Today's batch of awesome open-source (or freeware) applications centers on a single word: wow. No, they don't help you level up in that MMO. We're going to show you a batch of free programs whose features are cool enough to make your jaw hit the floor, a small puddle of drool to escape from your lips and into your keyboard, and your twitter to light up with all messages you'll be sending your friends about these must-have applications.
We're serious. Prepare to be amazed. But if you haven't checked out the twentyotherthemedapplications we've hit up in our last four open-source updates, now's the time to fill in the backstory! Once you're ready for greatness, continue on with our list. And be sure to get your bib on standby.
If you've been reading Maximum PC, you know exactly what Synergy does and why we must have this on our list of "wow!" applications. But we'll break it down for those new to the scene. Synergy links two computers together--two computers to a single mouse and keyboard, that is. Your mouse travels across the screens of the two PCs (or notebooks) as if you were using the displays in a dual-monitor configuration. Synergy also unifies the clipboard between the two devices and, geekier still, synchronizes the screensavers. This application is the program you need to have running if you use two computers in close proximity to each other, period.
If you're like us, the prospect of using the Print Screen button to capture your display's contents, pasting it into an open-source graphics editing program, and cropping the huge screen image to the appropriate size is maddening. Jing solves this tedium by simplifying the art of screen capturing and recording to the extreme. Its user interface is perfect, in that the program highlights different areas of your desktop depending on where you hover you mouse. Pick a window, draw out a cropped box, and presto -- instant screenshot. As we mentioned, you can record videos of your desktop as well. This turns Jing into a one-stop shop for all your computer capturing--activities that would normally require a few separate programs.
Revo Uninstaller is better than most of the uninstallation utilities that come with your favorite programs. Not only does it perform the same basic functions as these, but it goes one important step further. The application scans your drive for any leftover files that typical uninstallation programs overlook (or ignore). It gives you the option to nuke these out of existence (we often spring for this), cementing Revo Uninstallers place as one of our favorite drive clean-up applications. But that's not all. Revo Uninstaller also packs a junk-file scanner and startup manager into its treasure trove of file management, as well as a file shredder-like feature which overwrites your deleted files past the point of recovery. It's a one-stop shop for eliminating clutter, and we'll turn to it every time we need to say a fateful farewell to an application or game.
Size isn't everything, and Launchy is the perfect example of a program that's miniscule in format, but essential in its functionality. With the simple tap of an alt+enter combination on your keyboard, the application pops up. The only thing you have to do is type in what you want to do next. Want to load Photoshop? Start typing. Want to fire up Firefox? Write it out. Feel like heading over to Youtube? Type that into the input box. It's that easy. Launchy excels at what it does: launching stuff. We'd rather type in four letters than have to navigate through the start bar each time we want to run an applicaiton. This, and the program's seemingly limitless customization options, put Launchy high on our list of must-haves for any PC environment. ...even if this idea was seemingly "borrowed" from an Apple OS. Wink.
Xbmc, formerly known as Xbox Media Center, is a powerful application for streaming video content from one PC (or Mac, or Linux box) to another connected device. Its interface is absolutely gorgeous, but even if you don't agree with us, you can always skin it to whatever you want. The application supports a ton of video formats, which is nice. We like the application's comprehensive plug-ins even more--just describing all the tricks that external developers have coded into Xbmc would be an article in itself. If you've been a fan of Tversity and MythTV, you owe it to yourself to check out Xbmc. And if you have no idea what those two programs even do, don't fret. Grab this application and prepare thyself for a whole new world of media interactivity.