Posts Tagged 'freeware'

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

Get the eBook FreeFile Reviews at Amazon

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DocPad – FreeFile Review

Text editors are supposed to do one thing – edit plain text, but DocPad is a text editor that includes many useful tools, such as Spellcheck, Calendar, and a Macro Recorder. The default user interface is a colorful, slightly dated Windows Xp look. The interface has an incredible number of user adjustable options; however, simply changing the skin to one of the less colorful options (Understated or Old School) helps greatly. DocPad is Windows only.

The Good – So many useful tools are included, it’s difficult to decide which ones deserve a mention. My favorites are Spellcheck and Character Map. There are also Search & Replace, a simple Calendar, a Calculator, one-click access to Change Text Case, and a Statistics panel. The program also offers access to many Windows tools through the ‘Interface’ menu. Most of the tools and options are available via right-click as well as on the toolbar and menu. User adjustments are available for most aspects of the interface. 100 levels of undo.

The Bad – I found no real issues with DocPad. Minor annoyances include the default interface needing an update from the dated Xp look. The Spellcheck requires an additional download and installation (definitely well worth it). Being a text editor, it opens and outputs only plain text.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

I really like DocPad. It has replaced Notepad on my PC, but I’m still trying to get used to my text editor not being a stripped down, one-trick pony. If you’re a Notepad user, DocPad will be a great upgrade.

Download DocPad HERE

Get the eBook FreeFile Reviews at Amazon

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

 

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


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