Larry's List of
 (mostly) FREE Essential Utilities

The following are FREE programs
(Basic versions) and are essential for your online viewing, security and enjoyment.
('Plus' or 'Pro' versions are available to purchase)
-- Please let me know if any of these links are broken.
They change from time to time.  Thanks! --

I started this site several years ago with some of the free programs I use and I wanted a handy place for friends, family and customers to locate them online. Since then many free software sites have developed that are excellent sources for free or low cost software.  As I find them I'll list them here. -- Larry

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File Hippo
Sysinternals
Download.com
Free Desktop Clock download
Free MP3 Converters
Free, downloads - Category Internet, Anti-Spam Tools
Freeware Download_ Quick
GAMES 3D Realms Site_ Master Download Page
GMail tools
Karen's Power Tools
Make a favicon - Make a favicon.ico
Merijn.org
Shinobi Resources_ Free Downloads
SoftBase WWW pages for Shareware-Freeware R
SourceForge.net_ Software Map
SpywareGuard Real-time Spyware blocker
SpywareInfo _· Software Recommendations
WinSite_ SPAMfighter Standard

   

Click here to get Picasa for Free!

PICASA IS FREE!
Once you try it you'll love it!

Nearly everyone has a digital camera. But how do you manage all those pictures?  Vacation travelers, parents and family members, outdoor enthusiasts, ANYONE who owns a digital camera needs Picasa!
 

Click here to download a FREE copy of Picasa!


 

Maxthon

Maxthon - The Way We Surf The World

Stop the presses!  If you use Internet Explorer or spend any time web surfing you simply must try the FREE Maxthon browser.  You'll never go back to IE again!  I can't believe what a time saver it is. 

Instead of creating a new separate process for every open browser window like IE does, Maxthon runs as one application and each new window is merely a tab away, all within one window.  So each new window opens much faster. So simple!  It's very intuitive. If you know IE, you know Maxthon. But Maxthon has many additional customizable features and enhancements.  It's everything Internet Explorer should be!

My favorite features are one-click on the scroll button to open a new window, and mouse 'gestures'. Close or refresh a window with a simple move of the mouse. It's cool!  There are many more features!  Too much to list here.  Just download it and try it.  It does not conflict with IE at all, you can even have both running at the same time.  Maxthon automatically knows about all your favorites, it also works well with the Google and RoboFrom Toolbars (but not eBay toolbar).

You'll wonder why Bill Gates didn't already steal this idea!!

Update: Ok, he did steal the idea with version 7.  IE7 is much improved but it's still slower and more cumbersome than Maxthon!




Get Acrobat Reader for viewing .PDF format files.



(Don't select the 'Free Trial' for RealPlayer, look for the basic Free RealOne Player link!) 




Check here
to see what versions
you have installed!

Both Flash Player and Shockwave Player are required to view the cool 'bells and whistles' video, graphics and other enhanced features on many web sites.  Download/install both!
What is the difference between the Macromedia Flash Player and the Shockwave Player?

The Macromedia Flash Player and the Shockwave Player are both free web players from Macromedia. Each has a distinct purpose:

  • The Macromedia Flash Player displays content created with Macromedia Flash such as web application front-ends, high-impact website user interfaces, interactive online advertising, and short-form to long-form animation.

  • The Shockwave Player displays content created with Macromedia Director such as high-performance multi-user games, interactive 3D product simulations, online entertainment, and training applications.

Microsoft Internet Explorer


Get the latest free browser from Microsoft


Microsoft Office


Free Microsoft Viewers and Converters for Power Point, Word, Excel, Outlook, Access.  If you don't have Word, Power Point or Microsoft Office, you need a Viewer to view files of these types sent to you by others.



I don't understand why Microsoft doesn't include this by default, but if you use Outlook and want an easy way to back up your Outlook files you need this Personal Folders Backup add-in.

NETSCAPE


If you want to use Netscape (that other browser :-), click here




To protect your computer and files from outside intruders get Zone Alarm



Clean your system of unwanted ad-based trojans and spyware lurking in your computer (you'll be amazed!)
Ad-aware 2007 is THE award winning, free*, multicomponent detection and removal utility that has consistently lead the industry in safety, user satisfaction, support and reliability.

Spybot Search & Destroy

Spybot - Search & Destroy can detect and remove spyware of different kinds from your computer. Spyware is a relatively new kind of threat that common anti-virus applications do not yet cover. If you see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you didn't intentionally install, if your browser crashes, or if you browser start page has changed without your knowing, you most probably have spyware. But even if you don't see anything, you may be infected, because more and more spyware is emerging that is silently tracking your surfing behaviour to create a marketing profile of you that will be sold to advertisement companies. Spybot-S&D is free, so there's no harm in trying to see if something snooped into your computer, too :)

CWShredder

CWShredder: A small utility for removing highjacker trojans such as CoolWebSearch (aka CoolWwwSearch, YouFindAll, White-Pages.ws and a dozen other names). Spybot S&D and Ad-aware tend to forget essential parts of the hijack, so until they update, you can use this to completely remove the hijack. This program is updated to remove the new variants once they come out.  Read the article with documentation on Coolwebsearch here.

CWShredder is owned and maintained by InterMute since October 19, 2004. It is available from them for free seperately, or integrated into SpySubstract PRO.


Got a bazillion web sites, usernames and passwords to remember?  RoboForm will keep track of it all WITHOUT TRACKING YOU.  All of your information stays safely on your computer (unlike Gator, MS Wallet and other password helpers that track and use your web activity and personal information for marketing.)

Get RoboForm and get rid of Gator (in fact Gator will show up as spyware when you run Ad-Aware!)

AI RoboForm
is a one-click web form filler and password manager with some serious Artificial Intelligence (AI) inside. It works as an add-on to Microsoft Internet Explorer ver 4 or later, all browsers based on IE, and Netscape 6.   It is absolutely free for personal use. (Note: the free version is limited now to a small number of passwords.)




What is WinAmp?
  Just the best MP3 player out there.  But it's a lot more than just a player.  And it's free. 
No annoying ads. Just get it.  Nuf sed.



WS_FTP LE (limited edition) is the tool you need to upload files and pictures to your web site.  The LE version is available free to government employees, noncommercial home users, and students and staff of educational institutions. (Note: I believe WS_FTP is no longer offered free for personal use. Look on FileHippo.com for a good free replacement. -- Larry)


AVG Free Anti-Virus Protection

AVG Free Edition is available for all single home and non-commercial end users. Download, install and use AVG  Anti-Virus system to reliably protect your computer and data free of charge. Go to Free Download Page to get more information.

Tip:
Remember to update AVG regularly by using Update Manager (go to Program, Control Center, Update Manager), where you need to just push Update now! button and AVG will perform whole update on its own.

(Note: I listed this program because it's free. I don't use it myself.  I use CA Antivirus (see below).  I started using it back when it was free and even stayed with it when they started charging for it. I think it's one of the best anti-virus programs out there and has worked very well for us.)



gPhotoShow Screen Saver


The BEST screen saver for showing off your own pictures.  I've been using gPhotoShow for years.  I love seeing all my pictures gently roll by.  My life flashing before my eyes, as it were.


Go to Search for Ancestors
Provided by FamilySearch

If you're looking for an excellent Genealogy program to track your Family Tree, look no further, this one is great and it's absolutely free.   Personal Ancestral File is loaded with features.  Click on Order Product Downloads, then Software Download - FREE.  You may have to register, but there's no reason not to.  No tracking, no ads, etc.




Need to organize your address book, calendar, etc. but just don't want to buy a Palm PDA?  Well you can still use the Palm Desktop software on your PC.  It's great for keeping track of all your personal information, phone numbers, addresses, memos appointments, and even has alarm settings on the Calendar.

And it's FREE.



Yahoo Messenger




Choose your favorite online messenger! Keep in touch with family and friends.

Choose Yahoo Messenger

AOL Instant Messenger
(you don't have to be on the AOL service to use AOLIM),

or the new Trillion messenger that will talk to both of them.
 

(Note: Microsoft MSN Messenger is notably missing from this list. The omission is intentional.)



Tweak UI v1.33

Free yourself from the tyranny of ordinary Windows with this extra set of tools (also called PowerToys) created by Microsoft developers. Adjust menu speed and window animation. Move the StartUp folder up the Explorer hierachy, or move the My Documents folder to another drive. If you get the "No Help topic is associated with this item" message when you access the help menu, Tweak UI may have answers. The tool set also offers quick fixes for adding and removing items to your right-click New menu. And you may get a second chance at recovering lost uninstall options (but only if you've installed the program while the original uninstall list in Control Panel is intact).

Note: Because these tools are not part of Windows, they are not supported by Microsoft, and Microsoft's technical support team is unable to answer any questions about them.

Windows XP users should click the TweakUiPowertoySetup.exe link.

Download   tweakui133.exe 
Download
   TweakUiPowertoySetup.exe


 

FreeZip v1.4.9
WinZip, and most other Zip programs use identical compression code, originating from the same source. However, FreeZip has the advantage of costing you nothing. This compression/decompression utility integrates with Windows Explorer and uses file associations and context menus to zip or unzip files and subdirectories. This small program also offers file encryption features. If you want to protect your zip files with a password, download the encryption patch.



Mike Lin's free tools are cool

Software
Startup Control Panel is a nifty control panel applet that allows you to easily configure which programs run when your computer starts. It's simple to use and, like all my programs, is very small and won't burden your system. A valuable tool for system administrators!

StartupMonitor is a small utility that runs transparently (it doesn't even use a tray icon) and notifies you when any program registers itself to run at system startup. It prevents those utterly useless tray applications from registering themselves behind your back, and it acts as a security tool against trojans like BackOrifice or Netbus.

There's lots more at his site.  I use PathCopyEx all the time.



POW! Screenshot
 

AnalogX POW!  Popup killer.  Tired of those annoying ads popping up or over or under or every where?  This free utility is small, quick and nips those popups as quick as a wink.

I've added hundreds of sites to my POW.DAT file.  Download it over yours after you install POW!  Just overwrite C:\Program Files\AnalogX\POW\pow.dat


AnalogX Atomic TimeSync.  It is said "Man with one watch knows what time it is. Man with two watches is never sure."  Well then, man (ahem, or woman) with computer ought have the cure.  This little free program syncs your computer clock with the National Institute of Standards and Technology's atomic clock (NIST).  You can schedule it to check/set your clock so you'll always know what time it is. You can set your watch to it.

ps. Here's a tip.  If the default server is down, you can simply choose a different site to use from this list. http://www.boulder.nist.gov/timefreq/service/time-servers.html



 
FreshDiagnose      FreshUI

Here's a couple of cool tools.  FreshUI and FreshDiagnose.

FreshUI gives you all kinds of control over hidden system settings.  FreshDiagnose gives you a mind-boggling system report of your system configuration.  Must have for tweakers and the terminally curious!


AutoSizer 1.4 Are you tired of trying to teach Internet Explorer and other programs to open as a full-sized window?  You need autosizer.  Autosizer automatically resizes any window you specify. For instance, some web browsers open up in a non-maximized window. Using AutoSizer, you can set those windows to automatically maximize every time they’re opened. It works with almost any program, including web browsers, Notepad, etc. AutoSizer stays running in the system tray (next to the time), so it stays out of your way while it works.


Comparator v2.20  This handy tool compares the contents of two folders anywhere on your computer or network so you can sync them by copying missing files, deleting duplicates or updating newer files.


 

If you're running Windows XP (not an issue on Windows 98) you might want to take a minute and grab this tiny little free program that turns off the Windows Messenger Service that's running on your system.  This WILL NOT disable or affect in any way your email or instant messenger-type programs.  It's just one more unnecessary Windows system process that's running, taking up resources that you don't need wasted, and in fact, spammers are starting to exploit it to pop a spam ad window in your face with it.    Kill it now.  Kill it dead.  :-)   Just download the program (click on Download now), run it once and the Windows Messenger Service will be turned off for good  (unless you have to restore your system.)   Trust me, the download is safe and the program is ad-free. Steve Gibson makes a lot of cool free utilities available to the world as a public service.   

Here are several other great FREE programs from Steve Gibson that tighten up your system security.  In addition to Shoot the Messenger, I recommend implementing DCOMbobulator and Unplug 'n' pray.

While we're on the subject of tightening security, why not check out Steve Gibson's Shields Up! test.  You may be surprised of your system vulnerability.  This test doesn't involve a download, it just tests the strength of your firewall.

Use this test in combination with the Leak Test, which tests your firewall from the inside outbound.  Why is this significant?  Because if a worm does get into your system and you have no outbound protection then it will have its way with your Address Book.  Most passive firewalls focus on blocking incoming intrusions.  Only ZoneAlarm -- as far as I know -- monitors and controls outbound traffic, warning you of any program that tries to make contact with the outside world.


MailWasher

Tired of the Spam game?  Does everybody you know forward every joke they've ever received?  Do you maybe not need your body parts enlarged?  Then use MailWasher.  MailWasher lets you screen your email BEFORE you bring it into your Inbox (Great for dial-up users!).  You can quickly -- and safely -- peruse messages and click a checkbox to delete unwanted messages.  I liked it so much I got the Pro version!


 

Larry's HOSTS file

(Remember, it's HOSTS with no extension. It's not hosts.txt)

My HOSTS file.  To conserve space here I've stuffed it into a .ZIP file. Click on the link and select Save... then open the .ZIP file and extract the HOSTS file to the appropriate folder in Windows.   (See the How To below)

What's a HOSTS file?  Although not its original intention, it works great as a neat Windows trick to block ads. It's simple to set up and use. But it can be a little tricky. You need to know how to use it.  I know, simple, yet tricky.  Can't be both, can it?  Well, yes and no.  Kinda.  Read up on it yourself by searching for "Hosts file" in any search engine.  If you still need help, you can always ask me!

How to use the HOSTS file  Here's a good site to read about the HOSTS file.

There are also a couple of extra files in this .ZIP file. I created two small DOS .BAT files and two shortcuts to go with them to quickly turn your HOSTS file "on" or "off".  Drag the shortcuts into your Program menu and if you suddenly can't get to a web site you want to access, temporarily turn "off" your HOSTS file.  When done, turn it back "on".  The "off" .BAT file simply renames HOSTS to be HOSTS.TXT, effectively disabling it. The "on" file renames it back to HOSTS. You can do this quickly on the fly without rebooting or logging out, etc.  Note: When you execute either of these files you'll see a brief DOS window pop up then close.  It only takes a second to run.

It may all sound very complicated but it's fairly simple to implement and will save you lots of time by not having to see many annoying, flashing (and worse) ads and popups as you browse.  There are some 4,000+ sites listed in the file that are known ad sites and the file simply prevents your browser from displaying them, even if it's only one little square ad in the middle of an article you want to read. A nice side bennie is it's a great performance booster if you're on dialup since you're not downloading all those ads!



APPLICATION ACCELERATOR

IntelŪ Application Accelerator

The IntelŪ Application Accelerator is a performance software package for desktop PCs using select IntelŪ chipsets.

Do you need it?  ONLY if you have an Intel CPU (NOT AMD) and only if you want to speed up your PC.  It is not required for your system to work as it has.

The IntelŪ Application Accelerator replaces the ATA drivers that come with Windows with drivers optimized for desktop and mobile PCs using select IntelŪ chipsets. It reduces the storage sub-system bottleneck, enabling the processor and other system level hardware to be more productive and efficient. In most cases, it is not a requirement for your operating system to work properly.

Note: the link will pop open a new window and take you to the Intel page where you can read all the details, and then select the correct file to download for your PC and version of Windows.


CCleaner (aka Crap Cleaner)

CCleaner (formerly Crap Cleaner) is a freeware system optimization tool. That removes unused and temporary files from your system - allowing it to run faster, more efficiently and giving you more hard disk space. The best part is that it's fast! (normally taking less that a second to run), free and very effective at keeping your system clean!

Cleans the following:

  • Internet Explorer Cache, History, Cookies, Index.dat.
  • Recycle Bin, Temporary files and Log files.
  • Recently opened URLs and files.
  • Third-party application temp files and recent file lists (MRUs).
    Including: eMule, Kazaa, Google Toolbar, Netscape, Office XP, Nero, Adobe Acrobat, WinRAR and more...
  • Advanced Registry scanner and cleaner to remove unused and old entries.
    Including File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, Fonts, Help Files, Application Paths, Icons and more...
  • This software is completely Freeware and contains no Spyware.

Very simple install. Click "Run Cleaner" to clean, or use the Options button to set automatic clean on every reboot. Also adds a context menu to the Recycle Bin for quick clean-up!

Please support the author's efforts through his PayPal Link!

DOWNLOAD


 

Process Explorer - Have you ever wondered which program has a particular file or directory open? Now you can find out. Process Explorer shows you information about which handles and DLLs processes have opened or loaded.

There are lots more free system utilities at SysInternals.com

Update: Microsoft took over these utilities.




CA Anti-Virus 2008


Ok, this one's not free, but it's cheaper than most of the commercial flavors of anti-virus programs.  And the fact is, this is the one I use. 

Note: If the banner on the left does not appear, just click here instead. Some firewalls or popup blockers block or hide the image and the link to the banner!

I think CA Anti-virus is one of the best anti-virus programs available.

The key differentiators between CA Anti-virus and other leading competitors are:

  • CA Anti-virus costs a lot less than the big guys like Norton and Mcafee.
  • CA Anti-virus has a smaller "footprint" than many other anti-virus products.
  • CA Anti-virus provides very effective protection.
  • CA Anti-virus is very easy to install, use and update.
  • Fully automatic signature downloads and scheduled scanning.


Buy it now and quit worrying about viruses!  -- Larry

(Disclosure: I am registered as an affiliate for CA Antivirus.
I make a small commission from all sales made through my link.)



What have I missed?  If you use any FREE essential programs not listed here, let me know!
Please let me know if any of these links are broken.  These sites change from time to time.



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