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


15. Dell Dock: advanced, free dock from the makers of ObjectDock

Dell Dock Screenshot

I am generally not too keen on docks, but I first saw this dock preinstalled on my new Dell laptop, was impressed with it, and then was happy to learn that it is available to anyone to download and use as freeware. You don’t have to have a Dell computer to run it. [Update: it looks from the comments that this software won’t install on non-Dell PC’s; sorry, my mistake. I looked to see if there was any notice that this was Dell-only before posting and couldn’t find any such reference.]

This software is based on ObjectDock from Stardock (but note that it is NOT a free version of ObjectDock Pro, but a rather different animal altogether). Although it can display shortcuts and folders, which you would expect from any dock, what this program does is display pre-packaged “categories”, and scans your hard drive upon installation in order to populate these categories with the apps you have installed (e.g. MS Office will appear in the ‘Office’ tab, Skype will appear in the ‘Email and Chat’ tab, etc.) Overall, the net effect is a good one, although some people I imagine will like this sort of thing more than others. Dell Dock offers a significant degree of customization options (color, location, etc.) that you might expect from a mature docking launcher.

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

DropZone Screenshot16. Drop Zone: move files anywhere by dropping them onto ‘drop zones’

An organizational tool for files that lets you move or copy your files to appropriate destinations all over your hard drive, simply by dragging them onto visual ‘drop zones’ that hover over your desktop.

These zones are fairly easy to set up although you will have to do so via editing an .INI file; you can copy/run the executable multiple times to get multiple drop zones as in the screenshot above. Zones can be customized in terms of foreground/background color and size, and whether you want them to be ‘always on top’. The only thing I would have wished for is the ability to ‘lock’ the zones so that they cannot be accidentally resized and/or moved.

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

17. Volumouse 2: control volume with the mouse wheel

Volumouse 2 screenshot1 Volumouse 2 screenshot2

Volumouse 2 allows volume control via a combination of mousewheel and a customizable hotkey (Alt+MouseWheel by default). But it can also control the volume for each program running on your system individually (alas, not on XP though).

What I really like about this program is that once invoked, volume changes via Volumouse will be immediately visually displayed via a little volume slider that pops next to wherever your cursor may be. Moreover, Volumouse 2 is a very versatile program that can be set-up to do many tasks via mousewheel and keyboard combinations, including send keyboard commands to user-defined applications, etc.

Go here to download Volumouse 2. (Windows 7, Vista, XP; 32 bit and 64 bit).

18. Jumplist Extender: add your own functions to Windows 7 jumplists

Jumplist Extender Screenshot1

Taking “Windows enhancement” to a whole other level, Jumplist Extender will let you add your own personal custom entries to any program’s jumplist on the Windows 7 taskbar. It does this in three different ways: (1) sending keyboard commands to the program that the program already supports, (2) running command line executables, and (3) via user created Autohotkey scripts. The (tiny) program has to be running in the background for the customizations to appear.

This one for the ubergeek, perhaps, but is very interesting and potentially quite useful.

Go here to download Jumplist Extender (Windows 7; 32 bit and 64 bit). Alternately, see my full-length review of Jumplist Extender.

19. Explorer7Fixes: brings sort-headers back to all file view modes in Windows 7

This is a tiny tweak for Windows 7 only that, despite its name, changes one thing in Windows 7 explorer: it brings sort-headers and filters (familiar in Windows’ “details” view) to all view modes .See screenshot below to see this visually.

Explorer7Fixes Screenshot2

Go here to download Explorer7Fixes (Windows 7 only; 32 bit and 64 bit). See my full review of Explorer7Fixes for more info and how to install/uninstall.

AltDrag Screenshot20. AltDrag: provides a wealth of Window-manipulation functions at your fingertips

Note: recent versions of this one have added functions beyond what you may have guessed from the name.

Altdrag lets you drag and move a window by pressing Alt and left-mouse-click dragging it from anywhere, and not necessarily from the title bar. You would be familiar with this if you’re a Linux user, and the effect is actually quite nice.

However, that’s not all it does. Other functions include Windows 7 Aero snap style snapping of Alt+dragged windows to any of the 4 sides of the screen – or even any of the 4 corners (and yes it works beautifully on Windows 7), snapping your window to other windows and/or the sides of the screen if you press shift while dragging (or set it to snap by default without pressing shift), or resizing a window via Alt+dragging with the right mouse button.

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

21. SE-DekstopConstructor: draws user defined areas in the desktop wallpaper

A free program that can tweak desktop wallpapers to create zones and/or semi-transparent shapes that can be very useful in simple desktop icon organization. (It can do a couple of other things as well, such as embed a customizable clock and/or calendar into your active desktop).

SE-DesktopConstructor Screenshot1

Although this app is decidedly low tech in what it does: it merely tweaks the image itself that is used as wallpaper, rather than create interactive zones or windows in the manner of, say, a program like Fences. But that can be construed as an advantage, because it does not take up too many resources and keeps matters relatively simple.

Go here to download SE-DekstopConstructor (WinAll; 32 bit and 64 bit). Or you can see my full-length review of SE-DekstopConstructor.

22. AquaSnap: window-snapping on steroids

This is probably the best program that implements (and expands on) the Windows 7 Aero snap and Aero shake functions (amongst the programs mentioned in this post at least). While Secondshell (#17 above) has a few more functions, it is very hotkey-centric, Aqua Snap on the other hand is mainly based on dragging and dropping.

AquaSnap Screenshot1-modAquaSnap Screenshot2-mod

This is the one app that I would recommend to expand on Windows 7 Aero snap even if you run Windows 7 because it features snapping to corners (i.e. quarters of the screen) via drag and drop. and also features nice previews and “snap indicators”. For XP it offers Aero snap style snapping along the horizontal and vertical access (again via drag and drop) and brings in the “Aero Shake” function as well (drag and shake a window to either minimize all others or always on top). All of this coming it at less than 10 megs in memory.

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

23. Chameleon Window Manager: adds a nice set of functions as buttons on the title bar

Chameleon Windows ScreenshotThis program adds a set of buttons to each window, adjacent to the Maximize/Minimize buttons, to provide a number of familiar functions such as minimize to tray, roll-up any window, and transparency; however, it also adds buttons for snapping windows to the left or right of the screen.

Obviously if you do not have Windows 7, this snapping right/left is a great addition. But even those who do have it might appreciate the convenience of using buttons in the title bar to do this.

Go here to download Chameleon Window Manager on Snapfiles (Windows XP/2003/Vista/7/x64 edition available); or go here for the developer home page.


FARR Screenshot124. Find and Run Robot: the best indexing launcher bar none

A launcher-via-searchbox where you type in the first few letters of the program or file you seek and select it from the results. Call the program at any point using a keyboard shortcut and simply start using it.

These kinds of launchers are changing the way we work with our PC’s. Elsewhere on this blog I mention the excellent Launchy, another excellent searchbox-style indexing launcher which I used for a long time, but Find and Run Robot (henceforth referred to as FARR) just may be the best of its class. This is because of the range of add-ons that are available for it, created by a very active user community over at So, for example, you could use FARR as a note-taking app, to perform desktop searches, as a desktop-based interface for Remember the Milk, etc.

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

VirusTotal Uploader25. VirusTotal Uploader:check any file for malware, on-demand

A nice little Windows extension that can place one of the best online resources for malware identification right in your “send-to” menu.

If you’re unfamiliar with VirusTotal, what it is is an aggregator of all of the main anti-malware engines in a single place. You can upload your files and have them checked by 40+ different engines, in order to get differing analyses and measure the consensus, so to speak.

I use this one all the time: let’s say you have a file that your anti-malware software is not letting you access, but you suspect may be a false positive. Or alternately a file that you downloaded and that you do not fully trust. In both cases, you can simply right click “VirusTotal” in the send to upload your file to the website and get a report instantly.

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

Wizmouse Screenshot226. WizMouse: if you use the mousewheel at all to scroll, get this program, period

WizMouse lets you hover over any window and use the mousewheel to scroll up and down without having to click into the window to bring it into focus first. Sounds so simple and/or insignificant, but in fact it is a great effect.

It’s other function: WizMouse can fix/enable mouse wheel scrolling in many applications that do not support mouse wheel scrolling or where it normally does not work properly. Very useful if in fact you use such a program.

Go here to download WizMouse (WinAll; 32 bit and 64 bit). Or you can see my full-length review of WizMouse.

WilMa screenshot127. Windows Layout Manager: save and re-use the layout of windows on your screen

If you like your windows to be arranged “just so” when working with multiple windows and/or applications then this free program is for you. Windows Layout Manager allows you to save the size and location of windows on your screen and restore them to where you like them to be with a single click. It works with multiple monitors and will even let you assign keyboard hotkeys that can be associated with different layouts.

Although you can set up each individual window based on matching rules (e.g. text in the window title, process name, process filename, class name), this can be rather complicated; my advice: use the “capture” button which grabs all windows and processes that are open, then edit what you get to remove invisible processes and finesse window definitions. Experiment and you will get what you want from this app.

Go here to download Windows Layout Manager (WinAll; 32 bit and 64 bit).

PureText Screenshot28. PureText: system wide paste-to-values

A tiny app that lets you paste the contents of your clipboard anywhere as text, and getting rid of any formatting (something which will be familiar to anyone out there who like the “paste values” function in MS Excel).

PureText lives in the background, occupying a mere 5 megs, and comes into play whenever the user presses a special hotkey (Win+V by default) whereby it will both convert the clipboard content to pure text and attempt to insert the text into the active application.

Go here to download PureText (WinAll; 32 bit and 64 bit). Or you can see my full-length review of PureText.

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

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