Give me the tools

Digital tools for info-activists

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  • Tips

Taking photos


  • Install and use antivirus software, but beware of unrecognised "antivirus" software that tries to install or update itself without your permission. It may be malware disguised as a fake "antivirus" software.

Tips on creating print media


There are many online services that can convert webpages to PDF files. These may be of use for printing or archiving internet pages. With Web2PDF, you enter the internet address of a particular page on the internet into an online form.

Working with freelancers

Mobile phone security

Mobile phones are used by advocates all over the world, but they often store a great deal of information that should be kept private. In addition to contact lists, a mobile phone may contain call histories, calendars, text messages and emails.

A mashup or video remix is created by taking multiple sources of video, audio or stills and mixing them up.

Sunseed Desert Technology

Jitsi is a communications program that allows you to chat securely using well-supported protocols like SIP, XMPP / Jabber, AIM / ICQ, Windows Live, Facebook and Yahoo. You can also make audio and video calls and share or stream your desktop to someone else.

ObscuraCam is an Android application that allows you to obscure faces or objects in photos or videos to keep certain information private. It allows you to black out or pixelate certain areas of an image.

The details of users using live chat provided by Yahoo, Windows, Skype and Gmail are readily made available to law enforcement agencies by the companies involved.

HTTPS Everywhere is an add-on for Chrome or Firefox. HTTPS is a secure communications protocol that stops other people from being able to see the conversation between your computer and the website you are visiting. It can hide web content and details like passwords and data you input into forms.

Tor is a network tool that allows you to improve your privacy and security on the internet. Using Tor helps stop a kind of surveillance called traffic analysis, which is used to detect who is communicating with each other over the internet.

K9 is a stable and popular email client for Android mobile devices.

The proliferation of mobile computing devices in recent years has meant that websites can no longer remain static or stick to one screen resolution or aspect ratio.

Bambuser is a live video service that allows you to capture, upload and store video from a mobile phone or webcam. You can set up broadcasts, like channels, and share them publicly using social media, or share privately with just certain users.

Magpi (formerly Episurveyor), is a web-based application that enables anyone to create a data entry form online, and then use this form to collect data on a mobile device. Once collected, data can be uploaded to the Magpi website for analysis or export.

Ushahidi is a highly flexible platform for information collection, visualisation and interactive mapping. It was originally developed to map incidents of violence during the Kenyan elections in 2008.

FrontlineSMS allows you to send and receive text messages over a mobile network.

Browser-based and built to run on Windows, Mac and Linux, FrontlineSMS can send text messages via phone, modem or online SMS aggregator.

 Video recording techniques

  • Single handed – one technique is to hold your camera with one hand and support that elbow with your free hand. Keep your elbow near your body, as this will allow you to hold the camera for long periods.

Etherpad is an online word processor with formatting options. It offers a lot of the same features as Google Docs, but is not suited for sensitive information as it has limited password protection and access control features. It does have lots of other great features, however.

ZXing (pronounced 'zebra crossing') is an open source barcode image tool. It can be used to create and read barcodes and QR codes.

Booktype is an open source platform for writing and publishing print and digital books. The goal is to make it easier for people and organisations to collaborate on and publish books, using a variety of different outputs.

Scribus is a page layout programme. It can be compared to Microsoft Publisher or Adobe InDesign. With Scribus you can create layouts for newsletters, bulletins, manuals, reports and other printed materials that require text and image layout.

LibreOffice Writer is a word processing and desktop publishing tool. It can be used for simple tasks but is also capable of creating leaflets, booklets or even books.

ProjectLibre is a project management tool similar to Microsoft Project. It allows you to plan your campaign or project by creating different tasks, stages and milestones against a calendar.

Thunderbird is a popular free software email client from the Mozilla foundation. Many people with a stable internet connection now check their emails in an internet browser with a service like gmail or yahoo. However, there are several advantages to using an email client rather than webmail.

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a way of tracking a company’s interactions with customers and clients. It involves using technology to organise and automate communication.

Skype is the most popular service around for voice calls over the internet. You can also use live text chat and send files. Many international organisations rely on Skype to reduce their costs, using it instead of the telephone.

Crabgrass is an online tool which enables group collaboration. It allows groups to do things like share files, track projects, make decisions and store documents online. Using Crabgrass, multiple groups can work together on projects in a way that supports a democratic process.

Cloud computing, where data and services are stored online instead of on your local computer, offers a lot of advantages. If you have used Dropbox or Google Docs you may be familiar with the convenience they offer. is an internet-based piece of software for microblogging, and is an alternative to Twitter. Microblogging is the transmitting of short messages, often limited to 140 characters. Microblogging systems make it easy to follow other bloggers and keep up to date with their news and views. & ifttt are two online services that provide essentially the same thing. They take content from one place on the internet and send it over to another place. The services can be seen as a response to the way social media is developing.

WordPress is a tool used to create websites and blogs. There are two ways to use WordPress: you can download the software from and install it on your own server, or you can sign up to use it as a blog service at

Screencasting software lets you record what is happening on the screen of your computer as a video file. This can be used together with audio narration to create useful help videos. Windows has at least two good open source options: Cam Studio and Webinaria.

Because of some of the challenges of editing video on the desktop, it may be a good idea to try an online video editor. Two options are YouTube and Video Toolbox.

Most video editors are similar in design. Once you have learned the basics in one application it is often easy to apply these skills to another program. This is fortunate as there are no free cross-platform video editors available. Here are some comparisons of different tools:

HandBrake was created to convert DVD discs into smaller video files suitable for viewing and sharing on the Internet. This is called 'DVD ripping'. HandBrake is popular, and is available for many different operating systems.

DVDStyler is a cross-platform, free DVD authoring application. It creates DVDs that can be played on almost any standalone DVD player. You can design interactive DVD menus and the interface is simple and intuitive to use.

Amara is a free online subtitling service. It allows you to add or import text to create subtitles for a video hosted somewhere else on the Internet. The interface is easy to use, allowing you to play, pause and review your video as you type the text of the dialogue.

Flickr is a popular photo sharing site and one of the largest online image repositories. Flickr is very popular with a large number of professional and amateur photographers.

Pixlr is one of many online browser-based photo and image manipulation services. It stands out as the fastest and most flexible. Pixlr has three modes: 'express', 'advanced' and 'playful'.

Synfig Studio creates 2D animation. It uses new techniques to allow you to create animations quickly, with a limited budget. It can be compared to the Flash animation application. It is a very stable tool with a lot of professional features.

Inkscape is an open source vector graphics editing application, with capabilities similar to Illustrator and CorelDraw. Vector graphics are often used for illustrations, graphic design or advanced work with graphical text.

XMind is software for mind mapping. Concept-mapping or mind-mapping software is used to create diagrams of relationships between concepts, ideas or other pieces of information. Many people find the mind mapping technique more effective for learning than conventional note-taking.

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) can do just about everything that Adobe Photoshop can do, and it's free for anyone to use.

WordPress is a system for creating websites and blogs. You can have your own installation of WordPress if you have some webspace, or you can use the free service at

Making a CD with audio files can involve two kinds of CDs. One type is a data CD, which is suitable for reading on other computers. The other type is an audio CD, which is suitable for playing on audio CD players.

Mobile Media Converter is a free software application originally created to allow the transcoding of audio from early mobile phones into a format which could be edited by Audacity or other audio editors. It is now a more flexible tool which can covert many audio as well as video formats.

SoundCloud is an internet service that allows you to listen to and share audio files. The service is mostly used by musicians, but SoundCloud actively encourages contributions from journalists, communities and campaigners.

Audio and sound

Audio Boo has taken advantage of the recording and internet capabilities of smartphones and created a service which publishes audio to the internet from a phone. You can download an app for your android or iPhone which allows you to record, edit and upload audio to your account.

Airtime allows you to schedule audio files in a calendar timeline. It is designed with radio stations in mind, as a free software replacement for similar commercial scheduling tools. It has a scheduling calendar, smart playlists, archive management and a very stable output.

Audacity is an 'audio editor'. It can record sounds, like voices or musical instruments, or import sounds from a portable recording device like a sound recorder or phone. You can combine these voices and sounds and edit them to make documentaries, music, podcasts, etc.