Everyone knows the really obvious stuff that you install when you get a new computer: Adobe Reader, Office, Firefox, Chrome and so on.
But there’s lots of other lesser-known software that will enhance your experience, that too for free.
Dexpot is a free (for private use) virtual desktop software. Rather than build up clutter on one desktop, you can use multiple desktops -- categorise them as you wish -- for work, play, gaming, internet and so on. Each desktop can have a different wallpaper, different icons and even different running applications.
You can switch between desktops with the mouse or keyboard shortcuts.
Windows offers limited desktop customisation -- that’s why Rainmeter is the choice of tinkerers everywhere. It replaces the entire desktop with a ‘skin’ — you can add widgets, notes, launch applications or just have a unique look to your machine.
What’s more, you can download and use thousands of skins from the community, all for free.
KeePass is the trusted name in secure password storage and retrieval. You can use it to store as many passwords as you like, all secured with a single, master password.
Once locked, the password database is encrypted with secure algorithms (almost impossible to crack) and it stays secure because it is on your machine, not transmitted over the internet.
Accidental deletion is a pain and more likely to occur if you’re not used to a new computer. Recuva from Piriform is a tool that quickly recovers deleted files from camera memory cards, USB drives, the computer’s recycle bin or even an MP3 player.
It may not always be able to recover 100% of the files, but it’s better than a total loss.
If you’ve ever wanted a smoothly animated dock like the kind that Mac OSX has, look no further. RocketDock is a completely customisable (unlike OSX) dock that you can use to launch programmes.
You can minimise programmes to it, keep it on any edge of the screen and even keep it in addition to the usual taskbar.
Standard removal of programmes leaves some files behind. Over time, this can lead to slowdowns.
Once installed, Revo Uninstaller automatically scans for ‘leftovers’ after a conventional removal and tells you if there are any issues.
If you frequently deal with zipped archives (and not just the .ZIP kind), then you need something a little more powerful than the usual WinZip that everyone uses.
For starters, 7-zip is open-source and completely free, it can handle packing/unpacking of every format out there, it integrates neatly with the system (appears in right click) and also has its own high-compression format called 7z.