It’s basically a free version of the Microsoft Office suite. LibreOffice features a word processor, presentation tool, spreadsheet, vector graphics editor, and even a formulae app.
  • OneNote: Microsoft’s digital note taking app is a free tool for your computer, mobile device or tablet. No matter how you like to take notes, by typing or by hand, OneNote gives you the feel of paper. You can always search your notes by photos or words to find what you need. You can collaborate and share your notes with others and access them from anywhere.
  • OpenOffice: Apache OpenOffice is an open-source tool that works on any computer and stores data for free. You can take notes on the word processor and file them however you like.
  • Evernote: Evernote stores your notes, ideas, reminders, and lists in one place. The simple-to-use note-taking app has templates, integrations, document scanning and more. You can easily collaborate with others, search your notes and use tags to organize them however you please.
  • Google Docs: Google Docs lives in the cloud, so anywhere you go, you can have what you need. The online tool allows for you to sign in and create documents and notes, file them in folders, and share them with others. It is highly collaborative and allows users to add comments and edit live with suggestions. There is also version control.


When you’re in school, you’ll be reading and annotating a lot of material. Online PDF readers and file converters will help you save the text you need in the format that’s usable for you. If you attend online school especially, all your resources are digital, so a reading tool that allows you to annotate for note taking will be particularly helpful.

  • Adobe Reader: Adobe Reader is a widely used tool for reading PDFs. With it, you can download, print, and annotate with a highlighter or text tool in your documents. It’s the only PDF reader that is capable of handling forms and multimedia.
  • Skim: Like Adobe Reader, Skim is another PDF reader. It is an open-source software designed for the OS system (Apple). You can also add notes, highlight text and bookmark information.

File Management

PDFs are a great format for reading, but sometimes you have to edit documents, so here is some software that allows you to edit, rearrange, and reformat PDF files.

  • PDFCreator: PDFCreator allows you to create PDFs, add digital signatures, merge, and edit PDFs. It is functional in many different languages.
  • PanDoc: Have you ever needed to convert a file type from one format to another? PanDoc does it all. From a variety of formats, you can save your documents in whatever way you need by first converting it through PanDoc.

Organization Tools

When it comes to staying organized during school with all the moving pieces, it’s useful to have tools to help. From to-do lists to project management software, these can help:

  • Todoist: Todoist gives you an overview of your day and what you need to get done. You can map out projects and set goals, highlight for a quick look at priorities, and see your progress as it tracks completed tasks.
  • Google Keep: Google Keep is an online tool for notes and reminders. You can label and archive your lists and reminders.

Source: Unsplash

Study Software

Having all your information handy is imperative, but did you know that there is software specifically designed to help you study?

  • StudyStack: Choose from a variety of existing flashcards on multiple subjects or create your own.
  • Quizlet: Like StudyStack, Quizlet allows you to search millions of existing flashcards or make your own. Students and teachers use the tool to help with learning and teaching.
  • Zoom: You’re likely all too familiar with Zoom. But, if not, Zoom provides a way for students to make video calls, so you can do so with peers for study groups or even to connect with tutors.


Having your files accessible from anywhere is key when you’re in school. You never want to be in a situation where you can’t get work done because you don’t have your own computer handy. As such, cloud file storage systems exist so that you can keep your data organized and centrally located.

  • Dropbox: Dropbox stores all your files in a single place. It syncs across all devices so that you can access your data from anywhere. You can share big files for collaborative purposes and also use Dropbox Paper for notes and rough drafts.
  • Google Drive: Google Drive offers a free home for storage. It exists on the cloud so you can log in from anywhere and access your files. The easy-to-use system allows you to create folders and files so you can keep your documents organized.

Safety and Optimization

Given you’ll be using free software, it’s a good idea to keep your computer protected and clean. Here are some tools that can help with doing so.

  • CCleaner: CCleaner works on Mac, Android, and Windows to remove unwanted files and clear your recycling bin. This works to optimize your system’s speeds and storage.
  • Avast Free Antivirus: Avast is antivirus software that protects your computer from malicious adware, malware, spyware, and viruses. The only thing to keep in mind when downloading Avast Free Antivirus is that it could affect your computer’s speeds, so you’ll need to weigh the costs versus benefits.

The Bottom Line

As you head back to school this year, you may be feeling mixed emotions. By using these tools, you can feel more confident and assured that you’ll have what you need to perform at your best.

Whether you earn your education from a traditional campus or from an online institution like University of the People, utilizing these free study, organization, and storage software applications can help you in your academic endeavors.