Mike Williams

Find your PC's most space-hogging folders with Folder Size

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If your hard drive space is a little lower than expected then your first instinct might be to uninstall a few applications, maybe use CCleaner to remove any leftover junk.

If you really want to understand where you drive space has gone, though, there’s no substitute for analyzing it properly with a tool like Folder Size.

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Reply to WhatsApp, Hangouts messages directly from Pushbullet notifications

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Pushbullet’s latest Android app update means it’s now possible to reply to messages from WhatsApp, Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and Line, directly from your desktop notifications.

There’s no complex tweakery required to make this happen. As long as you’re running Android 4.4 or later (and you have the Android Wear app installed for Hangouts messages), notifications from supported services now have a Reply button: just click it and go.

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Find hidden executables with MZreveal

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Malware uses many tricks to avoid detection. Sometimes this involves ultra-complicated, super-stealthy, rootkit-like Windows hooking. But often it’s no more advanced than giving an EXE or DLL file a much less worrying extension (virus.exe > virus.txt, perhaps). A simple technique, but maybe enough to get past you and your antivirus software.

MZreveal is a tiny free tool which can expose this hidden code by scanning the content of every file, listing any executables it finds which don’t have an EXE or DLL extension.

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Remove JPG and PNG tags with StripPhoric

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StripPhoric is a free tool which removes JPG and PNG metadata, reducing file sizes, and -- by removing details like geotags -- perhaps protecting your privacy.

The program is extremely basic, and has a few annoyances, but if you’re looking for ease of use then it’s hard to beat.

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TorrentRover tracks down torrents from the desktop

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TorrentRover is a torrent search tool for the Windows desktop.

Do we really need this, we wondered? Surely it'll be packed with adware? But no, there's nothing to worry about, it's portable and payload-free.

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Safely test antivirus software with EICARgen

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Your antivirus software claims to be working all the time, monitoring every file you access for any potential threats -- but is this really how it is? EICARgen can help you find out.

This tiny freebie has a single task: to generate the EICAR Anti-Virus Test File on demand. EICAR isn’t an actual virus, not even executable code (it’s just a few characters of text), so it can’t harm your system in any way. But it is something which all antivirus programs should detect as a threat, making it very useful for testing.

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Error Lookup converts PC error codes to text descriptions

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Windows error messages are never exactly clear, and Windows Update is a particular offender. One common alert complains that "Windows could not search for new updates", displaying the cryptic code: "80072EE2". Which it then helpfully translates as "Windows Update encountered an unknown error".

Error Lookup is a portable free tool which can help by translating error codes into a (hopefully) more meaningful text description.

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UserIdleStarter runs programs when your PC is idle

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UserIdleStarter is a Windows console program which runs an application when your system is idle, maybe to back up files, launch or close an application, anything you like.

The program syntax is fairly straightforward. An example command might look like this.

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Work with images from Explorer with XnShell

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XnShell is a handy Explorer shell extension which makes it easier to view, process and generally work with images.

The program allows you to preview any picture, in just about any format, directly from its right-click menu. No need to turn on Icon View, enable the preview pane or open the full image (which may not work, anyway, if it's not supported by your default viewer): just right-click, select XnShell, and you'll see a thumbnail in the context menu.

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Highlight text file changes with Text Compare

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You’re looking at two copies of a text file. They’re different sizes, so you know something has changed. But what?

Text Compare is a tiny (<50KB download), free and portable tool which should be able to tell you more.

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BowPad is an easy-to-use Notepad replacement

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If Notepad isn’t enough for your text editing needs then there’s no shortage of possible replacements (we’ve covered plenty before). But most developers seem to focus on functionality above all else, cramming in as many features as they can, which means the end results aren’t always easy to use.

BowPad is a refreshing change. It doesn’t try to do everything, but for many people it’ll do enough, and a well-designed interface ensures the program is a comfortable place to work.

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SMath Studio: Like Mathcad, only free

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It used to be feeble in the extreme, but these days Windows Calculator is a relatively capable tool. With its Scientific mode, statistics and other options, it can handle most of the math that the average user will ever need.

Of course, if you’re not an average user -- if you’re regularly running complex scientific or engineering calculations -- then it’s a different story. You’ll need something far more powerful, maybe along the lines of the free SMath Studio.

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PingView is a versatile network monitor

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Managing networks is a tedious, time-consuming business, and if your needs are simple then it might be best not to bother. If a network device goes offline, so what? You can just deal with any problems as they crop up.

If several others are using your network, though, you might want to take a more proactive approach, and keep an eye on your hardware. Enter PingView, a free tool for monitoring selected devices -- or domains -- and checking they’re still online.

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Get organized with sChecklist's 'to do' manager

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Task management software should be all about making you more productive, saving you time, but it doesn't always work out that way. Especially if the software is so complex that you waste most of your time just trying to figure out how it works.

SChecklist isn't that kind of package. You won't spend an age figuring out how to set up sub-tasks, time requirements, dependencies or web sync because it can't do any of that. It's just about creating lists of item names, with checkboxes, and there's absolutely nothing else.

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Get organized with sChecklist's to-do manager

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Task management software should be all about making you more productive, saving you time, but it doesn't always work out that way. Especially if the software is so complex that you waste most of your time just trying to figure out how it works.

SChecklist isn't that kind of package. You won't spend an age figuring out how to set up sub-tasks, time requirements, dependencies or web sync because it can't do any of that. It's just about creating lists of item names, with checkboxes, and there's absolutely nothing else.

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