Must-Download PC Freeware

What? You actually still pay for all your software? You do realize that all sorts of free software is available online, right? I’m talking quality freeware that lets you do everything from edit video to preen your PC.  Well, I did a bit of freeloading on the Intarwebs and wanted to share my go-to list of some of the stuff I use when setting up a PC. So, whether you’re yanking a brand new computer out of the box or you’re blowing the dust of your current rig’s keyboard, we’ve got you (and your ‘puter) covered.

 

The One Stop-Shop Installers


There are few things worse than the time-suck that comes with having to hand-pick, download and then install applications. That’s why I go to a place like ninite.com or Google’s Google Pack. Just check off the apps that you want, download and you’ll be halfway to done.

 

Ah….but you need more of a recommendation about which apps to actually download? In that case

 

System Maintenance


LookInMyPC_P.jpgSure, HP PC’s come with automated tools for cleaning up your computer, but if you like getting your hands dirty and diving deeper, there are a number of apps that I usually rely upon CCleaner does a fairly solid sweep on bloat. (And don’t forget to grab this plug-in at http://thewebatom.net/software/ccenhancer/ to make a great freebie even better).

 

If you need a seriously detailed report on all the components in your PC, go to http://www.lookinmypc.com/. Another option for getting a close look at all the specs is Speccy.

 

Windows Update tracks OS patches. HP’s Support Assistant software keeps your hardware humming. But what about everything else that you download? At http://secunia.com/  you can grab the PSI app that tracks software you own so that it can keep you up-to-date.

 

I have a TOUGH time finding things on my computer, but the low-brow, low-CPU intensive Everything search tool at http://www.voidtools.com/ can index your PC and not slow you down.

 

I feel like I need my lawyer on-hand just to read through all the End User License Agreements before you install something. Fortunately, going to http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/eulalyzer.html gives you an app that that looks for all those possible problems like…. “Is there adware hidden somewhere?” If you’re not sure, download this first.

 

You ever wish you didn’t delete something? One app, Recuva, might be able to save the day. And your file.

Another two that come highly recommended are Slim Computer and the oh-so-subtle software at http://www.pcdecrapifier.com/. Both promise to remove unwanted apps, ASAP.

 

Media Tools


Blender_P.jpgSteven Speilberg, I’m not. Nor a Diddy, Dre….or…I think you get the idea. I’m hardly an A/V wunderkind, but that isn’t going to stop me from trying to edit my next masterpiece. At least not when there are so many free, high-end apps out there for the plucking.

 

I’ve been using GIMP and Paint.Net for forever, but Photoscape came recommended to me recently and it’s pretty impressive for all your photo editing needs. And if you’re looking to get fancy with 3D models, head to http://www.blender.org/. Thank me later.

 

If you’re looking to monkey with audio – be it editing or making your own podcast – look no further than audacity.

 

While not nearly as hardcore, these apps come in amazingly handy in a pinch for more basic multimedia feats:

IrfanView for viewing and doing quick image surgery, this is a go-to.

 

Hamster Soft’s video encoder will get the video you want to watch into a format you want for just about any device you could imagine. Except for maybe an abacus.

 

Grab Vuze if you need a flexible Bittorrent client that can do a whole lot more than just grab the videos. It serves as a streamer.

 

Productivity


If you’re always jumping between a million things you need to cut-and-paste (AKA Copy-Pasta), then check out ClipX. It’s a straightforward, simple tool that lets you easily track and hot-key a number of bits to a huge clipboard.

 

If you’re looking for a great, effective, zip archival tool head on over to http://ziparchiver.hamstersoft.com/.

 

Josh from the HP Smarthome can’t stop singing the praises of Evernote. Just the idea that anything you capture, you can save and see on just about any device like a PC….or, conveniently enough, your webOS phone.

 

Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made – back up all your data in multiple places. Want an easy way to track and handle the process? Cobian Backup is one free option worth checking out.

 

I’ve been sold on the joys of multiple monitors. But I want to do a whole lot more than just clone a desktop background and drag a couple icons to another screen. Download DisplayFusion to really take advantage of that second screen.

 

Want to do a whole lot more than just read a PDF? If your answer is “yes,” then hit this link: http://www.tracker-software.com/product/pdf-xchange-viewer.

 

My boss swears by SplashID in order to securely stow information like passwords and vital data. Me, I like rocking the absurdly handy – and mostly free – Last Pass. Now, I say “mostly” free because the PC version won’t cost you a thing. Want to grab a mobile version for your phone? It’ll cost you $1 a month. Less than the cost for a liter of Coke to not have to sweat remembering every password in your life: Priceless.

 

I don’t know why I list a twitter app, TweetDeck, as a productivity tool – it’s probably one of the biggest contributors to me NOT getting my job done. But on a computer, it’s pretty handy whether I’m tweeting on behalf of HP…or my own stupidity.

 

Non-Productivity (AKA Games)


SteamPowered_P.jpgAll work and no play makes Darren a sad, sad nerd. So, if you’re anything like me, you’re bound to want to juice up your computer with some games at some point. Valve’s Steam client is free….but you’ll have to pay for most of the software there. It’s the only way to play games like the amazing first-person puzzle, Portal 2, which is due out in a couple weeks. And the Steam client is a great way to connect with a community of like-minded gamers.

 

But if you’re on the hunt for free games, your first stop needs to be 1up.com for their annual 101 Free Games feature. Oh, sure, I might be a little biased but every year this list of awesome – and awesomely free – titles just keeps getting bigger and better.

 

No doubt, there’s a huge treasure trove of other apps that I didn’t list here…..but what about you? Are there great free apps that you rely upon that you want to let the rest of the TNB crew know about? I’d love to hear what you’re using!

Search The Next Bench
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 
About the Author
Labels