The Download Blog

Featured Freeware: DriverMax

Behind a slick interface, this program backs up all your PC's drivers in case you mess up something fierce. From registration to implementation, DriverMax works fast, runs smooth, and does even more than mere backing up.

The application is nearly flawless. Its slick button navigation takes users through the four main sections of the program: Driver Operations, Updates, Identification, and Popular Hardware. Mousing over one reveals more choices, so you can export your drivers, import drivers, or view an installed drivers report. Backing up and reinstalling an "accidentally" deleted driver was as pain-free as could be, and … Read more

XNeat Windows Manager: Tweak your taskbar

I'd say that XNeat Windows Manager is tooting its own horn a little much if it weren't for "neat" being the first descriptor to bubble up when using it. Perhaps some new descriptors are in order.

Regardless, XNeat (as the application shall henceforth be known) tweaks XP and Vista's shell to unlock customizations in the appearance and behavior of your task bar and system tray. With XNeat, you can assign important windows always-on-top status, can hide windows, and can adjust the transparency of windows when you hover or focus on them. That's small potatoes … Read more

Featured Freeware: Foxit Reader

Adobe Reader is monstrously large, slow to load, and includes many features most users will hardly ever need. Foxit PDF Reader pares down its PDF-reading code and comes up with some neat features, like annotation tools, to give you a PDF reader that's far more appropriate for the average PDF user.

PDFs open from the Internet in their own Foxit window, instead of sucking browser resources, and the interface mimics Adobe's so you won't have to change your reading habits. In our test, the text readability wasn't much inferior to Acrobat's. The 1.6MB program … Read more

Featured Freeware: Paint.NET

For quick retouches, Photoshop is more than overkill--it's like going rabbit hunting with a nuke. All that bloat can take much longer than is necessary. Paint.NET, on the other hand, is an open-source editor with all the essentials, including tools to crop, rotate, resize images, adjust colors, and create collages. Unlike many free image editors, Paint.NET supports layers and has an actions manager. The pleasing interface boasts semitransparent windows for ease of use.

Paint.NET supports common image formats--JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, and others--but not high-resolution RAW files. There are enough basic and intermediate effects and features … Read more

Featured Freeware: Belarc Advisor

Belarc Advisor is one of those tools for Windows users that you didn't know you were missing until you started using it. It's hard to understate how important this program can be, as it provides a free analysis of your machine's security weak points.

By looking at elements such as whether antivirus software and definitions are up to date, or whether all the security flaws in Windows have been patched, Belarc works quickly to inform you of what you're missing and provide links to how you can fix it. It uses the Center for Internet Security (… Read more

Browsing in class on the Mac with OmniWeb

Back when Mac OS X was still in the beta stages and serious Mac geeks (myself included) couldn't wait to try out apps on the new system, OmniWeb was one of the first third-party browsers out of the gate. Using the power and elegance of Mac OS X, The Omni Group decided to try its hand at making a Web browser that fit right in with the design aesthetic of Apple's new operating system. For awhile, all the Mac editors at Download.com were running the demo-limited version of OmniWeb and couldn't get enough of the clean … Read more

Power Downloader's iconic removal

One of Power Downloader's pet personal computer peeves is the Safely Remove Hardware icon that pops up and nags him anytime he removes a device. External hard drive, thumb drive, a USB-powered fan--there's no escaping that pesky pop-up.

Except, of course, there is a solution. In fact, there are two easy solutions, says Power Downloader: One uses a small program, while the other involves tweaking the QuickLaunch bar's properties.

The tiny and free program called Icon Remover comes with two functions: a button to remove the Safely Remove Hardware icon, and a second button to restore it. … Read more

Make your PC boot faster with Startup Delayer

Tired of waiting an eternity for your computer to boot? Malware could be the culprit, so make sure to run anti-spyware software. But another cause of slow booting is all the software that's trying to run the moment Windows starts. Startup Delayer takes a clever approach to this by letting you delay selected programs.

For example, I need my anti-virus and desktop-search programs to run right away, but Adobe Reader Speed Launcher? iTunesHelper? LightScribe Control Panel? They can wait. Using Startup Delayer, I can configure programs like those to run at, say, 2-minute intervals, starting a full 15 minutes … Read more

Featured Freeware: MozBackup

As great as it is to have tools such as Firefox and Thunderbird, backing user profiles and all their moving parts can be a tedious process. MozBackup is a tiny program that makes saving and restoring all your bookmarks, extensions, and other personal settings a streamlined and stress-free experience. It's dead simple to use because it walks you through both the backup and restore features. So, for example, even if you've backed up everything but you only want to restore your bookmarks, you can do that easily.

The program works with Firefox, Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, and Netscape on Windows … Read more

Killer Download: Top Uninstallers

Every Windows user knows that removing a program is more complicated than just deleting it. During the installation process, several files are dropped into different areas of your system to make a program work. The Windows Add/Remove programs utility was meant to be the tool to use for getting the various parts of programs off your hard drive, but it doesn't always do a great job.

Fortunately, some savvy developers designed uninstall programs to do all the guesswork for you. These applications attempt to gather all the files associated with unwanted programs, so that you can get every … Read more