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Here is a collection of some of the best free utilities for PC and Windows that I have found and used over the years.
Check out the reviews:
Audacity is an audio editor. It lets you record and edit audio files including live audio from microphone, tapes, records, MP3, WAV. You can cut, copy, splice and mix sounds. You can use Audacity to cut parts of an MP3 audio file to use as a ringtone for you cell phone. The free download of Audacity it at: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/. NOTE: Audacity requires the LAME MP3 encoder in order to export to MP3. Instructions for downloading the LAME MP3 Encoder are here: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/faq?s=install&i=lame-mp3
CDex is a free program to rip songs from audio CDs and put them on your computer. The songs can be saved as WAV or as MP3. CDex can also convert a folder of MP3's to a different bitrate. CDex can be downloaded here: http://cdexos.sourceforge.net/
Windows Media Player
With Windows Media Player you can also RIP audio CDs to individual MP3 or WMA music files. You can download it here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/14209/get-windows-media-player
I recommend downloading version 10 because version 11 is too big and slow. By default it will RIP audio files from CD in WMA format. To change it to RIP to MP3 format click on Tools -> Options -> Rip Music -> Format. (Note: You may have to right click on the top menu in Media Player to get to the Files and Tools menus.)
CD / DVD Burning Software
ImgBurn is the most popular CD / DVD Burning software available for free. It does not have a lot of bloat to it. It can be downloaded at: http://www.imgburn.com/
ImgBurn supports a wide range of image file formats - including BIN, CUE, DI, DVD, GI, IMG, ISO, MDS, NRG and PDI. It can burn Audio CD's from any file type supported via DirectShow / ACM - including AAC, APE, FLAC, M4A, MP3, MP4, MPC, OGG, PCM, WAV, WMA and WV. You can use it to build DVD Video discs (from a VIDEO_TS folder), HD DVD Video discs (from a HVDVD_TS folder) and Blu-ray Video discs (from a BDAV / BDMV folder) with ease.
BurrrnBurrrn is the most popular for Audio CD's. It can easily make audio CD's from wav, mp3, mpc, ogg, aac, mp4, ape, flac, ofr, wv, tta, m3u, pls and fpl playlists and cue sheets. You can download Burrrn from: http://www.free-codecs.com/download/Burrrn.htm or possibly http://www.burrrn.net/
Ashampoo Burning Studio Free 6.71
Download at: http://www.download.com/Ashampoo-Burning-Studio-Free/3000-2646_4-10776287.html Recommended if you have a lot of data you want to back up on to multiple CDs or DVDs. It spans across multiple disks to backup your data. Also has built-in Audio CD Ripper to WMA format. Burn files and folders on data CDs/DVDs/Blu-ray discs; burn Audio CDs from WAV, MP3, FLAC, WMA and Ogg Vorbis files; burn MP3-CDs from your MP3 files. This software is needed for disk spanning.
I am including CDBurnerXP on this list because it is very popular free CD burning software. But I don't like the fact that it requires you to download the .NET framework 2.0. .NET framework 2.0 is boggy software that slows down your PC a bit. Download at: http://cdburnerxp.se/
CDBurnerXP is a free application to burn CDs and DVDs, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. It also includes the feature to burn and create ISOs, as well as a multilanguage interface. Everyone, even companies, can use it for free. It does not include adware or similar malicious components.
If you own a few DVD movies and you want to make backups of them or if you want to copy them to your hard drive then you have to use DVD Decrypter. You may be traveling with your laptop and you don't want to carry your DVD movies, so you can use DVD Decrypter to copy the movie on to your laptop's hard drive. Then you can watch it from there using DVD players like WinDVD or PowerDVD. DVD Decrypter must be used to copy DVDs because it removes the Macrovision protection. Unfortunately, DVD Decrypter was shut down. Now the author makes a new piece of software called ImgBurn which can be used to copy DVDs, but only ones that are not protected.
DVDFab Decrypter is similar to DVD Decrypter. It is still in production and can copy a DVD movie to your hard drive. It removes all the protections (CSS, RC, RCE, APS, UOPs and Sony ARccOS) while copying. It also comes with full HD-DVD and Blu-Ray support (Removes AACS). It can be downloaded here: http://www.dvdfab.com/free.htm
DVD Shrink can be used in connection with DVD Decrypter or DVDFab Decrypter to copy the movie back on to a single layer DVD-R or DVD+R. DVD Shrink can compress a movie to fit on a smaller DVD (because most movies are double layer (DL) DVDs). The compression is really good without much loss of quality. Also you can remove the extra's from the DVD and just put the movie on it. DVD Shrink also claims that it can remove the encryption from commercial DVD titles. But it is not always able to accomplish this. DVD Shrink is free and can be downloaded here: http://www.dvdshrink.org/what.html
DVD Genie is a nice little program to change some of the settings of software DVD players such as WinDVD and PowerDVD. These programs have extra settings that are not documented. I have used it to amplify the volume for WinDVD because on some desktops and laptops the volume is too quiet. It also allows you to modify the region code for software DVD players. DVD Genie is free and can be downloaded here: http://www.inmatrix.com/files/dvdgenie_download.shtml
PC Inspector Smart Recovery
Had some pictures on a camera SD card that just disappeared. PC Inspector Smart Recovery was the only software that could find these jpg pictures and recover them. It recovered all of the photos! With this software you have to select what files you are looking for which is picture files (jpg, gif, etc.) and some video file (mov, avi, ect.)
Limewire claims to be the fastest file sharing program on the planet. It also claims to have no adware or spyware. You can use Limewire to search for MP3 music files or for videos. It can be downloaded at: http://www.limewire.com/
Image Editing Software
Xat.com Image Optimizer
Main feature: Instant Preview. When creating images for the Web you don't want them to be too big. Generally, most programs save the image in way that the file size is really huge. Xat.com Image Optimizer is great for compressing JPG images to have a smaller file size. The nice feature about Image Optimizer is that it shows you the original image and shows you the optimized image at the same time and then you can adjust how much compression it uses and see whether it degrades the image too much or not. When you download it, it will come with both regular Image Optimizer and Image Optimizer Professional. Don't use the Professional version because it adds a small logo to the image. The regular version of Image Optimizer has enough features to easily and freely compress JPG images. It can be downloaded here: http://www.xat.com/io/index.html
Control your PC from Remote PC
VNC stands for Virtual Network Computing. It is free software that lets you control your home computer or your work computer from a remote location. Or maybe you want to control your mother's computer to help her out with problems while you stay at home. There are a few companies that distribute VNC software now. The two I like are RealVNC and UltraVNC. Both have free versions. I was trying to decide which one I like better. Well, I believe that RealVNC is the original software so it might be a little faster, but there are a few things that I have found out UltraVNC can do that RealVNC can't. UltraVNC allows you to transfer files between the two computers. Also in my testing it seems that you can install UltraVNC while in windows "safe mode with networking" and that it will also run in "safe mode with networking".
Microsoft SyncToy 2.0
Microsoft SyncToy seems like a good syncing software program between PC and USB flash drive or external hard drive and Laptop or work PC. It is actually free, and doesn't seem to just be a free trial like other syncronization software programs. Download Microsoft SyncToy 2.0 here.
I am only mentioning Allway Sync here because
many reviewers say that it is a superior syncing
program to sync files between a PC and a Laptop
or other computer with a external hard drive or
flash drive. HOWEVER, it seems to be a scam
piece of shareware trial software instead of its
claim to be free for personal use. Many people
say that after they use it for a few months only
a few times a week it says that they need to pay for it
because their usage is too high for personal use.
(Video editor that is fast, converts to AVI quickly, rotates, video, remove parts of video clip w/o recompressing) Click on Video -> Compression and use "Intel Indeo(R) Video R3.2" because it will save to avi pretty quickly and not be too large (36mb). Uncompressed saves the AVI too big. For in between file size and faster saving use "Intel IYUV Codec" (150mb) or "Microsoft Video 1" (118mb). Also DivX codec is pretty good quality, doesn't take too long to render and is not too big (130mb). NOTE: Forget about the above and Select "Video" and make sure that "Direct stream copy" is selected. Now select "Audio" and make sure that "Source audio" and "Direct stream copy" are selected. NOTE: To rotate video you have to use "Full Processing mode" and then click on "Video" -> "Filters..." -> "Add.." -> "Rotate".
Use to convert VOB (DVD, MPG-2) video files to AVI. AC3 ACM http://www.videohelp.com/tools/AC3_ACM_Decompressor You need this audio codec for VirtualDub Mpeg2 to get the audio in VOB DVD files. WMV9 VCM Codec - Download to make VirtualDub be able to compress using "Microsfot Windows Media Video 9" compression for a smaller video file. AUTOGK http://www.autogk.me.uk/ - Convert DVD or DVD VOB files to AVI. Installs 6 different programs for the conversion: VirtualDubMod AviSynth Filters DGMPGDEC AviSynth XVID First use DVD Decrypter to copy the DVD to your hard drive. You can open a VOB file for the Input and then select an Output folder. Or if the video you want is in multple VOB files and you only want one AVI file then select the IFO file for those VOB files and AUTOGK will automatically take in all the VOB files for that IFO. Then click on Add Job. You can select a Predefined Size. If the video is an hour or less I like to use 1/4 CD (175MB). For a two hour movie and really good quality I would choose 1 CD (700MB), but it might be clear enough to do a two hour movie at 1/2 CD (350MB). Then click on Start. It is VERY slow. But the first time you run it you will have to watch it because when it gets to "Running Compressibility Test" it will just sit there because it has opened VirtualDubMod for the first time and VirtualDubMod comes up with a "User Agreement" screen. So you will have to say OK and Next to the user agreement and then it will continue processing the AVI. (Note: It took 1 hour 18 minutes to convert a 48 minute movie.) Super C http://www.erightsoft.com/S6Kg1.html Scroll to the bottom and click on Download Super C setup File. Super C will convert between MANY different video formats including: 3gp (cell phone video format), vob (DVD files), MOV, AVI, MPG and more. It also lets you choose many different sizes and compression options and bitrates for the video and audio.
To convert from VOB to AVI with Super C First, copy the movie to the hard drive using DVD Decrypter. Before starting Super C make sure your resolution is 1024x768 or higher or you will not be able to see the Encode button at the bottom. For the output container select AVI. If you keep all the default options the same then the total file size will be about 700MB for a two hour movie. I can stand a little bit worse quality so I usually change the video bitrate from 1008 to 528 and the audio bitrate from 96 to 48. That will make a two hour movie about 350MB. Then you can drop the VOB files to where it says "DROP A VALID MULTIMEDIA FILE HERE" or you can right click on the screen and click on Add Multimedia Files. Add all the VOB files and click Encode (Active Files). The only problem is it will create a seperate AVI file for each VOB file. BUT IT ONLY TOOK 20 MINUTES TO CONVERT A 48 MINUTE MOVIE. It is easy to then put all the AVI files into one AVI file using a program called VirtualDub. http://www.virtualdub.org/ Get the latest stable copy and unzip all the files in a folder. The only problem with VirtualDub is it does not install itself in the menus so you have to make a shortcut to VirtualDub.exe or always go to the folder where you extracted it. In Virtual Dub click on File -> Open Video File.... Select the first AVI. Then click on file and click on Append AVI segment... and select the second AVI file. Keep adding each of the AVI files with Append AVI segment... until you have all of them. Then click on Video and select Direct Stream Copy. Then click on Audio and select Direct Sream Copy and make sure Source Audio is selected. Then click on File -> Save as AVI.... It takes about 1 minute for it to add all the AVI's together into one AVI! Rad Video Tools
At first I downloaded Rad Video Tools to easily convert Quicktime .MOV files into .AVI files so I could load them in Windows XP Windows Movie Maker. It is free and easy to use for that. But it will also convert other picture, video, and audio formats. Go to http://www.radgametools.com/binkhlp2.htm for more help. There it claims you can convert a bunch of BMPs into an AVI, GIFs into JPEGs, Smackers into flics, QuickTimes into AVIs, wave files into different sample rates, 24-bit images into 8-bit images, etc. I also hear it can take AVISynth script files (AVS) and play and convert them to other formats. Videora Converts video files to IPod. UnPlug https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2254 Addon for Firefox that lets you download the video file from video sites. UnPlug works for lots of sites including youtube.com, ifilm.com, current.tv, revver.com, peekvid.com, video.google.com, mobuzztv.com and lots, lots more. IFOEdit Here is how to make a DVD from your AVI or MPG files with Super C and IFOEDIT. First take your files into Super C and convert them to VOB. Then rename all the files in order such as: VTS_01_1.VOB VTS_01_2.VOB and so on. Then Start IFOEdit and at the bottom click on Create IFOs. Then select the first VOB file in the series and click ok. It will the create all the IFO and BUP files you need to burn with VOB files in the VIDEO_TS folder. Video DVD Maker Free (Capture video from DV camera, import AVI, mpg, wmv, make video cd, video dvd or super video cd) NOTES: The Bad: Quality is not good. Cannot save project. FinalBurner Free made by same people, does the same for making DVD's and you can save the project. FinalBurner Free - Made by the makers of Video DVD Maker Free. NOTES: Still bad quality but you can save the project. Pros: Will also burn data CD, DVD, DVD-DL, Blue-Ray and HD-DVD. DeepDVD Movie (Currently DeepDVD Movie is in beta and free) (I can't find the videos to see what they will look like before burning, they put some in temp dir, but they don't look good or have all the videos) DVD Flick (Creates subtitles and chapters) Make DVD Videos NOTE: Better quality then FinalBurner Free, but still not great. Should turn on two pass in advanced. Sothink Movie DVD Maker http://www.sothinkmedia.com/movie-dvd-maker/ Has pretty good reviews. Check it out Jeff! It is free! DVD Styler (look into it for mpg files to dvd and menus) NOTE: Haven't used yet because only does mpg. Maybe only VOB files. ConvertXToDVD - Seems to be the fastest avi, mpg to DVD around. But it puts a big watermark in the middle of the screen unless you pay $40.00.
Free DVD PlayersVLC Media Player - 9MB. Plain and simple. It plays DVD's fine! For Free! Without having to download codecs!! The volume is good and it does full screen video. If you have a laptop and the volume is too low when playing DVD's or if the volume is too low in Windows Media Player, then try this player instead. Media Player Codec Pack 1.1 - 17MB. Supposedly with this codec pack then windows media player will play DVDs. (Warning: Tries to install shopping toolbar. But you can uncheck it). It does work and then you can click on Tools -> Options -> File Types -> DVD Video. Then click OK. That way DVD movies will start up in Windows Media Player. Forget GOMPlayer. It says it plays DVD's but then it says you need a codec. It then has you download MPG2DSSetup Codec from a website. Then it still won't play, it needs and audio codec. So it has you download ac3filter_0_70b.exe. Then it finally works but the sound is so low that you can't hear the movie well enough. The bad thing is the codecs don't help Window Media Player or Interactual Player play DVDs.
Fix Low Volume on Laptops or Desktops when playing DVD or DIVx or AVI movies or in windows media player: http://www.raymond.cc/blog/archives/2007/12/29/fix-low-volume-when-playing-dvd-movies/
Try the AC3 Filter download and then the AC3 filter config that this website recommends.
I finally figured out how to fix the low audio in Windows Media Player when playing some DVD movies from the hard drive or AVI videos with too low of sound on some laptops and desktops: In Windows Media Player, right click on the top of the window until you get the File menu. Click on View -> Enhancements -> Graphic Equalizer. On the Graphic Equalizer click on Turn On. (Note: When it says "Turn Off" then the equalizer is on. Now grab the middle bar of the equalizer above the 500 and drag it all the way to the top. The volume should be better now! MS Photo Story 3 (Take your photos and make a wmv video slideshow) NOTE: I cannot load the .wmv files it creates in VirtualDub, VirtualDub-Mpeg2 or in DVD Flick. They do load in Video DVD Maker Free however. Had to use SuperC to convert to AVI to load in DVD Flick. However, the AVI still wouldn't load in VirtualDub or VirtualDuv-MPEG2. NOTE: Quality of the photos is degraded. MySlideShow (Is like Photo Story 3, add photos, add music, but it can also burn to VCD, SVCD, and DVD or exe. Also it lets you add captions, Web links, Flash animations, and video clips??) Nope the animations and video clips is only in the GOLD version. Also no text boxes in standard version? Also even standard version is not free, 30 day trial rather. AVIEdit - Lets you join and split and extract frames from AVI. Use bluescreening (chromakey) and layers?? (According to website) Import MP3 to add soundtrack to AVI. Convert JPG pictures to AVI video (Look for "File" -> "Import" -> "BitMap Images"). Rotate Video. (TOO HARD TO USE!!!!) Web Album Generator - Creates a folder and copies resized versions of all your photos. Pros: You can select a bunch of photos at once. You can reorder, and rotate the photos. The navigation can be on top or bottom. You can choose to display thumbnail navigation or not. Add title and caption to photo. Puts a nice bold, centered title on each photo. Also names the title of the web page for each photo the title that you give the photo. Cons: No jpg quality setting, but the quality looks good. But just a touch worse quality then Web Picture Creator? In the thumbnails index menu it doesn't let you display the titles of the pictures. Puts "Photo album created with Web Album Generator" at the bottom of each page. Web Picture Creator - Creates a folder and copies resized versions of all your photos. Pros: You can select a bunch of photos at once. You can reorder, and rotate the photos. The navigation can be on top or bottom. You can choose to display thumbnail navigation or not. Add title and caption to photo. Lets you choose jpg quality. Lets you put the title of the photo under the photo in the thumbnails index page. Cons: Doesn't name the title of each html page the title you give the photo. The title of the photo is aligned on the right and both the title and the caption are in small text. Puts "Created with Web Picture Creator" at the bottom of each page. Picasa - The bad: Spends hours analyzing and creating thumbnails of all the pictures it can find in My Documents. The Good: Easily add a caption to a photo (Uses IPTC standard so the comment stays with the picture). Easily crop and adjust colors of photos. You can make a slideshow with MP3 music but it just plays all the MP3's from a folder you choose. You can make a Gift CD or DVD of photos but it cannot have any MP3 music. When you crop a photo in Picasa it doesn't really touch your main image, but it shows up as cropped in Picasa display, when you make photo movies, and when you upload the photo to a web album. You can easily uncrop the photo later on also. To Make A Web Page: Then you can select any photos you want in a folder and click on "Folder" -> "Export as HTML Page...". There you can select what size you want the pictures to be resized to and where to output the HTML pages and resized pictures. It uses the caption of the photos for the web pages it creates. The problem with Picasa's HTML page creation is it creates a 1 inch left border so all the photos are an inch to the right. It also puts a Picasa logo at the top of each page. Create Movie: Select the picture you want and then click on "Create" -> "Movie". Using the Compressor "Full Frames (Uncompressed)" is way too big (300Gb for 3 or 4 photos). Using "Microsoft MPEG-4 Video Codec" makes a file of about 11MB for a 4 or 5 picture video. The cons: There are no video options, you can't add text, you can't choose what panning and zooming to use, you can't add music. It just does it all for you. There is no music and it adds strange panning and zooming to each photo. You can however choose how many seconds before the next photo. picasaweb.google.com - Easily select any photos and upload them from picasa 2 to googles 1GB of free photo space. Keep photos at large size or automatically convert to 1024x768 or 1600x1200. The bad: The slideshow messes up sometimes and only shows half of the photo. The normal picture viewing only shows the photo at about 640x480 but there is a zoom tool to see better detail. The slideshow only shows the photos at about 640x480. The good: Takes photo caption from picasa and applies it. People can zoom into the photo and download the photo at the big size or order prints of the photo. (4x6 print costs about 19 cents from PhotoWorks). You can also add captions and reorganize photos. Because it automatically converts the size of the photo if you tell it to, the uploading of photos is very fast and easily viewable on the web. However, printing of the uploaded photos may not be that great if you have it downsize the photo resolution. You can share your photo album or link to it without your friends having to create a picasa account. Anvsoft Flash Slideshow Maker - Easily add photos to slideshow and it creates a flash slideshow swf file and an html file to play on the web or an xml flash slideshow. You can add background music. You can easily choose between over 50 transistions. You can also overlay text onto the photos. The cons: It seems that you cannot control the panning or zooming on the photos. It just randomly chooses to pan or zoom on some of the photos when you choose xml. If you choose to make a swf file then it doesn't do any panning or zooming on the photos, but it does have all the transition effects. It will burn the slideshow to a CD or DVD, but it is only a data CD or DVD so you can't play it on a DVD player hooked to a TV. If you want to use a DVD player for the slideshow then you must purchase DVD Photo Slideshow Professional. It also adds a slide at the end that displays an AnvSoft advertisement. photo.walgreens.com - Store and Share as many photos as you want online for free. Order 4x6 prints for 19 cents a piece. Very easy to checkmark the photos you want to upload. It is very slow to upload the photos because it does not lower the resolution. However, this is a good idea for printing photos because the quality will be better. The Good: On the right there is a menu labeled "More To Do". There you can edit the photo or easily add a caption by clicking on "Edit & Organize". You can also download high resolution versions of the photos or order a photo cd by clicking on "Get hi-res photos...". The Bad: When viewing the photos normally the resolution is only 480x360. The slideshow only displays the pictures at 480x360. To view the photo albums your friends have to create a photo.walgreens account. (It is free but irritating) JPEGCrops - Is the best program for cropping images QUICKLY without any loss of quality. It only let's you crop at certain pixels so that there is no quality loss. It also lets you move the cropping area around so that you don't loose the parts of the photo you want. Besides manual cropping sizes it lets you choose between over 10 different set aspect sizes including 640x480. I like to add the aspect sizes of 800x600 and 1024x768 to see if I can crop my photos to those size in case I have for example, just a bird in the middle of the photo. To add those sizes click on "File" -> "Preferences" -> "Add..." Type in a Description such as "1024x768" click on "Fixed Pixel Size" and type in 1024x768 pixels. Click "OK" then you can do it again for 800x600. Once I have selected my crop I like to preview the crop before saving it by clicking on "Edit" -> "Preview". NOTE: It automatically saves cropped images in a new folder (My Documents\Cropped). But perhaps you don't want to create a bunch of new images and you just want to save over the original image. To do that click on "File" -> "Preferences", then check "Advanced Settings" then click on "Files" -> "Destination Folder = Source Folder". Then under "Existing File" click on "Warn on Overwrite". Click on "OK". EPS Files (GSView) & Plug-in for IrfanView IrfanView Ultimate Paint
Video Screen Capture
CamStudio is great free software for recording streaming video that appears on your computer screen. You can record tutorials or videos in Google Earth, etc. It will also record audio from your microphone so you can make a tutorial with audio. It then saves the video file as AVI. you can choose to record the mouse cursor or not record it. You can also choose what region or portion of the screen you would like to capture. It uses a hotkey to start recording. You can download and use the CamStudio lossless codec (which in my opinion makes a video file that is way to big or you can try these settings that I use: In CamStudio click on Options -> Video Options. Uncheck Auto Adjust. Choose Microsoft MPEG-4 Video Codec V2 as your compressor. Quality: 60. Set key frames every 30 frames. Capture frames every 20 ms. Playback rate: 50 frames/sec. Then click on Configure and choose 50 for compress control and for Data Rate: 6000.
Parental Controls (Child Proofing Computer)
ScrubIt protects all browsers from going to bad (porn/adult/language) sites by just adding their DNS servers to your TCP/IP settings. So all Internet data is filtered through their servers and only websites that they have listed as appropriate are displayed. Has some problems. Makes browsing slower and will sometimes block sites that good and sometimes not block sites that are bad.
K9 Web Protection
http://www1.k9webprotection.com/getk9/download-software.php This claims to be a very small piece of software that takes very little memory. It sits memory resident and blocks sites that could be inappropriate for children. Such as XXX/Porn sites. Some people have reported that it doesn't slow down Internet as much as other parental control software does. BitPim RealVNC Ad-Aware, Spybot AVG Antivirus, Avast! Antivirus, McAfee Stinger Cobian Backup Schedule and backup your files and directories from their original location to other directories/drives in the same computer or other computer in your network. FTP backup is also supported in both directions (download and upload). Cons: Doesn't have a restore option. Have to restore manually. VersionBackup ***NOTE: To backup outlook you also have to export "Rules" and "Internet Account" Blender - for 3D modeling ZS4 Video Editor vs Windows Movie Maker Bart's PE CD Ultimate Boot CD XPNote Stopwatch PrimoPDF - To print invoices to PDF so you can email them. Windows Fax - Fax invoices from windows. You have a fax modem in your PC probably so why not use it? ShareWatch http://stevemiller.net/sharewatch/ - See who is using your shares Advanced IP Scanner