There are a lot of productivity software programs available on the web and the best part, most of them are free. I have compiled a list of eight of my favorite free programs. I stayed away from listing the obvious ones like Skype, or any of the free web browsers. The only other qualification for this list was it had to be a program that I have tested and used frequently.
Free Photo Editor - Photoscape
I use this program nearly every day. It has all of the basic features to edit pictures such as cropping and red-eye fix, but my favorite option is the clone stamp. If you have an area of a photo, or something within the photo that you want to cover, you can “clone” (or copy) a nearby area and paste it over another area so that it blends seamlessly.
I use this a lot when I forget to turn off the Date Stamp feature on my camera. Or, if there is someone or something in the background that is "photo bombing" an otherwise perfect shot, you can clone them out of the photo.
Photoscape also has excellent color enhancers such as saturation, color and luminance curves that you can use to adjust any photo to any mood. This comes in very handy when you are using a less than stellar digital camera with a bad light sensor. You can really bring the color to life with this feature.
However, it is not simply a image editor. It also contains 12 other useful programs that allows you to create slideshows and animated GIFs, split or join photos and do screen captures. Other than the photo editor, I use the color picker and the screen capture software the most.
Photoscape Cloning Tutorial
How to Uninstall Programs
Revo Uninstaller is an alternative to using the built-in Windows uninstaller. I find it to be much more robust that the Windows version and it cleans deep into the registry when you remove a program.You can download Revo uninstaller at various online websites such as CNET.
When you select to uninstall a program, it will ask you the type of removal you want. You can choose either safe, moderate or advanced. I always choose advanced although it will warn you that it will take longer. The reason is because it goes deep, scanning everything that the program touches, then it asks you which of the results you would like to remove permanently. If you are confused on which method to use, the menu gives a detailed description of each method on the selection screen.
Revo Uninstaller Tutorial
Advanced System Care
Advanced System Care is an all in one PC utility and maintenance program. It features a one click approach to launching an assortment of scans and defrags to optimize your computer. There may be better individual malware or defragging programs out there, but this program provides an advanced system optimizer, a one stop shop for optimizing everything on your PC. It cleans old files, dumps memory and everything you can think of in terms of a PC tune-up.
I would recommend this program for someone that wants a simple PC maintenance solution for everything but does not know a lot about PC issues or where to go and what to do to fix them. On one such occasion, a friend of mine was complaining about weird messages popping up and slow performance. After she used this program, she came back to me and said that her computer ran like it was new. She had accumulated so much junk over the years that it had severely affected performance.
Advanced System Care Tutorial
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TrueCrypt - Free Encryption Software
TrueCrypt is a free open source encryption software program that I highly recommend to hide sensitive files on your computer. The program works by creating a password protected vault that encrypts everything within it so that even if you lose your computer, no one can see what is in the vault because they do not have the password. First they would need the TrueCrypt program to try to open the vault, then they would need your password.
There is also a feature that allows you to create a hidden vault within a vault. In this instance, the idea is if you were forced to open your vault, they would not see the hidden vault inside the larger one. Granted, that is a little deep for the average user, but it is a powerful program that I use daily. All of my financial record are encrypted and locked in this program.
MP3 Rocket - Youtube to mp3
There are a lot of mp3 download and converter programs, but I like this one a lot because of the other features it has built-in. You can convert various audio file types to other types, download videos, listen to the streaming radio feature and even play games.
Also, it allows you to download music from Youtube simply by inserting the video URL , then it strips the audio portion from the video leaving you with just the mp3.
One thing to note about the installation of MP3 Rocket. It will try to install some other programs (commonly called crapware) if you select the normal installation path. When given the option at the beginning, select "Advanced", then uncheck the other programs listed so they do not install. That is a good general tip for all software like this. Never go with the routine installation option. Always select "Custom" or Advanced".
MP3 Rocket Tutorial
This program is a memory hog, but I love it. You can zoom into any area on the planet, view Google images from that area that other users have uploaded and then fly away to another part of the globe in really cool fashion. There is so much to say about this program, but my advice is to just go and download it and play around. You will get lost viewing things like the Brooklyn Bridge or the Eiffel Tower from above or go down to street level with Google maps street view.
Google Earth Tutorial
Harvest Time Tracking
Rescue Time is a program that you install on your PC and it records how much time you spend doing just about everything. Yes, I guess you could say it is spying on you, but I have had this program installed for about 2 months now, and it is interesting. It emails you a report each week and tells you how much time you spent on Facebook, Twitter or InfoBarrel. In that sense, if you are a writer, if can be a great way to see how many hours you actually worked during a week.
There are some limitations to the reports though. For instance, if you leave your PC on and Facebook up even though you are not at home, it will record that time as spent on Facebook. But it can be a good indicator if are really interested in improving your productivity.
There is a premium option also that gives you more in-depth reports so try the free version and if you like it, upgrade.
Rescue Time Tutorial
There are many other programs I could have included in this list. However, I narrowed it down to some of the ones I feel are underrated or lessor known.
All of these programs can be used on PCs. Some have Mac compatible versions. Others, such as Google Earth and Rescue Time, can be used on mobile devices and tablets. However, if you are interested in increasing your productivity or are just looking for some free cool stuff on the web, start with these programs and explore everything they have to offer.
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