Installing freeware/shareware utilities

Now Windows is installed and optimized, it's time to install other preferred commercial software and other freeware/shareware software utilities. On this page I have summarized a few very interesting utilities which you should have on your new computer. Between the lines, I have already mentioned a lot on the other pages, here are some others. Don't forget to install software updates of your commercial software, if they are available on their website!

File Recovery, Erasing and Privacy

Recovery of files and partitions with PC Inspector File Recovery
The free tools PC Inspector File Recovery (download www.pcinspector.de) and Recuva (download: www.recuva.com) enables recovery of deleted files, even if they are removed from your recycle bin (if they are not damaged of course....). Install this software before you deside to delete files by accident :-)

Recovering CD's and DVD's
The free tool IsoBuster (download: www.smart-projects.net/nl/; the paid version has more features) might be able to recover data from a damaged CD's and DVD's. Very useful when a CD/DVD with important data can no longer be accessed!

IE Privacy Keeper
After a while you leave a lot of private information on your computer. Most of them can be erased with the tool IE Privacy Keeper (download: www.browsertools.net/IE-Privacy-Keeper).

Permanent deleting (temporary) files with Active@ Eraser for Windows
I have very good experience with the Active@ Eraser for Windows application (download www.active-eraser.com). With this utility you are able to delete your Internet & Local Activities. It will permanently delete files like temporary files, history files, recycle bin, cookies, auto complete lists and other personal settings. This is done by deleting the files and overwrite them with useless info (so you are not able to recover them anymore, even with data recovery software). With this application you are also able to erase already deleted files (read: the empty space) from your hard disk. The free version will overwrite the surface with zeros. (I prefer to use this tool before creating a system backup, it saves time and gives a smaller and quicker backup).






ZIP utilities

WinZip and WinRar
Many utilities and data you can download from the internet are zipped. Most of them you will be able to unzip within Windows XP. Some of them need extra unzip software like WinZip (download www.winzip.com) or WinRar (download www.rarsoft.com). With these tools you can also create zip files yourself.

7-Zip
Many utilities and data you can download from the internet are zipped. Most of them you will be able to unzip within Windows XP. Some of them need extra unzip software. Most frequently used zip formats (like ZIP, ISO, MSI and RAR) can be unpacked with the free tool 7-Zip (download: www.7-zip.org).

PDF

Adobe Acrobat Reader
With the Adobe Acrobat Reader (download www.adobe.com) you are able to read PDF files. This is a must have for all systems. After you installed Adobe go to Edit, Preferences, tab Internet and disable all the Web Browser Options (this will prevent that Adobe is loaded within the Internet Explorer). On the tab Startup, disable the option Display splash screen in the Application Startup area.

TIP: By holding down the SHIFT key while starting the Adobe Acrobat Reader, you are able to prevent starting up all the Adobe plug-ins (most of them you don't even use at all). The plug-ins which will be loaded are placed in the folder C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 9.0\Reader\plug-ins. By moving specific plug-ins to a safe location, you are able to prevent loading them at every startup (only move the ones you don't need!). Using Help, Info about Adobe plug-ins you can learn more about the currently used plug-ins. If you are looking for a quick PDF-reader, try Foxit Reader (download: www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php).

Printing to PDF files
Visit the page about printing to a PDF file for more information about creating your own PDF files.

PDFTools
The tool PDFTools (XP, download: www.sheelapps.com) kunnen diverse bewerkingen op PDF-bestanden worden uitgevoerd, zoals splitsen/samenvoegen, encryptie/decryptie, watermerken en herindelen. Er kunnen zelfs XML-bestanden worden geconverteerd naar het PDF-formaat. Voor het functioneren van PDFTools moet wel de Java Runtime Environment zijn ge´nstalleerd, bij het opstarten van PDFTools wordt gevraagd of deze eventueel moet worden gedownload en ge´nstalleerd.

Internet tools

Live Messenger
Of course most of us know the Live Messenger (download: http://get.live.com/messenger/overview). With the tool A-patcher (download: www.apatch.org) you are able to tweak the Live Messenger down while the tool Messenger Plus! Live (download: www.msgpluslive.net) enables you add more options to your Live Messenger! By default the Live Messenger will startup with Windows, which can be disabled on the tab General (Tools, Options). On this tab you are also disable the Windows Live Today screen, but only after you are logged on with your Live account. Make sure you disable the add-options during the setup of Live Messenger and Messenger Plus! By the way, A-patcher gives you the opportunity to remove the remaining adds.

Desktop experience

TrayIt!
Every opened program places a shortcut on the task bar which makes it possible to place the program on top of the other programs. When multiple programs are active, the task bar will become badly arranged. To solve this problem, the tool TrayIt! (download: www.teamcti.com/trayit/trayit.htm) selectively minimizes programs to the system tray.

QT Tabbar
Where the Internet Explorer has been enhanced with tabs, tabs would be welcome in Windows Explorer as well. The tool QT TabBar (download: http://qttabbar.wikidot.com) adds those tabs which makes it possible to open multiple location at the same time within the same window. Working with the tabs saves a lot of clicks while switching between the file locations. Besides the tabs, QT TabBar has some more interesting features like saving favourite locations.

System tools

Virtual CloneDrive
Ever downloaded a CD-image, burned on CD-ROM and thrown away because it wasn't what you expected? Load the image in a virtual CD player and you will know whether it's worth burning. Dit kan bijvoorbeeld met Virtual CloneDrive (download: www.slysoft.com/nl/virtual-clonedrive.html). You can create multiple virtual CD/DVD-players, which is very useful if you need more then one CD/DVD's at the same time.

Virual PC
Virtual PC 2007 (download: www.microsoft.com) makes it possible to run multiple operating systems within a virtual computer environment. This property is a perfect solution to test software safely. The 2007-version is most suitable for running Windows Vista in a virtual PC environment.

JPG

Editing JPG files: Paint.NET
The freeware tool Paint.NET (download: www.getpaint.net) offers great opportunities to edit your photo's. Before you install Paint.NET, you first need to go to the Windows update website and update your Windows with the Microsoft .NET Framework 2 or later versions.

JPG files recovery: Zero-Assumption Digital Image Recovery
The tool Zero-Assumption Digital Image Recovery (download: www.z-a-recovery.com) makes it possible to recover deleted images from the memory of your camera (see also the tool PC Inspector Smart Recovery for recovering image files, see chapter File recovery on this page for more information).

Shortcuts

TaskSwitchXP
If you are a frequent user of the ALT-TAB Replacement Tool, I advise to switch to the free tool TaskSwitchXP (download: www.ntwind.com/software/taskswitchxp.html). TaskSwitchXP is a better alternative for the Microsoft tool. See the screendumps on the mentioned website to get an idea.

FlashPaste Lite
With FlashPaste (download:  www.download.com/Flashpaste-Lite/3000-2384_4-10537714.html, the last version is not for free anymore!) it's possible to quickly insert a frequently used text (think of all the e-mails you send: name, address...). Once you have started using FlashPaste you don't want to miss it anymore! Visit the page about shortcuts for more information about FlashPaste.

Office

OpenOffice.org
OpenOffice.org (download: http://nl.openoffice.org) is a free office suite for text editing, spreadsheets, presentations, ...

Notepad++
Notepad++
(download: http://notepad-plus.sourceforge.net) is one of the better text editors with support for many programming languages..

WordWeb
The free tool WordWeb (download: www.wordweb.info) uses the shortcut CTRL-ALT-W to check an English word. You simply retrieve the information you need: definitions, synonyms, related words and pronunciations. This is a very useful tool for writing in English. The tool 1-Click Answers (download: www.answers.com) offers similar features.

Video

CamStudio: recording screen and audio activity
The free tool CamStudio (download: http://camstudio.org) is able to record screen and audio activity and saved in a video file like AVI. This tool is very useful in creating a tutorial, a demonstration video of any software program or by recording a played movie on a website! After the recording is started (with the red button Record), an area of the screen to record has to be selected. After the recording is stopped, CamStudio asks where to store the video file. I can't even think of a better solution to capture a video... Don't forget to change the configuration options first to obtain the best result possible!

Windows XP Video Decoder Checkup Utility
Maybe you have seen this problem: playing a DVD doesn't work using the Windows Media Player. This is the case if you didn't install the DVD codec's, which are part of software like Power DVD. With the tool Windows XP Video Decoder Checkup Utility it's possible to find out if any DVD codec's are installed. You can download this tool from the Microsoft site.

GSpot Codec
If you download a lot of movies with file sharing software, you probably have had the problem of no sound and/or no video. This will happen if you haven't installed the specific codec's for this file. With the tool GSpot Codec (download: www.headbands.com/gspot) you are able to find out which (of the many) codec you need to view and hear your movie. Have a look at MediaInfo (download: http://mediainfo.sourceforge.net/nl) as well to find out which codec has to be used and where to download it. Most used codecs are DivX (download: www.divx.com), Xvid (download: www.xvid.org) and AC3Filter (download: www.ac3filter.net). If needed, a codec pack (with most known codecs) like K-Lite Codec Pack (download: www.free-codecs.com/K_Lite_Codec_Pack_download.htm) or Vista Codec Pack (download: www.free-codecs.com/vista_codec_package_download.htm) can be used.

KEEPING SOFTWARE UP-TO-DATE AUTOMATICALLY

When the list of installed programs becomes longer, it becomes hard to keep them up-to-date. Fortunately there are tools to verify all installed software automatically for updates. Of these tools, UpdateStar (download: www.updatestar.com) is probably the most user friendly tool. The look and feel is comparable to Office 2007. When it is not desired to keep UpdateStar running in the background after each Windows startup, disable it by Start page, Settings, tab Other and deactivate the option Launch at Windows startup.



 
 
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