There are few tools more useful for the common desktop or laptop system than apps that automate some kind of system or user process that’s otherwise too tedious to do yourself. I mean, isn’t that the entire point of a computer, anyway—to take care of the things in life that might otherwise prove impossible, extremely difficult, or super-time-consuming? Isn’t it time you gave a little back to your poor PC?
Anyway, I’m taking a look at five different applications this week—all freeware or open-source, as always—that automate different elements of your operating system. That’s a pretty generic statement, though, so allow me to be a bit more specific. First up, I’ll show you how you can set up certain processes to run (including system shutdowns and restarts, amongst other activities) whenever a particular element of your PC reaches a set, measurable state (like CPU idle percentage, the exact time, or mouse and keyboard activity).
As well, I’ll throw a Web app your way that assists your browsing habits by automatically creating site mirrors to replace the normal URL of a site that’s been overloaded by Web traffic. You’ll discover a neat little application for mass-deleting specific kinds of files out of a whole range of folders at once, as well as a background utility that can automatically run programs whenever new files are detected in any folders you specify.
But let’s not spoil the whole show up-front. Click the jump—free software awaits!
As promised, this freeware application is an excellent tool for automating various system activities whenever a certain threshold of activity is reached. But what, exactly does this application measure? And what can it do? In a word, much. Newbies can set up a countdown timer for executing a specified task after a given period has elapsed. Simple enough, right? More advanced users will appreciate this app’s ability to analyze more complicated situations like processor or network usage—as well as keyboard and mouse activity—before performing an action like shutting down your system, running an executable, or playing an audio file.
Yes, I chuckled at the name too—I’m a sucker for lol-things. This appropriately named web app gives you a method for ensuring that dying URLs as a result of their popularity / malfunctioning server / whatever still exist when you to need view them the most. Type in an address, select a mirror source (or let the web app automate one up for you), and voila! Up pops a new URL that’s a healthy, friendly mirror for the site in question, which you can now link to at your leisure: You’ll get the normal site when it’s healthy and the mirror if it’s down!
This one’s a super-old one, but bear with me: I’ve tested it on Windows 7 and it works like a charm/any other relevant metaphor. Folder Cleaner is a pretty easy-to-use filtering tool that allows you to nuke certain kinds of files from whatever folders you specify—a useful tool for keeping the contents of various directories as clean as can be. Simply add in whatever folders you want to clean up, and then use Folder Cleaner’s simple exclusion/inclusion options to drill down to whatever you want to keep or delete. And, yes, you get the option to analyze what’s about to be tossed before you actually do it… wouldn’t want to nuke C:\ by accident, eh?
I love this one; I have no shame admitting it. TheFolderSpy is just one of those unique little applications that makes you think, “Self, why did nobody invent this before? Why is this not integrated into the operating system by default? Why am I still talking and not installing this app right now?”
Anyway, as the name alludes, this freeware app monitors folders you specify for any changes, additions, or deletions within said location—either from any file that’s in the folder or from a filtered list of files that you’re free to edit as much as you want. If any such modifications occur, you get a little alert. But that’s not all. You can also set up TheFolderSpy to launch a specific executable if it detects a modification, which is ideal if you’re, say, trying to run a system-cleaning app whenever something pops up in your “temporary” or “downloads” folder, or whatever.
Short, sweet, and simple—Leave Me Alone is a super-fast way for telling Windows that, yes, you appreciate the fact that it’s gone ahead and automatically updated your system. However, you’re busy working/playing Civilization/reading this article and you would prefer that the operating system not remind you ever 5 minutes that your computer needs a restart.
Don’t use Leave Me Alone? No problem. Windows will restart once the built-in timer hits zero and you’ll be out of luck. Use Leave Me Alone? Windows will be unhappy that you’ve given it such a stern, digital talking-to, but it will otherwise leave you alone for your current session. Side note: Make sure to run this app as an administrator!