The Download Blog

First Look: RingtoneExpress

A personalized ringtone is worth a thousand preset tones. It's no wonder why so many users produce their own, and why so many developers join the talent show. While all ringtone-making software share some commonalities, they usually vary by some degree of pricing, audio editing sensitivity, and delivery mode. RingtoneExpress, for instance, is light on editing tools, but offers four methods for loading MP3 and WMA content onto the phone. The pricing is kept low, about $10 for limitless ringtone creation, and uniquely, it can also suck the audio out of YouTube videos for conversion to an MP3 ringtone.… Read more

Five ways to master bookmarks in Firefox 3

Besides the face-lift, one of Firefox 3's less flashy, but incredibly useful features, is the new bookmarking system. Yeah, there are still folders and bookmarklets, but joining the party are useful items like tags, smart backup, and a new way to track which sites you're actually visiting to help weed out what's unneeded.

We've put together a small guide to help you take advantage of bookmarking in Firefox 3. If you put these lessons to use, you'll go from having a big, clumsy menu of sites you like to an ever-changing list that can quickly be parsed and prioritized with minimal effort.

Step 1: Master the quickie On a site you like? Don't bother with keyboard shortcuts (although Ctrl+Shift+L is dead easy); just hit the new star button in the address bar. It'll quick-save it to your bookmarks list the same way the keyboard shortcut does, although it saves a click or two by skipping the "edit this bookmark" dialogue that usually pops up when you try to squirrel a link away.

If you do want to access that dialogue without having to delve into the full-fledged bookmark editor, just click on the star again and you'll get that same drop-down menu with quick fields you can fill in to edit tags or simply remove the link from your bookmarks.

Step 2: Use tags Tags are helpful. If you're bookmarking a site you think you're going to keep around, it's worth tagging. The biggest reason is that Firefox will now use tags as shortcuts in the address bar, meaning that if you tag this article "awesome," typing awesome into the bar will automatically pull up this page as one of the top results. It'll also take any tags you've previously added and autofill them for you as you type. This makes it easy to fill in some simple descriptions quickly and efficiently.

To quickly add pre-existing tags without typing anything, just hit the little down arrow in the bookmarking menu. This will list all of the tags you've typed in before, and simply clicking on any one of them will add it as a tag.

Step 3: Use smart bookmarks and folders to discover new content Are you an iTunes user? If so, you may be familiar with smart playlists, the playlists that will automatically fill with tracks based on what boolean values you set up. Firefox 3 has two similar features called smart bookmarks and smart folders that let you do this using query strings or simple searches. Now as a warning, this isn't as simple to do as it is in iTunes, which has drop-down menus, but the good news is… Read more

AIM's Windows Mobile chat app nails a bullseye

Updated 6/23/08 at 5:40 pm PST to correct details about the texting feature.

After the sophistication of desktop chatting, mobile instant messaging services often tend to look like rough, rickety wire frames. Not so for AOL's first house-made application for mobile phones, a rich AIM client for Windows Mobile phones versions 5 and 6.

Released earlier this month, the IM application is in beta stages and there are plenty of known issues, including the one that number-locks the keypad on T-Mobile Dash phones and made for a dead-end first attempt. Past that obstacle, AIM for Windows … Read more

Featured Freeware: Xplorer2 Lite

This slimmed-down file manager trumps Windows Explorer on many counts, but it may have too much flexibility for some users.

Xplorer2 Lite's interface is easily adapted to your preferences. Toolbars and information windows can be moved on a whim. You can browse two or more folders in one window, using program tabs and different panes. What's more, you can customize search windows and save the settings for later use. Visual filters improve crowded directory readability. You can easily rename multiple files at once, split or merge files, synchronize folders, and shred data to prevent recovery. However, Check Duplicates … Read more

Featured Freeware: Notepad++

Notepad++ is a Notepad replacement with an eye toward programmers, although it should also appeal to the casual user who wants a cross between Notepad and WordPad. Notepad++ has some noticeable differences from WordPad. Support for tabs is key, letting users manage different documents simultaneously. Line numbering is important, too, a feature that nobody mucking about in C should be without.

The interface is much simpler compared with some of its competitors. A familiar row of icons with their mouse-over labels sits at the top, and one row of tabs is just below that. The rest of the screen is … Read more

Featured Freeware: Stickies

Laugh it up all you want, you Web 2.0-using note takers. This simple note maker for your PC is small, robust, and excellent at what it does.

Stickies combines the best and most important features that you could want in a notes program. The program's main feature, the sticky note, can be customized on nearly every level, from font to color to behavior. The program installs a yellow sticky pad in your QuickLaunch bar. Double-click on it to load a new sticky, or right-click on it to access saved stickies and configuration options.

Fonts, hot keys, formatting, opacity, … Read more

Power Downloader revitalizes old add-ons

Whenever Firefox gets a major update, Power Downloader gets asked the inevitable question: what do I do if my favorite extension hasn't been updated yet? This time, Power D was asked by Kitty Kilobyte's cousin's sister's best friend forever, Tessa Terabyte. In her office, Tessa said, she has to copy text from Web sites and paste them into e-mails, and she used the extension called AutoCopy to help her do that.

AutoCopy is a highly useful extension. By simply highlighting a string of text, it would copy to the clipboard, and open a small menu asking … Read more

First Look video: Ad-Aware 2008

Ad-Aware has been around for nearly a decade and has been downloaded by hundreds of millions of people who want to scrub their computers clean. Publisher Lavasoft says that this edition includes better rootkit detection, faster updates, and other improvements. Check out what we thought about the latest version in this First Look video.

Featured Freeware: ObjectDock

Are you jealous of that slick Mac interface? Check out ObjectDock, a free utility that replaces the Windows Taskbar with a colorful, animated dock similar to the taskbar in Mac OS X.

ObjectDock displays icons for currently running applications and can hold quick-launch icons for your favorite programs. As you pass the cursor over each icon, ObjectDock magnifies it and displays relevant information, helping you find what you need even when you're running several programs at once. An attractive but optional clock rounds out the toolbar. The tiny utility comes with a dozen attractive skins, and users with slow … Read more

Yahoo releases Delicious plug-in for IE

Investors and industry watchers may have their eyes on Yahoo's executive departures and coming reorganization, but for most people involved with Yahoo are just users of the company's technology.

Which is why it's interesting that Yahoo released a version of its Delicious plug-in for Internet Explorer on Thursday. (Download Delicious Internet Explorer extension 1.0 for Windows.)

The plug-in, which Yahoo released in beta form in May, makes it easier for people to use the Delicious "social bookmarking" site. Delicious lets people store Web page bookmarks on a central server, label them with a description … Read more