Happy New Year! Well, almost. Before I can raise my glass and tip my columnist's hat to the one-year birthday of the Freeware Files (and Murphy's Law), it's time we get down to the time-honored tech tradition at this time of year: the awards list.
Unlike my brethren at Maximum PC, who have put together a fine list of general freeware applications that you should check out regardless of the time, I've sat down and gone through the hundreds of apps and utilities that I've covered throughout this year. Some, you might know. Some, you might have forgotten about. And some apps and utilities that I've used, but not covered, still deserve special mention in this general roundup of the year's best freeware.
So put on your party hat and get your downloading finger ready. For each winner, I'll give a little mention of why said app is worth its salt, why it differs from what you'll natively find in Windows, and whether it's a must-download or a maybe-consider. After all, it would be crazy to download 20 apps in any given setting, no? You just want the best. This list, friends, represents the best... and in some places, the unknown!
Say it with me now for one last time in 2009: Click the jump!
Ahh, the new year is nearly upon us. And, naturally, it's that time to start making a list of all the things that you'll likely end up putting off in 2010. The dreaded "New Year's Resolution" list is really just a fancy way of saying, "I'll get to it." Right? But it doesn't have to be. Post-it notes can be ignored and shopping lists can be misplaced, but there's no stopping a concrete digital solution from reminding you of all the things you promised yourself come the drop of the ball January 1.
That said, you don't have to use this week's batch of friendly to-do and reminder tools to just keep track of your resolutions. These various free and open-source software programs do much more than just that. From integrating with existing online tasks lists, to delivering GUI-free methods for organizing tasks, to tracking your online auctions (no less), these apps deliver a virtual smorgasbord of options for keeping your life in check. You'll never look at another Outlook calendar or Google reminder the same way again.
Make reading this post your first big resolution of 2010, and then click the jump to get a head-start on organizing next year's big projects!
In many respects, it’s more difficult to build a great cheap PC than it is to build a more expensive one. In fact, the less money you have to spend, the more vital it is that every dollar delivers measurable value. With that in mind, we sat down with one simple goal: to build the best inexpensive, multipurpose PC that we would want to use ourselves. We didn’t start with any particular budget, but at every turn we shaved as much from the cost as we could—trimming the fancy case, ditching an unnecessary 800W PSU, and scuttling the spendy Core i5 CPU.
The result is an incredibly lean, but still powerful machine featuring a quad-core CPU, a GPU capable of playing anything on a 22-inch panel, and… well, you’ll have to hit the jump to see the rest. Rest assured, though, this is a machine that would be welcome in any of our homes, whether we’re playing games, editing video, touching up photos, ripping movies, or simply surfing the Internet. Oh yeah, we’ll also show you how to assemble the components like a pro, one easy-to-follow step at a time.
And just to keep the whole thing good and honest, we stopped by our local Best Buy and bought the best comparably priced system they had, which we pitted against our ultra-budget machine in a steel-cage match to the death. Want to see who wins? Read on to find out.
A lot has happened in the last 12 months. At the start of the year, iTunes was still peddling DRM, Yahoo and Microsoft were at bitter odds over the latter’s takeover attempts, Nvidia had the fastest consumer videocard, and the ”cloud” was still a burgeoning concept. Oh, how times have changed. Follow along as we relive and reflect upon some of the most memorable moments, products, and people to impact computer users over the last year.
What was your favorite tech product or event or 2009? Let us know in the comments!
A new computer is like a blank state--there's a lot of potential there, but without some work on your part, it's useless. It's not hard to get started, but there are some essential first steps that everyone should follow when breaking in their new PC. In this guide, we've compiled a step-by-step list of essential tips, tricks and advice from many of our other features, to provide you with just the information you need to get off to a great start with any new PC.
So if you got a new rig under the PC under the tree this year, or even if you're just thinking about getting one in the future, read on to find out more!
It's the holiday season, the time for giving and receiving gifts. If one of those gifts turns out to be a netbook--an inexpensive, ultraportable notebook computer--then you've got some work ahead of you. To get the most out of your new netbook, there are a number of tweaks and upgrades you'll want to perform. In this netbook starter guide, we show you 10 essential things you should do after powering up your system for the first time. This checklist will save you from worrisome troubleshooting in the future and ensure that you make the most out of your portable companion computer.
Read on and find out how you can get more out of your littlest computer.
This holiday, you pull the wraps off a brand new laptop and open the lid to your shiny new mobile companion. The first thought you might have is to consider which apps you should install first and what's the fastest way to load the up the hard disk with music and movies. Of course, you inevitably have to think about your old laptop, and what price you can sell it for on Craigslist. But before you dump an old laptop or retire it to the den of forgotten gadgets, here are eight practical ideas on how you can extend its life.
The Windows ecosystem is filled with more programs than we will ever need. But while you know to install essential programs like Firefox and Steam onto every new PC, there are plenty of core utilities you should install before downloading any application software.
We pick out the 33 most useful utilities that enhance the Windows operating system. These aren't apps used for productivity (like word processing or web browsing) or entertainment (like video playback or gaming). Instead, they strengthen the backbone of Windows by optimizing hardware and system software. From single-purpose diagnostic tools to user-interface replacements, these programs provide general support to overhaul the gestalt of the Windows experience.
Think you have every utility to bend Windows to your wishes? You'd be surprised!
This week's edition of the Freeware Files may seem a little unusual, but hear me out. A number of you faithful Freeware Files readers are going to be receiving (or have received) awesome gifts from Santa/your parents/Best Buy this holiday season. Trust me--I checked the list myself. Caught up in the frenzy of new toys, phones, and gaming devices to play with, you've probably neglected your poor ol' PC for the time being.
A number of the goodies you're playing with actually have unique little third-party tricks for interfacing directly with your desktop or laptop. Yes, that's right. You can actually use the non-computer components and devices from your living room or pocket to enhance your normal PC use. And these aren't just little remote desktop hacks that let you see your PC's screen on your phone or something. I'm talking about hacks that blur the line between your PC and your game controllers or phones, unlocking new usefulness for your desktop system with devices that are anything but.
So, if you're the proud owner of one of these products, click the jump and see how you can use them to enhance your PC experience:
Although USB flash drives have become the most popular way to transport project files between systems, you're probably looking for a cheaper way to distribute presentations, music, photo, or video compilations. For these jobs and others, creating a CD or DVD make more sense. However, there's plenty of confusion at home and the office when it comes to what media to choose and how to write your files.
Read on to discover our ultimate guide to CD and DVD media, burn strategies, and freeware CD and DVD burning programs.