Essential Addons for Windows PART DEUX
Earlier this week, I published the first part of my essential addons for Windows users, focusing on security, office tools, and multimedia apps. As promised, here are more of my recommendations for productivity, customizing Windows, fixing common problems, and more. Read on for some awesome (and essential) free software...
More Free Addons and Utilities for Windows
As I said in the first installment of Essential Addons for Windows, there are some programs I absolutely must have on any Windows computer. I covered free anti-virus protection, alternatives to Microsoft Office, and more capable replacements for Notepad, Paint and Sound Recorder.
In this followup, the focus will be on tools to improve your everyday productivity, customize Windows, and solve common problems. Depending on the type of user you are, you might not need them all, but I'm sure you'll find at least several that you'll want to add to your own personal 'essentials' list.
EMAIL: Email is something most people use on a daily basis. That's why many people who moved from Windows XP to Windows 7 were stunned and confused by the absence of a desktop email program. The familiar Outlook Express was gone, and Microsoft offered Windows Live Mail as a separate download, but they didn't make it easy to find.
For those who insist on a desktop-based email program, I suggest the free Mozilla Thunderbird software. But desktop email is so 1995. My recommendation is to go with a web-based email service, such as Gmail, Outlook.com (formerly called Hotmail) or Yahoo Mail. (See my related article Why You Should Dump Outlook and Windows Live Mail.)
INTERNET: Yes, Internet Explorer is included with every version of Windows since 1947. Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap for security holes, but the latest versions are solid. But I prefer a browser that's not so tighly integrated with the operating system, and one that offers a large catalog of third-party extensions. That's why I recommend Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox as alternatives to IE. If you're a webmaster, you'll want a program to help you transfer files to and from your website. For that, you'll love Filezilla.
MAINTENANCE: Here are some programs I recommend for keeping your computer squeaky clean and, solving problems: Advanced SystemCare Free, will clean, repair, and optimize. CCleaner is also popular for these cleanup/speedup tasks.
Revo Uninstaller is an excellent tool for getting rid of unwanted programs. Learn about that and other hard drive cleaner uppers in How to Clean Up Your Hard Drive. If you've accidentally deleted a file, Recuva can save your bacon.
PDF HANDLING: If you deal with PDF files, I recommend Foxit Reader instead of Adobe Reader, which is bloated and always seems to be targetted by hackers. If you need to create PDF files, try CutePDF. It installs as a virtual printer, so you can create PDFs with any program that can print.
TAKING INVENTORY: You don't need to understand how computers work to use them, but there are occasions when knowledge of what's under the hood comes in handy. Learn about free programs like Speccy and the Belarc Advisor in What's Going On Inside My PC?
PHONE A FRIEND: If you're called upon to help a friend with a computer problem, or you're the one in need of help, remote screen sharing tools make it so much easier than doing it over the phone or online chat. Check out Free Remote Access and Screen Sharing Tools to learn about TeamViewer, Logmein.com and a few other free remote access tools.
PASSWORDS: You know you shouldn't have the same password for everything. But remembering all those different passwords is tough, and writing them on a post-it note isn't the best idea either. See my article Sync Your Passwords on Windows, Mac and Smartphones to learn about password manager software that makes it easy to have secure passwords and removes the headache of remembering and typing them in.
WINDOWS 8: If you've moved on to Windows 8 and hate the new user interface, or you're hesitating because of what you've heard, here's good news. My article Switching to Windows 8 Made Easier will show you some free tools to tame Windows 8, and make it look feel more like the Windows that you have now.
Do you have your own list of Windows tools that you think everyone should have? Post a comment below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 3 Oct 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Essential Addons for Windows PART DEUX (Posted: 3 Oct 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved