Guest post: 22 free software apps for youth ministry

Topic / Technology

Dennis Poulette contributes the following list of free software that is useful for youth ministry. If you’re interested in becoming a guest blogger for Life In Student Ministry, check out this page.


  • Picasa – (Windows only) An online photo organizer from Google that allows you to do limited edits on your photos, organize them, and easily share them with others.
  • GIMP – (Windows/Mac/Linux) The GNU Image Manipulation Program is a powerful, free Photoshop alternative that allows you to edit photos and save them in a variety of formats.
  • irfanview – (Windows only) A graphic viewer that allows you to preview many different types of image, video, and audio files.

Music and Audio

  • Audacity – (Windows/Mac/Linux) This music editing software is great for adding sound effects, making long songs shorter, mixing different tracks together, and any other basic audio editing you might need to do.
  • Switch – (Windows/Mac) I use switch to convert music files from one type to another. You can output many different files to mp3 or wav formats.
  • iTunes – (Windows/Mac) Unless you have lived under a rock for a while, you already know that iTunes can manage large amounts of music and do all sorts of things to playback your audio files as well as add visualizations to your music.


  • Handbrake – (Windows/Mac/Linux) Converts videos from DVD to MPEG-4 formats.
  • VLC Media Player – (Windows/Mac/Linux) A multimedia player for various audio and video formats that does not require external codecs or programs to work. It can be used to play just about any video format.
  • Download helper – (Windows/Mac/Linux) A Firefox extension that lets you save videos from most video sites on the internet, like Youtube, Google, and many others.
  • ffmpegX (Mac only) and SUPER (Windows only) both convert video into every and any format you could possibly ever need.


  • OpenOffice – (Window/Linux) An office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.
  • Taco HTML Edit – (Mac only) A full-featured HTML editor and PHP editor. It allows users to rapidly create their own web sites.

Security and Utilities

  • McAfee site advisor – (Windows/Mac/Linux) A Firefox and Internet Explorer plugin that tests websites and warns users about spyware, spam, viruses, and other online problems.
  • AVG Anti-virus – (Windows only) Provides users with basic anti-virus and anti-spyware protection.
  • Mozy backup – (Windows/Mac) The free version of this online backup offers 2 GB of online storage space, and it automatically backs up your important documents online and encrypts them.
  • Caffeine (Mac only) – Keeps your mac awake when activated, which prevents sleeping, screen savers, and screen dimming, perfect for when you are giving presentations.


  • E-Sword – (Windows only) A free Bible software package with many versions, commentaries, and other books available to improve your study of the Bible.
  • Freemind – (Windows/Mac/Linux) A great mind mapping program that is useful for outlining books, organizing thoughts, and creating mind maps of anything you need.


  • FileZilla – (Windows/Mac/Linux) A fast and free FTP, FTPS and SFTP client.
  • Thunderbird – (Window/Mac/Linux) Mozilla’s alternative to Outlook, Thunderbird is very fast and efficient for email organization.
  • Burn – (Mac only) An application for burning CDs and DVDs.
  • NetNewsWire (Mac only) and FeedDemon (Windows only) are news reader that use a three-panel interface and downloads RSS and Atom feeds to keep you on top of all of your favorite news sites and blogs. Syncs with their online web reader, too.


Dennis Poulette is a youth ministry professor with Youth Ministry International. He lives and works in Mexico City. You can follow his ministry at

Posted on May 28, 2008

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  • Let’s not forget about Smart FTP, Google Apps, and Remember The Milk! I realize the last two used to not fit into this category because all of the above apps are installed on your computer but Google Gears allows you to work on your Google Docs and manage your RTM to do list while offline and then auto syncs it when you go back while online.

  • good list of links.

  • Chris…can you write a post or something on how to do that with Google Gears and RTM? I’d love to learn. Thanks.

  • @ Chris S: I prefer FileZilla over SmartFTP. I also use Google Apps and RTM with Gears, but yeah, they don’t quite fit into this “downloadable software” category. I have blogged about RTM before, though, here. Excellent tool. I use it all the time with Twitter, text messaging, dashboard widget and their site.

  • Lenny

    Wow, thanks these are awsum, especially the video and audio converters, I have been searching for ages for converters that are for free and yet can still do the job.

  • Lenny

    You don´t perhaps know of one that works on Linux

  • @Larry: No, I don’t know of one off the top of my head for Linux. I’d expect that there’s plenty of video conversion options available for Linux, though. I know VLC will transcode video. Check that out.

  • Adding one for music…

    Itunes places so many limits on the music you buy from them that I have ditched it and go with Amazon MP3 that has 0 limitations. Check it out.

  • @ Jon Rogers: Well, that’s been true traditionally, but about a year ago iTunes started selling high-quality non-DRM versions of most songs for $1.29. These files have no limitations and are twice the sound quality as the $0.99 ones. Just look for the plus sign next to the track for iTunes Plus.

  • Plus…iTunes doesn’t put limits on the music you actually already own and have on your computer. itunes is good for music management and for setting up playlists to listen to.

    I agree…amazon is cool, but iTunes still has the best selection (although not all music on iTunes is DRM free.

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  • Check out for a Mac version of E-Sword. I think it can use a lot of the same files as E-Sword, but I’m not 100% on that one.

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  • Brandon Morris

    I’ll add one more here for you…it’s a media converter called, uniquely, Media Converter found at It also has a firefox plug-in…it’s pretty slick…I use it to pull videos off of youtube to play in youth services as well as to rip audio off of a video – save it – stick on my mp3 player and listen to l8r such as sermons, etc.

  • Joshua

    Xiphos! Free and well done bible program like e-sword, but for linux. I run ubuntu and this gives my students an excellent way to search the bible.

  • Нормальный сайтек и гестбук хорошая, так что респект автору!

  • Anna Lee

    Data Recovery for Mac is a file saver for those who love photo, music and video, or work document like word, Excel on their Mac or storage device.

  • Anna

    Also, please, make a look at the universal free online converter which can be used without limiations and convenient enough.

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