You've tweaked everything else on your PC, so how about your mouse? That's right. The trusty input device that sits to the side of your keyboard needs some love too, but how many of you have thought to install applications that benefit the common features you use your mouse for? Eh? I must admit, I never considered much to tweak about the mouse's functionality. You scroll the cursor to what you want to check out and give it a click. It's a two-step process. Rinse, wash, repeat. What else could you possibly do with a mouse?
Spoiler: a lot.
I've found five amazing freeware and open-source applications that help you turbo-charge your ability to interact with your PC. Give these a whirl, and you'll increase your productivity, reduce your stress, and be just that much cooler than your peers who are stuck in the Stone Age of mouse operations.
What it does: This powerful, freeware application adds mouse gesture functionality to any application you want. What's that? Install the program and hold down your right mouse button. Then use the cursor to draw a predefined shape of your choosing. StrokeIt will recognize the picture or shape and carry out the assigned task. For example, you can use the program to create macros that output certain phrases or words, or even launch functions within an application. StrokeIt is a powerful tool that's only limited by your imagination and/or drawing capability--but don't worry, you don't have to be a Picasso to be productive.
What it does: Have you ever been working so hard in an application, the mouse flying back and forth, that you accidentally tapped a certain "x"-shaped icon in the application's corner? It happens more often than you might think. But for whatever reason--your clumsiness, your desire to keep others from closing certain windows on your PC, or your need to battle your house cat for control of your desktop--NoClose is the solution to the premature death of your programs. Enable the program using a simple hotkey combination and the close icon in the upper-right corner of the current window will gray out. No amount of furious clicking will close this window, not unless you tap the specific hotkey once again.
What it does: Magic Formation takes the concept of a "handy application launcher" to an entirely new level. Draw a circle with your mouse to activate the Magic Formation: a series of icons, arranged in a circle, which correspond to applications you've selected to include. From there, clicking on the specific icon launches the app. It's as easy as that. I like the design of this application because it completely conceals the application launching menu until you need it. Unlike similar programs that attempt to recreate the best of OSX's menu bar, you don't accidentally fire off the Magic Formation if you move your mouse over a particular corner of your screen.
What it does: Tired of people (including children and pets) screwing with your computer when you're not in the room? It doesn't have to be on purpose -- in fact, cats are known for their ability to somehow shut down your PC just by walking across the keyboard and swishing their tails at the mouse. Trust me. Prevent this untimely event from occurring with Kid-Key-Lock, an awesome program that allows you to disable your keys and mouse buttons in a piecemeal fashion. It's nice to be able to block off certain buttons without disabling your entire keyboard or mouse. And even if you don't have any little creatures running around to touch your input devices in all sorts of annoying ways, you could always use this application to really hack off your co-workers...
What it does: This application serves but one purpose: It allows you to use your mouse wheel to scroll windows that aren't the current, in-focus window. Sound silly? It's actually a huge timesaver. Suppose you want to stack your windows side-by-side and look through both of their contents? Because of Wizmouse, this process becomes seamless and fluid. It's a far more natural way of interacting with your desktop than the constant barrage of clicks that you're normally used to.