Nick Peers

Ashampoo WinOptimizer 15 revamps user interface, tweaks tools for faster performance

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Windows utilities specialist Ashampoo GmbH has released Ashampoo WinOptimizer 15.0, a major new update of its Windows maintenance and optimization tool.

Version 15 has been rebuilt around making the program easier to use via a new usability concept and more intuitive user interface. It’s also fine-tuned many of its system maintenance tools for significant performance improvements.

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Opera is Reborn: Opera 45 debuts built-in chat tools and UI improvements

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Opera Software has released Opera 45.0 for Windows, Mac and Linux. It’s been codenamed "Reborn" because it’s the first release to include features previewed earlier this year in its concept browser Opera Neon.

These new features include embedded social messaging apps into the pinned sidebar alongside major user interface improvements and tweaks to the browser’s ad-blocking function to make it more configurable.

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MediaPortal adds automatic media-scraping, Windows Media Center-inspired skin

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Team MediaPortal has released a major update of its open-source media server and center for Windows. MediaPortal 2.1 opens with completely reworked media management tools, with a wide array of content now automatically scraped for metadata and artwork.

Users gain better visual indicators of watched series and individual movies, plus a number of new skins make their debut, including one aimed squarely at Windows Media Center users.

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O&O FileDirect 1.0 makes ad-hoc file sharing swift, safe and simple

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O&O Software has released O&O FileDirect 1.0, a brand new freeware file-sharing tool for PCs running Windows 7 or up.

The program makes it easy -- and safe -- for users to share individual files through a secure web link, which recipients can access through their own web browser. Files are transferred directly from the end user’s computer -- no cloud storage is utilized.

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Kiwi for Gmail 2.0 arrives on Windows, runs Google services in a desktop app

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Zive, Inc has released Kiwi for Gmail 2.0 for PC users, migrating its popular Mac tool of the same name to the Windows platform.

Kiwi for Gmail will appeal to those Google aficionados who are currently accessing Google services -- primarily Gmail (including mail, calendar and contacts), but also Google’s G-Suite office apps -- through their web browser.

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Firefox 53 unveils new themes, adds reading time estimate to Reader Mode

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Mozilla has released Firefox 53.0 for Windows, Mac and Linux, with Firefox for Android 53.0 due imminently.

Firefox 53 unveils a number of design tweaks, starting with two new -- and built-in -- compact themes, which users can access via about:addons > Appearance. There’s also enhanced graphics stability for Windows users while Mac users can enjoy smaller update files going forward.

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O&O ShutUp10 1.5 protects your PC’s privacy against new Creator’s Update changes

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It can sometimes feel like Microsoft is playing a game with us over privacy. It promises to respect people’s rights in one sentence, then unleashes a new version of Windows 10 that finds new ways in which to spy on people.

Mindful of this endless dance, O&O Software has released O&O ShutUp 10 1.5, the latest version of its free, portable tool that locks down privacy settings in Windows 10. Version 1.5 focusses on improving privacy in the brand new Creator’s Update release.

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WYSIWYG Web Builder 12 makes building websites easier than ever with new Blocks feature

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Pablo Software Solutions has released WYSIWYG Web Builder 12, a major new version of its DTP-style web building tool for Windows users.

Version 12 introduces over 125 new and improved features, with one brand new addition in the form of Blocks, a new option for quickly adding predefined blocks of objects to the workspace. Other highlights include a photo collage tool, CSS flexbox support and new Easy Mode feature.

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Vivaldi unveils revolutionary new History feature

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Challenger web browser Vivaldi 1.8 has been released for Windows, Mac and Linux. The browser, which has made great strides in its relatively short lifespan, unveils another game-changing feature with this new release.

The headline new feature is a revamped History view -- accessed via the Speed Dial or by pressing [Ctrl] + [H]. The feature gives users a more visual overview of their browsing behaviour, making it easier to find -- and return to -- previously visited pages and sites.

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TreeSize Free 4.0 unveils new hierarchical tree map view, modernizes user interface

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Jam Software has released TreeSize Free 4.0 and TreeSize Free Portable 4.0 for Windows PCs. TreeSize helps users visualize drive space usage and identify large files.

Version 4.0 adds a new view that was previously restricted to the paid-for Professional version. It also unveils a user interface redesign in keeping with the modern ribbon-like interface found in Office and Windows 10, and will be available to download through the Windows Store for the first time.

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Bear 1.1 unveils loads of improvements, including improved tagging, export

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Shiny Frog has released Bear 1.1, its Evernote-baiting, notetaking app for Mac and iOS. Mac users gain Touch Bar support and wider drag-and-drop support, while iOS users can now take "smart" web clippings using the app extension.

Although Bear operates a two-tier platform, with free and Pro licenses available, the update treats both equally, providing new features for both groups of users as it aims to stake a claim in the note organizing marketplace.

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PhotoPageGen 5.1 takes the pain out of creating slick web photo albums

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One of the simplest ways to share photos with others is through a web album. If you’re looking to avoid a third-party service, or would like to distribute your album locally, then take a look at the newly updated PhotoPageGen 5.1 from Brian Donahoe.

PhotoPageGen takes a folder of photos and allows you to create an interactive web-based catalogue, complete with mapping tools, privacy functions and even YouTube video support.

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Firefox 52 lets you send tabs to other synced devices, ups the security ante

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Mozilla has released Firefox 52.0 for Windows, Mac and Linux, with Firefox for Android 52.0 due imminently.

Firefox 52 now supports syncing tabs to specific devices, makes various improvements to the Downloads button and introduces a raft of security, developer and other enhancements. It’s also the final release for Windows XP and Vista users.

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Bear 1.0.6 gives Mac and iOS users a simpler, friendlier alternative to Evernote

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When it comes to taking notes on your computer or mobile, what platform do you choose? The bells, whistles and expense of Evernote or the pared back simplicity (and no subscription fee) of Simplenote?

If you’re a Mac or iOS user, the answer may lie somewhere in the middle. With that in mind, take a look at Bear 1.0.6, the self-titled "writing app for crafting notes and prose." It shares Simplenote’s "less is more" approach, but still manages to provide a richer array of tools than simple plain text notes.

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O&O AutoBackup 6.0 implements advanced job management, restructures user interface

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O&O Software GmbH has unveiled O&O AutoBackup 6.0, a major new version of its file-based backup and sync tool for Windows.

Version 6.0 adds support for advanced job management, restructures the user interface and backup process, plus includes further minor improvements to make backing up data easier and safer.

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