Another Forty-Three of The Best Free Windows Enhancements That You Should Know About (part 2)

I’ve been meaning to publish a follow up to my first “43 must have Windows Enhancements” posting forever, but it’s taken a long time simply because I wanted to stick with the completely arbitrary “43” number of entries, and of course I wanted to only post apps that are worth writing about (as it turned out, I had many more than I needed).

The common theme here, as with the first one, is that these are all cool free Windows “enhancements”: i.e. apps that tweak or change the way we work with the system environment itself, whether it is working with files, folders, or applications; they are, to quote my first post “apps that brings functionality to the Windows environment that could or should have been built-in options in Windows”.

Do Windows Grow on Trees

A caveat: I wouldn’t recommend that you install many of these on your system at the same time, so as not to overburden your PC, but also because some of these have overlapping functions.

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Here’s the list:

  1. Listary: advanced file filtering in explorer at the press of a button
  2. Nemo Documents:displays your desktop files on a calendar grid
  3. Browser Chooser: lets you choose the browser you want to use, case-by-case
  4. ClassicShell: brings back some cool XP features to Windows 7
  5. QTTabBar: provides tabbed folder browsing in Windows 7 Explorer (see screenshot).
  6. Hot Corners: triggers user-defined events when hovering over screen corners
  7. Quick Cliq: launch favorite files, folders, and tools on-demand
  8. Switcher:terrific Mac Expose clone for Windows 7 and Vista
  9. Super F4:quickly terminate any program
  10. Windows 7 Taskbar Pinner: pin individual files and folders to the Windows 7 taskbar
  11. Pismo File Mount: mounts disk images as well as ZIP archives as virtual drives
  12. WinArchiver Virtual Drive: mounts almost all disk images, as well as ZIP and RAR files as virtual drives
  13. MouseExtender: very cool on-demand launcher
  14. SysTrayMeter: displays free RAM and CPU usage in a SINGLE system tray icon
  15. Dell Dock: advanced, free dock from the makers of ObjectDock
  16. Drop Zone: move files anywhere by dropping them onto ‘drop zones’
  17. Volumouse 2: control volume with the mouse wheel
  18. Jumplist Extender: add your own functions to Windows 7 jumplists
  19. Explorer7Fixes: brings sort-headers back to all file view modes in Windows 7
  20. AltDrag: provides a wealth of Window-manipulation functions at your fingertips
  21. SE-DekstopConstructor: draws user defined areas in the desktop wallpaper
  22. AquaSnap: window-snapping on steroids
  23. Chameleon Window Manager: adds a nice set of functions as buttons on the title bar
  24. Find and Run Robot: the best indexing launcher bar none
  25. VirusTotal Uploader:check any file for malware, on-demand
  26. WizMouse: if you use the mousewheel at all to scroll, get this program, period
  27. Windows Layout Manager: save and re-use the layout of windows on your screen
  28. PureText: system wide paste-to-values
  29. Miso: temporarily disable your screensaver and power-saving options
  30. Sevendex Plugin for Dexpot: displays Dexpot’s virtual desktops on the Windows 7 taskbar (see screenshot)
  31. MadAppLauncher: simple, competent tabbed launcher
  32. RunIt:a nifty launcher that appears when right clicking the edge of your screen
  33. SuperCopier:accelerate, pause, and resume file copying and moving operations
  34. Mo0 WindowMenu Plus: adds useful window manipulation options to the window menu
  35. IconViewer: copy, save, icons from file properties
  36. Piles: display any folder as a stack on the Windows 7 task bar
  37. SendToClipboard: grabs the contents of text files into the clipboard
  38. ViGlance: brings Windows 7 style superbar to XP
  39. DriveGleam: activity indicators in the system tray menu
  40. TrayBar: add activity indicators for common keyboard keys in the system tray menu
  41. Path Copy Copy: copy filenames or paths from the context menu
  42. Diswy: show or hide desktop icons in a single click
  43. FileToFolder: create folders from files via right click

1. Listary: advanced file filtering in explorer at the press of a button

This program changes something that everyone does without even thinking about it; pressing a key in, say, a folder that has many items in it, in order to jump to the first letter of the file or folder being sought (e.g. pressing “d” to jump to “dashboard.xls”.)

Listary Screenshot new2

With Listary, you could go ahead typing a second or third letter, and it will display a little popup list that quickly filters all instances of the word, including entries that may have the string of text in the middle of the file name (see screenshot above). You could then use the arrow keys to hone in on the file you want. Its not really desktop search and is not recursive to subfolders for example; however, it is extremely useful and after having used it for a few months now I am totally hooked.

Listary works not just in folders but also in all sorts of lists in Windows (such as the task manager to name an example).

Go here to download Listary (Windows 7, Vista, XP; 32 bit and 64 bit). Or check out my full-length Listary review.


2. Nemo Documents: displays your desktop files on a calendar grid

Nemo Documents Screenshot Monthly ViewNemo Documents Screenshot Weekly View

Presents your files on a calendar-style grid, so as to enable the user to quickly scan the calendar to locate files or projects that were last in use last week or last month or the month before that, etc. It also is a full-fledged tagging engine for your files.

Nemo Documents is useful for those who work on multiple projects and multiple files and/or would like a way to keep track of the many files that pass through their desktop.

The thing about this one is that it is such a simple yet brilliant concept, and brings an entirely novel way finding and retrieving files that can really be very useful.

Go here to download Nemo Documents (Windows 7, Vista only; 32 bit and 64 bit). Or check out my full-length review of Nemo Documents.


3. Browser Chooser: lets you choose the browser you want to use, case-by-case

This app is for those who use multiple browsers. It installs itself as your PC’s default browser so that, whenever you click a link (from within a program or anywhere in your Windows environment outside of a browser), it will display a popup window that gives a choice as to which browser to use for that particular link, file, or web page.

Browser Chooser Screenshot

This program can work really well if you launch your web pages via a launcher program such that you can, for example, launch certain sites from IE (for me, work-related sites, Sharepoint, and Web based Outlook, all of which work best in IE), launch your web based email from the browser that works best for it, or launch several web-based email accounts in different browsers simultaneously, etc.

Go here to download Browser Chooser. (Windows 7, Vista, XP; 32 bit and 64 bit).


4. ClassicShell: brings back some cool XP features to Windows 7

Does a number of different things in Windows 7 and Vista to revert these operating system back to “classic” Windows XP style behavior.

For example, it can transform the “Start Menu” in Windows 7 and Vista into the typical Windows XP-style, as demonstrated in the screenshot to the left, below.

ClassicShell Start Menu ScreenshotAdding-Folder-UP-arrow-to-Windows-7-and-Vista2

However, my favorite tweak that this program does (and the more important one, in my opinion), is its ability to restore the “go up one folder” button in Windows Vista and Windows 7 (a function which used to be part of Window XP before it was removed). See screenshot above, right for an illustration.

A step by step tutorial on how to install the “folder up” arrow can be found here.

Go here to download ClassicShell (Windows 7, Vista; 32 bit and 64 bit).


5. QTTabBar: provides tabbed folder browsing in Windows 7 Explorer (see screenshot).

QTTabBar Screenshot1

To add a tab, simply drag and drop a folder to the tabbed area. The software also provides the option to browse folders in-place via cascading menus (as displayed in the screenshot above, towards the bottom right).

I mentioned this one in the first “43 must have Windows Enhancements” posting. Back then it was only for Windows XP, but since then it has been re-launched as a project on Sourceforge for Windows 7 and Vista, hence the re-mention. (And yes, it works beautifully on 64 bit Windows 7).

Go here to download QTTabBar (Windows 7, Vista, XP; 32 bit and 64 bit).


6. Hot Corners: triggers user-defined events when hovering over screen corners

Will let you simply hover over any of the four corners of the screen to perform any number of functions, such as opening favorite folders, launching favorite programs. or performing a number of common tasks such as searching Google, showing the desktop, or locking the computer.

Hot-Corners-Screenshot2Hot-Corners-Screenshot config

It works really well, with one caveat: it is very likely that a user might hover over any one of the corners and trigger a function accidentally. To remedy this, Hot Corners allows you to set a delay in seconds before it kicks into action, making it less likely to launch a function unless you demonstrate that you mean to do so by lingering in the corner for the requisite number of seconds.

Go here to download Hot Corners (Windows 7, Vista, XP; 32 bit and 64 bit). Or go here to see my full-length review of Hot Corners.


Quick Cliq screenshot main7. Quick Cliq: launch favorite files, folders, and tools on-demand

Is an all-in-one, hotkey-activated launcher for apps, files, folders and even URLs. It has a smattering of cool extra functions (e.g. a clipboard manager of sorts, a window manager, etc).

Quick Cliq will even let you access favorite folders in Windows open/save dialogs (launch Quick Cliq then CTRL+right click on the folder in the list), and because it can use relative paths for files and folders it can function as a launcher for USB sticks. Any of its functions can be launched via user-defined keyboard shortcuts or mouse gestures.

Adding items to the launcher is easy via the “Quick Cliq” context menu entry in Windows explorer. This program is really super cool, and consumes little memory to boot (around 8 megs).

Go here to download Quick Cliq (Windows 7, Vista, XP; 32 bit and 64 bit). Or go here to see my full-length review of Quick Cliq.


8. Switcher: terrific Mac Expose clone for Windows 7 and Vista

This app for Windows 7 and Vista is one of best Mac expose-style application switcher/Alt+Tab replacement of its kind.

Switcher tile viewSwitcher dock view

It offers different visual styles (see the screenshots above), can be invoked via hotkey or mouse gesture, and is relatively low on resource consumption.

Go here to download Switcher (Windows 7, Vista; 32 bit and 64 bit). Or go here to see my full-length review of Switcher.


SuperF4 Screenshot9. Super F4: quickly terminate any program

A program that terminates other programs without asking nicely. This program, surprisingly, has become an essential download that I always install. Why?, because when working with Windows (and perhaps any modern OS) you will invariably encounter crashed programs that refuse to close promptly, and this program can take care of that for you quickly in a way that ending the process in task manager (CTRL+Alt+delete) will not.

Super F4 is launched via hotkey and employs a visual interface whereby you click on the offending program with Super F4’s skull icon to shut it down (see screenshot)

Go here to download Super F4 (Windows 7, Vista, XP; 32 bit and 64 bit). Or go here to see my full-length review of Super F4.


10. Windows 7 Taskbar Pinner: pin individual files and folders to the Windows 7 taskbar

This program lets you pin anything you want to the Windows 7 taskbar, including individual folders and files. “But wait!”, you might think, “I already can pin items just by dragging and dropping”. Actually, no; while it is true that you can drag program executables and shortcuts to pin them on the taskbar, individual folders and files will in fact be buried within a jumplist on the taskbar, not on the taskbar itself.

Windows 7 Taskbar Items Pinner Screenshot2

Unless, of course, you use Windows 7 Taskbar Pinner, in which case you can pin just about anything straight to the taskbar. You can do this from the program interface or optionally the program can install a Windows context menu entry to quickly right-click on any item (file or folder) to pin it.

Go here to download Windows 7 Taskbar Pinner (Windows 7; 32 bit and 64 bit). Or see my full-length review of Windows 7 Taskbar Pinner.


11. Pismo File Mount: mounts disk images as well as ZIP archives as virtual drives

Can mount ZIP, ISO, CFS and so-called “private folders” as virtual drives or folders that can be accessed through the Windows file system. This means that you can access ISO files without burning them to CD or DVD first; but, more interestingly, it also means you can mount ZIP files to work with them, then simply unmount them. This occurs without having to deal with duplicate files (as occurs when you unzip a file and have both the zipped and unzipped archives to deal with, rather un-elegantly).

Note, however, that ZIP files are mounted as read only, and you cannot add or write to them.

pismo-file-mount-screenshot

One thing to note that mapping a mounted volume to a drive letter is optional. Pismo File Mount installs a Windows Explorer context menu entry for both 32bit and 64bit Windows that enables you to simply right click on a volume to mount it.

Go here to download Pismo File Mount / Audit package (Windows 7, Vista, XP; 32 bit and 64 bit). Or see my full-length review of Pismo File Mount.


WinArchiver Virtual Drive screenshot12. WinArchiver Virtual Drive: mounts almost all disk images, as well as ZIP and RAR files as virtual drives

Like Pismo File Mount above, this utility can mount both the most popular CD/DVD image files (ISO, BIN, CUE, and many, many others), as well as ZIP and RAR archives.

Also like Pismo, ZIP/RAR archives are mounted as read only (although its support for RAR is an advantage over that program); but WinArchiver lacks the right-click context menu support, which is a drawback.

Go here to download WinArchiver Virtual Drive (WinAll; 32 bit and 64 bit)


MouseExtender Screenshot13. MouseExtender: very cool on-demand launcher

A launcher for favorite programs, files, folders, or URLs that is invoked via middle mouse button, a user-defined keyboard hotkey, or a combination of the two.

This program is super stylish and really very practical and user friendly. (And what more could anybody want?). Although it doesn’t look it at first glance, MouseExtender is actually a tabbed launcher, allowing you to create several different pages of shorcuts (see screenshot above).

You can browse to an item to add it, add any program that happens to be running, or (if you have the launcher pinned to desktop) you can drag and drop items directly onto the MouseExtender interface.

Go here to download MouseExtender (Windows 7, Vista, XP; 32 bit and 64 bit). Or you can see my full length review of MouseExtender.


SysTrayMeter Screenshot14. SysTrayMeter: displays free RAM and CPU usage in a SINGLE system tray icon.

Achieves the remarkable feat of displaying both CPU and RAM usage in the system tray menu within a single icon. And should you wonder if this may be overreach, I assure you that it is not; it works beautifully. This program in fact is a favorite that I install on every machine.

CPU usage is displayed in the upper half of the icon, while unused RAM is displayed below, and you can hover over the SysTrayMeter to get more detailed info. Left clicking on the icon exits the program (which is kind of strange, and at first results in many an instance of closing the program without really meaning to do so).

The developer’s program page for this program has disappeared; however you can use the link below to download.

Go here to download SysTrayMeter (Windows 7, Vista, XP; 32 bit and 64 bit). Or see my full-length review of SysTrayMeter. (Note: developer’s program page seems to be down, but the program is available at the link above).


There are more programs — we’re not done yet!

Go to page 2
Go to page 3



 
 
 
Samer Kurdi

Samer Kurdi

Has been reviewing software since 2006 when he started Freewaregenius.com

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  • Raj

    Love qttabbar – cant use windows 7 without it

  • PeterC

    WizMouse would be very useful, but it breaks Mouse Gesture in Opera – that’s bad!

  • VigVee

    That loosk like it might jsut work!

    http://www.privacy-online.us.tc

  • http://wopah.com ak

    If i’m not mistaken, Taekwindow combines the features of Alt Drag and Wizmouse.

  • http://drfrog.wordpress.com doctorfrog

    Looks like DellDock isn’t free for everyone, I was chided for attempting to install it on a non-Dell computer.

    • Samer

      @ doctorfrog: really? That’s too bad. Sorry about that. I actually spent some time looking for a “this software is for Dell only” reference before publishing but couldn’t find one. I edited the text above and struck-though the sentence that claimed this was freeware for all PC makes. Again I apologize.

  • Joe

    Thanks!

  • Keith G.

    Switcher requires Vista or above. It does not run on XP.

  • Kent Dyer

    I use a bunch of the apps you list..

    One thing that would really cool to see on your site is a list of online apps (as we are going that way anyway):
    Docs: Google Docs
    Project Management: HighRise (not free)
    File Converter: Zamzar
    Translator: Google Translator
    File Storage: SkyDrive (through your Hotmail Acct)

    HTH,

    Kent

  • http://donationcoder.com mouser

    Wonderful article — as was the first one!
    I discovered some cool new utilities I didn’t know about before.
    Thanks Samer, keep up the great work!

    • Samer

      @ mouser: glad you like it. Your opinion means a lot ;)
      @ Keith G: indeed Switcher doesn’t run on XP. Fixed.

  • CNK

    Well “Path Copy Copy” is certainly going to make my life a darn lot easier.

    I was reading the discription and thinking that it might be somewhat handy but then I read the part about it copying file directories in 8.3 length and that was all I needed to know. I’m just surprised that I never thought to look up an aplication to do this before, considering the ammount of time I spend with DOS CLI programs.

    Now to push my luck and see if it works on Win 98…

  • Moosie

    Annoyed with programs that phone home by themselves through your browser? Make Browser Chooser your default and it will intercept such activity. That *alone* makes #3 Browser Chooser one of my favorite Can’t-live-without utilities.

    Thanks for the list.

  • Pilgrim

    I echo the thoughts of mouser.

    When I read the original article I found that I already had quite a few of the programs you listed, the same is true of this one.
    However in both articles I found a few more of interest and in this one I found a real gem even though you only mention it as an alternative to your main choice, Taskbaric.
    I made the registry change linked to on his website ages ago but I still had the problem he created the program for.
    Taskbaric running, problem solved, many thanks from a regular reader.

  • Sam

    Holy crap…very nice list! Thanks

  • shite

    I love being rude so here goes again.
    Most of those are a load of ****.
    I navigated to this website and spend 15 minutes reading about the different programs to not find one that is of any use.
    What a load of ****ing bollox.
    Now I’m sure you will disagree with me which is fine but come on, can you count 5 that are any good. NO !!! See I was right.
    ****.

  • Chuck

    Quick Cliq disables Firefox 3.6 FireGestures… That’s unfortunate.

  • wangxy

    I’d like to share 2 small programs that really enhance my productivity in WinXP.
    TenClips: a light weight multi-clipboard program that can cover all PureText’s functions. I switched to TenClips from PureText and never look back. It’s a shame that I haven’t found an equivalent utility in Linux.
    ImDisk: a virtual drive program which can mount image files or even create RAM disk in a breeze. I put a commandline in the startup folder and every time I boot up, my firefox has a RAM disk for its cache.

  • CNK

    On the off chance that someone out there is wondering.
    No, “Path Copy Copy” does not work in Win 98.

    • Samer

      @ CNK: sorry to hear it; try this link; there’s a similar app (pathcopy) that will probably work on Win 98. It does short path names as well.

      @ wangxy: you’re right, TenClips seems excellent. Thanks for the tip on both counts. If you’d like to write an article about how to speed up your browser by placing the cache in a RAM disk, let me know. I’d love to publish it here.

  • ramukayaj

    The information about the product is valuable.

  • Salabim

    What is wrong with this website, when i click to enlarge the thumbnails, i get a screen refresh, and some weird response header like this :

    HTTP/1.1 200 OK
    x-amz-id-2: fmFV//7y5z8ijcTmIjJNVoRPvyLUj5+G7JN0E/RopEt1nVdyf8T0EgTxlkkRu4/4
    x-amz-request-id: 0F598AB5BC993B62
    Date: Mon, 23 May 2011 11:40:15 GMT
    Last-Modified: Sun, 26 Dec 2010 07:25:07 GMT
    ETag: “5fe24c93a832d7bbdbcb46db67d1da73″
    Accept-Ranges: bytes
    Content-Type: image/jpeg
    Content-Length: 38983
    Server: AmazonS3
    Age: 24990
    X-Cache: Hit from cloudfront
    X-Amz-Cf-Id: 3d9a29820f68dd98b509ceff178d005f92f593aafb9437aff44f6838e410188cfe31e8937615105c
    Via: 1.0 82606e023dfdf0fd4d40f841b64e8451.cloudfront.net:11180 (CloudFront), 1.0 747b30f22ea87a38c9d94985de57c09d.cloudfront.net:11180 (CloudFront)
    Connection: close

    • Samer

      @ Salabim: thanks for your comment. I think the issue may now have been fixed. Please let me know if pictures are now clickable for you.

  • CNK

    Thank’s Samer, that program works great on 98!
    (I’m so happy I’m rhyming).

  • http://blog.sciencesquare.com Kamal Prasad

    I did a search from Preme For Windows 7 and did not find it on freewaregenius (yes, you are :)). I would like to throw it in the ring as a must have utility. http://www.premeforwindows7.com/

    • Samer

      @ Kamal: I know Preme, and I did write a review of it (here). However, I eventually decided not to include it here (it didn’t have long term traction with me I’m afraid).

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  • jraahm

    Hi Samer!

    SendTo Clipboard, unfortunately is not a free program.
    It is a bonus and a part of other programs on a CD, that Karen sells for about $30.
    Check this link:
    http://www.karenware.com/cd.asp
    Regards

    jraahm

    • Samer

      @ jraahm: I see. I was wondering why it was nowhere to be found.
      Well, it seems that there’s an opportunity there for a coder to create this sort of thing (a send to entry that can dump the contents of text files AND images to the desktop). Pretty please?

  • Vibin

    That was a massive article but you’ve missed an awesome freeware tool! That’s “Belvedere”. Belvedere automates file management, from copying files from one folder to another to deleting recycle bin files automatically, It can keep your desktop and downloads folder absolutely clutter-free!

    • Samer

      @ Vibin: indeed I missed Belvedere (btw see a similar program called DropIt which I just reviewed). I am now learning that there are a number of other apps that could have been there that I missed; starting a list for “part 3″. ;)

  • http://www.revthatup.com Gautam A D

    jumplist extender is great! :) just luv it!

  • andy

    did find some cool new apps, BUTTTT now i have moved on to ubuntu :)
    and it already has most of these features !!!
    still YAYYYYY nice post

  • madaco

    I was wondering if most of these work with multiple monitors. The corner one sounds useful. Can it be combined with the mac switcher thing? that seems like it could act like the feature for a linux os that i forget which oen it is where top right is switch in that way.

    well, most of them could probably be combined with that.

  • https://www.sugarsync.com/referral?rf=dhkixkci6g3zr&utm_source=txemail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=referral szurkebarany

    Nice list.
    I would only add one more app, a cloud based synchronizing/backup tool: Sugarsync. You get 5 GB online storage for free to backup and sync to any other device. Also keeps the last 5 versions of every modified file. It is available at https://www.sugarsync.com/free/ but if you would like an additional 500 MB (erm, also for me I should tell you), you can also join via clicking on my name.

  • MarkJ

    The links to page 2 and page 3 of this list are broken. They now take you to game reviews, which has nothing at all to do with this article.

    • Samer

      @ MarkJ: Thanks for reporting this. It is now fixed. ;)

      However, I now know that there are other articles suffering from the same problem that I have to hunt for and fix manually :(

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