These are predominantly Windows apps.
I try out many of the programs we list in the ezine and occasionally find one that I especially like. Those programs are listed here. Some of these applications have become so invaluable to me that my computing experience would be notably diminished by their absence and you'll find those, most special of freeware programs, clearly marked by the following suffix: Favorite
Not long ago someone asked me what freeware applications I would put on a CD as a gift to a new computer user and I'll indicate those applications with this suffix: Newbie
Many of the websites listed here offer more than a single freeware title and that will be mentioned in the listing. I don't have a single favorite software application, but I do have a favorite programmer. His name is Johannes Wallroth and he lives in Berlin, Germany. His site offers many small, useful Windows freeware applications. It's a rare Windows user who won't find at least one nifty little gotta-have program on the site. Have a look
, you'll be glad you did.
By the way, if my small collection of favorites leaves you wanting more, be sure and check out the truly enormous collection of freeware applications which are categorized and indexed at FreewareHome.com
: When I went looking for smaller security applications for a used laptop we bought (because its only got a 6.4 GB hard drive) I found Comodo which is free, about two thirds the size of Zone Alarm and seems to work equally well. Comodo is my new favorite Windows Firewall app because it also includes Anti-Virus software in the same package and both are free for personal use. Favorite Newbie
: Here, you can get your free copy of the AVG 7.5 Anti-Virus System - Free Edition and you will be able to use it without any limitations for the life of the product. If you're like me your first thought was "Free Anti-Virus software? Yeah, right, you get what you pay for." but, like me, you're wrong. Grisoft makes AV software for large users, and they're good at it. Creating a personal edition of their software, for home use, and offering it as unsupported freeware can be seen, by cynics like me, as a shrewd marketing strategy to give their product more name recognition, but, even if you take the cynical view, it's a terrific deal for home users. AVG works beautifully and, in my experience, causes far fewer conflicts with other products on your computer than some of the better known AV products.
Spybot - Search & Destroy
: This excellent freeware program can detect and remove spyware and malware of different kinds from your computer. This is a relatively new kind of threat that common anti-virus applications do not yet cover. If you see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you didn't install, your browser crashes frequently for no apparent reason, your browser's start page has changed without your having changed it, your dial-up Window comes up when you haven't clicked on anything to invoke it, or you start getting pop-ups on websites where you aren't accustomed to seeing pop-ups, you most probably have spyware or malware. Even if you don't see anything, you may be infected, because more and more spyware is emerging which silently tracks, and reports, your surfing habits to create marketing and demographics profiles which will be sold to advertisers. Favorite Newbie
: This awesome freeware program doesn't scan, locate, and remove spyware; it prevents it from ever being installed in the first place. The newest version can even block spyware/tracking cookies, and SpywareBlaster doesn't need to be running in the background to provide this protection. You won't get any more annoying "Yes/No" boxes popped up, asking you to install a spyware ActiveX control (which can increasingly be found in pop-up ads.). In fact, you won't see or hear anything at all when the program does it's job. No alarms, pop-ups, alerts, bells or whistles. SpywareBlaster quietly prevents malicious websites from being able to touch your computer and your surfing experience is undisturbed in the process. You'll need to update the software frequently because malicious operators aren't napping. They're working hard and fast to develop new ways to invade your privacy so if you see any sort of pop up that asks you to "Click here to install (whatever)", and you didn't click anything to put it there, take that as an alert to update SpywareBlaster. Favorite Newbie
: This nifty little program, from Mike Lin, is a small utility that runs transparently (it doesn't even use a tray icon) and notifies you when any program registers itself to run at system startup. It prevents those utterly useless tray applications from registering themselves behind your back, and it acts as a security tool against Trojans like BackOrifice or Netbus. Editor's Note: There are several other useful freeware programs available on Mike's site too. Favorite Newbie
: Millions of users have selected this free program as their basic Internet security solution. Zone Alarm's award-winning personal firewall blocks dangerous Internet threats, guarding your PC from many of the tactics used by hackers and data thieves. We didn't use a firewall when we were on a dial-up connection because we felt it was overkill. When we switched to DSL we felt we needed the additional protection so we're using the free version of ZoneAlarm and we're very happy with it.
We've recently learned that current versions of AVG and ZoneAlarm won't run on Windows 98 but no Windows computer should be connected to the internet without anti-virus software and a firewall is equally essential if you have a high speed connection. ClamWin
is an excellent and free anti-virus software for Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP (also for Linux/FreeBSD/Solaris). ClamWin doesn't offer "real time" monitoring of your web surfing or email downloads so it's very important to schedule daily system scans. Major Geeks offers AntiVir Personal Edition 7 for Win9x/ME
but the same product isn't available from the Avira
website. For a firewall, the personal (free) version of Agnitum Outpost
firewall is compatible with Windows 95, 98, 98SE, ME, NT, 2000, and XP. Major Geeks claims that Comodo BO Cleaner 4.25
works on "all versions of Windows 95,98,NT,2000, ME, XP and Vista" while the Comodo website only mentions Windows 2000 and XP.
Note: If you know of a useful web security application which will run on Windows 95, 98, 98SE or 98ME please let me know about it
Additional "goodies" for Win98 which I found at Major Geeks
Windows 98 Revolutions Pack 7
Unofficial Windows98 SE Service Pack 2.1a
MTU Patch 98/ME
98SE Option Pack 1.0.1
3D Winbench 2000 1.1
Disk Cleaner 1.5.7
Audio Winbench 1.0.1
Feedreader 3.11 Beta 2
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: This is my personal favorite graphics editor. Most of the images I want to manipulate are jpeg images, and while XnView can handle every image format I've ever heard of (and quite a few I've never heard of) it's especially suited to editing jpeg images. It's grown larger, and more sophisticated with each upgrade so I no longer use it as my default viewer but I still use it regularly. Even if you have PSP or Photoshop you'll find XnView a handy and powerful addition to your graphics tool box. Favorite Newbie
: The most popular freeware graphics editor on the Internet. Irfanview is my choice for manipulating gif images and my default viewer for most image types. Small, fast, and incredibly powerful. Another "must have" editor. Favorite Newbie
20/20: This one is adware, but it's not spyware. 20/20 sticks to the ads that are contained in the initial download and doesn't update to new ones while you're online. The ads are annoying, but not impossible to ignore (I certainly never notice them). 20/20 has some specific features that make it a very good tool for creating seamless background (web tile) images. It's a very feature rich editor, but not nearly so "user friendly" as XnView or IrfanView. If you need a great tool for web tiles or backgrounds in email stationery, this is an editor you should have. Update 9-18-05: The developer's site is gone but I have a copy I'll be happy to email you if you get in touch with me via our contact page
: The Gimp is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software suitable for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. This site contains information about downloading, installing, using, and enhancing Gimp. In all honesty, I don't know a great deal about this one, but I'm a strong supporter of the concept behind Open Source
software. The Gimp still has a few bugs, and is sometimes unstable, as I write this (October, 2002), but I've no doubt that it will be an increasingly useful editor as it's development continues and many Linux users already compare it favorably with PSP and/or Adobe Photoshop. Update April, 2005: Now that I have a new computer I've downloaded the Windows version
of the Gimp and I love it. This is a truly awesome image editor with some very sophisticated features. It's still under development but the version I've just downloaded (2.2.6) seems to be very stable. I'll probably continue to use XnView or Irfanview for most of my image editing but the Gimp is, for sure, worth having.
: MediaChance has some excellent shareware, but they also have a several freeware digital camera accessories available for download. The DCEnhancer is my favorite, and it's a terrific tool which "turns on the light" in digital photos. A picture that was taken under poor lighting conditions can be turned into a brighter, clearer image. Even photos that look "OK" can be greatly improved with the DCEnhancer. It's not a fancy software with a lot of features, but it's a very useful tool and well worth having. Among the other digital camera tools from mediachance, there are two more that I've enjoyed using, CleanSkinFX
which does terrific things to close-up shots, and B/Works
which does nice things to monochrome (black and white) photos. Favorite Newbie
: Here's the description of this software in the authors own words: "i.Mage is a simple graphics editor inspired by the late great Deluxe Paint II for Amiga and PC's. This program is a result of my frustration with main stream editors like Photoshop and Corel Photopaint's ability to do simple tasks in a timely manner. To start such an application can take 30 seconds or more... for what? Just cropping a screenshot? Well there has to be a better way I thought. So I started coding and here's the fruits of my labour, not finished by any means but it is starting to be really useful to me for a variety of tasks." The executable install for this software is just under 700k in size, making it a small application, but there's nothing small about the features. For example, if you need a great replacement for Microsoft Paint this software will fill the bill beautifully. The paint feature offers a sensitivity adjustment and gives you superlative control of individual pixels. If this isn't enough to attract you to the site, then how about several other freeware applications, like a lightweight email client, a small FTP client, a great little text editor, and several other useful utilities. Scroll down the page to see them all. Favorite Newbie
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Color Selection Tools
BK Colour Coder
: This is my first choice for a color editing/selecting tool for Windows. It has a moderate learning curve and it enables you to determine the value of a specific color on a web page or graphic image (by unchecking the "default" box on the "bgcolor" tab, clicking on "snag color" and following the directions in the small window which then opens). Best of all, this software contains excellent help files and permits you to create and save customized palettes. Favorite
: From jensSoftware This is my second choice tool for selecting colors. Not as sophisticated as the BK Colour Coder but smaller and faster. Using this tool takes some experimenting since there's not a help file included, but if you're willing to experiment, and "learn by doing" it's an excellent tool. Favorite
: The developers of this little application contacted me to tell me about it. I downloaded it and found that the program didn't work properly on my Win98SE system. I emailed them about the problem and a few days later they notified me that the problem had been corrected so I tried it again and it worked great. This is a very nice little tool for snagging a color from anywhere on your computer screen. I haven't used it often, the BK Colour Coder is more suited to my needs, but this is too handy a tool to get rid of.
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I spent a great deal of time looking for the perfect substitute for Windows NotePad. By the time the dust settled NoteTab Light (for power) and Metapad (for speed) were my favorites but I also found many other impressive editors. A few of them are listed here.
: My new favorite small text editor By far the tiniest editor I've ever seen. It's fully drag and drop enabled, supports wordwrap, has no maximum file size, does not use or write to the Windows registry and has other nice features too [executable size: 7 Kb]. Favorite
:   Considering features versus file size, this may well be the best freeware text editor on the web. I especially like the fact that URLs in text files become clickable in MetaPad. [Executable file size: 94 Kb]. Favorite
: A versatile, convenient and optimal text editor and file processor that far surpasses the capabilities of other Notepad-like applications. It offers innovative clipboard handling, cryptographic options and logic text conversions, great for education, fun, or privacy. EDXOR is small, self-contained, dependency-free and very fast. It provides over 90 menu items, including many unique functions and options, for diverse applications. [executable size: 30 Kb].
: This little gem, from Eugene Vassiltsov can open as many files at a time as the memory of your computer allows (file sizes limited to 64kb in older Win9x systems), remembers settings since last session (fonts, window size and position), allows you to choose any font installed on your computer, choose different fonts for editing and printing (of course, you can choose identical), has Page Setup, where you can set headers and footers for printing, has Word Wrap, Find, Find and Replace commands, shows current date in a status bar, and is very nearly identical to Windows NotePad in appearance [executable file size: 46 Kb].
: A feature filled text editor that is written with a programmer in mind. Its main purpose is to provide enough functionality that is missing from notepad without sacrificing file size and performance. It's very fast and powerful [executable size: 47 Kb].
: This program is a simple little cross platform text editor that very closely resembles Windows NotePad and offers search/replace functions, choices in fonts, and has no file size limitations. The executable is only 34k however Ted uses it's own 319k dll that comes with the download. The developer, Matthew Allen, also has several other excellent freeware applications available on his main site, here
and there's another editor, called "TED" by it's author, available here
Alex Kaufman's Notepad+
: An excellent text editor for those looking for a NotePad replacement. Alex is something of an internet legend for the many freeware applications he's written (like Kaufman Code Bank, Kaufman Contact Buddy, Kaufman FTP, Kaufman Icon Snatcher, Kaufman Launch Cleaner, Kaufman Mail Notifier, Kaufman Mail Warrior, Kaufman Online Counter, Kaufman Pravda, Kaufman Songs, and Kaufman Tray Launcher) but most of them are a little tough to find these days. [executable size: 185 Kb]
: This is the perfect HTML editor for anyone who doesn't have a lot of hard drive space available. It's not a bad tool if you do have a lot of free disk space either. It's size makes it fast loading, and it still manages to have plenty of features. This program is highly recommended by Chris Pirillo of Lockergnome
and there's an excellent review of the program, written by my friend Doug McHone of Coffee Swirls
, on the download page. [executable file size: 191 Kb]
: EditPad Lite is a general purpose tabbed text editor, designed to be small and compact, yet offer all the functionality you expect from a basic text editor. EditPad Lite works with Windows 95, NT4, 98, 2000, ME and XP. The Linux version is available separately
. EditPad Lite is free for non-commercial use. That is, you may use EditPad Lite if you do not get paid, directly or indirectly, for the work you do with EditPad Lite. Registered charities may also use EditPad Lite [executable size: 406 Kb].
: A SCIntilla based Text Editor. Originally built to demonstrate Scintilla It has grown to be a generally useful editor with facilities for building and running programs. It is best used for jobs with simple configurations [executable size: 410 Kb].
: This is a simple, but powerful little freeware replacement software for Windows NotePad, from Randy Ford, that won't give you any flack about file sizes. Randy has some other freeware offerings on the same page, and a few more Here
, including a pop-up killer, an image viewer, and an Icon editor. In fact, his site is well worth taking the time to fully explore [executable size: 215 Kb].
: A source code editor which supports several programming languages running under the M$ Windows environment. This project, written in C++ with pure win32 api (i.e. without MFC, that ensures the higher execution speed and smaller size of the program), is under the GPL Licence. I've tried this one and love it but I suspect it's rather RAM intensive because my computer seems to run a little slowly when a large HTML file is loaded into this editor [executable size: 448 Kb].
: Pronounced "zint", is an alternative to Windows notepad with dozens of useful functions. The focus is on efficiency and performance and thus there are no toolbars, redundant dialogs, or other uneccesary components. Most of the functions are accessible via hotkeys, and extra formatting options are also availible through a convenient floating menu which is also activated by hotkeys [executable size: 479 Kb].
: A small, fast and free text editor with syntax highlighting for HTML and other common languages [executable size: 540 Kb].
: NoteTab is a leading-edge text and HTML editor for Windows. Winner of software industry awards since 1998, this application does it all: it easily handles a stack of huge files; lets you format text to your heart's content; does system-wide searches, and multi-line global replacements. I used NoteTab to create this page (and many other pages). This is the most awesome Windows editor I know of and it's run under Wine by many Linux users. Great for text files, and unbeatable for "Hands On" editing of HTML files [executable size: 1606 Kb]. Favorite
: An extremely versatile hex and code editor with a long list of features (detailed on the website). [executable size: 1,680 Kb].
: This editor offers integrated FTP client, TiDy library, TopStyle Lite (CSS editor), spell checker, ASCII chart with HTML entities, intelligent internal HTML preview using IE and Mozilla, works in various programming environments, has highlighted code syntax, multiple document interface, and much more [executable size: 3,424 Kb].
: This is a very powerful, CareWare
, (free for personal, non-commercial use) Web page editor and workshop. In it's current incarnation, Arachnophilia has been rewritten in Java and is designed to run on any platform that supports Java 2 (virtually any computer or platform you can name). The author, Paul Lutus
, strongly recommends you use this latest version of his software, however, the older Windows-only version, while no longer supported, is still available Here
: A professional source editor for Windows. This program is not only fast in loading time, but also small in size (so small that it can be copied in one floppy disk). While it can serve as a good replacement for Notepad, it also offers many powerful features for programming languages such as HTML, C/C++, Perl and Java. Syntax Highlighting for HTML, C/C++, Perl, Java, Matlab and LaTeX. Also, it can be extended for other programming languages based on custom syntax files. Other features include undo/redo, user tools, macros, spell checker and more.
: The literal English translation of Weberknecht, a species of spider (Daddy-Long-Legs). The Weberknecht has a small body with very long legs and doesn't build a web. It's fast and independent. Developing a small flexible editor is the objective behind Weaverslave. The program is very configurable and can be extended with plugins.
: A full-featured editor designed to help HTML, XHTML and XML authors to edit, format, lookup help, validate, preview and publish web pages. HTML-Kit is a multi-purpose tool that has support for several scripting and programming languages. In addition to the user friendly environment that support multiple file types and standards, HTML-Kit includes internal, external, server-side and live preview modes; FTP Workspace for uploading, downloading and online editing of files; and the ability to use hundreds of optional free add-ins through its open plugins interface. HTML-Kit has a preview mode that permit's you to view your work in progress. This is a nice feature but shouldn't be confused with a genuine wysisyg editor.
: from ToniArts (the same young man who created EasyCleaner) is a nicely featured HTML editor with terrific built in help features and a live preview window..
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WhatYouSeeIsWhatYouGet Web Editors
: A complete Web authoring application similar to Dreamweaver or FrontPage. With Nvu, anyone can create web pages and manage a website with no technical expertise or knowledge of HTML. For Windows or Linux.
: You can create your own web pages without having to learn complex scripting languages. WebPAGE's WYSIWYG interface makes editing pages as easy as using your favorite word processor.
IMS Web Dwarf
: A drag and drop WYSIWYG HTML editor with pixel precision positioning and scaling. Features include a TEXT, HTML and Rich Text editor that also supports conversion between these formats and the ability to import-export these formats from/to other popular text editors including MS word. HTML can be modified by the program. The program also includes a publisher with a gather option to export the finished HTML files to a local disk or to FTP them directly to the internet server.
: With DHE Editor it's possible to draw and generate dynamic WEB pages (HTML, ASP, PHP, CFM, JSP) without the need to write a single line of HTML code.
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Popup blocking, tabbed browsing, built in Google search (and other search tools), privacy, security, hassle-free downloading and more in this stand alone, full featured browser from the folks at Mozilla. Lisa and I have both chosen to make Firefox our default browser. Just lately it seems there's a new dire warning about how Firefox is "even more vulnerable than Internet Explorer to [insert something that sounds evil and dangerous]" and golly, I know that neither Microsoft nor any of their supporters would deliberately malign Firefox, but let's consider the facts: I've used Windows for years and every time I ever had a serious problem it either cost me something to get it fixed or there was simply nothing anybody could do about it. I've used freeware and Open Source products for years and every time I ever had a serious problem it was fixed by the next version release or someone took the time to carefully teach me how to fix it myself, at no cost. Given these facts I trust the developers of Firefox to eliminate it's vulnerabilities as they are identified and I don't believe they'd withhold information about existing vulnerabilities they're aware of. On the other hand, I'm certain that Microsoft has kept mum about vulnerabilities they were fully aware of, besides which, call me a cynic if you must, I just don't trust Microsoft. Case in point; the most current Microsoft browser available for my Win2K Pro system is IE6. The only way I can get Microsoft's most current (and thus, ostensibly, secure) browser is to buy a copy of Windows XP or Vista (to which I can only respond "Yeah, right!"). Favorite Newbie
: Some media files don't seem to work properly when I'm using Opera but I love the way it looks and works. Favorite
: A tabbed multiple-site browser. It incorporates a large collection of powerful features like built-in popup killer, skinned window frame, form filler, site group, quick-search, auto login, hidden sites, built-in commands and scripting, online translation, script error suppression, blacklist/whitelist filtering, and URL Alias. Internet Explorer must be installed on your computer before you can use Slimbrowser (It uses some of IE's components). Favorite
: Formerly MyIE2 (which was formerly MyIE), is also dependant on IE being installed on the system, offers virtually the same features as Slimbrowser, but has been around longer. That may mean it's a more "mature" product, I don't really know, I tried Slimbrowser, loved it, and never got around to trying Maxthon (or any of it's previous incarnations).
Off By One
: This may be the world's smallest and fastest web browser. OB1 won't work with style sheets but it has full HTML 3.2 support, is a completely self-contained, stand-alone 1.1MB application with no dependencies on any other browser or browser component, and is even tabbed. I often use OB1 to view web pages I'm working on because it gives me a good indication of how they'll look in older browsers. For Windows 9x, ME, NT, 2K and XP.
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Email Clients & Tools.
: Mozilla's next generation e-mail client. Thunderbird makes emailing safer, faster and easier than ever before with the industry's best implementations of features such as intelligent spam filters, a built-in spell checker, extension support, and much more.
: A small and fast email client with an intergrated contact database and calendar. It supports all the major internet mail protocols and uses international standards where possible. Scribe doesn't required installing or uninstalled and can be used from a removable drive without reconfiguration. It comes with a highly accurate bayesian spam filter and translations to many different languages. Updates are published regularly to respond to problems and to add features. Because Scribe runs on Windows, Linux and BeOS you can take your mail with you when you change operating system, and don't worry about viruses, Scribe protects you from the usual security holes in other email clients with it's own virus safe HTML control and executable attachment lockout (this Freeware version supports only a single email identity but it does that very nicely).
: A free, standards-based email client suitable for use by single or multiple users on single computers or on local area networks. A proven product, it has served millions of users since it was released in 1990. It is extremely feature-rich and powerful, yet remains small and fast.
: This lightweight mail client fits on a floppy without eliminating important features. Works with multiple servers and message editors. Folder management and the address book are user-friendly.
Kaufman Mail Warrior
: A user-friendly, small (floppy-size) and fast mail client rich with features like a user-friendly interface with a list of features including address book, multiple signatures, multiple accounts, customizable toolbars, drag-n-drop and HTML viewing capabilities. Very easy to use and has a great interface.
Rescue Tools for Outlook Express Users
: This program will extract the messages from an Outlook Express (5.0 - 6.0) mailbox and convert it either to the standard mbox or the Outlook Express eml format. The advantage of saving your mail in mbox format is, that it's a plain text format, which can be read by many mail-clients. Converting to eml format is a convenient way to re-import the messages into Oulook Express. The handling of eml export is a little bit smarter than the one offered by Outlook Express itself. Outlook Express will overwrite messages with same sender and subject, while DbxConv enumerates the messages, so you can be sure none is lost due to conversion. This is free software. You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version..
: OE5 and OE6 have a proprietary binary format that makes archiving individual messages difficult. In addition, a number of people have indicated that their message folders have become corrupted and OE can not read them. Consequently, they have lost all the messages in that folder. DBXtract extracts all mail and news messages from individual dbx files. After extracting the messages one can drag them from a Windows Explorer folder into an Outlook Express mail folder.
: Viewer for standalone files containing Microsoft Outlook Express 4,5 and 6 message database (*.idx/*.mbx/*.dbx) and standalone EML files. It displays list of contained messages and their header. Message can be viewed in detailed view including attachments (save ability) and HTML preview and printing. Messages can be saved to *.eml files.
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Specialized Graphics Tools
: Freeware version of the painting and animation software for PC by Dan Ritchie for people who love to draw, sketch, animate and paint, but without the costly mess, the occasional spills or the funny fumes (sorry).
Ultimate Paint Standard 2.88 LE
: A full-featured 32-bit Windows graphics program for image creation, viewing and manipulation (scroll down this page a little to get to the freeware version).
: This software enables you to add two pictures together, mixing them into a single image. Admittedly, this software has a narrow application, but the images it creates are nice enough to make it a useful addition to your graphics tool box.
: Stands for Embedded Vector Editor. This is a sophisticated and powerful tool even though it's a tiny software (74k) that's size is only 162k in the zip file, and that includes the tutorial. There's a fairly steep learning curve with this one, but if you have an artistic bent, it may be worth it to download it and tackle the curve.
: This software can create 3D-looking elements for websites. Easily paint raised or lowered shapes such as buttons, rings, boxes, or add those effects to existing graphics. Color/texture selection, adjustable extrusion depth, gloss and other effects. [Note: Zpaint isn't an editor, so you'll need a graphics editor (like XnView or Irfanview above) to prepare your images before converting them to 3D with ZPaint.]
: The original Japanese Edition was created and developed by the author, Isao Maruoka. This unique application has been aggressively supported and promoted by its fans. Pixia is a painting tool made exclusively for full color graphics. Maximum graphic size: 10240 x 10240 dots (Note: this depends on RAM capacity.) Number of Layers: As many as available RAM will permit. This is an excellent tool for graphics designers.
: Once upon a time I used PC Magazine's ScreenSeize to create screenshots with the cursor in the picture (to use with my tutorials). When I had to change computers and attempted to download a new copy of ScreenSeize I discovered that PC Magazines's so-called "freeware" is now available only to persons who have a paid subscription to their downloads. I was annoyed because it's not "freeware" if it isn't free, so I went to Google.com to find an alternative software. I found several freeware utilities for taking screenshots (with the cursor in the image) but this one was by far the smallest download (the executable is 382k) and it works beautifully. In fact, it's easier to use than ScreenSeize, so thanks PC Magazine, I'd never have discovered it without your "help". Favorite
: A freeware, high-speed Windows application that will take any number of images, saved as separate GIF files, and create a single animated GIF from those images. I used this very cool little utility to create my own diminuative version of the Flag of the World used on my home page.
: A freeware image tool for exploring Photoshop® plugin filters of type 8BF.
: A nice freeware editor and image organizing tool from Google. Picasa's interface is very unlike most Windows applications and some folks have trouble getting used to it but this is, nevertheless, a very powerful and useful program.
: A small freeware Windows application that creates seamless background tiles.
: Texture Processor is a unique program for creating textures (background tiles). The basic algorithm in the heart of Texture Processor permits practically unlimited quantities of complex textures in a minimal amount of time. Texture Processor is intended for 3D-artists and web-designers. [Editor's Note: Technically this one isn't freeware, it's adware, advertising their other products, but the ads are built in, meaning it doesn't appear to download new ones, and are reasonably unobtrusive.]
: Formerly "HarmWave, Harm'sTile, Harm'sTile99, or sTile99", a program designed to create seamless tiles. It can do other things, but that was (and still is) its primary purpose. There are links to tutorials and examples on this page, along with the download.
: Images can be taken (by screenshot) from his Dazzling Screens, and Kaleidoscope programs for editing into web tiles. [Editor's Note: Don't forget to check out everything else on the site while you're there.] Favorite
: This tiny software creates spiraling graphics images that can be saved as bitmaps (they can also be used to create interesting background tiles) .
: The Persistence of Vision Raytracer is a high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux.
Randy's Icon Editor
: Make your own 32x32 16 color icons. Freeware, easy and fun to use Thee's also more to explore on Randy's Home page
: I first located this program as a possible solution for a friend of mine who lost the CD which came with his digital camera but digital camera support is only one of many, many features this program offers.
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Miscellaneous Cool Tools and Utilities
: System Information for Windows performs computer configuration analysis and diagnostics. It gives detailed information about your computer properties and settings, detailed specs for CPU, motherboard, chipset, BIOS, CPU, PCI/AGP, USB and ISA/PnP devices, memory, monitor, video card, disk drives, CD/DVD devices, SCSI devices, S.M.A.R.T., ports, network cards, printers, operating system, installed programs and hotfixes, processes, services, serial numbers (CD keys), users, open files, system uptime, network, network shares, as well as real-time monitors for CPU, memory, page file usage and network traffic. It displays currently active network connections, passwords hidden behind asterisks, installed codecs, and more.
: From FabSoft. This is a little ruler that appears on your screen and permits you to measure anything on the screen in inches, centimeters, or pixels. You can also open two or more rulers at once. The ruler is just over three inches long when it appears, but can be lengthened by clicking and dragging at the top right hand end of the ruler. It can also be switched from horizontal to vertical. Favorite
: This is a freeware text-to-HTML converter. I searched and scrounged all over the web when I was looking for a software to convert a plain text file to a web page. I found several applications and tried them all. This one was far and away the best of the lot. Favorite
: This is an excellent little magnifying utility that will enlarge any area on your screen. Especially helpful for the vision impaired but also handy for closely examining small areas in images. The author Bjoern Ischo
, has a few other interesting freeware applications on this page of his site: The B-Zone-Software
: Detects dead links and duplicates in your Browser Bookmarks. If a Bookmark has become unavailable you can delete it from your Browser. AM-Deadlink checks Bookmarks from Internet Explorer, Opera and Netscape. The author, Martin Aignesberger, of Aignes Software, has a few other freeware programs on the same page.
: The "DL" stands for "DownLoad" and this is a terrific download manager. While many, so called, "free" download managers are actually spy-ware, or ad-ware DLExpert is neither. On the other hand, it is a very powerful tool with many useful functions. Favorite Newbie
AnalogX DLL Archive
: Everyone has uninstalled programs at one point or another only to be presented with that wonderful dialog asking whether or not we want to delete some "shared" Windows resource. Do we? Does something else use that DLL file it's asking about? That's where AnalogX DLL Archive comes in. It searches through all the files on your system and lets you know if any of them contain references to the DLL's in question. Favorite
: There are three times when it's very important to shut down any non-essential processes which may be running on your computer.
1. Prior to running Scan and/or Defrag.
2. Prior to installing new software.
3. Prior to making a music CD (so you won't have those annoying little skips in the music).
Shutting down running applications using the Ctrl-Alt-Delete keys won't always show you every application that's running, inexperienced users aren't likely to use MSCONFIG to access the Start list and the only other way to be assured that Scan and Defrag will run properly is to go into Safe Mode which presents yet another daunting challenge to the inexperienced user and isn't much help if you're trying to install new software or make a music CD. Traykiller is a little sophisticated and might be difficult for even an experienced computer user to figure out but once it's properly configured, a couple of clicks positively shuts down all non-essential processes which are running on your computer. Even if you have to bring in a geeky friend to help you set it up, this one's worth having on any Windows computer. This link leads to a page that offers a good description of the application and the program itself is available from the link labeled "Download from our server". The author's site tends to come and go so the link that's labeled " Download Page" may or may not be a good one. Favorite Newbie
: Windows fills up your computer's memory (RAM) little by little and finally RAM is filled with unnecessary data. Sooner or later you have to reboot your computer to make it work faster. This little install-it-and-forget-it utility ends that problem. You might have to experiment with the best settings for your particular system, but once it's set, it needs no further attention, and it seems to do a wonderful job. Favorite Newbie
: This little free utility, from BaxBex software, adds a bar to your right-click menu that says "Open With", and you can configure it to give you a list of choices for a given type of file. Very convenient where you have several choices of software for opening a given file type. If you're at all like me, once you've used this wonderful tool, you'll wonder how you ever managed without it. Nor is OpenExpert the only awesome little utility offered by BaxBex; check the list here
: This software is a so-called "shell extension" that adds three new choices to the right-click for browser favorites. One of those new choices is "Copy URL" and it's great for grabbing the actual web address of a link to paste into a document or email. Just right click on the link, click on "Copy URL" then place your cursor where you want it in your document or email, right-click and hit "Paste". The actual web address of the link appears in your document. I've never needed the other two choices and don't really recall what they are but I don't mind getting a couple of choices I don't need in return for one which I use almost every day. [Note: I know this works great with IE, but I don't know about other browsers, and they don't say in their description] There are also other excellent freeware utility programs, like filenote (I use this to make a text file describing everything I download), listed on the page. Favorite
: You may never need a text file listing the contents of a particular folder, but if you ever do, this will be a useful tool. Favorite
: I searched the web over for a utility, like Dir2text, that would make a list of the actual URLs in a folder of Windows Favorites. Dir2Text, and all similar utilities, just returns a list of the file names. Finally, in frustration and virtual desperation, I emailed Jesse Moore, of Mooresoft (now defunct) and asked him if he could help me. He then created this specially modified version of Dir2Text, that does the job. Thanks a million Jesse (wherever you are)! Favorite
The File Splitter
: There are lots of free file splitters out there, used to break large files into segments which will fit on a floppy disk, while providing the means to reassemble the file once you've transferred it to another computer. I don't know anything about all the other file splitting programs, because this one, from Marc Bjorklund is the only one I've ever used, or needed. It works great, and it's free! Favorite
The Font Thing
: This free software, from Sue Fisher, is an extremely useful tool if you're "into" fonts, and want to know more about what fonts you have on your system, or need to get a good look at them in order to easily pick the right font for a particular project (for Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT).
: Karen Kenworthy has another terrific font managing tool, along with lots of other fine freeware
, on her awesome website.
: This is a utility that any guitarist will find useful. It's not an automatic tuner, you'll need a good ear, but you can't beat the price! Favorite
: This is a free and handy utility, from Gregory Braun, that will synchronize your PC's internal clock with one of the several atomic clocks maintained by the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology. Favorite Newbie
: Inches to Centimeters? Miles to Kilometers? Cubic Liters to Cubic Inches? Whatever. This free utility, from Pawprint, does it all, as far as I can see. This one ought to be especially useful for students. Favorite Newbie
: Without going into the Pros and Cons of managing cookies (All the experts seem to have different ideas on this), I'll just tell you that Cookie Muncher is a real good cookie utility and I've been using it for some months now. When you visit thousands of websites each month, like I very often do, you don't really want to clutter up your computer with cookies from every site you visit, especially when only a small percentage of them are worth visiting again. You may have to go back to this site several times over the course of a few days to get this application because the author uses a free host that has bandwidth limitations and his site is often offline for having exceeded the allowable usage. Once you get there you'll have to scroll down and hunt for Cookie Muncher because there's a lot of software listed on the page. Favorite
: I'm not a big user of Instant Messengers. Frankly I don't care for them but they're handy on rare occasions so I used to have the "biggies" installed on my computer (i.e. MSN, ICQ, AIM, and Yahoo Messenger). That's why I was thrilled to discover this little 238k program that replaces all of them at once without a lot of extra features that I never use and without the dubious privilege of viewing their ads. You have to register with all four services in order to have an identity with which to log in but Easy Message permits you access to any single service, all four, or any combination in between from one small application. I freed up a lot of space on my hard drive by uninstalling all those separate messenger clients and installing Easy Message in their place.
: Checking your Yahoo email with your default email client (Pop3 access) is no longer possible unless you pay for the service, and checking your Yahoo email online means you get subjected to all their in-your-face advertising. This excellent utility becomes a sort of proxy between you and Yahoo, permitting you to use your default email client without violating their terms of service, and you get to skip all the ads too. Setting it up requires a little computer know-how (I wouldn't recommend it for a novice) but they do provide complete and accurate instructions. Tip: In Outlook Express, it works best if you set it up as a separate account which only sends or receives when you click the send/receive icon. This permits you to turn YPops on, only when you wish to change identities and check your Yahoo email. If the account is set up to send and receive automatically it's best to have YPops in the Startup folder (and I try to avoid that).
Ultimate CD/DVD Burner
: The website isn't very user friendly, you'll have to scroll down past the ads to get to the software listing, and if you're not familiar with CD burning software this application isn't all that user friendly but for all of that, this an unobtrusive, fully functional piece of well written (and free) software. There's no install executable, just unzip it (the software is already in a folder, within the zip file) into your program files folder and create a shortcut for the desktop and/or start menu and/or quick launch bar (wherever it suits you). The Ultimate CD/DVD Burner is a great tool for Windows 98, ME or 2K and may offer more control over the CD burning process, and (to me) seems more user friendly than XP's built-in capability. Usage Tips: Drag items from the white navigation field and drop them in the light green field to select them for burning. Click on "Continue" if you get an error message about there being no disk in the drive when you turn on the software and check the drop-down drive selector menu if you have more than one CD/DVD drive to make sure the desired drive is selected before attempting to burn anything.
: This freeware app comes in an installation executable so it's quite easily installed. The developer says it will burn CD-R, CD-RW, DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW discs. I used it for a short time and was fairly pleased with it but, on balance, I prefer the Ultimate CD/DVD Burner.
Dirk Paehl's CD/DVD Burning Applications
: If you prefer having specific software applications for performing specific jobs, instead of a single application designed to perform a multitude of tasks, then Dirk's CD/DVD burning (and audio) applications may suit you to a "T". Check 'em out.
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Office Tools and Utilities.
: A multiplatform and multilingual office suite which is compatible with all other major office suites, the product is free to download, use, and distribute. This is a huge download but is also a truly awesome software suite. Favorite
: At some point every computer user needs a word processor but not everyone needs the expense, or the extra "bells and whistles" of commercial products. Abiword is an Open Source word processor that's been under continuous development for several years now. It's got a lot of nice features, works on several different Operating Systems (like Windows or Linux), gets better with each new release, and, because it's Open Source, is free. I've used Abi for several years and it's always had more features than I needed. I won't say that some of the earlier versions didn't cause me some grief but there were never any problems that I couldn't overcome and the more recent versions have all been terrific.
Easy Merchant Accounting
: If you only sell a small selection of fixed-priced products through your website or other online store, then you will probably want to track your sales/profits without having the need for using a full spreadsheet or dedicated accounting package . EasyMAcc (for Windows) was designed to offer merchants a simple way to create a list of their products, set the prices for each, then quickly update the quantities as sales come in while the program takes care of automatically calculating all the total values. Fast and easy. It will help to speed-up the process of keeping a record of all your sales without needing to learn complex financial software or formulas.
Easy Cash Manager
: A simple book-keeping program which you can use to keep records of your income and expenses.
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: This program is a full featured file compression utility that can stand toe-to-toe with any number of shareware applications. The difference is, ZipGenius is freeware. I used this one for several months and was happy with it but it started acting up and became increasingly unstable. I updated it and that didn't fix the problem so I uninstalled it and switched to 7-zip. The download for ZipGenius Standard Edition is close to seven megabytes in size.
: This too is a full featured file compression utility. It's not as slick looking as ZipGenius but it's file size is far smaller (under one megabyte), it seems to be quite a bit more stable, and it's far more popular with technogeeks. After using it for a while, I'm glad I switched. Favorite
: A tiny freeware program which simplifies zip compression to the bare bone. The program doesn't even have an interface. It's only accessible from the right-click context menu where there will be two new commands, "JustZIPit - Create a zip file" and "JustZIP - then email" (when you right-click on an uncompressed file). To open a zip file, just double-click the file in explorer or right-click and select JustUnZIPit from the popup context menu. This program is simple, small, fast, only works with zip files, and has very limited functionality but is very probably all most Windows computer users will ever need.
: A small, fast and efficient Zip utility for compression and decompression of files and directories. FreeZip integrates with Windows Explorer and uses file associations and context menus to zip or unzip files and subdirectories. At 250 kilobytes, FreeZip is a little smaller than JustZIPit and the author, Dariusz Stanislawek, offers a couple of patches that add extra functions to the application. Newbie
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Note: Windows Registry is something that no novice computer user should ever tamper with under any circumstances. Too much can go wrong, and experienced users should proceed with a great deal of caution. Nevertheless, the registry can, and will, get cluttered up with superfluous entries and cleaning out the useless bits will make your computer run smoother and faster. Cleaning the registry can be done manually using the built-in REGEDIT tool, but that's a very complicated and tedious process, especially when there are reliable software tools available to do the job for you. I've found four that have been useful and have, so far, caused no problems on my system. I list them here in order of my personal preference.
: As I write this, RegSeeker is still in beta which means there's a very strong possibility that the program will become shareware once they've completed it's final development. For the moment, it's still free, and is a very good program.
: From ToniArts, EasyCleaner is a small program which searches Windows' registry for entries that are pointing nowhere. EasyCleaner also lets you delete all kinds of unnecessary files like temps, backups, etc. You can search for duplicate files and you can view some interesting info about your disk space usage. You are also able to manage startup programs, invalid shortcuts and add/remove software list. This is a very nice software application that performs nicely and is possibly the safest freeware product, of it's type, available. This comes from Toni's new personal website and there are several other freeware products there too . Favorite
: This is an older product created by Jouni Vuorio, the developer of the popular shareware program jv16. It doesn't have as slick an interface as EasyCleaner or RegSeeker but it does a good job on my Win98SE system and it's still available, as a freeware application from MajorGeeks.
: This is another older product offered by MajorGeeks, developed by Microsoft but no longer available on their website. Because it was developed by Microsoft themselves it's probably the safest registry cleaner available for Win9x systems. Note: If you have MS Office 2000 or MS Office XP on your computer, do not use this application.
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: A tiny and versatile audio player for mp3, wav, ogg, mp2 or CD audio. 1by1 supports a simple playlist or plays multiple files from a directory or disk. I recently burned several CDs of mp3 music files and added a copy of 1by1 to each CD so that the disks come with a "built-in" player which will sequentially play every file on the CD.
: A free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems.
K-Lite Codec Pack
: a collection of codecs and related tools. Codec is short for Co
ompressor. Codecs are needed for encoding and decoding (playing) audio and video. The very user-friendly installation is fully customizable, which means that you can install only those components that you want.
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Games and Toys
I'm not a serious gamer so this is a lean section. I'm sure there are lots of good games out there, but these are the only one's I've bothered to download.
Shisen for Java
: This is our latest addiction. An interesting, challenging, and sometimes frustrating game.
: The nice folks at Family games have several freeware games on this page but this is the only one I've downloaded. This game takes a while to figure out, the computer really whips you at first, but, before long, you get the hang of it, and it can be set up for two players, playing against each other. Don't play with your spouse unless you sleep in different beds already.
: This is a simple and fun little game and it's a very small file which is an extra bonus but I don't care for sounds in games. Simply removing the wav files killed the program so I created these blank sound files
to replace those found in the "Default" folder. With these blank files in place the program runs just fine and doesn't make a sound. *grin* .
123 Free Solitaire
: This isn't really freeware, it's adware, but the games are nice and the graphics are excellent.
: This is a free single player computer version of Yahtzee, from Rekenwonder Software.
Zeek the Geek
: This is a computer game that's described in more detail on the download page.
I'm really addicted to Johannes Wallroth's
"Blocks" game which you can find among the downloads on his site, along with several other games and utilities. Favorite
: Here's a couple of desktop toys you might enjoy. They're described on the download page
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This section is about Linux. The Linux operating system has grown up and gotten respectable without, wonder of wonders, loosing it's original intent to offer the world a freely available alternative operating system.
: This totally free Linux distribution comes with the Gnome
desktop and a full suite of software. For those who prefer the KDE
desktop there's Kubuntu
. For computers with fairly limited resources Xubuntu
comes with the Xfce
desktop environment. For young human beings, there's Edubuntu
. Kubuntu was the Linux distro we first installed on our main Linux box and we liked it a lot but we like PCLinuxOS better.
: The letters stand for "Damn Small Linux" which it most assuredly is. The whole OS fits on a 50 MB business card CD. DSL runs beautifully as a live CD and can also be installed to the hard drive but the process is a little geeky. If you like to read, have fairly good computer skills, and aren't in a hurry you can learn to install it within two or three hours. I was pretty much a total novice when it came to some of the steps required, like partitioning the hard drive, but I was able to install DSL after a couple of days of study and experimenting. Even better, they offer a slightly larger version that has really nice features, Damn Small Linux-Not, or simply DSL-N
: Awesome is the only word that comes close. I started with Debian Stable (Codename:Sarge Release 3.1) and, despite having to learn a great deal before I could get it configured and tweaked, I loved it. Debian Stable is now Etch (4.0) and it's wonderful! I've done dozens of installs now and with every install of Etch I've done so far the video and sound have "just worked". To set up multimedia (the first time) took me a day or so of researching (with google) and I think it would have been very challenging for a total newbie but even given my marginal level of expertise the procedure wasn't difficult. A total Linux newbie with good computer skills might be able to pull it off but it would be a great deal easier if you could get assistance from someone who has at least some Linux experience. Once the multimedia was set up I found I was able to do about everything I'm used to doing in Windows without any serious difficulties. The best thing about Debian is the incredible range of choices it gives you. First off, it'll run just fine on older hardware (which isn't true of many distros) and you can select Gnome or KDE as your default desktop environment (we like KDE), or, if you've got an older system and want a less system intensive desktop environment you can download Xfce and switch to it in a matter of minutes. There are other choices in the repository but I can't say much about them, because I wasn't able to figure out how to use any of them, but they're there if you want to get seriously geeky. I found over two dozen choices in text editors and tried most of them before I decided that gedit (which comes with the default desktop net install) is suitable for my needs. I found a half dozen browsers and tried them all before deciding that I like IceWeasel (the Debian version of Firefox), IceApe (the Debian version of SeaMonkey) and Epiphany. I can't decide whether I prefer IceWeasel or IceApe, I really like them both and Ephiphany has features I'll use occasionally. Konqueror is also included in the default install and while I don't care so much for it as a web browser, it's invaluable as a file explorer and it makes a superlative FTP client. There are also several email clients in the Debian repository and I especially like Kmail which isn't installed by default but is easily installed from the repository. The particular "flavor" of Debian I selected was the i386, Debian 4.0, stable, net install. It took well under an hour to download the ISO file and burn the CD. The CD installs a basic Linux package and an installer that builds the system you've specified in real time over the internet. On our DSL connection it takes just under two hours to complete a Debian desktop installation, and in case you're wondering about the software I mentioned, check out this list
: A full featured live CD which can also be installed to the hard drive but it's a lot more complicated to install that, for example, DSL. If you have far better than average computer skills, go for it, otherwise, just enjoy the live CD and let it go at that.
: The original live CD. Knoppix pretty much started the "stampede" that Linux is enjoying right now.
: This is a full featured live CD but there's an icon on the live CD desktop that's marked "Install to hard drive" which makes it very easy to install if you're ready to make the leap. nbsp; PCLinuxOS is a very mature, and nicely put together distribution which very quickly became our favorite live CD and ultimately the distribution we installed on our main Linux box. Favorite Newbie
: Slightly larger than DSL but smaller than DSL-N, Puppy is a very popular live CD distribution. Installing it to the hard drive no more complicated than installing DSL but finding the instructions on their website is, for some reason, very difficult. I was able to find good instructions elsewhere on the web, with a carefull worded google search, but I've yet to try installing Puppy to a hard drive.
: This live CD requires a lot of RAM, because it has a KDE desktop, but Slax is awesome. I was awfully disappointed when I couldn't find step-by-step instructions for installing Slax to the hard drive, but it's still a great live CD. Note: There are now installation instructions on the Slax site, but I've moved on.
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