Utilities software – small stuff, but very powerful!
The utilities software on this page are really small, but size can be deceptive. Each one tackles a specific job, and handles it extremely well. And each one deals with something that we all have to cope with, sooner or later. The thing is, it’s better to know about these programs now, even if you don’t think you need them. One day, you probably will! Oh, and most of the programs are free software, which is a nice bonus. 🙂
If you want to upload an image to a website or a blog, or you just want to save space for another reason (e.g. attaching it to an email), then you need to optimize the image. Optimizing an image just means making the most of it – reducing the file size as much as possible (within certain limits), while maintaining quality.
Image Optimizer is a small program that does exactly that – it compresses an image so that it is, in many case, much smaller than the original (file size that is, not the visual size), and yet it maintains the original appearance.
Actually, ImageOptimizer can also resize the image, if needed (that is the visual size this time!). You just go to the site and browse your hard drive for the image, then click ‘Optimize Now!’. If you plan on using the utility on lots of images, or on a regular basis, you can download the program and use it on your computer, without revisiting the website.
To use the program once you’ve installed it, you just select the photo, or clipart, or whatever, and right-click it. Then you select ‘Optimize Here’ from the context menu, and it does the job for you. It adds the new image to the original folder, and appends the word ‘Optimized’ to the name. Obviously, you can rename it to suit yourself.
ImageOptimizer is free software, and you can optimize in bulk, if you have a lot of photos to work on. A really useful piece of software, among the best free software in this category.
Simple File Joiner
If you have an mp3, for example, or a radio recording of any kind, and it’s in pieces, that would be a bit of a nightmare to deal with. With Simple File Joinerit’s a piece of cake! You just click ‘Add’ and select all the parts, than click ‘Sort’ to have them automatically sorted in order. Once that’s done, just click on’Join’ and it’s done, very quickly.
And why would you have recordings in bits? Well, I record quite a lot from the radio on the computer, and the recordings are often in dozens of small parts (sometimes even hundreds!), and I suppose that happens when there’s an anti-virus scan in progress, or a defrag, or some other CPU-hungry procedure taking place. One thing interrupts another, and you end up with a recording in separate little pieces. The good thing is that once they’re all joined using Simple File Joiner, it’s seamless, just like it was made in one continuous recording.
Simple File Joiner is a tiny program, by the way, and, like most in these pages, completely free software.
Color Cop – free software to define colours precisely
If you’re doing any kind of work with images for the Web, whether it’s for a commercial website or just a personal blog, sooner or later you’ll need the help of Color Cop or some similar program. This clever little software can sample any color onscreen, identify it precisely, and save it.
To use Color Cop, all you have to do is drag the eyedropper to any colour you’re curious about and release. The colour will be identified and represented in HTML Hex code or any of the other codes in general use (you can select which one is to be used with a right-click).
It saves samples of the last seven colours you’ve clicked on, and any of them can be reselected with a single click. Anytime you see a colour you like in an image, you can instantly identify it for future use. And you can even use the Color Cop eyedropper to measure the relative position of points onscreen.
Color Cop is free software, but donations are welcomed.
Most of us know what size the hard drive is in our computer, maybe the brand of the CPU, possibly even how much RAM we’ve got available. After that, it’s largely guesswork, or just complete ignorance. Would you like to have the full specifications of your system to hand in a matter of seconds? Some of it is available, if you know exactly where to look.
Or … you could just fire up Speccy and wait about 30 seconds or so.
Piriform again … when do these guys sleep?? And like all their stuff (I think I’m right in saying), it’s free software. Piriform really do make some of the best free software available.
Cathy – astonishingly fast free software
A tiny disk cataloguing program that works incredibly well, Cathy needs no install and handles almost any job in seconds. Hard to believe it’s free software!
It’s not an exaggeration to say you insert a CD or DVD and hear the disk spinning and a few seconds later it goes quiet. The first few times it happens you might think there’s a problem. Actually, no, it’s just that it’s already finished the job!
Everything’s been scanned and catalogued! Job done! Literally amazing!
Before external hard drives, I used to keep huge amounts of stuff on disks (CDs and DVDs), and I would spend a lot of time tracking down certain items. When I found Cathy I was astonished how good it was. For simplicity and speed it can’t be beaten. And searching for files is simple and very, very fast. But don’t just listen to me, here are a few comments from reviews I’ve just seen on download sites:
“And also for the fact that it works and works incredibly well and incredibly quickly , in fact it’s a staple for my 100,000 article and document library located on my NAS network drive.”
“This little gem makes it easy to catalog several HDD’s connected to your PC,
“I’ve been using this tool for years and I hardly can imagine life without it. Price/value ratio is really beyond excellent.”
Download Cathy from the developer’s website, where you can see more of his work, or from numerous third party download sites.
If you’re ever stuck for the precise word to express exactly what you want to say (and from time to time, we all are), then what you need is a thesaurus, a book comprising a huge list of words and countless words meaning approximately the same thing. What you don’t need is to spend time searching the Web for a site that hosts a thesaurus! The answer to this riddle is simple – download Mobysaurus and have it available 24/7, right there on your computer.
Mobysaurus has over 30,000 headwords (the main words, the ones you might look up to find the word that eludes you), and about 2,500,000 synonyms (yes, two and a half million)! That should give you some idea of the enormous range of Mobysaurus. Oh yeah,Mobysaurus is definitely a big guy … other thesauri tremble when they hear the thunder of its monstrous advance!
You don’t need to ever be stuck for the right word again, and you don’t have to struggle to find the one you’re looking for. Just have Mobysaurus installed and ready to fire up!
Oh yeah, and you don’t need to pay for it – it’s free software! Donations accepted though.
Convert – free software to convert practically anything!
If you need to convert almost anything to almost anything else, Covert is the program that will help you do it.
Unless you’re an engineer or a scientist (in which case I’m sure you’ll have access to specialist software anyway), this will take care of any conversions you’re likely to need. It’s a tiny little program, easy to use, works on almost any system, and it’s completely free software. What more do you want for the grand total of, er … not a single penny?
To give you an idea of what this free software can do, here’ s a quote the download site:
that will convert the most popular units of distance, temperature,
volume, time, speed, mass, power, density, pressure, energy and many others, including the ability to create custom conversions!”
We’ve all seen it – the dreaded error message that tells us that we can’t delete a file or folder because it “is being used by another person or program”. Seems reasonable … except that, more often than not, the file is not being used in any way, by anyone, or anything!
At times like this, a person could get mildly frustrated (code for wanting to do damage to the computer system and anyone who had a hand in designing the Windows operating platform). The file (or folder) is probably caught up in some convoluted, labyrinthine internal processes that has resulted in the error message, and the denial to delete said file (or folder).
At times like this you need Unlocker, a tiny program that sits patiently in the right-click context menu waiting for just such a situation. It can deal with locked files, or files you can’t delete, or files to which access has been denied, and, if necessary, it can ‘kill process’ (mm … that’s a really satisfying thought!).
You won’t use Unlocker very often, but when you need it, you’ll be glad you downloaded it.
And the price? A very attractive … zero!
Eraser – free software to erase files once and for all!
What we put on our computers is our business … or so we naively assume. And if we choose to delete it, we assume it’s gone for good. Which is a mistake, because files that are deleted are not in fact deleted at all, they simply have their reference removed from the file system table. The file itself remains where it is until it happens to be overwritten by some other data.
Mmm … tricky … … if that file was of a personal nature… or contained private financial details … or confidential business information … or something that could prove to be just plain embarrassing.
But what if you could make sure that the file was deleted? That would be a whole lot better (and much more in line with what computer manufacturers would have you believe is happening anyway). Step forward, Eraser!
This advanced security tool for Windows allows you to completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times with carefully selected patterns (note: you can’t ‘take away’ anything from your hard drive, you can only overwrite the data). And with Eraser you can choose just how securely to overwrite the data; just a few passes with random patterns for normal use, or many more passes for very important situations.
You can access Eraser through the right-click context menu anytime your cursor’s focus is on a file or folder, or the recycle bin.
Why lie awake at night wondering if your sensitive information really is gone, when you can make very sure it will never again reappear? Download Eraser, spend a few minutes getting the hang of how it works, and prepare to settle down for a good night’s sleep!
Freeware, but donations are welcomed. Once again, a really useful utility and one of the best free software utilities you could find.
Texter – free software that save endless typing
A little text substitution program that saves you typing in lots of stuff repeatedly. At its most basic, this can save you repeatedly typing in your name, address and phone number in countless forms. If you’re writing something a bit more involved, you can save yourself the trouble of repeatedly typing in long strings of text, such as technical terms, medical terms, long words that you find difficult to spell or tiresome to type, or anything at all that you find yourself repeating.
It’s a simple program (and freeware too), with a simple purpose, and it does exactly what you need it to do. Nice!
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