When browsing computer stores, shoppers are likely to see numerous software applications designed for use in the household. Among the many products available are applications for writing letters, making out wills, designing a new home, landscaping a lawn, preparing and filing tax returns, and managing finances. Software suites are also available for home and personal use, although sometimes the suites available for home use do not contain all the features in business versions.
Personal finance software assists users with paying bills, balancing checkbooks, keeping track of income and expenses, maintaining investments records, and other financial activities. The software also enables users to readily view how their money is being spent. Some personal finance software provides online services available on the Internet and Web. These services allow users to go online to learn the status of their investments and insurance coverage. They can also conduct normal banking transactions, including accessing and printing bank statements showing monthly transaction summaries.
Tax preparation software is designed to aid in analyzing federal and state tax status, as well as to prepare and transmit tax returns. Most of the programs provide tips for preparing tax documents that can help identify deductions, possibly resulting in great savings. Some programs include actual state and federal tax forms for entering tax data. Programs that do not include forms provide instructions for downloading them from the software publisher’s website. Finished tax returns can be printed for mailing or filing electronically. Because federal and state tax laws change frequently, as do tax forms, users will probably need to obtain the software version for the appropriate taxable years or period.
Legal software is designed to help analyze, plan, and prepare a variety of legal documents, including wills and trusts. It can also be used to prepare other legal documents, such as the forms required for real estate purchases or sales, rental contracts, and estate planning. Included in most packages are standard templates for various legal documents, along with suggestions for preparing them.
The widespread use of home computers has brought about an increase in the availability of educational and reference software, making computers a popular learning and reference tools. Examples of educational and reference software include encyclopedias, dictionaries, and tutorials.
SECTION 2: GRAPHICS AND MULTIMEDIA SOFTWARE
Graphics and multimedia software allows both professional and home users to work with graphics, video, and audio. A variety of application software is focused in this area including painting and drawing software, image-editing software, video and audio editing software, Web authoring software, and computer-aided design (CAD) software.
Painting and Drawing Software
Painting and drawing programs are available for both professional and home users. The more expensive professional versions typically include more features and greater capabilities than do the less expensive personal versions. Both painting programs and drawing programs provide an intuitive interface through which users can draw pictures, make sketches, create various shapes, and edit images. Programs typically include a variety of templates that simplify painting or drawing procedures.
Video and Audio Editing Software
As digital video cameras and other portable technologies have become more common, users have desired the ability to create and modify recorded video and audio clips using video and audio editing software. To create digital video or audio files, home users can often use basic video and audio editing software contained within their computer’s operating system. Some users prefer the additional features of an application software package.
The market demand for image-editing programs has increased concurrently with the popularity of digital cameras. An image-editing program allows a user to touch up, modify, and enhance image quality. Once edited, images can be stored in a variety of forms and inserted into other files, such as letters, advertisements, and electronic scrapbooks.
Computer-aided design software is a sophisticated kind of drawing software, providing tools that enable professionals to create architectural, engineering, product, and scientific designs. Engineers can use the software to design buildings or bridges, and scientists can create graphical designs of plant, animal, and chemical structures. Some software programs display designs in three-dimensional form so they can be viewed from various angles. Once a design has been created, changes can be easily made until it is finalized.