It’s safe to say that among the critical software elements for any computer, Microsoft Office, Windows Updates and an antivirus/antimalware applications are the bare minimum for most people. However, if you’re looking to squeeze out further productivity, we have 12 applications that can help you get things done more quickly whether you’re a student, working professional or a hardcore gamer!
1.) Gadwin Print Screen – This neat little program allows you to print-screen shot and capture the activity happening on your system if you’re trying to document tech support issues, making a how-to guide/presentation and need illustrative pictures or show other co-workers what you’re looking at for comparison purposes. It has a host of features such as image capture format, configurable shortcut buttons, destination and capture such as whole screen, currently active screen or selective rectangular area.
2.) Log Me In Hamachi – Hamachi is great if you want to have a secure connection between your notebook and home or office network. It creates a VPN tunnel which is encrypted so all your network traffic is safe from prying eyes which comes in handy for public Wi-Fi networks.
3.) Teamviewer – Offered in both commercial and free personal-use flavors, this remote desktop application enables you to connect to your home or office computer and access your files like you’re actually in front of that computer. It works great at transferring files, helping clients or family members with tech support issues and for managing your home/office IT network from a mobile location.
4.) PDF995 Printer – Along with the PDF995 printer driver, this awesome piece of software functions as a virtual printer and allows you to physically print any document or web page as the output is a PDF file on your desktop. Saving a web page via CTRL-S or SAVE AS in HTML is hardly practical and this program does an excellent job of documenting important pages like online academic resource database articles, newspaper articles, confirmation pages and reduces the need to have 50+ browser tabs running and eating up system resources.
5.) Alcohol 120% - CDs and DVDs are so 2004. This advanced application can rip and save your optical discs as a simple image file on your computer. Instead of having to deal with the possibility of scratched and/or unreadable CDs/DVDs, Alcohol 120% functions as a virtual optical drive on My Computer. If you want to load an image, you click “Mount Ghost Recon.iso” and Windows will load the game image file as if you’re putting the CD in the actual drive.
6.) VLC Media Player – With no shortage of media players in existence, VLC proved itself to be robust and very useful when it comes to reading a wide variety of formats. Whether it’s a divx file or DVD, VLC can play it back without additional installation such as video codecs.
7.) CPU-Z – This awesome application is geared more towards gamers and computer users looking to identify and monitor their computer’s configuration. For example, it can not only identify the computer’s CPU, but will also show its current speed, FSB, clock multiplier, RAM amount and which memory bank holds what stick.
8.) WinRAR – WinRAR enables file compression and decompression, works quickly and is perfect for archiving or trying to make files smaller for quicker file transfer. It supports a wide variety of formats including traditional ZIP and even has a password encryption feature so unauthorized parties cannot extract & uncompress your important RAR files.
9.) True Crypt 7.0a – While it is free, this open-source encryption tool is worth more than its weight in gold considering its wealth of features. Its most impressive feature allows you to encrypt flash drives and your own hard drive(s) which reduce the chance of any unauthorized parties from accessing your personal or company confidential data.
10.) Download Accelerator Plus – It comes in free and premium versions but I’ve found the free version to be fast enough for being free. Downloads like drivers, patches and other large files are quick for this program as it searches for the best connection and availability of download mirror sites.
11.) Evernote – While Windows 7 does come with notepad and stickypad built in, Evernote offers advanced note-taking features that ca help you remember and finish that paper or report just in time!
12.) Handbrake – Need some mobile entertainment on the go? Handbrake allows you to rip DVD movies in MPEG format to your laptop and is perfect for long airline flights, car rides or long downtime at the airport.
Of course, there are other software programs out there that are just as valuable to have that are either free or low-cost.
If you know and/or use one in particular, share it here on the Geeks Tech Tips Blog!