Windows only: Freeware application Desk Drive monitors your computer for new media—like a new CD, DVD, or thumb drive—then automatically creates a desktop shortcut pointing to your newly mounted media. Disabling autoplay is safer and less annoying than leaving it enabled, but that means you have to open up My Computer every time you plug in a thumb drive or insert a new disc. Desk Drive gives you quick and easy access to that media from your desktop as soon as you plug it in, similar to the default (and arguably better) behaviour found on Macs. The downside: Desk Drive takes up way too much memory (around 17MB in my test), so it may not be worth it unless you've got boatloads of RAM. Desk Drive
Tagged With featured windows download
Windows Vista only: Freeware Vista Media Centre plug-in vmcNetFlix streams Netflix Watch Now videos to Windows Media Centre extenders, including the Xbox 360. You can also manage your queue, browse movies, and do just about anything else you'd want from a Netflix plug-in. Previously mentioned MyNetflix incorporated all of these features, but so far it does not support streaming to extenders. If you've been tempted by the new Netflix streaming box but don't want to throw down cash when you've already got a 360 in your home theatre, vmcNetFlix is a sure winner. It's in beta and still a touch buggy, but it's very promising. Hit the jump to check out a video of vmcNetFlix in action.
Windows only: Put your high-priority programs and files in the most easily-accessed parts of your hard drive with UltimateDefrag, a free Windows utility. The program does all the normal data-ordering of a standard defragmenting app (and probably runs at roughly the same speeds), but lets you choose which data to place on the outer, or faster, portions of your disk. You can also ask UltimateDefrag to analyse your drive and see which files have been most recently accessed, which works best for drives or partitions set aside for data, or automatically try to improve ease of access. UltimateDefrag can also run as your default defrag tool, and run only when a screensaver is active. UltimateDefrag is a free download for Windows systems only. UltimateDefrag Freeware Edition
Windows only: Web site and software HomeCamera turns your desktop webcam into a web-enabled surveillance camera. Just sign up and download their desktop software to get started. In just a few minutes, you can check an image or video from your webcam in real-time from any browser. Even better, you can set up motion-detecting alerts that will email you with a shot or short clip of what triggered the alert. The Windows-only HomeCamera is completely free during their beta and will remain free with limitations once they leave beta.
Windows only: Freeware application FreeSnap maximises your active window one edge at a time through a handful of simple keyboard shortcuts. If you're obsessed with making the most of your screen real estate, don't want to maximise windows to take up the entire screen in all directions, and manually resizing windows to the edge of your screen is too much of a hassle, FreeSnap is a perfect solution. Windows-Left/Right/Up/Down will expand your window to the corresponding side of your monitor, while other shortcuts resize windows to specific dimensions or move windows to pre-defined positions on your screen. FreeSnap is freeware, Windows only. FreeSnap
Windows only: Donationware application Desktop Teleporter automatically moves files and folders from your desktop to user-defined folders to keep your desktop clean and neat. Desktop Teleporter is serious about keeping your desktop clean, moving any file that you don't add to the exclude list. If you want more advanced options and support beyond the desktop, check out Lifehacker's very own Belvedere. If all you want is a clean desktop and don't need more advanced options, Desktop Teleporter looks like a winner. Desktop Teleporter
Windows only: Freeware application Some PDF to Word Converter takes your PDFs and—as the name implies—converts them to Microsoft Word documents. It's always been a cinch to print Word documents as PDFs, but going the other way around is generally more difficult. Many online tools can handle PDF-to-DOC conversions, but most of us don't want to upload our sensitive docs to the web for third-party conversion, so desktop tools are preferable. We've featured one other PDF-to-Word converter in the past, but Some PDF to Word Converter requires no registration, has more options, and seems to perform better. If you'd like different PDF conversions, check the download page for PDF-to-HTML or text converters. Some PDF to Word Converter
Windows only: Need to make sure your instant message chats can't be intercepted or read by third parties? SimpLite, a free suite of encryption packages, allows for fully encrypted chats over AIM, MSN, Google/Jabber, or Yahoo-based clients. Grab the appropriate package for your chat program, create a secure encryption key, and have anyone you're talking to do the same. It's not quite as easy as GAIM/Pidgin's encryption plug-in, but it works on the most popular IM clients and with industry-standard protocols. SimpLite chat clients are free downloads for Windows systems only. Thanks Vince! SimpLite
Windows only: Freeware application HP Smart Web Printing combines clips from any number of web pages into one page, so you don't have to print five different pages of filler to get one page worth of information. The tool—which despite its HP origins works with any printer—integrates directly with both Firefox and Internet Explorer, so clipping text, images, or any part of a page is as simple as clicking a button. Before you print, you can edit, resize, and adjust all of your clippings to your liking. The result is more useful printouts and less wasted paper. If this freeware, Windows only download tickles the environmentalist in you, check out other easy ways to go green and save money with your computer.
Windows only: DupliFinder, a free Windows utility, compares digital photos by their name, size, and actual image information to find duplicates you can delete without worrying about. Brought to you by the coder of Vista Battery Saver, DupliFinder has a slightly rough interface at this point—you have to drag and drop in a folder to search if it's not "My Pictures," for instance—but its comparison engine works just fine, giving percentage ratings and quick delete buttons for duplicates. Looks like a great tool for finally tackling that picture clean-up project you keep putting off. DupliFinder is a free download for Windows systems only.
Windows only: Freeware application iContact downloads your Gmail address book to your desktop for quick access to all your contacts' information. Searching contacts in iContact is very fast, but the main benefit of the application is its built-in support for other tools. For example, you can make a phone call with Skype or map a contact's address with Google Maps with just a couple of clicks in iContact. The application is very young, and it was a little buggy in my tests—for example, contact names didn't show up in the sidebar until I started searching. Aside from that, it's a promising app for integrating your extensive Gmail contact list with your desktop. If you give it a try, let's hear how it performed for you in the comments. iContact is freeware, Windows only. Thanks Khash! iContact
Windows only: Visual Controls is a super-tiny, stand-alone application that does just one thing—modify which applications can show icons inside your Control Panel—and does it very well. The changes you make are instant and permanent, so even if you only download Visual Controls just to get rid of the ubiquitous QuickTime button and then delete it, it will have been worth your time. The program, however, can also make a nice addition to your thumb drive system-fixing tools. Visual Controls is a free download for Windows systems only, and requires the .NET 2.0 or higher framework. Visual Controls
Windows only: Freeware application MP3-Check examines your music library to weed out files that are missing important metadata or those that don't match certain criteria. iTunes built-in duplicate finder is pretty limited, but MP3-Check similarly weeds out MP3s using criteria like bit rate, sample rate, and gain volume. As an added bonus, MP3-Check handles huge directories of MP3s with aplomb, and when you find files that don't meet your standards, you can launch your favourite metadata editor and set things straight. MP3-Check is freeware, Windows only, requires .NET 2.0. MP3-Check
Windows only: If you're anything like me, you've probably got an itchy trigger finger when your cursor is near the window-closing "X" button (or the Alt+F4 combination if you're more the keyboard type), and spend a good chunk of change heading back to deep-nested folders later on. Free Explorer add-on Folder View adds a toolbar to your Windows Explorer windows that includes a really helpful "History" function, which lets you quickly head back to those folders buried deep in your system, stashed on a network, or are just a pain to type into the address bar again. You can also add commonly-visited locations to Folder View's bookmark-like toolbar, but the History function alone is what really sells this little app. Folder View is a free download for Windows systems only. Folder View
Windows only: Freeware application Elevator disables the User Account Control prompt for specific applications through your right-click menu, getting rid of the UAC annoyance for apps that require administrator privileges every time they run. We've shown you how to disable UAC entirely and how to disable UAC for specific apps before, but it required a little more sleeve-rolling than this simple right-click solution. Elevator is freeware, Windows Vista only; installation requires a little finesse, so be sure to read the instructions. Ignore UAC for specific programs
Windows only: Freeware application Lebendig adds snazzy, lightweight animations to your windows—like spinning a window as you launch it or fading out when you close it. Apps like Lebendig aren't uncommon, but Lebendig does set itself apart by using very little memory while still adding a little snap to your daily computing. It's not the eye candy of Aero, but it's a good way to avoid some of that UI jealousy that you're bound to have using XP every day. Then again, if you're really getting jealous of some of Vista's better features, check out how to get Vista's best features in XP. Lebendig
Windows only: Adam already walked you through how to download music from your friends' iTunes libraries over the internet using Mojo on the Mac, and now Windows users can get in on the fun. Install the Mojo 2.0 beta for Windows, set up an account, and swap Mojo usernames with your friends to populate your buddy list. From there you can browse their playlists, search their libraries, play and download any songs to your computer. The Mojo Windows beta is a free download; upgrade to Mojo Pro to get an unlimited buddy list. Thanks Matt and Jack! Mojo 2.0 Beta for Windows
Windows only: Need to pull an email address from a file you can't open, or a message folder from an ancient mail client? Point Email Address Extract, a free Windows utility, at the folder or specific files, and let it do its text-parsing thing. The old-school-looking app comes with some basic file filters enabled (like HTML pages and .dat files), but you can direct it to pull any type of file you'd like from any folder. The app dumps any found addresses into an ordered text file, which makes exporting them elsewhere a bit easier. It's the kind of tool you're glad to find, but hope you don't have to use too often. Email Address Extract is a free download for Windows systems only. Email Address Extract
Windows only: Free computer-tracking application LocatePC is a lightweight application that can save you a hefty amount of money if your laptop, or even desktop, falls into the wrong hands. Running as a nondescript background app, LocatePC can quietly email you at regular intervals or, more helpfully, whenever your IP address changes. That could be a pain for those behind cable connections and the like, but with a simple email filter or a little router-tweaking, you'll only be bothered by those emails when you really need them. LocatePC is a free download for Windows systems only. For more laptop lock-down tips, check out Adam's quick guide to thief-proofing your laptop.
When you absolutely have to commit your presentation notes, interview points, or other words to memory, a Tachistoscope, which rotates images at varying speeds, can be the next best thing to a neural FireWire port. Free Windows utility Swiftscope puts that subliminal power on your desktop. Create a simple text file with the lines you need to know, open it in Swiftscope, and set the background and font colours, the timing of the slide changes, and set the app to full-screen mode for total text immersion. Swiftscope is a free download for Windows XP and Vista, and requires Microsoft .NET 2.0 to run. Swiftword