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Drew's Recommended Windows Software

Copyright © 2006 Andrew B. Davidson. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated: May 2006
This is a list of software that Drew has found to be incredibly useful. Some of it is free, some of it is not free, but it is all worth checking out to see if it will help you.

Windows Utilities

FileEx — replace your File Open/Save dialogs

FileEx is an excellent extension for the File Save and File Open dialog boxes. Makes them resizable, larger by default, plus gives you a list of favorite folders and recent folders. Very handy and one of the first things I install on a new system. This is not freeware though, it is a very reasonable $19.95.

PerigeeCopy — copy files with no annoying prompts

PerigeeCopy is a Windows shell extension that adds extra commands to the Move/Copy/Create Shortcut menu, as well as the right click Windows explorer window. Its purpose is to move, copy, or delete files without constantly popping up dialog boxes asking you to confirm. From their page:
Have you ever carefully selected dozens of files and folders in Windows Explorer and dragged them to a destination folder, only to have Windows bail out on the whole procedure because one of the source files is still in use? Have you ever wished there was a "No to all" option on the overwrite prompt dialog? Or for the ability to automatically overwrite files only if the source file is newer?
For me, the answers to all questions are yes! PerigeeCopy is free and open source (GPL)! It's definitely worth a look if you are annoyed by the above.

SysInternals — view your system status in real time

SysInternals offer a huge amount of free, extremely useful software (especially for geeks). Kudos to those guys for their herculean efforts. The list goes on and on, but as an example check out Process Explorer. From their description, "Find out what files, registry keys and other objects processes have open, which DLLs they have loaded, and more. This uniquely powerful utility will even show you who owns each process."
Other great utilities are Regmon (see Windows registry activity in real time), Autoruns (see what programs are configured to startup automatically when your system boots and you login), and Filemon (see file activity in real time). Sometimes they even include the source code! A fantastic resource.

PureText — remove formatting from the clipboard

PureText is a free system tray application that converts your clipboard text to pure text (i.e. removes all formatting from the clipboad). If you copy and paste from applications that put style information on the clipboard inappropriately, you will love this. One click removes all formatting, letting you paste just the text into your document. Also can be configured to use hot keys.

TreeSize Free — find large files and folders

TreeSize is a free application that helps you find what folders are taking up all the space on your hard drive. It quickly adds up the space each folder takes so you can figure out what you need to delete.

TweakUI — tweak your Windows settings

If you love tweaking your Windows settings, you really have to get TweakUI, part of the XP Power Toys package (or available separately in a Windows 2000 version if you're not on XP). It's from a little company called Microsoft. It gives you TONS more options for configuring the 2000/XP interface, combining dozens of registry hacks into a convenient interface.

PDFCreator — create PDFs from any application

PDFCreator is a free Windows add on that adds a printer called PDFCreator to your system. This allows you to create a PDF file from any application that can print.

Foxit Reader — view PDF documents much faster

Foxit Reader is a free PDF viewer. Why use this instead of Adobe Reader? Because this one actually starts up pretty much instantly, instead of after 20 seconds of loading plugins no one ever uses. Free, but displays a tiny advertisement on the side of the menubar (that's actually smaller than the one on Adobe Reader 7.0). The only feature I miss is the zoom percentage edit box in the toolbar, but you can still do this from a regular menu command.

Audio & MP3 Software

HarddiskOgg — record any sound directly to MP3

HarddiskOgg is a free audio recorder that can record directly to MP3 or Ogg Vorbis formats. You can set preferences so that it starts a new file after X minutes of recording, or after your recording file reaches a certain size. It even has audio level compression built in! There are lots of great features including the ability to "cut" a file while recording and continue recording in a new file without losing any audio in the transition. Despite the name (which implies it works only with Ogg Vorbis audio), you can use any audio codec. A great utility you can use to create the "poor man's audio Tivo".

MP3DirectCut — edit MP3 files losslessly

MP3DirectCut is a free utility that allows you to edit MP3 files without having to decode and reencode them. You can trim parts or extract parts without any quality loss. Very useful when dealing with very long MP3 files.

Video Software

VirtualDub — process video a billion different ways

VirtualDub is a fantastic free video capture/manipulation package. Far too many features to list. For video editing/production, this is not the correct software to use, but for video format changes, deinterlacing, and overall video munging this is definitely a package to look at. Lots of free filters and plugins out there as well. A little bit on the geeky side. Free and open source!

MP4Cam2AVI — edit video from MPEG4 digital cameras (Casio Exilim EX-Z750, S500, and many others)

MP4Cam2AVI is a an absolute must-have if you have a camera that records MPEG4 video and you are having trouble editing it on your computer with Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects, Vegas Video, etc. This free utility repacks MP4, MOV, and AVI files so that they can be edited, with no quality loss because video data is copied directly, not reencoded. Several audio options allow you to strip audio out, leave it as raw PCM, or encode it as MP3. Advanced options include batch conversion, joining files, audio time shifting, and boost audio volume. Amazingly, it doesn't require QuickTime (or any codecs for that matter) to work. I've successfully used it on my Casio S500 movies, and it works perfectly. Free and open source!

Fun & Pretty Software

ElectricSheep.org — use excess CPU cycles to make pretty pictures

ElectricSheep.org is a screen saver that uses your computer's idle time to make pretty pictures. VERY pretty pictures! Free and open source (GPL).

Xaos — bliss out to fractal goodness

Xaos is a free real-time fractal explorer. Even on old computers, this incredible software lets you explore the Mandelbrot set and many other fractals in real time. Absolutely mindblowing! Free and open source (GPL).

Comments? Suggestions?

If you have an comments or suggestions, you can email me at AndrewDavidson {at} AndrewDavidson {dot} com, or use my Feedback Form if you prefer.