No lengthy introduction, straight to the point. In this post I want to recommend 3 useful sofwares that can be of great help to you if you are currently studying in college or university. All these three softwares can be downloaded legally for free.

FreeMind
http://freemind.sourceforge.net/

FreeMind mindmapping toolFreeMind is a free mind-mapping software that lets you create mindmaps using your computer easily. It’s a completely free open-source software and especially useful for taking notes and project organising, as well as planning your work such as organising your Final Year Project or drafting your thesis, among other things.

The screenshot on the left is taken by me. Head to FreeMind’s website for more screenshots of the software.

My impression on this software when I first use it is that it is surprisingly easy to use. Go give it a try.

Evernote
http://www.evernote.com

Screenshot of Evernote for WindowsEvernote is a specialised note-taking software. With it, you can type your notes directly into the software, or take a screenshot of a web page, clip a particular part of a web page that you find to keep, and you can even take pictures using your camera of a product label, for example and keep it in Evernote so that you will not forget it. It is especially useful if you’re doing research for your college or university assignment. Another cool feature is that evernote has a built-in optical recognition capability, that is, it is able to recognise texts in your captured pictures or screenshots and allow you to search for it using its search function.

Apart from that, Evernote also allows you to register an account (for free, of course) on their server, after which all the notes you insert into your Evernote software will be synchronised (i.e. copied) to your account on their server. You can then access your notes from any computer or device that has internet connection, including your friend’s computer who doesn’t even have any idea what Evernote is.

WordWeb
http://wordweb.info/free/

WordWeb 5.5WordWeb is an English dictionary software that uses Princeton’s WordNet database, and has 150 000 root words. Once you’ve installed it, it sits queitly there on your computer’s notification area (the bottom right corner of your screen where the time and volume control usually sit). Whenever you come across any English word that you want to look up for its definition, just point your cursor to that word and hit CTRL + Right Mouse Button, and WordWeb will instantly pop up to give you the definition of that word. The software also have a thesaurus function.

I’ve been using this software for a few years and find that it’s extremely useful (even if you’re a native English speaker) while being lightweight (it doesn’t consume much system resource). The software also makes a distinction between American English and British English, which is useful for language consistency in your written work.

I’m using the Pro version of WordWeb, but you have to pay for that.