The Windows (2000/XP/Vista/7) interface is well established and pretty much usable, for the most part. It offers a good platform upon which to accomplish tasks quickly and easily without too much time wasted, but that isn’t to say that it can’t be improved upon. There are certain areas that, for some reason or another, leave the user wanting more.
Thankfully, there are individuals and companies out there that are clever and willing enough to extend the functionality of the Windows interface to make things even better for the rest of us.
Below are just a few of the applications I simply would hate to do without… in fact, I wonder how I lived without them in the first place. :unsure:
WizMouse empowers your mouse cursor with the functionality it should always have had –It gives you the ability to use your scroll wheel on unfocused, or background windows, so you don’t have to click on a window to be able to scroll through its contents.
MaxTo allows you to split your screen into different regions so that windows are constrained to appear in these regions only. It enables you to use your screen-space as efficiently as possible and, dare i say, improves productivity by letting you have all the apps you need open and on-screen at once.
The application was originally freeware, but is now available for purchase on their site. If you can live with an earlier version, you can download it here. Just disable the “Check for updates” option.
Taskbar Shuffle is a small utility that allows you organise your application taskbar buttons in any order that you like. You can drag and drop buttons and rearrange them to your heart’s content. It’s not exactly an essential, but if you like your windows and buttons displayed in a certain order, or are a little OCD about those things, it’s definitely the app to have.
FastStone Capture is another app that is great, but is unfortunately now made available as shareware. However, having said that, I dare say it’s worth buying if you really have a need for it. It is simply one of the best and most fully featured screen capture applications I’ve ever had the pleasure to use.
It allows you to capture images of windows, objects, rectangular or polygonal regions, or the entire screen and output them to your graphics editor, the clipboard, directly save to a file, email, printer, Word, PowerPoint, or the web via FTP!! :yay:
It also gives you the option of captioning, watermarking, and include or leave out the mouse cursor. On top of that, it comes with a screen magnifier, a screen colour picker, and ruler. (Funnily enough, I couldn’t capture a screenshot of it’s own menu as shown above. I had to use the next app.)
If that doesn’t fill your screen capturing needs, perhaps the simpler, yet flashier PrtScr will.
This nifty and beautiful little app allows you to draw on the screen before you capture windows, mouse-drawn regions or the entire screen to the output of your choice. The beauty of this app isn’t in the number of features that it provides, but how it looks when it does it. It is simply one of the best looking capture apps I’ve seen.
\The Vista/XP Virtual Desktop Manager –or VVDM for short– allows you to have as many virtual desktops as you require (or as your system can safely handle 😛 ) and sports a nice quick and effective visual interface from which to swap from one to the other.
VVDM’s features include an on-screen preview/manager interface with full drag & drop, keyboard hotkeys that allow you to swap from one desktop to another quickly and easily, multiple monitor support, per-desktop wallpaper backgrounds, . On Vista, the interface displays live preview thumbnails of the desktops.
I have some others in mind and have already begun composing a Part II to this post but in the meantime, try these out and let me know what you think. I’m sure you’ll find them just as useful as I do.