Free commercial downloads
Find free tools and software to help you access documents, audio, and visual files.
When you click on a link below, you will leave our site and go to a non-government website. USA.gov does not endorse these sites. We provide the links so you can get the free software needed to view some documents or to access audio and visual files on some websites.
Portable Document Format (PDF)
Some documents on government websites are in Portable Document Format (PDF). PDFs allow you to view publications in their original format regardless of what type of computer, browser, or operating system you are using. To view, navigate, and print PDF documents, you need to download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software.
Adobe has Acrobat Reader instructions and a troubleshooting guide on their website.
If you use a screen reader, you can use Adobe software to make PDF files more accessible.
Real Video and Real Audio Files
Real Video and Real Audio Files have the extension ".ram", ".ra", ".rm", ".rmm", ".rp", ".rms", ".rt", ".rmj". To play these files you need to download free RealPlayer software from RealNetworks.
The Real file format allows you to "stream" audio and video files, which means that you begin hearing and seeing the files without having to wait for the entire file to download. To hear audio on your computer, your system must also have speakers or earphones and a sound card.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) aggregators
RSS feeds have the extension ".xml", ".rss", ".sfm", ".cfm", ".rdf", ".aspx", or ".php". They require installation and use of RSS aggregator software. An RSS aggregator allows you to subscribe to an RSS feed. There are many aggregators available; some are free and some are available for sale.
RSS feeds are commonly used on blogs, news websites, and other places with frequently updated content. An RSS aggregator gathers material from websites that you tell it to scan, and it brings new information from those sites to you. It's a convenient format because it allows you to view all the new content from multiple sources in one location.
These files have the extension ".xml" and ".php" and require installation and use of podcatching software (a type of aggregator).
You can download free podcatching software from:
Podcasting is a method of publishing audio broadcasts via the internet, allowing users to subscribe to a feed of new audio files, usually MP3s. Listeners subscribe to feeds using podcatching software, which periodically checks for and downloads new content automatically. Any digital audio player or computer with audio-playing software can play podcasts.
Other audio files
Some audio files on government websites have an ".au" extension. You can play these files using the standard sound player that comes with your device's operating system. For example, Windows Media Player for Windows, QuickTime for the Macintosh, and XPlayGizmo for Unix. To hear audio on your computer, your system must also have speakers or earphones and a sound card.
LAST UPDATED: April 11, 2023
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