SOFTWARE - WORK LIKE A BOSS
If your day involves using one primary software—whether its Word, PowerPoint, Excel, or even Photoshop—it helps to know all its features and capabilities. But figuring these out can be quite time-consuming and, at times, daunting. This is where online guides come to the rescue… some fantastic free tutorial websites that will help you get the most out of your software and...
Microsoft Office support.office.com
Whether you are new to the MS Office suite – Word, Excel, PowerPoint – or already familiar with it, the Office Help Center is a good place to sharpen your skills. Here, you can refer to basic tutorials on how to edit and format, apply styles; work with layouts, images and tables, and even co-author documents with other Office users. The support page has a “featured” section with video walkthroughs of the software suite’s features like charts, formulas, animations and layouts.
You also get access to over a thousand templates to help you create a resume, cover letter, business cards, invoices and more. Plus, you get a Tips section where you can learn about keyboard shortcuts and nuances of better document making.
If you use the free and open source LibreOffice productivity suite, then bookmark this website. Here, you can access guides to Writer, Calc, Draw, Impress and Math.
These are very well organised and can be downloaded for free as an ebook in either PDF or ODT format.
Adobe Photoshop | photoshopcafe.com , photoshopessentials.com
When it comes to photo editing, few software pack in as many tools as Photoshop. But the sheer number of ways these features can be combined to get the desired effect make this software rather tough to master if you don’t have the right guidance. And this is where Photoshop Café and Photoshop Essentials come in.
The former has a section dedicated to tutorials, as well as “superguides” for versions from CS3 to CS6, CC and Lightroom. The tutorials—which are a combination of videos and step-by-step guides with images—can be browsed by sections such as basics, tips, special effects, text effects and misc.
The website even has a premium section with paid tutorials for professional image editors.
Then, there’s Photoshop Essentials with sections like basics, photo editing and retouching, photo effects and text effects. All these free tutorials come with a step-by-step guide with screenshots, and you can opt for a paid membership to download them all as ready-to-print PDFs. The website also has a channel on YouTube.
Gimp | gimp.org/tutorials
Gimp is the open source equivalent ofPhotoshop, and this means it is free to use. So if you’re just entering into the world of photo editing, this is a great place to start. You can download the software from the website itself, then head to its Docs section to learn about all the new updates in its newest ‘2.10’ release. After that, it’s a quick jump to the tutorials section on the website, where you are introduced to the basics, after which you can progress to the exhaustive lessons on photo editing.
Given that Photoshop and Gimp have a few features that overlap—albeit under different menu options—you can apply the same tips and tricks you learn in the former when working with Gimp, provided you know where to find the feature set.
Adobe Illustrator vectips.com
You might be great at illustrating on paper, but mastering a vector software like Illustrator is quite something else, and this is where Vectips comes in. This website is packed with tutorials that carry difficulty levels like beginner, intermediate and advanced along with the time it would take to complete the exercise to give you an idea about what you can expect. It teaches you—stepby-step and with supporting screenshots—how to work with shapes, text, and even design basic icons and logos.
Vectips also has sections for tips and tricks, interviews with professional illustrators, and an inspiration section to help you with ideas and nurture your creativity.
Inkscape is to Illustrator whatGimp is to Photoshop: It’s a free and open-source software, but for vector graphics. Those interested in learning the basics in computer illustration would do well to begin with Inkscape and head to Inkscape Tutorials for lessons.
The blog has nearly 200 step-by-step tutorials, most of which have been collated from all over the internet (you might find some dead links here, but the lessons that are available are more than adequate to take you beyond basic illustrations). Among these you get 13 animated original lessons and 32 video tutorials.
Scribus is an open source, free desktop publishing software to design page layouts; produce newsletters, brochures, periodicals and magazines.
The Scribus Wiki page helps you familiarise yourself with the interface and work your way towards creating your first page. You can either start with an introduction for beginners or head straight to the table of contents page and choose a topic of interest.
Most instructions and how-tos are accompanied with step-by-step instructions and screenshots. It is recommended that first timers begin with the Usage section to understand various elements like image and text frames, master pages, tables and the story editor. As you progress, you will also learn about formatting, colour management, typography, page numbering, how to design a multi-page booklet and more.
Audacity is a free audio-editing tool, but it still packs in many features that rival paid options. Now if you’re into creating YouTube videos or podcasts, there is no better software for your audio editing needs. And for tutorials in the subject, few websites rival Free Audacity Tutorials.
The site is home to video tutorials in sound editing that are divided into three levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. And once you’re done with those, you’ll find yourself proficient in sound editing. But if you’re yearning for more, Carey Green – the author of these tutorials – has paid packages: A “Bachelor”-level course , a “Doctorate”- level course, and an “All-in-one” bundle.
VSDC Video Editor www.videosoftdev.com www.youtube.com/user/flashintegro
VSDC Video Editor is a non-linear video editing suite that supports various audio and video formats including AVI, MP4, MKV, WMV, FLV, MP3, WAV, WMA, FLAC and AAC.
VSDC’s website has the best set of tutorials available on the web. You get 30 guides on how to perform basic actions like correct video orientation, trim and combine multiple video clips, add a voice over and video effects, as well as edit videos for playback on DVD players, mobile devices, YouTube and more.
Then there’s the Flash Integro YouTube channel where you will find over 200 short, to-the-point lessons on how to stabilise shaky video, remove noise from audio, erase a watermark, clone yourself in a clip, etc.
Blender 3D blender.org , blendernation.com
This 3D suite can be used for modelling, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and even for video editing and game creation.
To get a hang of all of its features, you could start with the basic guides on the Blender website and then move on to Blender Nation. The latter has videos on how to create objects, render hair, textures, mimic water, set up realistic lighting and more. This website also has a forum, where you can interact with other 3D artists to improve your skills. Plus, you get web links to ebooks on various aspects of 3D rendering.
Microsoft Excel chandoo.org/wp
If you are a data analyst, project manager or just want to be awesome at Excel, then bookmark Chandoo. The website’s creator, Purna Duggirala, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), has been sharing Excel guides for over 10 years. You get free access to over 1,000 articles and you can even interact with 50,000 active users on its forum for additional support.
You can start with Excel Basics – within the Topics section – and move on to more advanced tutorials to learn how to use pivot tables, charts formulae, and more. Sign up for the mailing list andChandoo sends you an Excel tip every week.
Ashutosh Desai and Savio D’Souza