Lightweight Alternatives to Heavyweight Programs

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 8, 2006
Updated • Feb 25, 2014

The Adobe PDF document that is currently loading is slowing down the whole computer? Quicktime takes ages to initialize? Media Player is unbelievable slow and tries to phone home? Why don't you try freeware alternatives to those heavyweight programs? I'm already using alternatives and my system became faster and more stable while retaining much of the functionality.

Quicktime Alternative and Real Alternative offer the same playback functionality as the original products by Apple and Real Networks but use fewer resources and have no running background tasks at all. Both install a version of media player classic on your system, a lightweight version of Microsoft's media player that loads and runs faster than Microsoft's newest player with support for all file formats that the media player is able to play.

Watching DVDs may be a problem if you are only using Microsoft's Media Player 8 or 9 on your computer. Both players are not able to play DVDs without third party plug ins. You could update to Media Player 10 but that is something that you may want to avoid. A freeware alternative is the great VLC Media Player which can play DVDs and virtually any media format you throw at it. If you are looking for an universal video playback program VLC media player may be just what you are looking for.

The Adobe Reader loads many plug ins during start which slows down or even hangs the system for a while.While you can remove unwanted or unneeded plugins to speed up the loading, you can alternatively install a fast alternative such as Foxit PDF Reader. While it may not offer all features that Adobe's Reader ships with, it should be sufficient for the majority of computer users.

Adobe Photoshop is great, no doubt about that. It is very expensive as well. You could try the GIMP instead which can read PSD files. GIMP is the freeware alternative to Photoshop.

I'm using Nero to burn my CDs and DVDs which is a great program but it is not free and it has many features that I will never ever use in my whole life. A freeware alternative is CD Burner XP Pro which is fast and offers everything a CD burning program should be capable off.


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  1. freddo said on November 18, 2010 at 4:43 am

    thx bos….

  2. Tony said on October 27, 2009 at 9:16 am

    sure, The GIMP is a freeware alternative to Adobe Photoshop, but to claim that The GIMP is lightweight is just plain dishonest and misleading.

    Are there any lightweight image manipulation programs out there? I don’t need all this high tech GIMP/Photoshop stuff, I just need to be able to resize, crop, add text, plain boring editing (i.e. draw boxes, circles, lines, etc) — something in between MS Paint and Adobe Photoshop would be great.

    1. James said on February 18, 2010 at 2:34 pm

      You can try Paint.Net it is a freeware too ! just 3MB. but it needs the .Net Framwork.

  3. bob said on July 2, 2008 at 6:27 am

    foobar2000 is great, and it has apple support honestly i never looked back.

  4. more said on March 22, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    foobar2000 is the best for music

  5. duryodhan said on August 10, 2006 at 3:11 am

    You forgot mPlayer. Its the best freeware player, you dont need to install codecs and is way way lighter than other players.

  6. gnome said on August 8, 2006 at 9:18 pm

    An amazing collection… Speedy too.

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