Three apps we're thankful for

Here are three apps that make bushwhacking through obscure computing processes much easier.

Your computer's file system can be a tangled, jungly place. There are obscure file trees so tall and branched your eyes glaze over, and there are dark, hidden caverns you may not be inclined to explore. In a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday, we're spotlighting three of the many applications we're thankful for--particularly the software that sheds a little light on some of the more obscure computing processes, or those programs that just make bushwhacking a whole lot easier.

Process Explorer
Process Explorer

We'll start with the hearty Xplorer2, a free-to-try alternative to Windows Explorer for power file-seekers. Browsing multiple folders in one window, moving files without breaking shortcut links, and splitting or merging files are just some of the features that make this app an Explorer knockout.

If you've ever wished that the Windows Task Manager had a little more oomph, you should check out Process Explorer. The freeware utility turns out a ton of information that helps you identify running processes, including spyware.

Finding programs, documents, and misplaced photos can be a feat, even if you're using Microsoft's built-in Windows search. The Windows 7 Libraries concept to group files by type rather than by location helps, but if you're using XP or Vista, a desktop search app like Copernic Desktop Search or Google Desktop can find a range of files faster. We also like programs like Launchy, which opens applications by default, but which you can also configure to launch Web sites, music files, and documents.

Which apps are you ever-thankful for? Sing your praises in the comments.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.