Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Useful (and FREE) Utilities I've Come Across

I thought it would be handy to list some of the utilities I've found to be indispensible over the years. I'll start with the free ones. Note that some of these descriptions were taken from the application's website; I've added commentary where I thought it was needed.


  • Gadwin PrintScreen:
    This utility makes the creation of screenshots for printing, emailing, or saving much easier.
  • FoxIt Reader:
    This is a third-party reader for viewing and printing PDF (Portable Document Format) documents. Why would you want to use this rather than Adobe Reader? Three reasons:
    • It's small. Download size is less than 1MB.
    • It doesn't need any installation. You can start to run it as soon as you've downloaded and unzipped it.
    • It starts up immediately. I've been able to open a pdf, find the information I wanted and close the file faster than it takes Adobe Reader to get past the splash screen.
  • Paint.NET:
    Paint.NET is image and photo manipulation software designed to be used on computers that run Windows 2000, XP, Vista, or Server 2003. It supports layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. It's the closest thing you'll get to a free replacement to Photoshop.
  • Console:
    Console is a Windows console window enhancement. Console features include: multiple tabs, text editor-like text selection, different background types, alpha and color-key transparency, configurable font, different window styles.

Email/Desktop Search:

  • Lookout (Microsoft):
    Lookout is a lightning-fast search utility for your email, files, and desktop integrated with Microsoft Outlook. Built on top of a powerful search engine, Lookout is the only personal search engine that can search all of your email, contacts, calendar, notes, tasks, etc. from directly within Outlook. You can also configure it to index files on your computer as well (it's like Google desktop, but with much less noticible impact when indexing). It has a great search syntax too. Can you tell I'm hooked?


  • PDF Creator:
    This open source project has developed a Windows printer driver that creates pdf files. After you install it, PDFCreator shows up in your list of printers. To generate a pdf, just print any document to the PDFCreator.
Stay tuned for more useful utilities! Feel free to contribute any great free utilities you know of in the comments.

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