My pick of the top 10 Windows Applications

Windows comes with a lot of usefull tools like paint, notepad, Windows Media Player which are very handy to tackle simple tasks. The more you use Windows the more you realize that these tools are just not enough to handle more complex operations. Here is a list of the top 10 applications that I first install on my PC to go through my day more efficiently.

1. FoxIt Reader

Foxit Reader is a free fast ligh-weight .pdf reader, if all you need to do is be able to open and read PDF documents than this program is for you. I found that Adobe Acroboat reader is more memory intensive and tends to load longer compared to Foxit. You can also get a paid version of this program that creates/edits .pdf documents.

You can download it from FileHippo.com or visit the Foxit main site.

2. Revo Uninstaller

Revo Uninstaller 1.93 is a free program for Windows that will help you Uninstall unwanted applications in the same way that the Windows Add/Remove programs does. What’s special about this program is that after it removes the applications it will also scan your system for any leftover files and registry keys that might have been left behind by that program. When you use this program for the first time you will be hooked and suprised the amount of junk that programs leave behind when you uninstall them. The site offers a free 1.93 version and a paid PRO 2.5.7 version, download the free version to give it a try.

You can visit the Revo Uninstaller site to download the free version 1.93

3. 7-Zip

7-Zip is a free open source program that takes care of archives. There will be times when you download a file online that Windows does not recognize, this is where 7-zip comes in. It integrates with Windows very nicely, when you right-click on an archive file (.zip .rar, tgz, tar. .7s etc..) you will get the regular windows menu but there will also be a “7-Zip” section with a sub-menu to extract files into the current directory or compress a folder and a few other options. This will allow you to see and extract the contents of this file.

You can download it from FileHippo.com, either in 32-bit or 64-bit flavour.

4. K-Lite Codec Pack

So you got your hands on some video files, maybe a blu-ray rip of some movie or some video your buddy sent you. You double click on the file and you can hear the sound but no video or Windows Media Player reports that this is not a supported format, what do you do?. K-Lite Codec Pack is a collection of free codecs to play the most popular video formats, once you install it you don’t have to do anything special just double click on the file that you want to play and it just plays. The basic installation is all that is required for 95% of users, it supports playback of AVI, MKV, MP4, FLV, OGM, MPEG, MOV, HDMOV, TS, M2TS, and OGG files. The basic pack is only 7.2MB which is very small for what it does. Once you install this pack you will be able to play any video files your buddies throw at you.

You can download it from Filehippo.com or visit the codec site.

5. CCleaner

CCleaner is a free utility that cleans up unwanted files on your computer, browsing history, cookies, temporary files, recycling bin and other corners of your system where unused files start to pile up. If you need to free up some space on your computer but are unsure where to start then this program will help. It’s fairly simple to use, once you start it up on the left side click on the Cleaner vertical Tab and on the right side click on the Run Cleaner button. CCleaner also comes with a registry cleaner, it will scan your Windows registry for any issues and fix them. To clean your registry, on the left side click on Registry and on the bottom right click on Scan for Issues. This program has other features where you can delete individual cookies and other Windows utilities.

You can download it from Filehippo.com or visit the CCleaner website.

6. CutePDF Writer

CutePDF Writer is a free program that allows you to create .pdf documents. The program installs itself as a printer. You can use Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Notepad, Firefox, etc… to create PDF documents, any program that can print can make a pdf document. This may seem a little bit confusing but lets clear this up. You would open up Microsoft Word and start working on a document, once the document is finished and you would like to save it as a .pdf document. Click on File > Print, now select the “CutePDF Writer” as the printer and click on print. Nothing will print at this point but you will receive a pop-up asking you where would you like to save this .pdf document. Congratulations! you just created your first .pdf document with Microsft Word.

You can download it from the CutePDF Website.

7. ImgBurn

ImgBurn is a free Application and one of the features is that it can create or restore an image of a disc. If you are new to disc images here is a small explanation. Let’s say that you have a CD/DVD/Blu-ray disc and you would like to make a backup of the disc just in case it gets scratched and damaged. You can open up this ImgBurn and click on the “Create image file from disc”, this process will backup your entire disc and it will place the contents into a single file usually ending in .iso. Now later down the road if the disc gets damaged and you need to restore this .iso file back onto the disc. Open up the program insert your blank disc and click on “Write image file to disc” and it will create an exact copy of the disc that has been previously backed up.

Another use for this program is if you downloaded a file ending in (.BIN, .CCD, .CDI, .CUE, .DI, .DVD, .GI, .IMG, .ISO, .MDS, .NRG, .PDI) and are not sure what to do with these files, these file types are most likely images of a CD/DVD/Blu-ray and you can use this program to burn those images back onto a blank CD/DVD/Blu-Ray. This program has many more features and you can visit the website to find out more about them. Also take a look at #8 “MagicDisc” below as it allows you to mount an image file without burning it to the disc.

You can download it from FileHippo.com or visit the website .

8. MagicDisc

MagicDisc is a free utility that mounts image files as a virtual cd drive. This program is very usefull if you have created an image of a disc with ImgBurn (.iso file) or some other program but don’t have an empty disc to restore the image to. You can use MagicDisc to mount the image and browse it’s contents without burning it to a disc.

Once the program installs it will be visible in the system tray next to the Windows clock, just right-click on it and choose Virtual CD/DVD-ROM then the drive letter of the virtual CD drive and click on Mount, now point it to the .iso or other image file. To browse the contents of the image just open up Windows Explorer and click on My Computer and the drive letter where you mounted the disc, in the screenshot it will mount the image to the M: drive letter. Once you are done with the image right-click on the MagicDisc icon again and choose Unmount All Drives. MagicDisc can mount the following images, so if you download a file with the below extension you can mount it with MagicDisc. (.ISO .BIN .IMA .IMG .CIF .NRG .IMG .CCD .MDF .MDS .VCD
VaporCD .P01 .MD1 .XA .VC4 .000 .VDI .C2D .BWI .BWT .CDI .TAO .DAO .PDI)

You can download MagicDisc from the official website.

9. TrueCrypt

TrueCrypt is an open-source disk encryption software, it allows you to create an encrypted disk inside of a single file which is a very usefull feature if you are not ready to encrypt your entire disk or partition. There are three ways you can set this up.

Create an encrypted file container (great for inexperienced users)

A user would start TrueCrypt and click on the “Create Volume button”, at this point just go through the wizard and specify how big you would like the file (Volume) to be and a few other questions. Once the wizard is complete you should have one file that has been created, basically we will be placing files inside of this single file and they will be encrypted.

Here is how this works, you open up TrueCrypt and then select a drive letter from the list (any letter will do), now click on “Select file”, point it to the file that you previously created and now click on the “Mount” button. TrueCrypt will ask you for a password, once you enter it your drive will mount as the drive letter you selected in the list. At this point just open up Windows Explorer and click on My Computer and look for the drive letter. Any files or folders you place inside of this drive letter willl be encrypted. Once you are done go back to TrueCrypt and select the drive letter and at the bottom click on Dismount, this will unmount the drive letter and you are done, you have multiple files/folders encrypted inside of this single file.

Encrypt a non-system partition or drive

The program also allows you to encrypt a partition, or a seperate drive. It works very similar the above method but instead of Selecting a File you would choose Select Device. You may be asked to fromat the drive to properly encrypt the disk so make sure you have backed up the data before you continue.

Encrypt a System partition or entire drive

This option will encrypt the entire drive where Windows is installed. Anyone who wants to gain access and use the system read/write files etc, will have to enter a password each time just before Windows goes through it’s boot up process.

You can download it from Filehippo.com or visit the website.

10. Paint.NET

There will be times where you would like to make some changes to an image and wished that the default windows paint had some more features, this program is Windows paint on Steroids. Paint.NET is free image and photo editing software for computers that run Windows. It features an intuitive and innovative user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. An active and growing online community provides friendly help, tutorials, and plugins.

You can download it from Filehippo.com or visit the website.

 
 

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