Top 5 Free Multimedia Apps

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Thousands of free apps cross my radar throughout the year. These are five that over-deliver on their ability to make digital audio, video, and photo content a joy to consume.

1. Zero-Assumption Image Recovery
There’s nothing worse than losing data. When the data is family photos, recovering them may save more than just memories. This app recovers image files from a variety of drive sources, including hard drives, flash cards and other removable media.

2. Audacity
Multi-track audio editing isn’t for everyone, but this is by far the best free audio editing app I’ve ever used. Support for VST plugins makes it infinitely extensible, with plenty of onboard features for most users to record music, spoken word or anything else.

3. Picasa
I personally use Picture It to manage all my photos because I like the integration with several other apps I use. Picasa is far more elegant and is the closest thing Windows users have to iPhoto, which remains the Cadillac of image managers.

4. FFDShow
With a better DivX codec than DivX and MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 support, this is one of the most stable tools for playing back video files available. If you download movies on a regular basis, you need this codec pack.

5. Photo Story 3
Microsoft already had a great product with Photo Story 2, but version 3 takes it to the next level. Support for more types of audio, an audio generation tool, and more output formats makes this the photo slideshow app I recommend. A legit copy of Windows XP is required.