The Best Free and Open Source Software Tools for Digital Content Creators

The Best Free and Open Source Software Tools for Digital Content Creators

As a digital content creator you require many software tools for producing, editing and publishing digital products. Monthly subscription fees for all these tools are a real pain.

Fortunately, free and open source software has grown up. Functionality, performance and user support in many cases rival or even surpass that of paid software.

The question is no longer whether free and open source software is an option, but which you should use.

With that in mind, I have compiled a list of free and open source software tools for the most common tasks of digital content creators.

In most cases I have personally tried out several different options before settling on the ones listed here – these are then the “best” options according to my subjective opinion.

I’ve also added links to some further online resources such as free and royalty-free icon, vector, photo & video sources, favicon and icon generators, colour matching sites and document converters.

I hope this saves you some time and gives you a running start in creating your own digital products! Leave a comment if you know of better tools.

Please note: I’m not affiliated with any of the tools in this list, and the links are provided for convenience only – no commercial benefit.

Free and Open Source Software Tools for Digital Content Creators

Activity Software
Video recording OBS Studio
Video live streaming (webinars etc.) OBS Studio and Youtube Live (free, but not open source)
Video editing Shotcut
Audio editing Audacity
Image editing – advanced GIMP
Image editing – simple to intermediate

PhotoScape X (not open source, but free version has extensive functionality)

Image editing – vector graphics Inkscape
RAW photo processing Darktable
Video and audio playback VLC Media Player
Media info (properties) MediaInfo
2D animation Pencil2D, Synfig

Not open source, but free: Express Animate, Hitfilm Express

Paid: MS Office PowerPoint export to video. (LibreOffice Impress does not have video export functionality – it requires a workaround.)

Video format converter (transcoder) HandBrake (useful for file size compression)
HTML WYSIWYG BlueGriffon (open source, free & paid versions)
Mouse pointer highlighting & keystroke display & zoom Not open source, but free: Zoomit for zoom (MS Windows add-in)

Mouse pointer highlight – no free options with sufficient functionality. (SpotontheMouse is affordable, with a once-off licence fee.)

Stitching images Hugin

Not open source, but free: Microsoft Image Composite Editor

Other Useful Online Resources for Digital Content Creators

Resource Sites
Animated logos Paid: Renderforest, Intromaker
Music & jingles Free, attribution required: Youtube Audio Library

Royalty-free*: Pond5, Yummy Sounds, PremiumBeat, audiojungle, Music Vine, Productiontrax

Icons Free, no attribution: Aiconica, Icons8 (small icons), SVG SILH

Free, attribution required: Iconfinder, freepik, Flaticon

Vector images Free, no attribution: SVG SILH

Free, attribution required: Free Vector

Icon & Favicon generators ConvertICO, iConvert Icons, Degraeve Favicon Generator
Photos Free, no attribution: Unsplash, Pexels, Gratisography, Freeimages
Reverse image search Tineye, Google Image Search
Stock videos Free, no attribution: Pixabay, Pexels, Videvo

Free, some require attribution: Mazwai

Colour tools Colour lookup: ColorCodeHex, ColorHexa,

Colour ideas: Color-Picker, paletton, palettr, color hunter (from images), Color Palette Generator (from images)

Colour code converters: RGB-to-Hex Conversion, RGB to Pantone,

Font identifiers Fontsquirrel Matcherator
QR code generators QR Code Generator
Document converters cloudconvert, Convertio (ppt to jpg), Bulk resize photos, Online OCR (optical character recognition), PDF tables to Excel, CleverPDF (PDF to EPUB), Online ebook converter (text or ebook to mobi)
PDF editors Modify PDF properties & add text & other objects: PDF-XChange Editor, PDFescape online version

Create PDFs: cloudconvert, MS Office PDF export functionality (paid)

Edit existing PDF contents: Free: LibreOffice Draw. Paid: Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, Nitro Productivity Suite, PDFescape desktop version

PDF compression SmallPDF
HTML templates (design blocks) Froala, Little Snippets
HTML cleaning & embedding Dirty Markup, Freeformatter,, Embed Responsively, Youtube Embed Options
Dictionaries, thesauri and writing aids Thesauri: PowerThesaurus,, Wordhippo

Dictionaries: Merriam-Webster, Oxford English Dictionary

Writing aids: Portent (blog title generator), Tweakyourbiz (title generator), Cliché Finder, Draft (writing tool), Plagium (plagiarism checker), yWriter (for longer pieces)

Recommended social media image sizes Sproutsocial (social media image size guide)

* Royalty-free is NOT free. It means that you only pay once and not every time you use the item.

Creator Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash. Create Photo by tanialee gonzalez on Unsplash.

Posted by Sean Moolman in Tools, 0 comments