Komputer Klinic: 8 free tools to work smarter - East Valley Tribune: Business

Komputer Klinic: 8 free tools to work smarter

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Posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 9:50 pm | Updated: 6:51 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Are you looking for ways to use your computer more efficiently? Free programs can help by adding features that are lacking in Windows. Here are some of my favorites:

MANAGE WEB MAIL

These days, more people are using Web-based e-mail. With it, you can retrieve e-mail anywhere. But visiting a site to check e-mail is time-consuming. You usually must pay to connect to Web mail from programs like Outlook. But ePrompter lets you check your accounts directly from your desktop. ePrompter alerts you to new messages. It supports Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail and more.

RENAME FILES QUICKLY

Poorly named files slow you down and make it difficult to find what you need. But renaming files is time consuming, too. Rename Master renames batches of files quickly and easily. You can remove parts of file names. Or name MP3s and pictures based on data tags stored within the files.

INSTANT MESSAGING ANYWHERE

Instant messaging is a fast, easy way to keep in touch. However, you might not be able to use instant messaging on a shared computer. Meebo connects you to a variety of instant messaging services from the Web. There’s no software to install. And you can use multiple services at once! AIM, Yahoo, Google, MSN and others are compatible.

CREATE PDFS

PDF files are a good way to share documents. Anyone can read them with the free Adobe Reader. Unfortunately, PDF-creation programs can be costly.

The tool doPDF won’t edit PDF files, but it creates PDF files in virtually any Windows program. You need to add doPDF to the list of printers. So, creating a PDF is as simple as printing a document.

GET THE SKINNY ON YOUR PC

Have you ever needed information on your RAM or motherboard? Belarc Advisor tells you what hardware and software is installed on your machine.

It also tells you the last time your computer was scanned for viruses. Or, you can view a list of installed Windows updates. It even recovers lost product keys.

SEARCH AND ORGANIZE YOUR FILES

In search of a better way to organize your photos? Picasa locates photos on your computer, making them easy to browse. And Google Desktop helps you find any file on your computer. These are a couple of highlights from Google Pack. It also contains fun programs like Google Earth. And StarOffice, an alternative to Microsoft Office, was recently added.

CONVERT MUSIC FILES

There are numerous music file formats. Unfortunately, music players aren’t compatible with every format. This can be a problem if you switch music players.

If you find yourself in a jam, you don’t need to re-rip CDs. BonkEnc converts unprotected music to different formats. BonkEnc can also rip music from a CD. Or, use it to lower a file’s bitrate. That way, you can squeeze more music onto your player.

NEVER FORGET A PASSWORD

How many passwords do you have? Ideally, you’d have a different one for each site and service you use. Your accounts would be more secure that way. But who can remember so many passwords?

Let KeePass do the heavy lifting for you. Just put your user names and passwords in KeePass’ encrypted database. You just need to remember one strong master password. Put the program on a thumb drive and take it with you anywhere!

For your convenience, visit www.komando.com/windows for the download links for these programs. All are adware and spyware free.

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