Free Internet Software
So, you've got a web browser and an email program... Is that all the Internet software you'll ever need? Maybe, but first take a look at some of the nifty tools that are reviewed in this article. I think you'll find something here to make your online experience even better!
The Best Internet Software
I've scoured the online world to find the best Internet software in several categories, and I tried hard to find Macintosh equivalents for Windows programs when available. Most of the Windows programs are FREE, as are most of the Mac versions, but there were a few cases where I couldn't find a freebie or equivalent for the Mac. Let's have a look...
FireFox (WIN/MAC/LINUX) FREE
Firefox is a full-featured alternative to Internet Explorer that offers more secure browsing, popup blocking, tabbed browsing (view more than one web page in a single window), built-in search and a download manager.
Opera (WIN/MAC/LINUX) FREE
Opera's hallmark is compliance with Internet standards, and features a pop-up blocker, multiple-window navigation, mouse gestures, keyboard shortcuts, an e-mail client with a spam filter, and integrated search for user security and speed. The cross-platform browser includes chat, support for RSS newsfeeds, a password manager and cookie manager.
Roboform (WIN) FREE
RoboForm memorizes and stores your passwords, so you don't have to. It automatically logs you into websites and completes online forms with one click. Passwords can be printed, copied to another computer, backed up, and restored.
My research shows no equivalent to Roboform for Macs. The Safari browser has some built-in form filling, but it will not work with IE, Firefox or other browsers.
Feed Demon (WIN) FREE TRIAL
Stop wasting time checking your favorite web sites for updates. Take advantage of RSS feeds and use FeedDemon instead, and make them come to you. Easy-to-read newspaper format displays the latest news from dozens of sites, and Watches alert you to items of interest so you don't have to look for them.
NetNewsWire (MAC) FREE TRIAL
NetNewsWire is an easy-to-use RSS and Atom newsreader for Mac OS X. Its familiar three-paned interface—similar to Apple Mail—can fetch and display news from thousands of different websites and weblogs, making it quick and easy to keep up with the latest news.
LogMeIn (WIN) FREE
Access your home or work computer via the Internet. LogMeIn offers full access and remote control of your computer via a web browser. You can view the desktop and use the mouse or keyboard to launch programs, open files or play a game. It's just as if you were sitting in front of the remote computer.
Google Desktop Search (WIN)
Google Desktop Search lets you search the web or your own computer. Very handy when you want to find that file or email containing a certain word or phrase. By continuously cataloging your hard drive, Desktop Search can find text inside files created by Outlook, Thunderbird, Firefox, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Instant Messenger, PDFs and more.
Finder (MAC) FREE
If you have a Mac, then you've got search and more built in. Finder gives you lots of options for locating, displaying and organizing all your files and folders. And Dashboard helps you search the Internet for weather info, stocks, airline flights, phone numbers, language translations and more.
FILE TRANSFER (FTP)
WINSCP (WIN) FREE
A highly rated file transfer program useful for updating your web sites. Supports SFTP for secure file transfer and can set permissions on remote files too.
Fetch (MAC) $25 - FREE TRIAL
This is the one everybody recommends for Mac file transfer. Full featured, but alas, not a freebie.
IPNetMonitor (MAC) $40
IPNetMonitor provides a set of 15 commonly used Internet tools which allow Macintosh users to monitor and debug their connections to the Internet.
Secure NetTerm (WIN) $30 - FREE TRIAL
Telnet allows your PC to emulate another type of computer, and is especially useful for connecting to a Unix shell account. I use NetTerm to remotely login to my web host's Unix-based server and manage my websites. Make sure you ALWAYS use a telnet client that supports SSH encryption, or you will be sending your password and session data over the Internet in clear text, which could be intercepted.
Nifty Telnet (MAC) FREE
Nifty Telnet-SSH is said to be the best free SSH (secure shell) client for MacOS 9.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 17 Nov 2005
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Free Internet Software (Posted: 17 Nov 2005)
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Most recent comments on "Free Internet Software"
17 Nov 2005
Bob, I've ridden your bus for many years, and always learned something good, even if it was a smile. I'm grateful you're including Mac as much as possible now - I get the free daily blurg from Version Tracker to scan for Freebies, and they're scarce as hen's teeth! Just wanted you to know you've been appreciated for years up here in Monterey County [after years in The Big Easy. :)
Keep up your great work!
18 Nov 2005
Great article today! I know you're not a big Macintosh fan, so here are some alternative recommendations that most Mac users will know and love.
Macintosh computers have Keychain Access, which performs the same functions (and more) than Roboform. Additionally, the Mac browsers (Safari, Firefox, Camino, Opera, Explorer, OmniWeb, Mozilla) autofill your other information such as address and telephone numbers.
Regarding Atomic Clock Sync for Windows, the Macintosh has had this functionality built into the system for as long as I can remember. It used to check with one of the government's atomic clocks, but I don't recall which one. Regardless, if you're connected to the Internet, your Mac clock is automatically synched.
Instead of IPNetMonintor, most Macintosh folks use the built-in Network Utility. A powerful and free Apple utility, it allows users to get detailed information about any network connected to the computer, plus Netstat, AppleTalk, Ping, Lookup, Traceroute, Whois, Finger, and Port Scan information.
18 Nov 2005
Just a note about Opera. I have been using it since 2000 at least. The versions the last couple years include email, newsreaders, rss, a form filler (only basic info + 3 wildcard spaces), ftp and file transfer, and I know there is telnet though I never used it. Except for the telnet, I use most of the features daily in My everyday surfing and internet use. Oh by the way, it has long ago become My everyday web browser.
Also for search I have found Copernic and it's desktop search component an excellent choice, it is a meta search, querying various online searches depending on what you are looking for.
18 Nov 2005
For free file transfer utilities for the Mac, I'd suggest RBrowser Lite for FTP, and Fugu for SFTP. I've tried both and they seem fine to me. (Though I still use scp from the command line quite a lot.)
I've tried a number of telnet clients for Windows, and my favorite by far is PuTTY, which is free (open source) and supports ssh as well as telnet. On the Mac, of course, you just need to pop open the Terminal application and run ssh or telnet from the command line.
18 Nov 2005
I've used Opera for 7 or 8 years, since its inception. I only use Netscape or IE on websites that Opera has trouble with....which are darn few! You can get skins & customize this browser to your heart's content. It's full featured as described, although I do use a separate email program called PocoMail...which is also great!
20 Nov 2005
Just thought I'd weigh in with one more thought on browsers.
I have become a huge fan of Avant Browser. Yes, it is an IE 'shell', but it adds so many features and conveniences that it has become an indispensible tool. To me, it's "all here" for web browsing.
Keep up the great work!
07 Dec 2005
I am a new pc tech; Love the site, Thank You keep up the awesome work
24 Dec 2005
Great articles, Bob, I enjoy the "Tour" and really appriciate the time it takes to put it together. On telnet clients, have you looked at Bitvise's Tunnelier? A powerful little package that handles sftp and SSH. It is free for individual use.
Thanks again, Bill
23 Mar 2006
Anyone know of a decent form filler for Firefox on Linux? Roboform is Windows Only.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Doesn't Firefox have some form filling built-in? At least on WinXP I get some form fill prompts from Firefox.
20 May 2006
Regarding form fillers for OS X, we just released 1Passwd - 1Passwd is the only password manager and form filler integrated with both Safari and Firefox. Give it a try, I hope you like it.