Cheap & Easy, Part II
This post is an extension of Just In Time For School – Free Or Cheap Computer Programs, which was published two days ago. In many cases, freeware is equal to or better than costly programs, but potential users may be put off by concerns about quality or the risk of malware being downloaded into their computers. These “best of” lists provide value by recommending programs that competent folks1 have evaluated on their own machines, testing for both effectiveness and scumware parasites.
Gizmo’s Top Picks
Unlike many other “best freeware” lists that are one-time, never-revised affairs, the Gizmo’s Top Picks site is continuously updated.
Each recommendation is accompanied by a link to the application’s download site and a brief explanations similar to that shown blow:
Screen Capture Utility:
Three recommendations here: The first is PrintScreen. It’s a prime example of the KISS principle. It does exactly what I want, in the way I want while avoiding the trap of providing lots of useless and confusing features. It’s the little things that count like making the hot key PrtSc so I don’t have to remember it, and automatically sequentially naming the output files for multiple screen shots.
A second recommendation is Screen Hunter. It’s a commercial product but the “lite” free version is excellent, offering more features than Gadwin at the cost of a little added complexity. It can save in .jpg, .bmp or .gif formats.
Also highly recommended is FastStone’s Screen Capture/ It doesn’t require installation and yet has more features than you could ever want including the ability to capture scrolling screen shots across more than one screen page. It can also save in BMP, JPEG, JPEG2000, PNG, GIF, TIFF and TGA formats. In many ways it’s like the full commercial version of ScreenHunter except that it’s free for personal use. NOTE: Since version 5.4 Screencapture has become commercial shareware. You can however get the last free version from here
All three products work with Win 98 and later versions.
The categories of utilities available – for Windows only – include the following and 30+ others:
- Backup Program
- Anti-Virus Software
- Adware/Spyware/Scumware Remover
- Trojan Scanner/Trojan Remover
- Clipboard Replacement Utility
- Sticky Notes Utility
- Anonymous Surfing Service
- Notepad Replacement
- Screen Capture Utility
45 Best Freeware Design Programs
These programs manage graphics in a variety of ways: editing, resizing, organizing, comparing, changing formats, drawing, adding text, …
If you need to make simple adjustments to an image (for example, repairing a red eye in a photo or creating a thumbnail) or if you want to try your hand manipulating photos for grins or blackmail without investing your dollars in purchasing or your free time in learning an expensive, complex application such as Photoshop or Flash, using these freeware applications is a great alternative.
The example excerpted below is one of my personal favorites, IrfanView:
IrfanView is a fast and compact image viewer/converter. It is trying to be simple for beginners and powerful for professionals. Many supported file formats and features. Features include: multi-language support, Thumbnail option, slideshow, toolbar skins, fast directory browsing, batch conversion/editing, multipage editing, file search, change color depth, scanning, cut/crop, IPTC edit, capturing, lossless JPG operations, effects (sharpen, blur, Adobe Photoshop filters), EXE/SCR creating, many hotkeys, command line options and plugins.
A Little Love For The Mac Users
The Top 10 Mac Freeware Applications
These are applications that almost every Mac user should – well, use: AppleJack, QuickSilver, Adium, … Folks reliant on Macs either know most of these – or should. An example from this Top Ten list follows:
QuickSilver: Man, install QuickSilver and you’ll never go back. It’s a bit hard to explain what it actually does because it does so damn much. It’s most basically used as an application starter, kind of like Spotlight, but it’s potential is huge. You can do almost anything with this baby. Use it for a week and you’ll feel handicapped without it.
The Best Unknown Mac Apps
In contrast to the extensively used applications in the preceding list, these are, as the title notes, relatively unknown. Consequently, these lists are a resource worth scanning by the power user and the novice alike because they may include an elegant tool the reader didn’t know existed. For example,
Caffeine: This app is just a plain good concept. It’s implementation is super simple and that fits it well. The program will put an icon up in the menu-bar. Click the icon to disable your Mac from going to sleep or screen saver. This is useful when you are watching a movie on your Mac but you’re sitting on your couch or bed. This will prevent it from going to screensaver and disturbing you
Backdrop: Perfect for any developer. An easy way to take OS X screenshots. Quickly changes the background of your desktop to white, and can either display desktop icons above or below. Always use it when taking screenshots for Apple.com’s download site.
And Finally The Freebie Fonts
25 Best Free Quality Fonts
Vitaly Friedman has created a site for the display, discussion, and downloading of “the Top 25 Best License-Free Official Fonts, which are likely to be used rather for official, serious presentations (such as business sites) than a colourful teenager s homepage.”
Anyone who gives presentations, has responsibility for a web site, or produces a formal document should have these fonts installed and available.
Top 500 Free Fonts
Have you ever thought something along the lines of “Gee, wouldn’t it be cool if I could use a font for this slide that was script – not one of those fancy schmancy calligraphy styles but something that looks like a guy’s actual handwriting?” If you have, this is the site for you. And, if you haven’t, well, you probably should have.
This site provides examples of the 500 most popular free fonts with links for direct downloads. By skimming this site, one can quickly find fonts with the desired features, whether those are Gothic, punk, formal, script, block lettered, stenciled, …
Link: Top 500 Free Fonts
- OK, “folks'” in this this case may well be synonymous with “computer geeks” [↩]