Windows in its various incarnations has seen a number of software additions which enhance the operating system. Here, thanks to Woody Leonhard and InfoWorld, are a number of helpful free applications.
Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) can be installed on your computer or smartphone. It can drag any file you want to share to the dropbox, which copies files in the designated dropbox folder onto dropboxes on all linked computers and phones, as well as leaving an additional copy on the Web, where you can access your files through any Web browser. This effectively lets you duplicate files across multiple platforms, including Window PCs, Macs, Linux machines, iPhones, BlackBerrys, and Android phones.
SyncToy (www.microsoft.com) is freeware in the Microsoft Power Toys Series. It is used for file synchronization. It synchronizes files between two folders and provides backup.
System Information for Windows (www.gtopala.com) reports three separate data categories: software, including file associations, ActiveX controls, and file name associations; hardware, such as BIOS version, video and sound adapters, and CPU details; and network, including neighborhood devices, shares, and open ports.
Recuva (www.piriform.com) is a new incarnation of a file undelete program. When you empty the Windows Trash Bin, the files are not destroyed; rather, the space they occupy is earmarked for new data. Undelete scans this area, then puts the pieces back together.
7Zip (www.7-zip.com) creates self extracting EXE files, and supports AES 256 bit encryption. 7Zip also makes it easy to work with RAR files.
Wiseval Photophant (www.wiseval-photophant.en.softonic.com) is an image resizer/converter. It handles batch resizing, format conversions, watermarking, and renaming with just a couple of clicks. The altered pictures go into a different folder from the original.
Auslogics File Finder (www.auslogics.com) finds and eliminates duplicated files. This tool’s easy to use interface makes it simple to find and select the files you want to delete, then stick the files in the Recycle Bin, where you can bring them back if needed.
Revo Uninstaller (www.revouninstaller.com) uninstalls programs. It runs the program’s uninstaller and watches while the uninstaller works, looking for the location of program files and for Registry keys that the uninstaller zaps. It then removes leftover pieces, based on the locations and keys that the program’s uninstaller took out. Revo gives you flexibility in deciding just how much you want to clean and what you want to save.
Paint.Net (www.getpaint.net) is a faster graphics editor. It provides powerful, easy to use photo editing, with layers, plug ins, and many other special effects. The program puts all of the editing tools a nonprofessional might expect into an intuitive package.
Autoruns (www.microsoft.com) controls autostarting programs. The Everything tab lists every program that starts automatically, in the order in which it is run. You can filter out the Microsoft programs and have Autoruns show you the third party it came from. It lets you control programs that run automatically each time you start Windows or Internet Explorer.
LastPass (www.lastpass.com) stores and retrieves passwords online. It keeps track of your user IDs, passwords, and other settings, and it offers them to you with just a click. It tool encrypts your passwords and then stores them in the cloud with a master password only you know.
VLC Media Player (www.videolan.org) will play just about anything with no additional software or downloads. It plays internet streaming media with a click, records played media, converts between file types, and supports individual frame screenshots.
Jaangle (www.jaangle.com) is a music player organizer that retrieves information about the music: album art, artist biographies, and artist pictures. It has customizable options to reorder and reorganize.
Process Explorer (www.microsoft.com) is freeware created by sysintral.com, and acquired by Microsoft. It monitors and manages running programs, and is an enhanced test manager. This tool shows you all running processes and subprocesses and tells you what is really going on. See every process that is running; its handle, and controlling DLL; the amount of CPU it is using, and tells you everything about CPU cycles, memory usage, and I/O.
PicPick (www.picpick.org) is a design tool made especially for screen capture. It lets you take screen shots with the press of a key or key combinations of your choosing. Once shot, this tool puts your screen into an editor, with tools for resizing and editing. The PicPick Image Editor includes all of the tools in Windows Paint, plus a few that are useful for editing screen shots.
Try as suits your needs. They’re all free and could be the best utilities you’ve ever used.