Posts Tagged 'Free File Review'

Gravit Designer – FreeFile Review

Gravit Designer is a vector graphics editor – great for making illustrations. Gravit Designer is an online app as well as a desktop program. The desktop version is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and ChromeOS. Mobile versions are in the works. I took a look at the online version and the Windows portable version, which requires no installation. The online and desktop programs are identical.

The Good – All of the essential tools are present. If you are familiar with Illustrator, you will know what to do. If not, take some time to explore the tools. Links to tutorial videos on YouTube are available on the left side ‘Tutorials’ tab. A large collection of shapes and premade illustrations are available on the left side ‘Libraries’ tab. The interface is well organized. The default purple theme can be changed to dark or light themes. Illustrations can be exported as pdf, svg, png, or jpg.

The Bad – The online app had issues rendering the workspace in Firefox, my browser of choice. I tested 3 other browsers, and found rendering issues in Microsoft Edge, but Chrome and Vivaldi had no problems. If you want to try the online app, use Chrome. Gravit Designer is not compatible with Illustrator files. There are few user adjustments or settings.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

Is Gravit Designer a replacement for Illustrator? No. However, it is all most people need to create illustrations. For the casual illustrator, it’s ideal. I recommend using the desktop program to avoid the browser issues altogether.

Download Gravit Designer HERE

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Dual-panel File Managers – FreeFile Review

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Dual-panel windows file managers, or Explorer replacements, put two instances of Windows Explorer in a single program window. They usually offer tabbed panels as well as other utilities. On my search for a dual-panel windows file manager, I found only minor differences between most of the free programs. FreeCommander seemed to best fill my needs, so I gave it a test run. This became a side-by-side test when I came across Windows Double Explorer. WDE unlike other file managers, uses Windows Explorer in its panels, rather than replacing it. For a month I ran both FreeCommander and WDE on the same Windows 10 PC. Both programs were fast and ran without any issues.
FreeCommander — Initially, I found the program to be less than ideal. Things improved once I discovered all of the options and customizations that are possible. Increasing the font size and enabling the ‘Tree’ and ‘Favorites’ on the left column greatly improved workflow. Like most file managers, panels can be tiled horizontally or vertically and are tabbed (for multiple Explorer instances in each panel). Several additional tools (File Shredder, Zip utility, Renamer) are available under the File menu. After a month, I still have not explored all of the options offered. The shear volume of options in FreeCommander can be daunting.
Windows Double Explorer — WDE is probably the simplest dual-panel windows file manager available. It offers very few options and customizations; and no additional tools are included. If you like Windows Explorer and are looking for a dual-panel option, WDE may be perfect. Sadly, it is no longer actively being developed.
— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —
I will continue to use FreeCommander as I prefer all of the options it offers. However, Windows Double Explorer is a good choice for those who prefer simpler software.
Download FreeCommander HERE
Download Windows Double Explorer HERE

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Where Can I Safely Download Free Software? FreeFile Review

FFR-WP-logoFWsites2014Downloading free software gets riskier everyday. Some sites intentional try to confuse people into downloading garbage by way of ads with large “Download” buttons. However, if you are careful, you can download the free programs that you want. This review is a comparison of the four best freeware download sites for Windows software, that I regularly visit. All four are quite similar, with only minor differences. Generally, these sites all have clean navigation (a minimum of ads with ‘Download’ buttons), are updated daily, offer a large catalog of software with reviews, ratings, and screenshots, and most importantly – a direct link to program that you want. Below are quick reviews of my four favorite sites.

SnapFiles is the best site for the occasional downloader. With very few ads and a clean lay-out, it is hard to go astray. Very good search function.

MajorGeeks has a clean, simple homepage, with the bulk of the page for the most recent software. The download pages for individual programs have ads with big green ‘Download Now’ buttons – so be careful. This site’s outstanding feature is mirror sites for downloads; frequently there are several sources for downloads. Use the links under “Download Locations”.

FileHorse, like MajorGeeks, junks up its download pages with ads. Use the green ‘Download Now’ button on the right side, labelled “(xx.xx MB) Safe & Secure”. Outstanding feature is old versions of most programs are available on the program’s download page.

Download Crew has the busiest, most ad-filled site. The download buttons are located directly under the program name on the download page. Best search function of the four sites.

– – – – The Bottom Line – – – –

All four of these sites offer only direct links to downloads, feature many new programs every day, and are relatively easy to navigate, so all of them are excellent. SnapFiles is the winner, by a nose.

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

 

FreeFile Review – Calme (Calendars Made Easy)

FFR-WP-logocalmeCalme (or Calendars Made Easy) is a simple utility for printing calendars. It has 12 styles of calendars to choose from – all attractive. You can choose between several professional looking planner calendars (monthly,yearly or half-year) or five styles of monthly calendars that can be customized with your own pictures. Calme is for Windows only.

I have only positives to report. It couldn’t be easier to use. Simply select a style of calendar, select the year/month, click ‘Print Preview’ and then ‘Print’. Inserting a photo for the custom picture calendars is also very easy, with several options for resizing the image. I got good results even when using a relatively low resolution image. The current version will print calendars only for 2012 and 2013. Hopefully, an updated version will be released soon.

– – – – The Bottom Line – – – –
To quickly knock out a professional looking calendar, Calme is hard to beat. Some people might want more options and customizations, but I don’t think they’re needed. This program’s strong suit is quick and simple. It is totally free, so give it a shot.

Download Calme HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

FreeFile Review – The Gimp 2.8

The Gimp has long been considered the best free graphics editor. In the past, when trying the program, I was turned off by the interface that consisted of several floating windows. This issue has been addressed in the new version 2.8 with the Single-Window Mode, which can be enabled in the ‘Windows’ menu. This constrains the program to a single main window as is the norm with most programs. This new interface is pleasant and slightly cluttered. Another welcome change is the Text Editing, which now is done on canvas (in-line). Previously, text was edited in a separate window. The Gimp is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

My enthusiasm for the program quickly evaporated when I tried to get some work done with it. Much of this program is not intuitive; I spent more time reading less-than-helpful help files and the more useful forums than actually testing the program. If you are experienced with other photo editors, The Gimp will be very frustrating. Simple functions, such as ‘deselect’ are not where one would expect them. Other things, such as ‘Adjustment Layers’, are absent. There are seven selection tools, but not a plain ‘Select’ tool. The ‘Heal Tool’ performs as a ‘Clone Stamp Tool’. It seems that non-standard things have been done just to be different.

Positives include a good selection of tools, most of which have plenty of options. It comes with a nice selection of filters. The new Single-Window interface is a welcome change. The Gimp performed well and was stable.
– – – – The Bottom Line – – – –

This is a powerful program with a steep learning curve, and you must be willing to put in a lot of work to master it. I can’t recommend The Gimp for most users, but if you are looking for a challenge, The Gimp may fill the bill.

Download The Gimp HERE

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FreeFile Review – Invisible Utilities

What is an invisible utility? My definition is a Windows application that is completely unobtrusive; transparent to the user, when not needed, but is quickly available via the context menu (right click) when needed. And most importantly, it must provide something that Windows does not. this review will cover three such utilities that I have used for several years –  Eraser – 7-Zip – Unlocker.

Eraser will securely delete any file on your PC. Normally when a file is deleted, it still exists on your hard drive. To truly remove a file, it must be overwritten – that is what Eraser does. Once installed, several Preferences can be set by the user. The most important setting is for the number of times a file will be overwritten – 1, 3, 7 or 35 times. I choose 3x – for speed – and I also disable Scheduled Tasks. To use Eraser, simply right-click on a file and select ‘Erase’, click ‘Yes’ and the file is permanently gone. The contents of the Recycle Bin can be erased also. Right-clicking the Recycle Bin icon gives a list of erasing options.

7-Zip is for opening archive files – about 25 different formats. Windows will open .zip files, but no other archive types. 7-Zip will open .rar, .iso and many others. To use, right-click on an archive file and select ‘7-Zip’ and then ‘Extract files’ (or ‘Extract Here’), click ‘OK’ and 7-Zip does its thing. Most users will not need this application often, but it is handy to have on your computer. 7-Zip is available in 32 bit and 64 bit versions.

Unlocker is a lifesaver when Windows refuses to let you do anything to a file because some program has control of the file. To use, right-click on the locked file and select ‘Unlocker’. In the Unlocker window, select the locked file and click the ‘Unlock’ button. Usually, this does the trick. If the file is still locked, try the ‘Kill Process’ button. It can be difficult to find a download link for Unlocker – here is a good one. Be aware that Unlocker is available in 32 bit and 64 bit versions.

– – – – The Bottom Line – – – –

All three of these utilities are simple to use and effective. They have been part of my Windows PCs for years and I appreciate them on the rare occasions when they are needed. While many similar programs exist, I find these three to be solid performers.

Download Eraser

Download 7-Zip

Download Unlocker

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