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Desktop Enhancement

Stickies Updated -- On Screen "Post-It" Notes

Over a year ago, I reviewed Stickies 5.2b. Stickies 6.0a has finally been released. The new version a major update with several screens full of new features, changes and bug fixes listed on the Stickies web site. There are far too many new features to list here, but these four stand out in my eyes:

QuickType -- Turn ClearType On and Off Easily

Microsoft's ClearType can make text on LCD screens and some CRT monitors much more readable. However, if you use ClearType and design documents or web pages that others will have to read, you often need to see what the text, especially small text, will look like without ClearType -- as what looks great on your system with ClearType may be unreadable without ClearType. The standard Microsoft way of turning ClearType on and off is a real pain for quick changes back and forth.

Close All Windows -- With Just One Click

If you use a lot of programs at once and have to shut them all down in a hurry, you know what a pain this can be. Click on a window, click on the close button. Repeat for each window of each program you are using. Close All Windows is a simple, single purpose tool that allows you to close all your open programs with one mouse click. Create a shortcut to the Close All Windows program in your quicklaunch bar and all you have to do is click on the Close All Windows icon to shut down all your open windows.

Xming -- Standalone Freeware Windows X Server

If you need to access a system running a version of unix from your windows system, you can take advantage of the client server design of the unix X-Windows server to have programs from the unix system display directly on your Windows machine's monitor where you can use them just like you were sitting at the unix machine. The catch is that you have to have a Windows X-Server running on your Windows system. Commercial X-Server programs are expensive -- sometimes very expensive.

Taskbar Shuffle 2.0 - Rearrange Programs on Your Taskbar (Revisited)

I first discovered Taskbar Shuffle -- and wrote about it in this blog entry -- in May. This program lets you "drag and drop the programs on your Windows taskbar by simply... well, dragging and dropping them!" I downloaded version 1.0 and it worked so well that I never thought to check for updates.

Folder Marker -- Colorize and Mark Folder Icons

Chances are you have thousands of folders on your computer. Most of their icons look exactly alike. If you are visually oriented, this visual sameness can make it hard to see the folders you consider important in large collection of folders in Explorer. While there have always been ways to fiddle around in Windows and replace folder icons, the majority of methods have either been error-prone or expensive.

Powerpro -- The Ultimate Windows Utility

I discovered a freeware program for Windows 3.1 called Stiletto in the early 1990s. On the surface, it was a bar you could launch programs from. But the author, Bruce Switzer, just kept adding features to it. It seemed like a new version with even more features came out every month. It quickly became the most important desktop enhancement/utility program on my computer. When Windows 95 arrived, the author rewrote the program for 9x based systems and made the new 9x version shareware.

Copernic Desktop Search -- New Version 2.0 Released

There are a number of free programs that would like to be your desktop search engine. I've tried a number of them and with one exception have found them either too resource hungry, too inconvenient in the presentation of search results, or both. The exception has been the less known Copernic Desktop Search. Version 1.x of this program indexed rapidly, but left your computer usable while it indexed instead of slowly everything else to a crawl.

Tame 5.0 Makes Using Old DOS Apps a Pleasure

If you've been using a computer for many years, you probably remember DOS and probably have an old DOS application or two that you really miss, but just does not run well under Windows XP. Your old DOS program just does not play well with Windows XP. It polls the keyboard constantly and never releases control to Windows when it idles, bringing every other application on your system to a crawl.

TaskSwitchXP -- Replacement Alt-Tab Manager

You can press Alt-Tab in Windows to easily select from your open windows, but to use it effectively, you have to remember which icon goes with which window. This can be hard if you have multiple copies of the same window open. TaskSwitchXP is a replacement for the builtin Alt-Tab function. It adds a number of new features -- including a thumbnail preview of the program that will be switched to.

Here is how the TaskSwitchXP web site describes the program:

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by Dr. Radut