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What We Do (And
What We Can Do For You)

The Free Software Store reviews terrific new freeware, shareware and (occasionally) trialware every 7 days.

Each week we select a category and pick the 6 best programs that we can find in it.

Then we explain what the software does, why it does it; any important issues you should look out for; and why we believe the programs we've selected are the best in that area.

We also provide links for the software so that you can obtain it direct from the manufacturer's site. This ensures you not only get the latest version, but also that it's malware-free and you know who to turn to if you need support.

And just in case none of the six programs we select meets your precise needs, we also provide links so that you can browse dozens (often hundreds) more programs in the same category.

So if you're looking for really great software and don't have either the time or the inclination to evaluate hundreds of options, we'll save you time. Lots of it.

And since we mostly review freeware and shareware, we'll save you money too.

How cool is that?!?

Other Great
Free Software Resources

File Recovery Programs

10th December 2008: At some time almost everyone who's used a computer realises that they've just accidentally deleted a file or a directory that they really wanted to keep. Fortunately though - if you act fast and have the right software installed - you can usually get those files back again. The key is to have a good file recovery program installed on your computer. And this week we've found 6 really great file recovery programs that range from quick and effective everyday solutions through to some industrial strength applications that can even recover data from formatted disks (not always, but often enough). We've also found two that can give you a fighting chance if you need to get data off a damaged CD or DVD (or even a damaged hard drive) and one that covers not only hard drives but most other types of media you can store data on too. We also have a quick tutorial on the three Golden Rules of successful file recovery and show you where to find many more file recovery programs if none of our picks meets your needs.

In other news.... We apologise again for the technical difficulties we've recently been through which delayed our regular weekly updates for a fortnight. We'd originally planned to have a couple of weeks off over the Festive Season but in light of this hiccup we now plan to push on through to get back to our normal schedule. Thankyou for your patience and understanding (as well as several supportive emails that some of you were kind enough to send us - we really appreciated that).

Sticky Notes

19th November 2008: Most people around the world are familiar with 3M's Post-It notes. So it's hardly surprising that the software equivalent of sticky notes has been invented too. Sticky notes on computers certainly aren't new (the first program to do this appeared on Apples in 1991). But they're a well-known metaphor for taking down random information that most people are immediately comfortable with. And that's probably why there are literally more than a hundred sticky notes applications out there right now. This week we've found six of the best of these for you, including some that run on networked environments; some that let you attach notes not only to your screen but also to spreadsheets, word-processing files, web sites and almost anything else you have on your PC; and some that extend the sticky note metaphor even further (including one that lets you attach billing time to your notes - great for time-billing professionals!). We also summarise the main reasons why so many people like this class of software and show you where to get lots more if none of our picks completely tickle your fancy. Finally, we also have a quick bit of history about the real Post-It Notes (including a couple of surprising facts you might not know!). So get stuck into it....


12th November 2008: If you have to do a lot of cutting and pasting, you'll soon discover how limiting the Windows Clipboard is. This is because you can only store one item in the clipboard at any time. But things don't have to be this way! There are plenty of clipboard extenders that will let you store multiple items in your clipboard, and this can be a real productivity booster for lots of people (especially those who often have to cut and paste standard blocks of text, like many people who work in the legal and financial fields). This week we've found half a dozen great clipboard extenders that can make your life a lot easier if you're fed up with your existing Windows Clipboard. They include lite-n-easy extenders that use RAM just like your Windows Clipboard already does, and others that use databases (which means your clipboard can be as big as your hard drive if you really, really want to). We've also found one that runs in a networked environment so that groups of people can use a centralised clipboard, as well as a couple of portable ones you can run just about anywhere. And as usual, we also show you where to find hundreds more if our selections don't meet your needs.

Personal Information Managers

5th November 2008: Are you dying the death of 1,000 cuts trying to stay on top of a myriad of small bits of information every day? Then you might benefit from using a personal information manager (PIM) to keep track of your all your notes, files, contacts and appointments. A good PIM can reduce clutter in your life and actually give you genuine productivity gains. And since the idea of a PIM is what really lies behind Microsoft's Office Outlook, if you've had any experience with that software you've already been exposed to at least one type of PIM already. This week we've found 6 cracker PIMs that carry out a wide variety of functions (including a few that you can replace Office Outlook with). And while most of the programs we've found run on Windows, we've also found two that run on Linux and a Mozilla add-on to its Firefox/Thunderbird suite that will run on Mac OS X too. As usual, we also have links that will let you quickly find hundreds more PIMs if our 6 Top Picks don't meet your needs - and we also have some advice on how to find the PIM that's really right for you.

In other news..... We sincerely apologise for missing last week's update, but we were snowed under with an unexpected deadline we simply had to meet and it ate up all our free time. Plainly, we need a PIM ourselves! (and ironically, this was the inspiration for our latest update). But - knock wood - we're back to our normal schedule now.

Windows Calculators

22nd October 2008: Fed up with the limitations of the Windows Calculator? If you are, then this week we've found eight really cool alternative Windows Calculators you can look at as possible replacements - and that includes two from Microsoft themselves that most people are unaware of (though one is a bit buggy - but hey! it wouldn't be Microsoft without bugs, would it gang?). Our other six selections are non-buggy, though, and they have some neat features that extend the Windows Calculator model in genuinely useful ways. They include resizable or stretchable calculators; calculators with mock paper tape rolls so you can see what you're doing; calculators that can save and restore your calculations from one run to the next; calculators that will let you set their skin, docking position and/or hot keys; and one neat little online calculator from Google that - once again - most people simply aren't aware of. If you've ever thought calculators are dull, we hope this week's selections will make you reevaluate that position.

Word Processors

15th October 2008: If Word 2007 has made you utter dark oaths and/or pull out your hair in frustration, it may be time to look at using a different word processor. But if you've reached that point and are worried that swapping away will put you at a disadvantage in a Word-centric world, don't be! This week we've found six cool - and completely free - alternatives to Word that will read and write .doc files, but will also return you to the good old days when word processing was quick and fun to do and didn't require a degree in rocket science. They include word processors that run on all versions of Windows (from Win95 to Vista); one (soon two) that run on Mac OS X; two that run on Linux; and even one that runs exclusively on the Net. In doing so we've also turned up two powerful office suites that will let you ditch Excel and Powerpoint as well if you want to (and one of these now has close to 20% of the world wide market!). Perhaps even more surprisingly, some of this week's finds come from brand names you already know and trust.


8th October 2008: If you like to download radio programs or TV shows but would prefer to pull them down to your PC rather than into an iPod or some other type of portable media player, then you'll need a podcatcher to do it. Podcatchers are a relatively new class of software (the first one was only invented in 2004!) and they're really specialised forms of RSS news readers. But if you don't want to buy a commercial software product to handle your podcast downloads, this week we've found 4 completely free podcatchers that will do the job for you on Windows, Mac or Linux. They include the two free podcatchers that are justifiably Top Of The Pops with all hardcore podcast fans at the moment, along with another one that runs exclusively on Linux and a fourth that could have a big future in front of it if it keeps on being developed. This is down from our usual 6 top selections, but that's only because this category is so small (there are probably only 20 dedicated podcatchers in existence).

News Readers

1st October 2008: Are you a news junkie? If you are then you'll need a good news reader to sustain your habit - and this week we've found six particularly cool ones. They include a news reader that happily runs on Windows, Mac and Linux; two others that run purely online (so it doesn't matter what operating system you use); a nifty news reader from Russia with an inbuilt blog client that allows you to post directly from your newsreader to your Wordpress, Delicious, Blogger or LiveJournal blog (just perfect for any news hound who also wants to a greyhound in the posting stakes!); and others that can either be drop-dead simple to use right up to powerhouses that can easily push you into information overload (in terms of the number of feeds they can handle, at any rate). We also have a little bit of common sense advice about how to manage your news reader experience and - as always - links that will let you find out more about the topic and/or turn up many, many more newsreaders if none of our six top picks meet your needs. So what's happening in the world right now? Better get a news reader and find out!

Memory Optimisers

25th September 2008: If your computer keeps locking up and/or crashing because you keep running out of RAM - or if you're forced to reboot several times a day because your system steadily slows down to a crawl - then a memory optimiser (also sometimes known as a memory manager) may help you defer or avoid the need to get some extra RAM chips installed on your PC. Memory optimisers can provide some real benefits if you're running a pre-XP machine by allowing you to see how much of your RAM is being used and then letting you free up RAM by reclaiming unused and/or locked parts of it. They can also help provide you with valuable breathing space if a RAM-hogging program threatens to push you over the edge into crashland. However - if you're using XP, Vista or higher - a memory manager will offer you far less benefits than a RAM upgrade will. This week we've dug up six completely free memory optimisers (including a past favourite that does a lot more besides just freeing up your RAM). We also explain the pros and cons of memory management and why some people think this class of software is just a load of bunk. It certainly isn't. But it's not for everyone either!

In other news...... If you're running an older version of Spybot Search & Destroy (which we reviewed in Adware and Spyware Blasters) you might want to upgrade to the latest version 1.6 which was released in June this year. Spybot S&D are so pleased with their latest version that they've decided they're no longer going to support earlier releases.

Image Viewers

18th September 2008: If you have a lot of images on your hard drive, you have two choices: either grit your teeth and struggle on with the lamentable image viewing tools that Microsoft provide with Windows, or download an install a truly industrial-strength image viewer. If you prefer the latter course - and what sane person wouldn't?!? - this week we've rounded up 6 of the very best free image viewers available on the Net to make your life a little easier. They include some that run using databases; some that run without using databases at all; an award-winning dynamo that runs on Windows, Linux and Mac; and a power-packed combination image viewer and photo editing package from South Korea that's well worth taking a look at if your main interest is managing (and playing with) your digital photos. We also explain the principal difference between the two classes of image viewers (ie database or non-database driven) and give you a few tips on how to decide which one is right for you. And then - as usual - we show you where to find bucketloads more if our six best-of-breed selections don't meet your needs.

In other news.... Exit Reality launched a new browser plug-in yesterday that promises it will let you browse the Net in 3D. And if you find that a difficult idea to visualise (we don't blame you!) you can read what News Ltd said about it and view a screenshot by clicking here. The software only runs in Windows and early reactions to the concept have been mixed. But if you want to try it out yourself, you can download a copy of the software from Exit Reality's website

First Person Shooter Games

11th September 2008: After months and months of reviewing "serious" software, we're taking a little bit of a break this week with 7 terrific First-Person Shooter Games that can give you endless hours of pulse-pounding excitement if you're a games fan. They include 5 big online multi-player games that cover the latest incarnation of Wolfenstein 3D to some games produced by the US Army and Navy (no, we're not making this up), along with two classic-style single-person FPS games for those who prefer to have some blammo with their ammo in private (and this includes an increasingly rare version of the original release of Doom complete with 9 frustrating levels of shoot-em-up action). We also briefly outline the history of first person shooter games; take a quick look at two controversial health issues that may attach to this class of software; and show you where to get bucketloads more free games if these ones whet your appetite. So get your trigger finger ready....

PDF Creators

4th September 2008: PDF once used to be a niche file format. But these days it's the world's default document exchange standard and nearly everyone needs to create PDFs at some time. But if this applies to you and you don't have US$299 to US$699 to buy a copy of Adobe Acrobat, don't worry! We've found a range of completely free PDF Creators that will let you churn out PDFs in the blink of an eye. They include two very simple ones that can have you productive in minutes; one with slightly more advanced features; and another with features that rival Acrobat itself. And while Mac OS X users have been able to create PDFs ever since 10.3 (ooooh... those smarties!) we've found a neat Mac utility that extends this basic power in several useful ways. Then just to round things off we've also dug up a new add-on for Microsoft Office 2007 which brings PDF printing capabilities to Office apps too. Last of all, we've got some quick advice about PDF viruses (yes, they can be infected!) and show you where to get a cheap copy of Adobe Acrobat if you simply must buy one.

In other news... Google stunned ther world this week by releasing its own browser: Google Chrome. So we've updated our reviews of Web Browsers to include a quick overview of its main features and our initial reactions to it (along a quick summary of commentators' views). And if you want to try out Chrome yourself, we also show you where to get it.

Disk Defragmenters

28th August 2008: Defragmenting your hard disk is a chore that most people avoid until system slowdowns and/or crashes mean they have no other choice. Why? Because it takes so long! But it doesn't have to be this way - and this week we've found 5 completely free disk defragmenters that can greatly speed up the process (including two that will let you just defrag the worst parts of your hard drive rather than the whole lot, and one really great utility that defrags parts of your PC most others can't reach). We also provide 7 handy tips that will soup up your disk defragmentation speeds even if you choose to stay with the default defragger that Microsoft include with Windows. You deserve to have a faster PC (heck! we all deserve to have a faster PC!). So defrag your hard drive and get one today.

Welcome To Our New Version 3.0 Site!

21st August 2008: Hello everyone! It's taken us 8 months to get here, but we're very pleased to unveil the latest version of our site for you today.

As we promised we'd do, we've made navigation a whole lot easier and we've also added a new Google Custom Search facility to our site to make finding what you're looking for much easier too.

We'll likely still have some fine-tuning to do over the next fortnight (and if you find a bug or broken link, please email us about it). But from this point forward - now that we've attended to the basics - we'll also be moving to weekly updates. Which means that we'll have something new (and - we hope - pretty cool) for you every 7 days from now on.

So thankyou for your wonderful patience and support while we've worked our way to this point. And see you again on August 28th!

Computer Cleaning Software

14th August 2008: Short on disk space? System slowing down? Then chances are your computer's hard drive is slowly filling up with electronic junk. In that case you can either go through you PC and delete these junk files by hand. Or you can install a computer cleaner and flush it out in the blink of an eye, freeing up valuable hard disk space and putting some oomph back into your PC's performance as you do so. There are a lot of commercial cleaners on the market and between them they offer a mind-boggling array of features. But we've found six terrific freeware cleaners (including one for Mac OS X) that really give the commercial cleaners a run for their money!

Video Capture Software

20th July 2008: Need to make a movie of what's on your screen? If you've got a touch of the Hollywoods (or even a mild case of the Bollywoods) then you'll need a video capture program to cure what ails you. We've found six great video capture programs that range from drop-dead simple up to power levels that rival some of the leading commercial products (including one very novel cross-platform video capture tool that runs through the Net and instantly puts your completed videos online. Result? All you need to email to your friends and contacts is a URL rather than a bulky AVI file). We had a lot of fun doing this and we hope you have as much fun with the products. As usual, they're all 100% free.

Screen Capture Software

17th July 2008: Need to take a copy of what's on your screen? If you need to go beyond Print Screen we've found six of the best screen capture programs out there - including one that will let you capture screenshots from videos; one that will let you capture entire web pages with just one click (including the parts that scroll below your browser's viewing area); and even one for Mac OS X that improves on the inbuilt screen capture that comes with all Macs. Any one of these programs can make your life much, much easier if you need to do lots of screen captures. And every single one of them is completely free.

Screen Savers

12th July 2008: Don't want to get creative? If you're bored with your existing screen saver but don't want to create your own (and hey! that's a legitimate position too) then there are bucketloads of sites that offer all sorts of beautiful, imaginative and fun screen savers for free. Unfortunately though, there are also a lot of sites out there that will infect your computer with adware, spyware or viruses if you download a screen saver from them. So we put on our boiler suit to go out and find 8 trustworthy sites that between them will let you choose from 2,000+ of the best screensavers available - risk free!

Screen Saver Makers

24th June 2008: Want to get creative? If you're bored with your existing screen saver and want to create your own - or even just a slideshow of your own digital photos to display on your monitor - a screen saver maker will let you do that, and also let you distribute your screen saver to others. We've found five completely free screen saver makers including one that will let you build screen savers for both Windows and Mac; one that will create a slideshow from an image directory on your hard drive; and three that will also create Flash screen savers! We've also found one that you can trial for free and only need to pay a $30 licence fee for if you want to go fully commercial.

Password Managers

17th June 2008: Drowning in passwords? A good password manager will let you store all your usernames, passwords, credit card details and other sensitive information in one place with rock-solid security. And a really good one will also remember your details when you surf to sites that need passwords and will auto-complete login boxes and/or order forms for you too (even when a site's cookie has been erased off your machine). There are bucketloads of password managers out there ranging from barely adequate to brilliant - but we've found six of the best (including ones that run on Mac and Linux as well as Windows). As usual, they're all completely free.


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