Zorro

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Zorro is a small freeware program that can blank out your entire screen except for a user defined rectangular area.

It is useful whenever you would like to focus on one window or event taking place on your screen or if you would like to emphasize a certain window/information and de-emphasize everything else.

If you were wondering about real life scenarios when you would need to blank out parts of your screen there are 3 examples I can think of : (a) you are watching a video in part of the screen and would like to blank out everything else, (b) say you are giving a presentation and might want to emphasize a point by focusing on a part of a point/graph/illustration and eliminate everything else, and (c) you’d like to focus on the window/application you are working with and eliminate other on-screen distractions.

Here are some notes on this program:

  • The User Interface: Zorro is a window that can be dragged around the screen. It can be resized like any other window or by selecting from a number of pre-defined sizes, or can be quickly fit to any window.
  • Fit to Window: invoked using CTRL-F by default, this option allows you to select any window or visual element on the screen to have Zorro superimposed on it. Very convenient.
  • Customizable: (although perhaps not customizable enough); you can change the color of the background if you prefer something else to the default black, but there are no options for transparency. You can even blank the selection rather than the area surrounding it if you want.

Wish List (or how this program can be even better): here are my 2 cent’s worth.

  • A spotlight mode would be great: instead of hard distinct edges, the option to have a band of blurry semitransparent edge of a certain thickness.
  • The ability to resize or move the window once it kicks into action. I.e. to be able to grab a handle and move or the Zorro window around or resize it while the background is still blanked out. This would be good for presentations, I imagine.
  • The option to have degrees of transparency for the background.
  • I also caught myself wishing for a semi-transparent solid block as the main interface; I think this would be more intuitive than the current transparent, normal-looking window and frame.

The verdict: this program is free, and rather unique; it is not something everyone is looking for, but if you are looking for this functionality Zorro does the job very well. (Also check out Send to Toys by the same author, one of my favorite lesser known, must-install freeware programs).

Version tested: 1.5 beta

Compatibility: Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, XP, and 2003 Server. No info on VISTA.

Go to the author’s page to get the latest version (approx 298K).

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