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Free and useful files and links: 

Windows Tools, Games, & Misc.

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~ Alan's Programs ~ InternetMac Stuff ~ Primary ~ Intermediate ~ Secondary ~ Just for Teachers ~ Fonts ~Graphics  and Clipart ~ Music and Sound ~ Windows add-ons ~ Games ~ Misc~  Security

***= highly recommended

Windows Tools

  • Windows Essentials 2012nice set of Windows tools, one for managing your photo library, one for basic video editing, Mail, Writer, and Family Safety. The downable installer also offers to install other Windows Essentials apps - pick the ones you want.
  • Review of 15 free tools 'for every Windows desktop' - Nov 2010
  • Review (with download links) of half a dozen free CD and DVD burning programs - Feb 2010.
  • Review (with links) to ten free antivirus programs
  • *** Do you have students or teachers bringing Microsoft Office files to school when you don't have Word, Excel, or PowerPoint installed? Microsoft's free Word Viewer, Excel Viewer, Access Viewer Visio Viewer, and PowerPoint Viewer let you view and print documents without having those programs installed. Very handy! And if you have the older Word 6.0 or Word 95 installed, the Word97/2000 Converter lets you work with newer Word files in those older versions. There's also a Mac version of the PowerPoint Viewer.
  • *** TweakUI:  Free Control Panel add-in,from Microsoft. TweakUI (120 kb) for systems running Internet Explorer 4 or later,  TweakUI95 for earlier systems,. Read my TweakUI handout. If in doubt, run the Win95 version.  
  • The new Windows XP PowerToys can be downloaded as well! (90 kb) for other systems. 
  • *** Poledit: a Microsoft tool to control access to a variety of system functions (aka the System Policy Editor). Poledit98: (140 kb) (or directly from Microsoft)  for systems running Internet Explorer 4 and later,  Poledit95: (101 kb) for all systems. Do not use Poledit on NT or Windows 2000 systems. See: my  Poledit handout. If in doubt, use the Win95 version.
  • On older systems install the QuickRes PowerToy. to switch easily between screen settings.
  • ***And on all systems, QRes allows for automatic switching of screen settings to fit the needs to programs that demand to have it their way. (Note: you may also need QuickRes PowerToy installed to use this on older systems). 
  • MultiRes is a sort of updated QuickRes that works with everything from Win98 to XP; control screen resolution, colour depth, and monitor refresh from the System Tray or from the command line.
  • *** Svga.exe: A must-have for Windows 3.1 users! Microsoft did not include a generic 256-colour driver in the Windows 3.1 package (though it did in the later Windows 3.11 set). Here it is! Read about how to use this here...
  • Speakonia, a "Text-To-Speech Program which is controlled through a graphical user interface (Similar to Notepad). Speakonia reads aloud any given text. The reading can be paused, resumed and can be exported to a wave file. Speakonia is able to fetch webpages through an internal http interface and read them aloud for you."
  • Windows 98SE has problems on many computers shutting down. If that's the case, try these patches from Microsoft. If you are on a network with mapped drives, try the Mapped Drive Shutdown Patch first; otherwise, give the Win98SE Shutdown Supplement a whirl. (One or the other helps about half the time!)
  • Having trouble reading home-made 'burned' CD disks? Try installing the Adaptec UDF Reader driver.
  • IPSwitcher is handy if you bring a notebook home and to work and want to easily switch Internet and network configurations between locations.
  • Bootdisk.com lets you download boot disk images for DOS, Win 3.1, Win9x, NT, Win2000, and also network boot disks for Ghost, etc.
  • StartupMonitor runs in the background and lets you know if anything is trying to set itself to startup automatically.
  • VNC (Virtual Network Computer) lets you use TCP/IP over the Internet or within local area networks to view another computer's desktop on yours, and run programs, access documents, etc. on the remote computer. There are Windows and Mac versions-- run a Mac on a Windows computer or vice versa. Or try these (still free) reportedly better performing versions: UltraVNC or TightVNC
  • *** Zedex is a free Canadian program to secure Windows peer-to-peer networks. Very good!
  • Win-Secure It keeps others from using your computer when you're away from your desk.
  • All computers (particularly Windows PCs!) should be running antivirus software-- and these need to be kept up to date to do any good. Here's a collection of free anti-virus software. My recommendation is the free Avast
  • Your computer clock probably does a poor job of keeping time. InTime lets you connect to atomic clock servers to keep the clock accurate. 
  • Need to unzip downloaded files or zip your own? Free alternatives include: QuickZip or Iceows
  • SyncBack: free backup- Win98 and up. 
  • The Unofficial Windows 98 SE Service Pack rolls together all of Microsoft's fixes for Windows 98 Second Edition
  • IEFix does as the name suggests-- fixes Microsoft Internet Explorer; this can be especially handy on systems where you can't uninstall/reinstall IE.
  • BartPE lets you make bootable CD versions of WinXP for system recovery
  • NetSetMan lets you manage network settings, easily switching between up to 5 different profiles. Handy for laptop users who move from location to location.
  • SimpleOCR is a free optical character recognition program for Windows.
  • Sygate Personal Firewall is no longer available from its developers since the company was purchased by Symantec... but you can find a copy here... free for home/personal use only.
  • Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit is a series of 'tools to manage shared computers': computers in public spaces like libraries, classrooms, etc.
  • WinSnap enhances Windows' built-in screen capture capabilities.
  • Partition Logic lets you alter your hard drive partitioning without wrecking your existing data, like the commercial Partition Magic. (An alternative: a 'live' Linux CD like Knopix or Ubuntu can also be used for this). 
  • Free burning software: ImgBurn. (Note- this doesn't make audio CDs but does a great job with various data formats including DVD, HD-DVD, Blu-Ray, and more)
  • Encryption software: TrueCrypt
  • Registry cleanup that actually works: CCleaner
  • Defrag utility: JkDefrag
  • Lots of system information: Belarc Advisor or System Information Viewer
  • *** AllChars - Easiest way to add accented (International) characters in Windows
  • Games

    Games can be of educational value, and are a good way to get student buy-into a school computer program. There are lots and lots of playable game demos available free at websites such as DownloadAstro.com. Be aware of issues like violence-- even hockey games may have more fighting than is welcome (some but not all will let you turn fighting off). Here are some of my favourites:
  • Nyet Tetris: OK, some of you may claim that it s not educational, but it s a free version of a classic game that builds on intuitive geometry. As a DOS program it will run well under Win 3.1, Win95, and New Deal but you ll need to install your own icon. Tetris Planet is a new updating on the old classic, with 4 diffrerent Tetris variations. Quinn is a free Tetris for Mac OS X.
  • Sim City 2000: Win95 demo. A classic game, for understanding what it takes to build and maintain a city. The demo version is a full working version with the Save function disabled. SimCity DOS demo is the original version of the program- it can be used on DOS, Win 3.1, and NewDeal computers. LinCity is a free clone of the original SimCity with versions for Windows, Linux, OS/2, etc.
  • WinGames is a set of shareware and freeware little games, of educational value, playable under Windows 3.1 and Windows 95-- includes chess, checkers, Bang-bang (teaches angles), Yahtzee, Wheel of Fortune, etc. Does not include a Setup file-- double-click to add to your hard drive, but then you'll need to make your own icons.
  • Mastermind is a free, digital version of the classic logic game: players develop strategies to solve the order of hidden colours.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Creator lets students (or teachers) make puzzles out of any digital picture (photo or student drawing).
  • Glider Pro is a lovely classic game for Mac (black & white, colour, and even OS X) and Windows, now freeware. Fly a paper airplane throughout a house.
  • Looking for free (and school-friendly) Mac games? Check Free Games for Mac.
  • Help Abbie Save the Flowers with a logical puzzle game
  • TuxRacer is an opensource downhill racing game
  • Gamemaker is a free way to design games without programming; the website also includes a number of interesting free games (designed with Gamemaker) Or try Glyph Chess for a free, networkable 2-player match. Both for Mac OS X.
  • Sigma Chess is a free "master strength Macintosh chess program for both OS X and Classic Mac OS. The feature set includes: Database support, PGN/EPD support, basic desktop publishing, endgame databases, novice levels, a true perspective 3D board, ExaChess compatibility and much more."
  • dfg Chess Expert is "a friendly chess partner for beginners to professionals".
  • FreeCiv is an open-source version of the game Civilization. Mac OS X/X11
  • SuperBrain XXL is like MasterMind on steroids. Mac OS X
  • KidzMemory is a memory-matching card game. Mac OS X
  • Goban is a Mac OS X version of the classic game of Go
  • Swift Office Ships is a Mac OS X clone of the classic game Battleship, playable against the computer or across the network.
  • Eat the Whistle is a Mac OS X soccer game
  • Miscellaneous

    • *** Office 2007 Compatibility Pack: This version of MS Office introduces new default file formats for Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. The compatibility pack gives Office 2000, 2003, and Office XP (and Viewer) users the ability to open and save in the new file formats. If you're using a version of MS Office or MS Works prior to Office 2007 you need to install this
    • And if you're using Office 2007, you can customize the ribbon (including getting back the 'classic MS Office toolbars and menus) with the free starter version of the Ribbon Customizer or check out this other free way to give Office 2007 the classic look.
    • *** UbitMenu for Office 2007/2010 offers the option of 'classic' Office-style menus and toolbars in the new versions.
  • Works 4 users- download and run this, and your Works word processor will be able to open and save files from Microsoft Word 97 or 2000. Really useful for students and teachers who use Word at home and Works at school.  The Works 2000 converter lets Works 4.x users read word processor files made in newer versions of Works or in Word 97/2000. It can also be used to allow Works 4.x word processor files to be opened in Word 97/2000 or Works 2000.
  • Free MS Office Training Manuals
  • Powerbullet  is a free program for making Powerpoint-like presentations mixing text, sounds, and images.
  • Flash Sprint Lite can be used to convert Powerpoint presentations to Flash format, making them viewable online or without Powerpoint for
  • Cetus WordPad adds spell-checking to the standard Windows WordPad. It makes a nice, easy to use word processor, especially for late primary.
  • ***Abiword is a free, fast, attractive MS Word-compatible word processor. Versions for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X.
  • ***OpenOffice free Office suite, comparable to Microsoft or Word Perfect Office. A huge (45 megs) download.
  • OOExtras has templates, clipart, and more for OpenOffice (or StarOffice) users.
  • Software602 offers another free office suite, smaller and faster than StarOffice, and with better Word/Excel compatability. Also includes a good photo-editor. You must register (also free) to enable the spell checker.
  • PagePlus 5 is a free page layout (desktop publishing) program... also from Serif: free DrawPlus 4 and PhotoPlus 5.5. Aqua Scribus is a free desktop publishing (page design) program for Mac OS X (Note: Scribus is a free DTP program originally for Linux). Scribus Portable is a Windows version of this free DTP program, that can run without installation (for instance, from a pocket-sized USB flash drive). Note- there are also free Linux versions of Scribus
  • *** Windows XP doesn't include the ability to play DVD discs. The VLC Media Player can do this, and much more. It "iss a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols." Available for Windows. Mac OS X, Linux and many other operating systems.
  • WordWeb is a free dictionary/thesaurus for Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Win7
  • SimpleOCR 3.1 is a free optical character recognition program to turn scanned text into editable word processor documents
  • *** PDF Editor is a free online service for creating and editing PDF files. Recommended.
  • Create your own Adobe Acrobat-style PDF files with Win PDFpdf995 (free version includes ads) or Cute PDF. Or upload Word, Excel, Powerpoint, RTF or text files to goBCL and get them back converted to PDF. Other free PDF options the open source PDFCreator and BullZip PDF Printer. PDFCreator adds advanced features like encryption and permissions, watermarks, and more. 
  • If you have PDF files but need make basic editing changes to them, PDF Hammer "allows you to edit your PDF files online for free. You don't need to install any additional software, you can edit PDF documents right now inside your browser. Once you start, you will be able to upload one or more PDF files into your project, arrange the pages in any order you wish, and delete any pages you don't want."
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader (aka Adobe Reader) is useful but takes far too long to load. Adobe Reader Speedup speeds up its load times. And if modern versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader are too large for your use, check out the quick, free FoxIt PDF Reader
  • Omniformat  is a free document conversion utility which allows dynamic conversion and image manipulation of over 75 file formats including HTML, DOC, XLS, WPD, PDF, JPG, GIF, TIF, PNG, PCX, PPT, PS, TXT, Photo CD, FAX and MPEG. Particularly useful may be its ability to convert Acrobat PDF's to editable DOC documents.
  • PDFConverter is a free online tool to convert PDF files to Excel spreadsheets
  • WordWeb is a free (and ad-free) dictionary and thesaurus that words within most programs.
  • PowerPoint fans may also want to check out the free Powerbacks Sampler-- a set of artist-created backgrounds for PowerPoint (or Corel Presentations) presentations.
  • Make your own screensavers from your digital photos and MP3 music clips... (You can also use the multi-talented Irfanview to make screensavers from your pictures).
  • *** In 1995, Tourism British Columbia created a free Super, Natural British Columbia Canada screen saver for Windows... it features a set of spectacular images of my favourite part of the world. I've updated it to work with modern versions of Windows; just download it, and copy into your Windows folder, and it will be ready to go. Mac OS X users may like the gorgeous Canada Screensaver.
  • Need to read Mac-formatted (high-density) floppy diskettes on a Windows PC? Get the free Gemulator Explorer.
  • Alien.mpg: a wonderful (4 meg) musical animation. Is it educational? Of course!
  • Quick Menu Builder can be used to make professional-looking menus for CDs, and more.
  • WordWeb is a free thesaurus that can be used with MS Word or on its own.
  • The World at Night is a fabulous NASA image of the whole earth, lit up by 'civilization'. Very thought provoking.
  • Mortgage Amortizer is an Excel spreadsheet, provided as a freebie by The Office Letter, a free e-mail of tips for using Microsoft Office.
  • Use Outlook Express? OE Spell Check is a free spell-checker for that popular e-mail program. 
  • Buying or selling Adobe software? Make sure you fill out the Transfer of License form and send it in to Adobe!
  • Endangered Software Archive preserves rare old software like PC DOS 1.0 and Windows 1.0 and 2.0. See how it used to be! Visicalc was the original spreadsheet. This DOS version still works fine... in 27 kb! Or if you need an older-than-current-version of a piece of software, check Oldversion.com
  • Ghost Forest is a 260+ page illustrated children's fantasy novel, distributed as a free PDF file.
  • CDBurnerXP Pro is free CD/DVD burner software. Despite the name, works with the range of Windows versions, and with a wide range of hardware or check out Burn4Free.
  • Naomi is an internet filtering program, easy to use, intended for families and parents in particular- filter "obscene or violent contents; pornography and erotism in the form of images or texts; sites that popularize drugs; gambling games; terrorism; hate propaganda; occultism; sects; blasphemy, etc."
  • Justbasic is a free Windows programming language complete with tutorials and examples
  • Prospector Lite aids in locating, managing and bidding for items on eBay.
  • Microsoft is offering free Express Edition versions of its various programming packages- Visual Studio, Visual Basic, SQL Servier, Visual C#. amd more as free downloads (until November 2006).
  • Symantec software (Norton Antivirus, etc) can be hard to remove... the Norton Removal Tool can help
  • HD Clone Free is for moving the contents of your current hard drive onto a bigger replacement.
  • Media Player Classic is a small, low-resource media player with many functions: supports Quicktime, Real formats, plays DVDs, and more
  • MWSnap is  "a small yet powerful Windows program for snapping (capturing) images from selected parts of the screen". Mac OS X users should try SnapNDrag
  • Love your Mac but need to use a Windows machine? Flyakite OSX makes your Windows XP system look and feel almost like a Mac running OS X. Very slick! Or use WindowsXLive to make an XP computer look like it's running WIndows Vista- along with DesktopSidebar to mimic that Vista feature.
  • Want to run other operating systems 'virtually'? Options include Microsoft Virtual PC (yes, it's free- but Windows only) VMware Player (to play, but not create, virtual systems- Windows and Linux) and the open source Virtual-Box (Windows, Mac OS X (Intel), and Linux).
  • Keep Passwords safe with KeePass Password Safe
  • Page last updated: 4 February 2017

     
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    Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at