You've just taken delivery of a new PC, and you're looking for some good apps to run on it. You'll no doubt have a few in mind, but before reaching for your wallet, check out these ten essentials, all of which we think you'll find darn useful - and they won't cost you a penny. RH Numbers OpenOffice 3.2 Many new PCs come with …
Another iTunes slater
Oh and if you're running an old PC I can highly recommend REGISTRY LIFE my MyDefag to speed things up.
Things must be bad on the free protection software front if Microsoft is recommended. What happened to AVG and Antivir? I prefer to buy my AV software - NOD32 all the way.
opera or firefox. you can make room in the top 10 by delisting itunes since what it offers is available elsewhere
Here's some for graphics geeks....
Alternative to Foxit
I prefer Sumatra PDF to Foxit. It's even smaller and lighter, but best of all, doesn't have irritating colourful upsell advertising in the top right corner.
This is a terrific app. It loads in no time at all and has handled every PDF I've ever needed to view and print.
Best of all, it doesn't try and unnecessarily ingratiate itself into my browser.
Okay, so I don't think you need anyone else guffawing at the inclusion of iTunes on your list, or the lack of Firefox/Chrome/Opera, so I'll just snigger under my breath. Good list otherwise. Not sure if I would include CCleaner on a civilians' PC though, registry cleaners can take a slightly corrupted registry and leave it completely FUBAR.
No love for Irfanview?
While no GIMP replacement, Irfanview is a very handy "Swiss Army Pocketknife" of an application primarily for image viewing and simple edits. Also ties into TWAIN devices and the like which can be good for quick'n'dirty scanning jobs and the like.
Small footprint and download size as well. Highly recommended.
Some other interesting suggestions in the list as well - will definitely have to check them out :-)
These should have been in the list. Foorbar, Picasa, AVG, and Miranda IM
As others have stated ... quite simply what the hell is ITunes doing in there remove it now!! Instead what about foobar2000 now that is excellent! it was a bit buggy when it was first released but its come along way since then and now i consider it the best music player/library tool out there.
Picasa for image viewing you can also sync your albums online for people to see.
And AVG, you have to have some sort of AV in the list this is the pick of the freebies to be honest.
I would also replace Pidgin with Miranda IM which is simple, clean and supports all the main social and IM networks such as Facebook, MSN, Skype, and Google Talk.
If that's "the pick of the freebies" the free software business is in serious poo.
Tried it fairly recently. More false positives than a Chinese battery factory and a terribly short memory for things like "no, I don't want to upgrade to the paid version".
+1 for MS Security Essentials* as the best freebie out there in this area at the moment.
*Yes, the world has officially gone mad.
they weren't lieing about 'essential'
"""+1 for MS Security Essentials* as the best freebie out there in this area at the moment.
*Yes, the world has officially gone mad."""
I agree. I don't really do much with the Windows myself, but when I fix someone's computer after it's been thrashed by viruses delivered via IE from who knows what kind of sketchy porn sites, chances are the MS product is better than A) Nothing, B) Whatever ancient crap they have a license for, and C) The other free virus scanners. Then I got ahead and neuter IE via that policy deal they have, so it can just connect to get updates.
And I set them up with something other than iTunes to sync with their iHardwares. Apart from the obvious issues it has, it comes with Bonjour, which tends to broadcast personal information all over the place, rather un-safe for unencrypted wifi hotspots and the like. Unless you want people to know your name and the model(s) of printer(s) you use, in addition to potentially your email address, phone number, etc. I've definitely seen MDNS packets in wireshark that were leaking lists of people's contacts and email subjects some how, so I don't trust it one bit.
Is by far the most useful app available for Windows.
Surely iTunes is a candidate for any list of the worlds worst ever software.
PuTTY is by far and away MY most useful utility for any new Winblows machine, BUT 97%* of computer users have no use for connecting to SSH/Telnet or Serial Port terminals. Chances are, if they need it, they'll find it. WinSCP I would argue is more useful for many, but how many people do file transfers with SCP/SFTP services?
But it should be top of the list for any IT engineer's kit-list
*Statistic made up for artistic purposes.
My Top Apps
Firefox (with NoScript)
VMware Player + Console
**M$ Office 2007 (just because i can)
i dont like OO so i would always choose M$ office.
Want to love Open Office
I want Open Office to work I really do. I love the idea and I hate MS Office. But I try every major release and within two days due to formatting issue between it and my fellow MS Office users I always have to uninstall it.
OO and formatting
Never seem to have formatting problems myself. I even exchange back and forth a rather complicated spreadsheet my accountants uses which has complex formula, macros, lots of formatting including conditional formatting. No problems.
OpenOffice and formatting
I have heard, and investigated, such laments a number of times.
Turns out, that in most if not all cases, the cause of the mess is crappy formatting in the original Word doc.
* Using spaces for indents;
* Repeatedly pressing the enter key (in other words, inserting empty paragraphs) to space paragraphs, or even
* Inserting a series of such empty paragraphs to get a page break, and last but not least
* Using fancy typefaces that may not be installed on the recipient's machine and therefore will be substituted by a default typeface, which of course may have different metrics.
A document formatted in this manner is an accident waiting to happen.
A correctly formatted document will retain proper formatting when exchanged between OO and MSO, and only in rare cases some fiddling might be required. Hint: there might be subtle differences in how MSO and OO handle "widows" and "orphans".
Bottom line: If you want your formatting to stick, not only between OO and MSO but also between different versions of MSO, *learn* *proper* *formatting*.
By qfx software.
Well worthy piece of freeware.
ITUNES??? And Skype????
Please can have some of the drugs you're taking???
'Obvious' free software not mentioned
Quite surprised that none of these are mentioned:
Firefox (or Opera or Google Chrome)
GIMP (or GIMPshop or Paint.NET or Inkscape)
uTorrent (or Vuze if you've got a fast machine)
@Open Office and iTunes definitely off the list #
"One is constantly dealing with formatting differences in documents from work (or elsewhere) loaded into Open Office"
Oh, I'm sorry, Microsoft doesn't do this?
Try dealing with Microsoft's very own Rich Text Format across different versions of Word.
No two versions look alike.
Had this problem with an RTF file created with an (at that time) unknown version of word. Ironically, with the absence of the "correct" version of Word, I had most luck with reproducing the correct formatting with OO and exporting to PDF format.
I mean, if microsoft can't get it right, what hope in hell does anyone else have?
...and for failing to big up Ninite - quite simply the best tool for freetards and IT folk who are constantly at the beck and call of every obscure relative and neighbour....saves me hours.
iTunes buggy, bloaty
One of the few Mac apps I bought was called SoundJam. It was very cool for its time allowing tunes to be ripped from CD with a few clicks. The authors must have been hired by Apple because iTunes was clearly SoundJam with a new UI except now it was free. It started off being a very useful application but over time it's become bloated and buggy. On Windows, the UI is an absolute disaster zone and slow as hell.
I used to think that the UI was a slug because of the OS X like UI, but Songbird copies the iTunes look and feel and is much more responsive. So now I don't know what to think except the app is terrible. If you don't own an iPod / iPhone I really don't see any reason to inflict this crap on your PC. If you need an iTunes like experience, choose SongBird, otherwise even the default Windows Media Player is a better choice these days.
Imgburn - Best freebie for doing stuff with optical discs.
Alex Feinman's ISO recorder - ISO handling plugin for the inbuilt Win disc tools. Sometimes you just need simplicity and its "always there when you need it" approach just makes any machine without it feel unfinished.
Snippy - Since SnagIT went pay, the best I've found. Lightweight, simple to use and the only addon I have autostarting. Vista and Se7en users get the clipping tool, so this one's for XP types.
uTorrent - Best there is for those, er, "Linux distribution" downloads.
avg - no way
AVG was pretty good two years ago but ditched it recently for MS security.. suprisingly good. AVG free seems to have become worse and worse recently. My main problem was that its plugins for FF and IE kept crashing win7pro64.. Had a look at AVG forums and there was plenty of people with similar issues so I promptly ditched it. No issues since.
Erm, you mean
you never do a custom install ? I always spend one or two minutes in order to trim off all the crap in the default install for each and every piece of software that goes into my C:\Program Files.
Someone suggested RegCompact. I have just spent over an hour repairing the damage it did as it completely hosed my Win7 64 system. Win7 repair did not work, System Restore refused to restore anything saying to remove system protection first (I could not) and the ONLY way I got back to where I was before it killed my system was to restore the backup registry HIV's from C:\Windows\System32\Config
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
Windows Live (I have 2 hotmail accounts)
Red Kawa (video convertor for mobile phones)
System Control Windows Gadget
w t f
Seriously, iTunes is terrible. What memory footprint does it leave post install? My wife's netbook now crawls as a result of installing that hateful sheet.
Hard not to lose respect for el reg after suggesting that. Even if the idrone/any other crapple stuff is any good hardware wise it's completely devalued by that utter wasteware.
It still does a better job of keeping the 15,000 items in my 75Gb music library in order than anything else I've ever tried.
(Iit's a damn sight better than Windows Media, I suppose that's not hard!)
"VLC is arguably the most format friendly media player you can download"
VLC just repacks codecs that if you installed any media player could play and bundles them with a so-so player.
If instead you install http://www.cccp-project.net/ you can use pretty much any player you want and play at least as much (and possibly more) than VLC. You can even stick with Windows Media Player if you want.
If you want a minimal, lightweight player I would recommend Media Player Classic http://mpc-hc.sourceforge.net/ (inc. in CCCP)
But that's the nice thing about VLC
I'll be the first to admit it's not the best for every 'playing a video' task (Media player classic, xbmc etc have spangly hardware acceleration for example).
But for "just making the f'in file play", it can't be beaten.
But the bad thing about VLC
I use CCCP + MCP, and the advantage is that *any* program that can use an external CODEC now has access to the same CODECs that MCP uses.
Very useful if you are doing video handling/manipulation.
Someone just doesn't like VLC?
"The only flaw: its frequent updates have to be applied manually"
Really? Updates automatically on my box.
You can turn off the adverts, open up a pdf, right click on the tool bar, and turn of the adverts.
Very Good Article
A very good article and very useful comments too. Actually, for the first time I wanted to print out the comments page so I could run down some of these choices. Unfortunately the comments page has no print version and trying to print from the main page gives you only the first page (as happens with other Reg articles too, but that's why they have a print version). Please Reg, give us a Print link for the comments too so our wise words can be freed from cyberspace into meatspace.
Pretty much agree with every other post
So just thought I'd add the stuff that doesn't seem to have been mentioned.
http://www.tcbmi.com/strokeit/ - Mouse gestures for windows as a whole. The single most 'wtf is that?' app people ask as I become more efficient before their very eyes.
7-zip - It's like every zip program, but better in every way (and gloriously free).
Truecrypt - hide stuff properly.
TorBrowser - Hide and browse.
XBMC - Plug your PC into a TV and whip every piss-poor competing effort at creating a player that well pretty much plays everything.
You forgot the most important one.
Only one app needed on Windows
the one you can download from
I have my own preferred list of must have freeware, which I won't bore anyone with but there are two programs on this list that I will take a look at.
BTW a lot of there you can have automatically installed via ninite.com which is a real time saver. Just don't do all the PCs in your house in the same 24 hours or they will flag you as a "business" user and will have to email them and ask to be unbanned.
Late to the party again but...
... can I just add my voice to the iTunes neigh-sayers - I've lost count of the hours I've lost trying to get this working on people's computers or finding it is the cause of knock-on problems. On several occasions recently I've felt like telling people that I won't even touch their computer if it's got iTunes installed (it will never get anywhere near any of mine) but in the end, like a glutton for punishment, I relent.
So, free apps? Some nice ones listed here, to which I could add tons more but I'll restrict it to some of the wee gems that make up my armoury and that I haven't seen mentioned here.
. Revo Uninstaller
. Eusing Registry Defrag
. SpaceSniffer - Disk space usage analyser
. Universal Extractor
. Browser Chooser - Intercepts app calls to browser
. Autoruns - startup/service etc. organiser
. Jarte - Light portable word processor
. SIW - System info
. Syncback Free - Backups
Foxit installs one of those wonderful ask.com toolbar on your computer. No option during install to NOT install it. Very fail to recomend it
Not forced to install ask.com
Actually, last time I installed Foxit, it gave me the option not to install the toolbar. Just uncheck the box. Unless that changed in the last month or so...
I think you meant to say "Windows PC" because iTunes and Microsoft's pack is not available for Apple Mac PCs and IBM Compatibles running a FreeDesktop.
FastStone (or not)
FastStone is amazing...
... as long as you don't happen to use a different codepage, or -heaven forbid- one of the asian languages, from time to time.
Having to watch out for filenames is sad for an application with such smoothness and speed, make that go away and it might just be the best image viewer out there...
Scribus, Scribus, Scribus
Scribus, Scribus, Scribus
Excellent DTP makes excellent PDFs too - always overlooked
FreePDFXP - for printing anything to pdf
Aptana for webdevs - Netbeans for other devs
Must Haves: Firefox - Thunderbird Foobar 2000 (was a Songbird fan but loads and closes too slow and not happy it's stopped supporting Linux - has some nice features though)
+ a system recovery disc of course :-)
I like iTunes
Yes, it's slow to launch, yes it installs crap that needs removing. Yet I still use it, because I dislike all the other music players. I've tried WinAmp, MediaMonkey and many others, but the interfaces are always too fiddly and annoying in comparison, so I put up with iTunes.
I don't understand the support for VLC, though. I've tried it a few times, due to constant recommendations. It's always seemed ugly, unstable and generally less reliable than MPC to me. Oh, and I hate its icon.
Media Player Classic also allows all menus to be removed, so you just see the video display, which is a killer feature, IMO.
Suggestions from myself
Some have been mentioned, others are hidden gems:
GIMP - image editor/creator - http://www.gimp.org/
Faststone Capture - Best freeware screengrabber - http://www.portablefreeware.com/?id=775
Flexible Renamer - Best file/folder renamer - http://hp.vector.co.jp/authors/VA014830/english/FlexRena/
CCCP Codec - Includes all major codecs, MPC, everything to play any movie - http://www.cccp-project.net/
Unlocker 1.8.9 - Removes any locks on files so you can move/delete them (even networked files!) - http://ccollomb.free.fr/unlocker/
Windows Live Writer - Super easy to update almost any blog - http://windowslivewriter.spaces.live.com/default.aspx?sa=526965265
Filezilla - Simple FTP client and/or server - http://filezilla-project.org/
File Date Changer - only useful if you wish to fake the date a file was made! - http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/filedatech.html
Eulalyzer - Reads any EULA and points out odd paragraphs - http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/eulalyzer.html
These are the ones off the top of my head, when I think of more, I'll reply again.
Basic items that almost every coputer should have:
Firefox, with the follow add-ons
- Coral IETab (IE in firefox for those odd sites)
- DownThemAll (download manager
- Firebug (incredible HTML debugger)
- Adblock plus (blocks ads, obviously)
- NoScript (prevent certain scripts from running etc, better protection for you)
- Download statusbar (self-explanatory)
Sunbelt Kerio Firewall - free firewall, with 'easy' and 'advanced' modes - http://www.sunbeltsoftware.com/home-home-office/sunbelt-personal-firewall/
avast antivirus - free anti virus - http://www.avast.com/eng/download-avast-home.html
Spybot search and destroy - spyware killer, also innoculates IE from dodgy sites - http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html
foobar2000 - music player - http://www.foobar2000.org/
These are the main things I use.
Unfortunately, most of my friends are not computer literate, but they still buy ipods and ask me to put music on them. I installed itunes (what a hog) and i use it to update their ipods. When i'm done, i disable all of it's associated services from running at startup. Next time i need it, i just run a little NETSTART or NETSTOP batch file to run or kill all itunes services...
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