The Download Blog

ClearContext tames Outlook

Update! I forgot to mention that you can get access to the ClearContext beta by using the invite code webware on the ClearContext site.

The Outlook plug-in Xobni (download) has been getting a lot of press recently, but it's not the only Outlook helper out there.

On Monday, ClearContext, which has had a paid, enterprise-level e-mail organizer for a while now (download), is releasing ClearContext Personal, a free, de-featured version of the product (download). ClearContext isn't Webware, but since I've covered Xobni here, I'd be remiss to ignore it.

CEO Deva Hazarika acknowledged to me that … Read more

Featured Freeware: Tweak UI

There's no doubt that the freeware Tweak UI is a tool designed for people comfortable and confident with mucking about in the guts of their Windows XP installation. If that's not you, we strongly caution against using this program capriciously.

However, if you're the kind of person who likes to get your hands dirty with XP, read on. Tweak UI can alter most of the routine behaviors of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, but it also can affect some of the more advanced ones, too. The basic interface belies the features, from customizing the Alt-Tab program … Read more

Featured Freeware: Thunderbird

Mozilla's Thunderbird has come into its own with version 2 for Windows, Mac, and in a portable edition. Starring features and innovations that take aim at both Web e-mail clients and industry standards such as Microsoft's Outlook, open-source Thunderbird offers the best of both worlds.

Back and forward buttons, like the ones you have in your Web browser, let you jump through messages in the order that you viewed them. Keep your e-mails organized with tags, even across dozens of message folders. Configuration is as simple as entering your e-mail address and password. Search results can be saved, … Read more

Firefox 3 release candidate goes public

The initial release candidate of Firefox 3 is ready for download for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

It's a public preview of the new Firefox code, available in 45 languages, aimed at developers and early adopters to test out the new features. It has an extensive list of known bugs.

Among the major improvements are changes in the look and feel on the various operating systems, major security enhancements, and increased performance and stability. It is based on the Gecko 1.9 rendering engine, which includes 14,000 updates to the code.

On the performance front, the documentation states that … Read more

Featured Freeware: Trillian

Cerulean Studios' Trillian has long been one of the top multiprotocol IM clients. The program offers simultaneous access to the fab-five chat clients: Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, ICQ, IRC, and AIM, but still doesn't support Jabber/Google Talk in the basic version. For that, users will have to upgrade to Trillian Pro.

Despite lacking this major chat protocol, Trillian's interface is slick and sharp, a professional design that's way ahead of its competitors. Users can import passwords, buddy lists, and client preferences, as well as transfer files and encrypt chats. SMS text messaging and audio chat are … Read more

Power Downloader restores Mozilla applications

Last week when Microsoft released Windows XP Service Pack 3 unto the world, a few "lucky" XP users had their computers come to a screeching, brain-jarring halt. Kitty Kilobyte's best friend Penny Penryn was hit badly by this bug, and she had to do a full reinstall of her operating system.

As frustrating as a crash of this magnitude can be, Penny Penryn was surprisingly as cool as a fan for a quad-core CPU. She didn't lose any of her important documents because followed Power Downloader's advice and backed them up using SyncBack. She didn'… Read more

First Look video: VLC media player

Got a file that won't play in Quicktime? Maybe you have a short clip you found on the Web that Windows Media Player won't have anything to do with. Whatever your media-related issue is, VLC media player for both Windows and Mac usually has the solution. With support for several common (and not so common) media file types, it's no wonder this player remains a user favorite.

Still not sure? Then check out this First Look at VLC media player with CNET's Jason Parker to see if its the program you've been looking … Read more

First Look video: dBpoweramp Music Converter

CNET guest blogger Matt Rosoff found himself in the middle of a digital media tangle of WMA, AAC, FLAC, OGG, and MP3 files. This file would work on that media player, but not that one, and so on. As the situation became more desperate, Rosoff turned to dBpoweramp Music Converter to unmess his muddle. Could the popular download also be the right digital converter for you? This First Look video can help you decide.

FeedDemon gets tweaked

Newsgator's FeedDemon, the formerly pay-for-play, now freeware, RSS feed catcher upgrades to Version 2.7 with one useful new tool and a flowering bunch of bug-fixes. The Mac version, NetNewsWire, has also been updated.

FeedDemon now lets users subscribe to multiple feeds at the same time, under the tool name Find Feeds. For longtime FeedDemon users, there are a stack of improvements that should be instantly noticeable to users who've raged against the occasional "flagged" feed drop and other problems synchronizing multiple configurations across several PCs and operating systems.

FeedDemon's biggest claim to fame in … Read more