Useful Utilities

In response to my earlier article with some of the handy tools I always carry around on my memory stick, Alan has written in with his own list of tools and its so good I'm posting it in full here.  Thanks Alan!

Alan writes - here are a few programs I find useful, they are all free for personal use although to get full features you sometimes have to upgrade to paid for version, I personally find free adequate. They all run on XP and above.

1. WordWeb - - Ctrl+right click on any word in a Windows application and a screen pops up with definition and synonyms. You can also search for words. Free is you don't take too many flights in a year.

2. NirLauncher is a package of more than 100 portable freeware utilities for Windows, all of them developed for NirSoft Web site during the last few years, does not need to be installed, just unzip and run.

3 Paint.NET - is Open Source image and photo editing software for  Windows, much better than Windows Paint.

4. Metapad - a very simple and fast notepad with more options than the Windows notepad but not as bloated as some examples. Does not need to be installed, just unzip and run.

5. Win32Pad - similar to above, not as many options as Metapad but in some ways better, I use this every day on my home computer and carry Metapad around on my USB flash drive as Win32Pad has to be installed.

6. Vista Start Menu - alternative to standard Windows menu, despite its name it also runs on XP and 7. Freeware and Pro version.

7. Rainlendar - - a basic calendar which sits on the desktop. You can store events and download skins, I use 'Vitrum S Blue' skin which shows this and next month and times for 4 countries. Freeware and Pro version.

8. Lastpass - is an online password manager which is secure, all data is encrypted and they do not store your password on their servers so if the site is hacked unless the hacker has your password they cannot access your data. It integrates in most modern browsers and smart phones. Username and password are automatically filled in when you go to a stored web site. As password are stored online you can use it on any computer and if Lastpass is not installed you can go to web site, login and there are all your passwords. After Sony got hacked a few weeks ago I was not sure about the security of this until I listened to a podcast given by Steve Gibson, a respected security specialist and he raves about it, listen to it at - sorry to go on about this but it is very good and secure.

9. & - as you need a strong master password for Lastpass these will test the strength of any password.

10. PhraseExpress - - stores text for use in any application, e.g. 'Yours sincerely' can be stored and then entered into any application by pressing a user defined keystroke e.g. WinKey+S. There is also a program launcher where the user can define keystroke to run programs e.g. WinKey+W runs Word, WinKey+X runs Excel etc. There are lots of other features, see web site.

11. 7-Zip - - zips and unzips files and has .7z format which is  higher compression ratio than the standard .zip format. I use 7z format when I upload files to online backup sites, you can also password protect.

12. PDF XChange Viewer - allows you to view PDF files and make minor amendments and add notes. You can save completed PDF forms, Adobe Reader does not allows this.

13. Bullzip PDF Printer - - allows you to print to a PDF file, has more options than most and does not print any watermarks or adverts on output.

14. VLC Media Player - - alternative to Windows Media Player, plays more formats and has more options.

15. Avast Anti-Virus - - my personal favourite anti-virus.

16. Balabolka -  is a Text-To-Speech (TTS) program which also allows you to save spoken text to an MP3 file.

17. ImgBurn - is a lightweight CD/DVD/HD DVD/Blu-ray burning application, the best freeware burning software I have found.

18 iPrint - advertised as eco-friendly, it gives a print preview and allows you to print 1, 2 or 4 pages per sheet and also delete pages you don't want to print.

You recommend Acronis True Image, Seagate Disk Wizard - is a cut down version and it's free. I used it a few years ago when I upgrade a to a Seagate hard disk and it worked fine.

Just looked and there is also a version for Western Digital at - I would assume either would work with any hard disk but I have not tested them.


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