215 software tools. No fees. No expiration dates. No problems. Sometimes even no downloads. No kidding.
They are divided into different categories
Windows Replace the Add/Remove Programs control panel in XP to get batch uninstalls and clear out leftovers that Windows frequently misses when uninstalling.
Windows The extra C is for crap, and that's what CCleaner gets rid of: all the detritus left behind in the course of using Windows.
Windows CoolMon displays all of your system's vital statistics, including use of your CPU, RAM, and hard drives, internal PC temperature, and more.
Windows Defragment your entire hard drive-or just one heavily fragmented file at a time.
Windows DriverView lists every single device driver running on your system, with extra info on each.
Windows Shredders are popular in the office, so why not have the digital equivalent? Eraser adds a right-click menu that will do away with a file or folder forever.
Windows | MacOS | Linux Download this FTP client for accessing multiple sites or to use as an FTP server. In both cases, FileZilla has convenient drag-and-drop support.
Windows Glary offers a ton of utilities for cleaning, optimizing, and securing Windows in one package.
Microsoft Virtual PC 2007
Windows Install anything-DOS, OS/2, or any earlier version of Windows-as a virtual machine. It'll run in a separate window on your Vista or XP desktop.
Web Place a layer of "transient storage"-a sandbox-between your applications and your hard disk to stay safe.
Windows Compress and decompress files on the fly, even in e-mail through Outlook integration, and encrypt archives as desired.
Windows Stop any Windows process dead; this is handy for clearing frozen applications.
MacOS Get access to additional preference settings in Mac OS X to turn on hidden features.
Windows | Web You can do the Ctrl-Alt-Delete salute in Windows to see what's bogging down your PC, but can you understand the results? ProcessScanner, coupled with the online Process Library, provides extra information on each process (like whether it autostarts or not, and who makes the software in question), and even lists the security risk to your system for running it.
AllChars lets you type foreign characters such as ñ or ü in any application. Just tap the program's hot key (Right Ctrl or any other shift-style key) followed by two characters such as n and the tilde or u and a double quotation mark, and the combined character you want appears in your document. It can also type boilerplate text such as your name or address.
AnalogX MaxMem is the cure for when your older, slower system has the hiccups and needs a reboot. It saves you this annoyance by freeing up memory with just a click, giving your computer its second wind.
The open-source AutoHotkey lets you automate all of your repetitive tasks. Scripts can be compiled so you can share them with people who don't have the app. Not ready to create your own? You'll find dozens of user-contributed scripts on the Web site.
Clipomatic is the most compact and usable of dozens of clipboard extenders. It stores text that you copy to the Windows clipboard for pasting into any application. You can also store boilerplate text such as names and phone numbers. But avoid it if you use version 7 of Acrobat or Adobe Reader, because it blocks them from saving to the clipboard.
Ever need to extract text from an e-mail message or Web discussion, but the message is full of angle brackets (>) or other symbols? Or maybe it's got little bits of HTML strewn about. eCleaner quickly goes through these files and strips out the detritus. It's not fancy, but it works.
Gaim hooks into most any chat service you could possibly want. It's a multiprotocol instant-messaging client that works with Google Talk, AIM and ICQ (Oscar protocol), MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, SILC, Novell GroupWise Messenger, Lotus Sametime, and Zephyr networks. With Gaim, you can talk with your boyfriend on AIM while chatting with a "friend" on Yahoo! Messenger.
MWSnap doesn't let you capture scrolling windows or have all the features of the best capture tool out thereSnagItbut it gives you a lot more control than Windows' native capture utility, and it throws in some cool tools, such as a screen ruler and color picker.
PopTray is the premier pop-up mail checker for standard POP3 and IMAP mail accounts, including Gmail, and it can be coaxed to work with HTML-only mail such as Hotmail by following the instructions at the PopTray site. PopTray lives in the system tray, pops up reports of new messages, can be controlled entirely from the keyboard, and can be customized.
RoboForm automatically fills in username and password fields in your browser, with an option to password-protect some or all of the passwords it stores. So you get better protection than you do from the storage features in IE and Firefox. Its SafeNotes feature stores credit card numbers or other secret data. The free version stores ten log-ins; a $29.95 Pro version stores an unlimited number.
Microsoft's super-tweaker tool for Windows XP is the program to install immediately after installing XP. Tweak UI fine-tunes Start Menu and Taskbar settings, helps specify which icons appear on your desktop, sets auto log-in so you can skip entering a password, and much more.
Ultimate Boot CD for Windows
This program helps you create a CD that boots into its own copy of Windows. The disc contains tons of useful utilities, from antivirus and antispyware to network and disk-repair tools. And if you're stuck, there's PacMan and Asteroids to pass the time. Rumor has it you can use UBCD4Win to create a bootable USB drive, too.
WinMerge is for programmers who know that as code grows, it gets harder and harder to spot the differences between versions. WinMerge quickly compares two text files or two folders (including subfolders), highlighting all the differences and letting you keep everything in sync.
WnBrowse adds a super-fast, no-frills file viewer to Windows' right-click menus. It displays plain text or hex datano formatted documents, spreadsheets, or graphicsbut that's often all you need, and it opens instantly.
Yahoo! Desktop Search
If you want to index everything on your system, get Yahoo! Desktop Search. It does a brilliant job of sorting, characterizing, and helping you to find all your files and e-mail.
Web Who needs a BitTorrent client? Just find the torrent metafile link on a tracker site, plug it in at BitLet.org, and let it retrieve the file as if you were downloading it from a regular Web site.
Windows See what's inside any archive fileZIP, RAR, even EXE.
Windows The tiniest BitTorrent client around (only 214K) comes with all the torrent download features you crave.
Windows This app runs in the system tray and takes advantage of smart battery support in XP/Vista to provide loads of info on laptop-power usage.
Windows | MacOS | Linux Let Google index and search your hard drive contents. The sidebar adds graphical widgets to your desktop.
Windows miniMIZE puts thumbnails of your minimized applications on the desktop for easier access.
Quero Toolbar 4
Windows Replace the Internet Explorer address bar to integrate ad blocking and make IE7 look more like IE6.
Vista Drive Icon
Windows Add one of Vista's best features to XP: smart drive icons showing the current capacity of each hard drive.
Windows Multiple tabs and improved search enhance and replace the boring old Windows Explorer.
Windows | MacOS Fill your desktop with tiny interfaces for everything from stock picks to RSS feeds to weather forecasts (using Doppler radar!) to Wi-Fi sensors to remote desktops to countdown clocks-to name a few. Pick from over 4,300; some are more useful than others, but almost all are interesting to look at.
Windows Perhaps the fastest PDF reader around, Foxit includes a free annotation tool. Add-ons enable support for new file formats and UI languages.
Web You can display PDF files in your Web browser when no other reader is available.
Web | Mobile Instantly perform optical character recognition (OCR) on pictures by e-mailing them from your phone to ScanR.com.
Web This site turns just about any file into a different kind of file, even online videos from YouTube. It also converts units of energy, force, length, and more.
Web File conversion is no longer a complete nightmare. Just go to ZamZar, upload a file, choose from a long list of extensions (including image, doc, music, video, and compression types), and enter your e-mail address. When it's done, ZamZar will send you the converted file.
Networking & Mobility
Windows | MacOS | Linux Instantly create a free, peer-to-peer VPN connection between your computer and other people's. Download the software, create a network with a unique name, give it to friends you want to join, and start sharing files with themeven your iTunes folder.
Windows Use it to detect any Wi-Fi network in your vicinity and see if it's open for use, or just use it to troubleshoot your own.
Windows Share your printer with others over the Web; in turn, send jobs to other shared printers, no matter their location.
Altiris Software Virtualization Solution
With SVS, you can run apps virtually and enable and disable programs with a click of the mouse. When the app is disabled, it's gone without a trace; when it's enabled, it appears near-instantaneously. Free for personal use, SVS is great for trying out new applications as well as running apps that conflict with one another. Apps are stored as "packages" that you can either create yourself or find prepackaged by the dozens at SVSDownloads.com, from BitTorrent and Open Office to the FlightGear open-source flight simulator.
When you're on an open wireless network, it's easy to become a little paranoid that someone is sniffing your traffic. Make your surfing invisible by setting your browser to access the FreeProxy proxy server running on your home PC, which you can connect to securely via the Hamachi encrypted link. (See page 70.) Follow the instructions on the LogMeIn Hamachi Web site and you'll be up in no time.
Carefulthe person on the other end of your Skype call might be using PowerGramo, an add-on that records conversations. The free version will save the audio for your records, but you'll need to upgrade to PowerGramo Pro ($19.95) to record each person on a different track, which is useful if you use Skype to do interviews for podcasts.
Snort is probably the world's most widely used intrusion detection and prevention software. It's open-source, with a huge community of folks working to improve it. The bad news is that unless you have a lot of expertise, you'll need to be prepared to spend much time reading and learning how to run Snort.
SightSpeed provides the best in free (for SightSpeed-to-SightSpeed calls) video calls over the Web. It uses a proprietary VoIP/VoIM (short for voice over IM) system and Web service to carry full-motion 30-frame-per-second video calls, as well as voice, chat, conference calling, and more. You'll need a webcam that supports up to 30 fps and a broadband connection.
Skype is by far the most popular PC-based VoIP service; it also works in dedicated telephones and other handheld devices. The Version 3.0 beta adds click-to-call to dial regular phone numbers from your PC, and Skypecastsmoderated discussions with up to 100 people.
For years, we've enlisted the help of readers to test their Internet connection bandwidth for our surveys. We've automated the process with our own tool: SurfSpeed. The real power of this application comes after it reports to our servers and allows you to compare results with others in your ZIP code, state, or country or worldwide. Plus, you'll get a sense of how your ISP measures up to others. And so will your ISP when we publish the results!
The simplest free solution to access your work PC from home is LogMeIn Free (not to be confused with LogMeIn Hamachi). For a more powerful Windows remote-access solution, try UltraVNC. It adds file transfer and text chat and is considered the best-performing flavor of the open-source VNC (Virtual Network Computing) protocol.
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