The Download Blog

Featured Freeware: Better Gmail

Web-based email clients tend to evoke passions not dissimilar to those that govern which browser you use to check them. If Gmail is your fave, and you use Firefox to check it, Better Gmail is must-have extension.

Properly called Better Gmail 2 to distinguish itself from the previous version of the plug-in which had been designed for the older version of Gmail, Better Gmail introduces a highly useful collection of Greasemonkey scripts bundled into one convenient package.

The features come fast and furious, but should appeal to users looking for everything from skins to keyboard shortcuts. It can force an … Read more

Featured Freeware: Orbit Downloader

Downloading videos, Flash games, and large batches of files is greatly simplified with Orbit Downloader manager, but it's been known to give Firefox users headaches.

Orbit's interface is bland, but the basic toolbar and info boxes guarantee everything is easy to find. Orbit shines with Internet Explorer integration. To get a media file, simply right-click a video or photo and choose Download from your context menu. Grabbing a Flash game is even easier. Hover over a Flash file, and Orbit displays a button for a fast download. It uses a bare minimum of memory, and downloads are much … Read more

First Look video: Opera 9.5

Long considered a cult favorite, Opera 9.5 for Windows and Mac has introduced some compelling features that make it the first salvo in the 2008 browser wars. With improvements to security, speed, and synchronization--yes, syncing in a browser!--is there enough here to make you a convert?

Check out this First Look video and let us know.

Songbird cracks 10,000 songs

As the Songbird-produced cartoon to the left shows, even though the browser is still in beta it's getting stronger all the time.

The latest update, version 0.6 for Windows, Power PC Macs, Intel Macs, and Linux, includes the ability to handle turkey-size music collections greater than 10,000 songs, improved memory management, a metadata editor, improved portable player syncing, support for SHOUTcast, and more.

The code improvements have allowed for smoother scrolling, faster filtering, and just overall better management of music collections of any size. Songbird is well on its way to being a serious jukebox. Other … Read more

Featured Freeware: IE7Pro

IE7 Pro adds a lot of showmanship to the Internet Explorer browser. The freeware add-on has some smart solutions for tabbing, including default settings to open URLs in new tabs and let double-clicking close a tab down.

Here's another pleasant surprise: "Dragging" and "dropping" an in-text link into white space opens the link in a new tab without any mouse work. IE7Pro also borrows from several software concepts to help raise IE7's appeal, including Firefox's, to save and fill forms, and insert user scripts a la Greasemonkey. The MiniDM download manager adds a … Read more

Get under the hood of Opera 9.50

The browser wars are heating up again, and the first major browser update of 2008 is Opera 9.50. Available for Windows and Mac, there are some impressive new features worked into this release, even though it's not listed as a major-point update.

There's no reason to repeat the basics of why Opera is such an excellent browser to use. Suffice to say that it covers the essentials with built-in tabbed browsing, mouse-over previews, a customizable search bar, advanced bookmarking tools, simple e-mail and chat integration, mouse gestures, keyboard shortcuts, and drag-and-drop functionality.

Truly, it's Opera's … Read more

Firefox 3 to set download record on June 17?

Correction on June 13: The spelling of Johnathan Nightingale has been fixed.

On Wednesday, Mozilla announced next Tuesday, June 17, as "Download Day" for Firefox 3. The company also released Firefox 3 release candidate 3 as a final step toward full release.

With Firefox 3, Mozilla is attempting to set a Guinness Book of World Records for the largest number of software downloads within a 24-hour period. There is currently no Guinness Book record for that accomplishment.

Firefox 3 includes a new rendering engine, so pages load faster. It also uses fewer system resources, addressing a complaint in … Read more

Newly released Opera 9.5 bundles more protection

Opera 9.5, code-named Kestrel, on Thursday became available for download for Windows and Mac.

The new version of the browser, whose release candidate was released earlier this week, is a security-enhanced version of Opera 9. It includes antiphishing protection from Netcraft and malware protection from Haute Secure, as well as support for Extended Validation Secure Sockets Layer (EV SSL).

The browser also has a new "eurotechno" look and feel, a QuickFind address bar feature, better synchronization with its mobile cousin, and a Speed Dial feature for visually bookmarking nine of your favorite sites.

Scandinavia-based Opera Software still … Read more

Featured Freeware: Auslogics Registry Defragger

The Auslogics Registry Defragger looks good, but it's hard to tell if this or any Registry defragger or cleaner works. What's the challenge? Simple: It's not easy to gauge if these programs are effective because you'd need to benchmark your CPU against a range of programs before and after the Registry cleaning to properly test for any improvement, and that's an extremely time-intensive process.

Still, Auslogics is known for making effective Windows utilities, so perhaps we should give them the benefit of the doubt until more conclusive evidence is in. In any event, when you … Read more

Avidemux cuts out video editing stress

Making simple edits to videos of all formats shouldn't be tricky business, but most tools out there either do way too much or are so belabored with ads that who knows what evil lurks within their code.

Originally written by a French programmer known as Mean, and gloriously open-source on the GNU license, Avidemux is a breath of fresh air and available for both Windows and Mac. Cropping a video is as simple as selecting the section you want to remove and then hitting the Delete key. Re-encoding a video is equally painless: Merely select the output format from … Read more