Posts Tagged 'freeware'

FreeFile Reviews Ebook Just Released

I’ve collected all of the FreeFile Reviews into an ebook. It contains over 50 reviews, dating back to 2009. Nearly half of them have just recently been updated.

It is available at Amazon.

For only $ 0.99, or free, if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Get your copy HERE.

Control Panel Replacement – FreeFile Review

neupanel-logo1

nuePanel is an application that attempts to organize many of the settings available in Windows. The sheer number of tools, Control Panel apps, and settings in Windows make that a daunting task, but neuPanel does a very good job of cutting through the clutter.

The Good – It appears that every possible Windows setting is available. The interface is simple, with rows of buttons in the main window and tabs across the top. The buttons are in alphabetical order, which speeds up finding things. ‘God Mode’ is available as ‘Control Panel (God Mode)’ under the ‘Troubleshooting’ tab.

The Bad – A few of the command buttons don’t work (they report ‘cannot find the file specified’). Finding what you want can still take a little time, due to the quantity of buttons available.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

I’ve found neuPanel to be a timesaver. It provides one location to find the setting you need. This gets more valuable as Microsoft hides more and more settings. Most Windows users should find neuPanel useful.

Download neuPanel HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

XnRetro – FreeFile Review

xnretro-logo

XnRetro is a quirky little image editor, that I must admit I enjoy using. It seems to be a smart phone filter app that also has a desktop version. On mobile, it is available on Android and iPhone; on the desktop, it is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. I’m reviewing the Windows desktop version. It required no installation, just unzip, open folder, and click XnRetro.exe to launch the program.

The Good – Clean, simple interface. The interface is pleasant enough, and organized with basic color control sliders on the right side, and filters on the bottom. Filters include Retro color presets, Light effects (think lens flare), Vignette, and Frames. Personally, I don’t care for the Retro color filters; I found the Vignette and Frames very useful.

The Bad – The color adjustments seem to be rather slow – move a slider and wait to see the results – not a long wait, but noticeable. Quirks. Quirks aren’t necessarily bugs, but merely unexpected ways of doing things. The program will open with all of the adjustments that were applied to the last image saved. Many users may find this useful, I don’t. The Reset button on the right side only resets the color adjustment sliders; the Reset button on the top tool bar resets everything. The strength of the Light effects is controlled by a slider on the right. If the slider gets adjusted to zero, the Light effects seem to do nothing. Through experimentation, I found that it could open and edit JPG, PNG, and GIF files, but save only as JPG or PNG. Saving JPG quality is a relatively low 75%. This is fine for mobile, but it should be adjustable on the desktop. A Help file would have helped, but I couldn’t find one.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

XnRetro has a number of quirks, probably due to its mobile origins. I found no real issues, and once you get used to it, XnRetro is a very nice, very useful image editor. Try it just for the Vignettes and Frames.

Download XnRetro for desktop HERE

Get XnRetro for mobile HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

AbleWord – FreeFile Review

I only recently discovered a fantastic word processor called AbleWord, and have found it a pleasant surprise. Think of AbleWord as WordPad on steroids. It is a simple word prosessor with some powerful features. It is Windows only.

The Good – The install is quick with no extra software. AbleWord has a attractive Windows XP style interface. The menus and toolbars (only 2) are sparsely populated with only the basics. AbleWord’s real power lies in the formats that it works with. It will open, edit, and save in .doc .docx .pdf .html. Compatability with MS Office formats is good. It has Spell Check, Text Find, and Word Count. Tables and images can be inserted into documents. Everything seems to work well.

The Bad – I have trouble finding anything wrong with AbleWord. One thing that I found confusing was the “Open PDF Text” command. Initially, I tried to open existing PDF files with that command, and had mixed results. Later, I found that opening PDFs with the “Open” command gave excellent results. One suggestion I have is that simple drawing tools would be a welcome addition.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

AbleWord is an excellent application that deserves much wider recognition. It is perfect for most pc users who have basic word processing needs. The PDF functionality make it a must have program.

Download AbleWord HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

GFXplorer – FreeFile Review

GFX

GFXplorer is a utility that gathers information about your Windows PC along with shortcuts to many Windows tools and utilities. It is only available for Windows. The program has a clean, simple, tabbed interface. The first three tabs contain information about the software and hardware on your computer. An ‘Export’ button allows you to save all of this info as a text document. The fourth tab, ‘Tools’, is the really interesting one. It has shortcuts to 18 of Windows’ tools and utilities.

The good – The ‘Tools’ tab is what makes this application a keeper. All of these tools are built into Windows, but finding them without a program like GFXplorer can be challenging. Some of the tools, such as ‘Display color calibration’ and ‘Malware Removal Tool’, are incredibly useful ones that Microsoft has decided to hide. Having all of these tools in one location can be a great time saver. The.zip download is a stand-alone program that doesn’t require installation; just unzip and run.

The bad – I found nothing to dislike about GFXplorer, but I have two suggestions to improve it. More system information (such as Windows keys and more details about storage drives) could be displayed. Since the ‘Tools’ tab is most useful, it should be the first tab, the tab that the program opens to.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —
Every Windows user should have GFXplorer. Having all of these tools available in one location is very handy. Shortly after I installed GFXplorer, I pinned it to my Start menu. I rarely pin programs to my Start menu, so that is a very strong endorsement from me. Get it today.
Download GFXplorer HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

Photo Pos Pro – FreeFile Review

ppp

Photo Pos Pro is yet another photo editor. It has everything that is expected in a free photo editor and is only available for Windows. A paid version with a selection of more advanced tools is also offered.

— The good – Photo Pos Pro comes with plenty of tools and filters. It has all of the standard adjustments nomally available in most photo editors and many more. I like the right side palette, with the history, layers, and color palettes always visible.

— The bad – The user interface needs work. Very little customization by the user is possible. Every button and toolbar is visible by default, which creates a rather busy workspace. Unneeded tools can be hidden, but they are labeled cryptically (e.g. “CommandBarStripElement1”) in the ‘Customize’ context menu. Ugh! I don’t like the blue highlighting, used throughout the workspace, and I found no way to change it. Care needs to taken when downloading the program, as the latest version (3.0.5) can only be downloaded from Download.com, where unwanted programs are often included with downloads. I was able to download Photo Pos Pro without any ‘extras’. As with all free photo editors, the selection tools leave much to be desired. Tools not available in the free version, are not grayed-out, but instead lead to a web page where the Premium version can be purchased for $25. Ugh!

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

Photo Pos Pro has me confused. I want to recommend it because it is possibly one of the most complete free photo editors, however, too many things made me say “ugh!”. In the end, I give it a thumbs-down.

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com.

Dual-panel File Managers – FreeFile Review

dpfm

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

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com


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